I would probably never have thought about Iceland for a vacation, but in early 2012, Icelandair offered an incredible travel package between Boston and Reykjavik. I just couldn’t say no.
We went for just under one week in February 2012. The trip package included our direct flights (around 5 hours duration), our hotel, and an expedition to climb a glacier, eat lobster soup, and chase the Northern Lights. While prices within Iceland were expensive, with casual dining feeling more like upscale dining at home price-wise, the entire trip ended up being quite affordable. More importantly, it was very memorable and one-of-a-kind.
Some of the highlights of the trip included soaking in the thermal spas at the Blue Lagoon (although be careful, it is MURDER on your hair–you’ll want to soak it in conditioner before exposing it to this water!):
One thing I will say, the entire country smelled like sulfur thanks to its ubiquitous hot springs. Opening the water taps in the hotel room unleashed a further wave of sulfur odor, despite which the water tasted fine. Icelanders have also cleverly laid pipelines under their major roads that carry water from the hot springs, so the snow melts quickly without the need to heavily plow or salt.
Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that erupted in 2010 and disrupted global airline travel. Interestingly, they are still working hard to remove all of the ash that came from the eruption. There were huge sandy banks of ash in this region and construction equipment working diligently to remove it:
And of course our hike on the glacier, which was just incredible. The photos don’t do the surreal landscape justice:
The big disappointment of our trip was our failure to see the Northern Lights due to cloud cover. It’s a good excuse for another vacation to a part of the world where the Lights are visible.
If you’re planning a European vacation, and particularly if you live on the East Coast of the US, consider Iceland. Even in February, it was a great vacation. The weather was capricious but comparable temperature-wise to Boston that time of year, the food was excellent (best lobster I’ve ever had, and I am from Boston), and there is no place else in the world like it.