I felt so lucky when I found out about WOW Air‘s ongoing promotion to Iceland. The only catch is, I would have to fly from Baltimore Washington International Airport in Maryland. After doing some pretty quick research, I found out that taking the Amtrak (a train that leaves from New York Penn Station) will get me to BWI Amtrak Station in under 3 hours. For a total of $386 USD ($98 roundtrip Amtrak tickets + $288 roundtrip flights to Iceland) I basically travel-hacked my way into one of the most stunning places I have ever been in my whole life.
I arrived in Iceland at 5:00 AM, and took the Gray Line bus from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavík Downtown Hostel, where I will be checking in after a couple of days. I planned on going on a 3-day excursion with Extreme Iceland, and I had until 9:00 AM before I got picked up by a shuttle bus from the tour company. It was ridiculously cold in Iceland, especially because the sun did not even rise yet. I was also super hungry, so I took a short walk through the city of Reykjavík to a quaint restaurant called Bergsson Mathús. Here, I had my first taste of Icelandic breakfast: a soft-boiled egg, cheese, ham, slices of bread and coffee.
By 9:00 AM, we were already on our way to our very first destination, the Þingvellir National Park. Here, I was able to go from the North American tectonic plate to the Eurasian tectonic place. I was also able to visit the hot springs of Geysir, where the English word geyser is derived from. Every 5-7 minutes, a vent in the ground ejects a very tall column of extremely hot boiling water and steam.
We also took a trip to see Gullfoss, Iceland’s most famous waterfall. Together, the Þingvellir, the geysers and the Gullfoss form the Golden Circle. The fourth and fifth seasons of the popular show The Game of Thrones, were filmed here.
On our way to Skógafoss Waterfall, we stopped by a farm that had a couple of Icelandic horses roaming about. They are so adorable and super cuddly! The moment we got out of our bus, they just started walking towards our direction. Icelanders eat horse meat as part of their Norwegian and Celtic traditions. Horses, unlike cows and chickens, are the only higher animals that can survive Iceland’s extreme cold weather conditions.
We arrived at the small village of Vík, at least 115 miles southeast of Reykjavík where I was able to enjoy the sunset in one of Iceland’s black sand beaches. The sand at Reynisfjara is black because it is made out of volcanic ash. The whole island is the result of the eruptions of so many volcanos throughout time.
The Reynisdrangar are towering sea stacks, where legend has it that two trolls pulling a ship to shore were caught by sunlight, and turned into stone. What I love about Icelanders is the fact that they believe in superstitions, fantasy and mystery. Their culture is rich with legends and folklores that have been shared from generations to generations. They live in the land of trolls and elves, the very same lands that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to write The Lord of the Rings.
Wearing: Boohoo USA
Photos by: @thewanderlustry and @flyg10
“The snow was endless, a heavy blanket on the outdoors; it had a way about it. A beauty. But I knew, like many things, beauty could be deceiving.”