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  • Punchdrunk Panda Travels: 6 Days in Iceland (Part 1)
  • founder's bloglifestyletravel

Punchdrunk Panda Travels: 6 Days in Iceland (Part 1)

An opportunity as rare as the Northern Lights, I was given an opportunity to meet my oldest friends in one of the most picturesque countries I have ever been – Iceland.

Iceland - Group 1

For a couple of these folks, I haven’t seen or spoken to them since I have left the Manila to live in Toronto, then now in London. All of us have changed. Most have left the corporate world and ventured into something more entrepreneurial. There are a few who are getting married in the coming months, and new relationships lost and found. Magically, we all just seem to pick-up right where we left of.

I spent 6 days in Iceland and half the time, following my friends around. Unfortunately, I could not stay as long as they did as I had to fly back to London on Monday. Nevertheless, every day spent with these folks made me feel young again, like I was back in university, or even high school!

Day 1: Arrival and Blue Lagoon

It’s not a good start to a holiday when your flight is an hour delayed and you’ve already pre-booked everything, from transfer to entrance ticket to the Blue Lagoon. Thankfully, Icelanders were lenient enough to let me take the next bus trip to the Blue Lagoon and be an hour late for my supposed entry time at this famous lagoon.

The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa and is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. The warm waters (37-39 C) are rich in minerals like silica and sulfur. It is said that bathing in the Blue Lagoon helps with some skin diseases, or at the very least, makes your skin feel renewed (I sure did!). The silicate mineral is the main cause of the water’s milky blue shade.

Iceland - Blue Lagoon

It’s also significantly closer to their airport (20 mins vs 50 mins from the city), so I found that it was more time efficient to go to the lagoon right after you land or before you take off. Don’t worry, they have lockers to store your baggage and transfer packages from the airport to lagoon and from the lagoon to the city.

Day 2: Golden Circle Tour

Driving is Iceland is a breeze. Roads are very well paved and it felt that there was only 1 road in and out of the city. Traffic is also very manageable so be forewarned not to avoid speeding. Iceland is very not forgiving on speeders.

The first stop was Gulfoss Falls. Fortunately, I got there early enough (I or actually, my boyfriend was self driving in Iceland where my friends took a tour package) to see the rainbow. It was my first time to see the end of the rainbow but here’s a Mythbuster moment, there’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Iceland - Gulfoss

After taking countless numbers of photos, we then moved on to watch the Geysers erupt. In that geyser haven (there were a lot in that area), there’s one particular geyser that erupted every 10 minutes or so. The existence of geysers is only in a few places on Earth, so for something being a fairly rare phenomenon, I was lucky to witness 3 consecutive eruptions!

Iceland - Geyser

Last stop for the day before we head to our dinner reservation was Pingvellir (pronounced as Thingvellir) National Park. This area is a UNESCO World Heritage Park and is a site of historical, cultural, and geological importance.

Iceland - Pingvellir

The 1st Icelandic Parliament was established here. It also lies in the rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge – which, personally is such an amazing concept for me. So what this means is that the continental drift between the North American and Eurasian Plates can be clearly seen in the cracks that travel across the region! #GeekModeOn!

One can also snorkel and/or scuba dive in the Sifra canyon (i.e. between the tectonic plates) and witness unparalleled visibility.

Day 3: South Coast and Glacier Walk

Today, we drive off to the Southern Coast of Iceland. First stop was another amazing waterfall. There weren’t any rainbows in site but this didn’t take any beauty away from Seljalandsfoss. This is one of the best-known waterfalls in Iceland. I’ve actually seen so many amazing photos of this place but mine didn’t live up to its greatness. You also don’t need to be adventurous to walk behind the falls but just get ready to get wet.

Iceland - Seljalandsfoss

After being soaked in natural water, we walked to this seemingly secret place called Gljufurarfoss (Canyon river waterfall) to get even wetter! It’s not heavily populated with tourists (until our group of 11 invaded it) so one might actually find some tranquility here. Once you’re there, try to wade your way in to get a closer glimpse of the waterfall’s base.
 
Iceland - Gljufurarfoss
 
We headed for a quick lunch at this cutest red food truck for some classic Icelandic Fish & Chips. I must admit that fish is so common and fresh in Iceland that even if you have a very carnivorous diet, you won’t regret every meal.

Iceland - Fish & Chips

Now, for one of the highlights of this trip: Glacier Walk! I don’t think any word would do justice to explain this place so hopefully, the photos below are enough to bring you to this otherworldly place, which I call Oreo land (real name is Solheimajokull)!

Iceland - Solheimajokull

Iceland - Solheimajokull

Geek fact: Sol: sun, heima: home, jokull: glacier

I don’t know if I should feel sad when I learned that Solheimajokull is shrinking and retreating glacier. At the moment, it’s quite easily accessible by anyone and as long as you have the right gear (crampons and stick), you can easily walk your way across the glacier, with an experience guide of course. Nevertheless, I feel blessed to have experienced this otherworldly landscape in my lifetime.

It was already a packed day but we still pushed through with our itinerary to explore to whole of the South Coast. Last waterfall stop of the day was Skogafoss – a waterfall situated in the Skoga River at the cliffs of the former coastline (note: former coastline, which means that Iceland is still evolving!) Because we were pressed for time, we were only given 15 minutes in this area. But having the “fear of missing out” #fomoalert, I rushed to hike my way up and down in less than 15 minutes.

Iceland - Skogafoss

Last stop before we finally call it a day. We’ve started our trip at 930AM and it was about 7PM by the time we reached the DC-3 Plane Wreckage. Honestly, there is no historical or geographical significance on this site but it the site was just so dramatic (no one died in this crash site).

Iceland - DC3 Plane Crash

On November 24, 1973, a DC-3 plane crashed on the black sand beach at Solheimajokull due to ice storm. On September 18, 2015, Vince and I played hide and seek on this iconic feature. Try to spot me and my other half :p

*second instalment to follow*

  • Nathania Go
  • founder's bloglifestyletravel

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