I have been so distant with updating my work and posting regularly has definitely been put behind. I have just been so busy with being away on holiday and then coming straight back into it and then hit with the dreaded Winter cold so I thought I would write a blog post and share some of my holiday photos from my trip away. So grab a cuppa tea and enjoy scrolling through my photos at the prettiest place ever!
Wow... That is literally the best way to sum up such an incredible adventure. I have never visited such a place like Iceland and if any of you ever get the chance to visit once in your lifetime, don't hesitate because it was the best decision we ever made!
I never knew what to expect when going to Iceland, I had seen so many videos, vlogs, blog posts and beautiful photos but you never really can get a full understanding of a place until you are actually there and trust me, it's so much better in person. When everyone said it was cold, they were definitely right. I think the coldest day we was there it got down to -12, eeeek! I have never experienced temperatures so cold before, to the point I think my toes where just rolling around in the bottoms of my boots!
We had a really early flight into Reykjavik which is what me and Luke normally do, it means you pretty much have another full day to explore and find your feet. When we came into land, the snow laying totally untouched on the mountains was just beautiful, we stepped off the plane (we packed our coats into our suitcases as I hate over carrying things when going on an airplane) and luckily we didn't go outside straight away.
There was a little tunnel taking you straight into the airport from the plane, so at this point we didn't have an understanding of how cold it was actually going to be until we got outside and waiting for our little bus to take us to the car hire units... and it was FREEEEZING! The suitcases where straight open, coats whipped out and bobble hats plonked on our heads!
We decided it was best for us to rent a car while we were in Iceland as we wanted to make sure we got to see everything that we wanted to while we were there without having to pay out for lots of different tours as well as being a photographer, there is a lot of equipment we took so taking a car was the best option and I would honestly recommend it to everyone. We hired a Kia Rio from Blue Car Iceland and they were great! When we hired the car, Iceland hadn't started snowing so we thought hiring a Kia would be the best option! We were totally wrong, Iceland had really bad snow storms a few days before we were flying out and it was too late to change our car from a Kia to a Duster 4x4 (which seems to be the Icelandic go-to hire car out there). So note to self or those of you who are reading, always go with a 4x4 during the snowy season in Iceland. The Kia was amazing and was kitted out with the best snow tyres and we had no problems on the thick Icey, Snowy roads but it's better to be safe then sorry!
Once we finally made it alive to our hotel and Luke had gotten to grips driving in such crazy weather conditions and driving on the other side we put our bags in the room and went straight out to explore Reykjavik. Wow just wow, what an amazing first impression!! <3
I literally couldn't wait for Tuesday to come around, because we were going to the Blue Lagoon! I have always wanted to visit the Blue Lagoon and have seen so many stunning photos of it. It's something I have always put on my bucket list and I couldn't actually get my head around visiting it! It was incredible and definitely exceeded my expectations, what an experience! The whole process of going in is quiet strange, but everything get's explained to you before you go in. I would highly recommend you get a water prof case for your phone because there is so many amazing photos to take! I drained by iPhone battery from 100% right down to 0 within 3 hours, I just couldn't put it down. The Lagoon itself was so warm, seeing as it was -6 outside you have to literally run to the Lagoon to warm up! But it's so worth standing in the freezing cold just to say you've stood outside in a swimsuit in -6 degrees because that doesn't happen often!
I would 100% recommend booking the Lagoon online before you go and go for the earliest slot available. The Lagoon is nice and quiet, the wait is really short and the changing rooms aren't really busy and because in Iceland during November when we went, the sun doesn't rise till around 10am, so we got to see the beautiful sun rise and for that reason, it's 100% worth getting up really early. As we left the Lagoon (we stayed for about 3 hours), the line was out the door and lots of people were standing outside in the cold!
After we finished in the Lagoon we headed outside and took a walk around the back of the Lagoon. There you can look around at all the Lagoons that aren't actually in use and it's a great place to take some really pretty photos of the Lagoons without lots of people in the backgrounds. Beware, it's freezing and so icy so don't go too close like I am in one of the above photos as I was so close to falling in! Our iPhones were struggling to function in such cold conditions so we had to take a break and take them back to the car to warm up before we could go back out and take some more photos so always keep a hand warmer in your pocket!
Tuesday evening we kept an eye out for the Northern lights to see how active they were and our chances were looking good! We packed everything up in the car and drove really far out of Reykjavik where there was no light pollution and just sat and waited. We drove down this really narrow, thick iced up road whilst there was a snow storm and to be honest I was terrified! Especially after driving past a few cars that had come off the road and were stuck in ditches, I think we got too big for our boots so we turned around and headed back into Reykjavik where it was safe! I think we made a big mistake that night so instead we booked into a Northern Lights tour for the next day, as we thought we would let the professionals take us!
Wednesday was such a jam packed day and thinking of it now, we were absolutely knackered come evening. I couldn't thank Luke enough for his driving and getting us around Iceland safety. We got up really early and headed straight out after breakfast, Iceland at this time of year has really limited sunlight so we needed to get on the road early to make the most out of the light. It's amazing when you hire a car in Iceland as you can stop as many times as you like to take photos etc. In Iceland, everywhere you look is just unbelievably stunning.
