Spring break of 2017 was just weeks away and every single friend group had a beach condo in Florida or a catamaran in Mexico that was calling their name. I had grown tired of the endless road trips and weeks spent lying on my couch in Kansas City, so I proposed a wild idea to my good friend Alison:
"What if we ventured out of our comfort zone and tried to explore ICELAND?!"
She was taken aback. Iceland? How much would that cost? What would we do there? How do we even get there from the University of Mississippi?
Knowing she would throw these questions my way, I pulled open my notebook and showed her my plan for our grand expedition. We would drive 14 hours up to Baltimore, where we could catch a WOW Air (Iceland’s cheapest airline) for $300 round trip if we left on Saturday and returned the next Friday. That gave us exactly five days in Iceland to sightsee, eat, and explore the beautiful nature this exotic island had to offer. We could book an Airbnb right next to Rekyjavik’s Shopping center for $200 for the week and take bus and ferry tours out of the city to go whale watching, nature hunting, and northern light watching. So I finally cracked the question:
Could we actually make it to Iceland?
And she said yes.
So we drove up to Baltimore and stayed near Chesapeake Bay for the night, caught an early flight to Iceland, and then went straight from the airport to the Blue Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon is a man- made hot springs located right in between the airport and Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. So we were able to get a shuttle that took us to the Lagoon and directly to our bus stop by our Airbnb. It was very easy and surprisingly affordable to obtain a pass with towels, mud facials, and drinks included. So we spent from around 6-8 AM relaxing and splashing around the lagoon, coming to terms with the fact that we had actually gotten ourselves to a remote island far from the US. We couldn’t believe our luck!
We then headed to Reykjavik where we were staying in a small white house with three rooms for Airbnb guests. We took one room with a queen size bed and access to a shower, toilet, and small kitchen. It was located right next to the top of Reykjavik’s main shopping road and a great coffee shop.
We wandered down the streets, ate some pizza, bought some souvenirs, and took in the beautiful sights and graffiti of the city.
That night, an Icelandic friend from my school took us to her favorite restaurant, where I had smoked salmon and my friend had cod. I’m not a huge fish lover, but Iceland is well known for their amazing salmon, so I had to give it a shot — and it definitely didn’t disappoint! My friend took us around to see the cathedral at the top of Reykjavik, a Viking museum, and the old Parliament building. She gave us insight on the history of the city and really helped us understand how Reykjavik came to be what it is today. I HIGHLY recommend always befriending a local or taking a local tour wherever you travel, because it adds such rich history and depth to your travels. We went to bed well-fed, rested, and traveled in the nation’s Capitol.
The next few days were jammed packed with sightseeing. We took a golden circle tour that took us on a bus to see the tectonic plates meeting, the biggest waterfall of my life, and the famous hot springs located right outside of the city. It was beautiful, cold, and so majestic. We had never seen anything like it and couldn’t believe our eyes.
We then headed to Reykjavik Roasters, the best little coffee shop at the top of Reykjavik by the cathedral. It was a nice pick-me-up and helped us get through another long day of shopping, eating, and sightseeing.
We also went whale-watching on a ferry. We never saw any whales, but we did get to see the beautiful scenery of the ocean surrounding this huge island and a couple dolphins. Be forewarned, it was very rocky and I became very queasy, but it was completely worth the ride! Our northern lights tour was canceled three separate times due to severe weather restrictions, so we ended up leaving Iceland without crossing that off our bucket list. I highly suggest that you book your northern lights tour for the first day of your trip, so you can reschedule it and still see them before you leave.
All in all, we had an amazing, inexpensive time in Iceland and brought back the most epic Spring Break stories the University of Mississippi had ever heard of. I would recommend this country to any and all who have a knack for traveling and hope this post convinces someone to actually check out this beautifully exotic island!