(Photo: Hrunalaug natural pool).
First of all, happy 2020!
I did not blog for months. I don’t know why but 2019 was quite hectic. I must say that my job (flight attendant), running the household, taking care of a toddler, and now being pregnant of baby 2, having pelvis instability and trying to find a bigger house is intense. I wish I had more time in a week and especially more ‘me-time’ so I could blog much more.
Anyway, last September I added a new country to my places I’ve been list. I visited Iceland together with the boyfriend and the baby/toddler. I was quite nervous about the baby/toddler thing ….but it went surprisingly well! Besides travel tips I will share my practical baby/toddler tips in this blog. I will split up this Iceland blog in several parts, otherwise the average reading time for this blogpost will be way way too long.
(Note: In Iceland I was already pregnant and very sick. I took pills every day against the nausea and the vomiting so I won’t share any spectacular food or restaurant tips because food and especially onion and garlic was my worst enemy during this trip).
We were very lucky with the weather. Iceland is known for windy cold weather with lots of rain. So we expected this kind of weather and brought raincoats and pants, rain ponchos, the right shoes and the waterproof camera etc. Beside some small rain showers, we experienced just one really bad and stormy day. Still, If you are planning to travel around in Iceland it is important to bring the right clothes and shoes including some rain protection.
We flew with IcelandAir to Reykjavik (Keflavik Airport) and arrived in the afternoon. This was the first flight ever for baby Phileine. I will share my tips about flying with a baby in a separate mommy blog.
Car Rental struggles:
After we have arrived at Keflavik Airport we immediately went to the car rental. The car rental shops are close to the airport. You have two possibilities to reach these car rentals. First option is walking, second option is to take the free shuttlebus. As we have the toddler and a stroller and some luggage we took the free shuttlebus which leaves every ten minutes. Unfortunately it was very busy at this time and it took much longer than expected. The waiting line behind us was quite long, so some rude people found it acceptable to push me to the side while I’m carrying a baby/toddler in a baby carrier strapped on my belly. Very strange….
We rented our car at Blue car rental as their reviews are very good on the internet. Unfortunately again there was also a huge waiting line at the car rental (probably because all the flights arrive around the same time). At this point I almost lost my nerve. I felt very tired (pregnant) and my daughter was exhausted. I tried to keep her entertained with food and more stuff on the iPad but it was impossible. Now I understand why a lot of companies have a ‘parents with infants first’ policy. You cannot let parents with a 1 year old kid wait for more than one hour in my opinion…. Luckily everything was allright with the car, they had the reserved car seat already available and their service is good (besides the waiting time).
We booked 2 nights at the Skuggi Hotel by Keahotels in the city center of Reykjavik. They have baby cods available, the staff is very friendly, the rooms big and clean and they have a microwave downstairs to heat up baby meals. Our daughter was so so tired she could only cry. We tried to walk to a restaurant and passed by the famous Hallgrimskirkja church of Reykjavik, but it was mission impossible with our daughter. As it was Friday night a lot of restaurants were full. We ended up with pizza (without onion and garlic) in our room so Phileine could sleep in her baby cod.
The next day, after a good breakfast we packed our stuff (including food and bread for Phileine and towels and swimming clothes for us) and took the car to the golden circle route. First stop: Thingvellir (Þingvellir) National Park. This park is famous for its boundary between the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates. I originally planned to skip this park as every blog and website is mentioning something about diving between these tectonic plates and not mentioning anything about the beautiful nature this park has to offer. As we are traveling with a baby I thought this place was not suitable for our little family. But I was wrong as we visited this place by accident. We bumped into very pretty rock formations, a waterfall, rippling creeks and a typical Icelandic church. Tip for families: do not bring the stroller but a baby carrier.
(Photos: Þingvellir National Park).
After a small hike at Thingvellir national Park we visited both Geysers named (how original) Geysir and Strokkur (located at the same site). Strokkur is not active anymore but Geyser is very active and errupts up to 15-20 meters every 4-10 minutes! So if you did not take the right camera shot, just wait several minutes and you get another chance again! At the parking spot you find a restaurant and restrooms. Geysir is accessible with a stroller if it’s not raining. But I guess if it’s raining, the place will change into a mud pool.
After Geysir we visited the famous Gulfoss waterfall. Oh my my ….it was so windy and cold over here. The waterfall is very big and impressive, but the relatively small climb is quite steep and it’s hard to find a good photo spot. As I’ve seen a lot of big waterfalls in my life I was not so impressed by this one just because of the set up of the lookout points. Unlike the Gulfoss waterfall, I’m really positive about the Faxifoss waterfall. This waterfall is way smaller (but very wide though) but the whole set up and view is much prettier. There are less people visiting this waterfall, so you don’t have to wait in line for a good photo spot!
(Photo: Gulfoss Waterfall).
(Photos: Faxifoss waterfall).
The absolute highlight of the day was visiting the natural pool of Hrunalaug. Besides the beautiful roads and landscapes on our way to the natural pool, it is not touristic at all and the view is breathtaking.
Normally, tourists pay a visit to the famous Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Unfortunately, babies are not allowed to enter the famous (and touristic) blue lagoon (they are only allowed in the cafetaria). But I’m so happy someone recommended this natural pool to us. I think it’s a unique experience. Especially because we were alone at the moment we visited this pool.
(Photo: Hrunalaug view).
At the parking lot there is somebody in a car who asks for the entrance fee (cash only, euros are also allowed as we were too lazy to go to the ATM or search for one). I cannot remember exactly how much the entrance fee was, I guess between 10-15 euros per person. If you pass by the entrance, it’s a 5 minute walk to the natural pool. The walking path to the natural pool is not stroller-friendly again, but we brought the stroller with us and parked her next to the pool so she could see us while we were inside the pool. At the pool you find a small wooden hobbit house with grass on top, where you can change and leave your stuff and towels. From this small house, which is open at the backside, you enter the pool immediately and enjoy the stunning view! I was very surprised as the temperature of the water is lovely! Besides that I was also very surprised my daughter managed to take off her warm woolen sock and threw them inside the water one meter further…
(Photo: Hrunalaug pool).
After this nice experience it was time to drive back to Reykjavik and find a place for dinner. We originally planned to have dinner at the Hlemmur Matthol food court which reminds me of the Foodhallen in Amsterdam. This is a very cool spot where you find a lot of food and drink stands and it’s a really nice place to drink beer or wine. As it was a Saturday night the place was packed after 7PM and we could not manage to find a table where we could sit with the stroller. So we moved to a restaurant at the opposite of the Hlemmur Matthol food court, which looked nice as well for dinner.
At this particular night they predicted an aurora (northern lights) storm. You can check the northern lights forecast for Iceland at this website. Please note you cannot see the northern lights very well if there is a lot of light pollution around. On top of that, the sky has to be clear and not cloudy.
If you are staying in Reykjavik where you have to deal with a lot of street lights, the best spot to see the northern lights is the Grottuviti lighthouse. According to the hotel staff the best time to check out the northern lights at that particular day was between 21-22pm. So we pulled the baby out of bed (sorry Phileine) and drove to the light house. It’s quite a challenge to find a parking spot near the light house as it’s a small road and we were not the only people around by far. A traffic jam started so we decided not to wait but to park our car in a side street as there were many people gathering near the water as well. Bingo, we could spot a whole northern light show above the water! It was so amazing! I spotted the northern light several times from the cockpit window in an airplane during work. But this was much better and bigger! Even some red norther lights appeared in the sky! Phileine missed the whole experience because she was knock out. But that gave us time to take a lot of pictures!
(Photos: Northern lights).
Stay tuned for some more Iceland Blogs!