We headed down to the South of Iceland, as we wanted to see the Waterfalls and the DC-3 plane wreckage (more on them in a second). The weather changes every 5 minutes in Iceland, you could be driving in thick heavy snow storm to then driving in rain and then the sun will shine through so always pack for every kind of weather! You can see from my photos below, this was all in one day!
Our first stop of the day was the Dc3-Plane wreckage which was unbelievable. I actually can't believe I can now say I have seen a plane wreckage and stood on it. This plane was forced to come down in 1973 due to running out of fuel and crashed landed on the Sólheimasandur black beach in Iceland which is totally abandoned. The DC3 was an American Navy plane heading to America from Keflavik airport. I would 100% recommend this to anyone when you go to Iceland, how often can you say you've seen something like this? But there are no tours to this, so this is a massive benefit for hiring a car. You used to be able to drive down the beach to reach the plane, but now that is forbidden and you have to walk. The walk is around 5 miles long (there and back!!!) and I am not kidding, it was the hardest walk I have ever done. We walked through snow, ice, rain, snow storms just to reach the plane (which was so worth it). Like I said, the plane is located on a black beach which is amazing and is right by the coast. We didn't go down to sea front as it was slippery, FREEEEEZING and ever so windy but definitely one of the coolest things I've ever done.
Our next stop of the day was actually a 5-10 minute drive down the same road, which was at Skogafoss waterfall. By the time we got here, we couldn't feel our bodies. I literally don't even remember much of seeing this because I was freezing and soaking wet. It was so so so cold and we had just done a 10 mile round trip from seeing the plane wreckage. My coat was dripping, my gloves had seen better days and my hair had turned into actual ice. But, this was incredible. Skogafoss was beautiful! I had never seen a waterfall before in my life and it was stunning. I really wish the weather was a lot better that day as we didn't stop for long here at all. The rain was pouring down and the steps up to the top of the waterfall where so dangerous so we took some photos and headed back to the car to warm up and head back to Reykjavik.
Going back to what I said about the weather difference, these two photos were taken around about an hour apart. The weather changes literally every 5 minutes, so ensure you are super prepared for rain, wind, snow and the odd peak of sunshine!
Wednesday evening we rushed back home to get ready before we went down to the bus station to catch the bus tour for the Northern Lights, we went with Bus Travel Iceland after seeing a few recommendations but there are so many companies to choose from. We got picked up and headed right out of Reykjavik to get away from any light pollution. I didn't know what to expect with the Northern Lights, I was so excited to see what they looked like but we heard they're so hard to track down and find so I tried not to get my hopes up too much! We wasn't driving around for too long and then the bus tour guide told us to get out the bus as he could see them. We all stepped out and couldn't see a thing, the trick is to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness and you begin to see hints of green. We wasn't lucky enough to be able to see any strong ones only really faint ones and these were all we managed to get to see this night.
You 100% need the right equipment when you go and see the lights, ensure you take a DSLR with a long shutter speed and an tripod. We used my Canon 6D with a 24-70mm lens which picked them up really well.
The bus takes you really far out and pulls up in a totally dark place and allows you to wait for around an hour or so to see if they pop out and give you free hot chocolate and Icelandic donuts to keep you warm! Due to the northern lights not being that strong that night and we only got to see a 5-10 minute glimpse of them, Bus Travel Iceland gave us the opportunity to have a free tour again another night. We booked this up straight away for the next night seeing as we only had 2 more nights left.
There was a huge snow storm on Thursday which meant driving around was going to be dangerous so we canceled our plans to drive the Golden Circle. Some roads were blocked and snowed in and being inexperienced drivers in the snow, Luke thought it was best we stayed in and around Reykjavik to be safe which was absolutely fine. We hadn't really had the chance to have a proper walk around and see the city so this was a great opportunity to do this and get some lovely photos around the city. It was absolutely freezing but the sun was shining which made the city so beautiful.
If there is one thing we learnt about Iceland during our stay was how expensive it was. I couldn't believe the prices out there and me and Luke hardly ate all week. We didn't go out for dinner once and that isn't a joke. Thankfully my mum packed us some cuppa soups which we had a lot for lunches, snacks and sometimes dinner. We ensured we booked a hotel which offered breakfast and thank god we did otherwise we would of been so hungry. On one day we brought 2 bottles of pepsi, not the big ones and 2 bottles of water. This came to around £14 english pounds WHATTT!? One night we got a takeaway pizza which we collected from the little independent pizza place below our hotel thinking this would be a cheap option seeing as we hadn't eaten a proper meal for a few days we were totally wrong! It cost us £40 for 2 small-medium sizes pizzas. So be warned when you visit Iceland, it is the most expensive place ever! We visited a little shop on Thursday called Reykjavik Chips which was the BEST chips I had ever had in my life so ensure you give it a little visit, it literally only sells chips with the option of different sauces to have with them. This was kind of reasonably priced... for Iceland!
