NeonBroads: Part I - Iceland
Our NeonBroads just went to Iceland, and they live to tell the tale! Read on to see how Maloney and Fender frolicked their way through Icelandic glaciers, hot springs and waterfalls... and of course - some local bars. Like every trip, they went through some ups and downs, but it's all about finding that neon lining - and that they did!
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NeonBroads: Part I - Iceland
The wind whips little pebbles of ice at my eyes - but you could not pay me to close them right now. Our little inflatable boat is zipping along the craggy, skyscraper-high wall of ice that is the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier in Iceland (yeah, we can't pronounce it either) and weaves between glowing blue icebergs that float silently in the lake. It's Day 4 of our around-the-world adventure, and in this eerie landscape it finally hits me:
We're really fucking doing this!!!
On every trip there's a moment when your brain flips from "getting ready stress" mode to "full-on YAY" mode. There's a thrill that feels like your chest might explode; you wonder how you got so lucky. And once that switch is thrown, the obstacles or little mess-ups don't seem so bad. They just add to the fun.
Take Maloney, for example. So far, on this trip, I've seen her:
- Spill a bottle of water all over her crotch.
- Spill a bottle of fizzy water all over her crotch, twice.
- Accidentally pay $45 for a round of beer.
- Fall down in a ginormous mud puddle.
- Spend three days sick and yet somehow manage to forget her jacket on the day we drive four hours to a freezing iceberg lake.
I mean, if a camera crew was following us around, this reality show would definitely be a slapstick. But somehow, I've managed to laugh really, really hard through all these mishaps.
I'm guessing most of you probably have it together a bit better than we do, and don't need tips on how to keep your pants dry. But what I can tell you is how to make the most of your Iceland trip, because you really, really should go.
Rent a car.
Yes, there are a million tours that leave from Reykavik that will bus you to whatever sights you want. But you're not going to need them. In the summer and into fall, the roads are easily passable. There are paved highways that will take you to most day-trip destinations. (Bonus! They drive on the same side of the road as us.) And you won't be crammed into a bus running on someone else's schedule.
Drive the south road.
All the tour books talk about the Golden Road -- and yes, Gullfoss is an incredibly powerful waterfall, the crater is a cool hike, and the scenery is lovely. But it's got nothing on the sweep of the south highway. There are mountains, tons of waterfalls, black sand beaches, ponies!!!! -- just everything. Trust us. Also, far fewer tour busses.
Hit the grocery.
I love dropping some coin on great food. But in Iceland, you are going to pay a million dollars for food that is just plain okay. Aside from trying some traditional Icelandic foods -- fermented shark (hork!), mashed fish, smoked lamb -- we survived on cheap breakfast pastries from Reykavik's oldest bakery Bernhöftsbakarí (yeah, we can't pronounce it either). It was only in our last day or two that we started hitting a grocery store, and it seriously makes a difference.
Pack your layers.
Especially a rain layer. The weather is decidedly San Francisco-esque. One minute it's foggy AF and then suddenly the sun breaks through for 20 minutes before it starts raining. Don't forget the weatherproof shoes!
Visit these spots.
- The Blue Lagoon is the posh version of the hot springs that dot the island. But you can hike to natural hot springs everywhere. We visited a hot river called Reykjadalur -- about 45 minutes out of Reykavik and an hour hike to the springs -- and thought it was even better.
- Seljalandsfoss is a waterfall you can walk behind! A little farther up the trail, there's a slot cavern you can walk into and see another one.
- Reynisfjara is a black sand beach with geometric basalt outcroppings that (clearly) make for great photos. We were there in rain and shine -- both were incredible. You may even see puffins – though we didn’t.
- In Reykavik: Make a point to walk around and see the crazy street art. There are gorgeous murals everywhere in the shopping and downtown districts. And hit the bars, obvi. Our two favorites were Lebowski Bar, themed for the movie, and Kex, the bar at the hostel we should have stayed at. Kex has live music most nights of the week. Bonus!