After Phase One of our family’s Round-the-World odyssey (August-November 2014), we returned to the United States in late November and early December 2014. We enjoyed sharing Thanksgiving and celebrating an early Christmas with family members before setting off on Phase Two on December 16.
We took advantage of IcelandAir’s competitive prices between the United States and Europe and their stopover program, which lets you include a stay in Iceland at no additional cost. While flying from Orlando, Florida, to Paris, France, we enjoyed two days and two nights in Reykjavik.We loved Iceland. Visiting just prior to Christmas, we learned about the Yule Lads, thirteen troll-like figures from Icelandic folklore who visit children on the nights before Christmas and either put presents in their shoes or, if they have been naughty, leave them potatoes. When not visiting children’s homes, the Yule Lads are up to mischief such as stealing milk, slamming doors, licking spoons, and swiping sausages.
We enjoyed the weather with freezing temperatures, snowfall, and short hours of daylight. During our visit, the sun rose about 11:00 each morning and set about 3:30 each afternoon.
We searched for the Aurora Borealis, driving one night about 100 kilometers to find clear skies so we could see the lights. We think the dim shades of green and red we saw in the night sky were the northern lights.
Most of all, we enjoyed our trip to the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa located in a lava field outside of Reykjavik. The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s top tourist attractions, and visitors pay hefty prices to float or swim in its hot waters. Thanks to a Christmas gift from my parents, we enjoyed a package that included a robe, towel, flip-flops, facial mask, and drink.
During our visit, which began after 2:00 p.m. so we could be in the water at sunset, the air temperature was about thirty degrees Fahrenheit. Snow and sleet were falling, and mist rose from the 107-degree water. When we ventured outside in our swimming suits, we ran as quickly as we could to the warm water.
We had a grand time in the water. We kept our heads just above the surface as snow covered our hair. We applied our facial masks, and we enjoyed our smoothies. We spent time in a steam room, and our daughter, Rachel, made a snow angel on the side of the pool.
We are glad we included a stopover in Iceland during our travels, and we are especially glad we visited the Blue Lagoon while in Iceland. Is it expensive? Yes. Is it a tourist trap? Yes. Is it worth doing? Certainly, yes.
As it came time to leave, we faced a small quandary. It seemed obvious that we should return our towels and robes in the bins at the exit, but there was no place to return the flip-flops. What should we do? We kept them, and now we have them with us on Phase Two of our Round-the-World adventure as a fun reminder of a nice time on a great island.