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Iceland Vacation

I went on a vacation to Iceland the week before Christmas of 2018, and I had a blast! We explored much of Reykjavik and went glacier hiking, horseback riding, and relaxed in the Blue Lagoon.

My friend Lauren Smith and I were talking the previous summer about where we want to visit eventually and we found that both of us really wanted to go to Iceland. We did some math and found out that we could both afford the cost of a trip to Iceland, and we decided to go during December of 2017. We partially wanted to see how Iceland is like in winter (and have a higher probability of seeing the northern lights), but also we wanted to plan it sooner rather than later because our plans for summer 2018 weren't as certain at the time. So we decided to take the trip to Iceland as friends, and everything worked out great and we had an amazing time. There's lots of writing below, so I'm going to put a gallery of my favorite pictures right here for everyone that won't read the whole thing.

(You should scroll down to the penis museum section though, it's worth a read)

Overall observations


Everything is expensive compared to back in the USA. Food is often $20+ per entree, and beer is $12+ without a happy hour going on. The signature Iceland sweater is $130+, upwards of $250 for a sweater made from Icelandic sheep wool. Simple souvenirs that you expect to be $5 will be $15. We saw a 12" sandwich advertised for $15 like it was a good deal.


Lauren and I agreed that we like everything about the restaurants here (except for the prices). The main differences between in America are that once the host delivers your food, they leave you alone. They might come back at one point to take away plates and then they might ask how the food was or to refill drinks, but otherwise you're left alone. Also, they give you a receipt with the items you ordered whenever they deliver your food. Then when you're done eating and ready to leave you take the receipt up to the counter and pay. Your credit card never goes out of sight and you can stay as long or as little as you'd like without having to depend on the speed of your host. Also tipping in Iceland isn't expected.


There's a lot of street art or graffiti in the city, but we noticed all the artists/vandals seem to be respectful of one another. The street art usually are very nice pieces, and no one sprays graffiti over them. The graffiti is usually a little far from the main street. It could be that the city of Reykjavik is just good at controlling this, but either way it's nice

Electricity and traffic lights

All of the power lines in the city are underground - you won't see a single power line overhead. Their traffic lights are also just on 8' poles instead of suspended by wires. The combination of these things means that they don't have many power outages and the stop lights should still work no matter what the weather is. Sometimes it's confusing which traffic light you should be looking at, but the locals seem to have it figured out. (They drive on the right side of the road just like we do BTW)


Everyone has to shower completely naked before entering a public pool or hot tub area. It isn't too awkward because everyone in the locker room area accepts it as normal and isn't embarrassed by it.

There aren't any blinds on the windows - just curtains and/or a pull-down cover.

We didn't see any gyms or athletic centers - maybe people just jog or ride bikes or hike around here?

The water was great everywhere except our AirBnB. The place we're staying is very old, so we think they haven't replaced their pipes since the few years that they used sulphuric water from the geothermal areas as drinking water.

There are a lot of people from other countries working as tour guides. Seems like a fun job

Days 0-1 - Travel and Reykjavik

This "day" was really about 40 hours long for us due to travel times and the time change. We left Kingsport at 7:30AM Kingsport time (12:30pm iceland time), and our flight arrived in Reykjavik at 5:00AM Iceland time the next day. We pushed ourselves to stay awake until 3:00pm Iceland time so that we would be adjusted to the time zone.

We did a lot of things today, a lot more than we expected. As soon as we were dropped off in the city we walked to our AirBnB and stored our luggage under the staircase there so that we wouldn't have to carry it around all day. Then we walked to the Sandholt Bakeri which was luckily open around 7:30 AM. After breakfast we wandered downtown Reykjavik for about an hour, stopping in the single store that was open early on the Sunday morning (an ice climbing gear store), and then at the Hallgrímskirkja church.

After a short break in the church to warm up we walked down to the famous boat sculpture, the Sun Voyager. From the boat statue we saw the city's concert hall, the Harpa. We were pleasantly surprised as to how close everything was - we probably walked for less than 45 minutes to go from our AirBnB to breakfast, church, and concert hall.

At this point it was about 11:30AM, so we decided to go find lunch. When people tell you food is expensive in Iceland, they aren't exaggerating. We looked at the menus in the windows at 5 different restaurants and didn't find a meal for less than $20. Most places had burgers for $25 ish, fish and chips would be $20-$30, and even a 12" sandwich was advertised as $15. Eventually we accepted that food would be expensive and chose one of the restaurants that was open. It was an expensive meal, but also very tasty.

One neat thing we noticed about the city is that there is a lot of grafitti or street art.

After lunch we still had a few hours to kill before our AirBnB room would be ready, so we walked back to the church and paid for the tower tour where you can ride an elevator to the top of the spire and look out over all of Reykjavik. It was super cool, a little bit windy, but worth the time. We chatted up some friendly tourists from New York while we were waiting in line.

Side note: with T-Mobile I have cell service in Iceland without having to pay anything extra. I got a message from T-Mobile when we landed that said something like "Welcome to Iceland! You'll have 2G speeds and full voice/messaging data at no extra charge". So that's cool, I like T-Mobile.

While we were eating I got a message saying that our AirBnB room was ready, and because we were close to fall