I mentioned previously in the post that we got another chance to see the Northern Lights, well we booked it for Thursday night. The cloud coverage wasn't too bad so we hoped we would have a much better chance of seeing them and luckily for us, we did! Bus Travel Iceland drove us out to the national park, where we pulled in and waited in -13 for a glimpse of the Northern Lights. We were told to get back into the bus as the snow started falling heavy and the cloud coverage was coming over, until one of the tour guides pointed out into the sky a really faint glimpse of green. Me and Luke got the tri-pod out and snapped away, we had about a 20-30 second shutter speed which seemed to pick them up really well.
Friday was a really exciting day, we finally got round to doing the Golden Circle. We got up really early, had our breakfast and headed out to see the sunrise on our journey and wow, was that worth it. At the time we were in Iceland, the sun didn't rise until about 10am so you were likely to see the full beauty of it. As we were driving down towards the Southern part of Iceland we got to a lay by where you could pull over, there seemed to be quite a few cars taking in the unbelievable views so we joined them. It was around -11 at this point, we jumped out the car, got the camera out and just snapped away at something truly incredible. I had never seen a sunrise quite like that before and it was definitely magical.
Thats the best bit about hiring a car, we had the option to stop so many times on our journey, which is exactly what we kept doing. We wanted to try and take as many photos of this perfect place as possible which brought us to our next quick lay-by pull over. We approached this long road with snowy mountains in the background alongside a frozen river and it was just breath taking. The whole day was like golden hour, all orange toned which made our photos all dreamy.
We finally made it to our 1st stop of the day after stopping so many times on the way to capture the pure beauty of Iceland. We went to the Kerid Volcanic Creator which was incredible. We were so lucky to see it all frozen up which was amazing. We took a walk around the top until we caught people standing on it (brave or what?) so that's exactly what we headed down to do. To be honest, I was really scared so I made Luke do it first (nice Girlfriend, I know) But the ice was so thick and frozen we quickly walked on it just to tick it off the bucket list I guess! I'm so glad I did it because how often can you say you've stood on a Frozen Volcanic Creator in -12 in Iceland? Exactly.
Once we had finished off here and made it off the frozen water without falling through the ice, we headed for our next stop which was the Geyser. This was amazing, the water was so hot and there was steam all over the place. It truly was an amazing thing to see. The water boiled over and blew up around every 5-8 minutes so to try and capture this on camera was quite hard but I gave it my best shot!
We headed straight for Gullfoss waterfall which was just WOW! As soon as your reach the carpark (it was down hill, on pure ice....super scary!) you can hear the noise from the water fall and even the spray went straight onto our camera lens. By this time, the temperature had reach -12 and I've never felt so cold in my life. I couldn't even feel my toes any longer but with a view like this, I couldn't complain. Theres lots to see here, with a set of stairs that takes you really high up so you can look around. Theres also a little path way where you can walk around the side of the waterfall but unfortunately this was shut off due to the snow and ice.
Once we got back to the hotel room, we decided to splash out (for the only time that whole week) and by a pizza each. The previous time we shared a medium sized pizza because it cost us £30. So we splashed out and had 2 pizzas, it was the most expensive pizza I had ever eaten at around £45! It was our last night so we ended up just packing away the hotel room and making sure we don't leave anything behind!
Home time. The day we had to come to the realisation that we actually had to come home and our Iceland adventure was going to be over. We didn't want to over do it on the last day, we had to be out of the room at 12pm. We left our bags in the hotel and to kill some till before heading back to the airport to return the hire car, we explored Reykjavik for the last time. We decided to go up the church that was in the middle of the city which had views you could see for miles. We were lucky we picked a really clear day to do this also. The views were stunning and I would totally recommend doing this! Don't worry, there is a lift to get you up to the top. I did actually think we would have to climb thousands of stairs to reach the top.
Due to the amount of snow there was when we where there, you didn't see many of the pavements (unless they cleared them of course). I had seen this funky pavement over on Instagram and was desperate to find it! Obviously due to the pavements being covered in snow all week, I didn't think I would get the chance. But I found it!! It was so funky and colourful. I don't know the reason behind it but I know that Iceland love their artwork and many of the shops etc where covered with some amazing art.
And of course we had to make a quick pit stop at Reykjavik Chips before we left for a family sized portion of their unbelievable chips. Honestly, go here! It will be the BEST chips you ever eat!
Then to finish up our trip, we took a quick (we had to put our boots in our cases so we only had on Converse and Vans, so it definitely a quick walk) walk down the front before heading back to the hotel to grab our luggage and return the car at the airport.
I couldn't fault this place, the only let down was of course the prices but you can't stop that for exploring the world. This was the most magical place I have seen, such an incredible country full of utter prettiness and I honestly can't wait to come back and finish up the little things we didn't get to finish. I am so in love with Iceland and all I can say is... what an amazing adventure.