My first day in Reykjavik, Iceland was full of big moments. I didn't waste any time and headed to the Blue Lagoon straight from the airport.
The tour companies in Iceland have got everything figured out. Many people have lengthy layovers from Iceland to other places in Europe so the tour companies have arranged for buses that go directly from the airport to the major attractions.
It was around 8 am when I landed in Iceland and the sun hadn't even risen yet. I got on the tour bus with a handful of other passengers and we drove in silence through the dark towards the Blue Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermic spa where all of the water is naturally replenished every 40 hours. It's full of minerals such as sulphur and silica, which are good for the skin (but terrible for hair).
It was about 10 am when we arrived and the sun was just beginning to rise turning the sky from almost black into a deep shade of blue.
After a somewhat long flight, the Blue Lagoon and its spa was exactly what I needed. The water was just the right scorching hot temperature, and staring into the sky and at the mountains was relaxing. It was a bittersweet moment when I realized that since I wouldn't likely be in Iceland again, it would be the only time I would get to enjoy the Blue Lagoon.
After spending a good couple of hours at the Lagoon, I got on the bus and headed into the city. Reykjavik surprised me a little when I realized how much it resembled a traditional European city. For some reason, I associated Iceland (since it was separate physically from Europe) with Arctic destinations in Canada such as Yellowknife or Nunavut. I didn't expect such a beautiful town, but rather just simple buildings.
I stayed at Hlemmur Square, which is on top of the main bus station. This is what the view from my hostel looked like:
Though it was a 10 bed dorm, only one other girl stayed during the first night. She was an extremely quiet and considerate roommate, so it was fantastic.
The next night, I had the entire room to myself. It was like I rented a studio apartment.
Like most Nordic countries, Iceland doesn't get a lot of daylight. I was woken up at 9 am when it was still dark by school children getting on the bus.
The sun sets around 3 pm, with the sky being completely dark by 4:30.
I walked around the city and took in the sites. It was really neat to compare even just slight differences from back home and Reykjavik. For example, the architecture in the below building would stick out back in Toronto, but seemed to fit in in Iceland.
I was extremely excited when I stumbled onto a restaurant that served traditional Icelandic food, but decided not to blow my budget on the first night.
Instead, I went out for a night time excursion to see the Northern Lights.
I have never seen the lights in-person before, despite living in Canada.
It was a wonderful moment, when the lights showed up. Everyone who was there let out a cheer, as we had been waiting for a few hours. It was also extremely cold. I have a newfound appreciation for outdoor photographers after waiting outside for the lights to show up.
In real life, the lights were nowhere as bright as the photos because the photos were long exposures, but it was still amazing to see a long strip of light in the sky I wasn't used to seeing. Seeing and photographing the lights is also one of the things on my checklist for this trip, so it was nice to be able to accomplish it on the first day.
I hope the rest of Europe brings experiences as exciting as the Blue Lagoon and Northern Lights!