Friday, May 20, 2016

Europe Adventure: Day Two, Iceland and more travel

Because of the time change we would be arriving in Iceland on the morning of April 6th. 
We finally arrived at about 7am. 
We were so happy to be landing and to see our first new country and getting our first stamp in our passports!

Iceland's airport was small but it was pretty confusing for us as we tried to find our way out. The signs weren't great and no one we spoke to knew where we were supposed to go or so it seemed. 
I would love to go to Iceland again someday and actually be able to explore it more. I would rent a car so that we were able to get around as much as we pleased and I think we would have a better experience. 
I say this because our experience here wasn't as great as I thought it would be with the exception of the Blue Lagoon itself. We met some really nice workers there and had fun but other than that most of the people were really rude to us and we had such a hard time finding out any information. 
We used Reykjavik excursions to transport us and the buses were amazingly nice and comfortable but hard to find on our way back! I will get to that again later. 
Again, I don't really complain much about this kind of stuff usually. But we were tired and just would have liked things to go a lot smoother. I have heard so many amazing things about Iceland recently and I was kind of bummed that we didn't have that kind of experience as a whole.

Here is my mom on the bus...

Like I said the bus was actually really nice and big. 
We drove about 30 minutes to get to the Blue Lagoon. 
The scenery was mostly like this... 
very cool and unlike anything I had really seen before.

The bus dropped us off in a big parking lot where we saw this sign...

We walked down a trail surrounded by lava rocks to get to the actual building. 
They had a place where you could pay to leave your luggage but we only had carry on bags so we were able to take them with us into the main building and stash them in our lockers for free. 
They gave us little wristbands to use to open and close our lockers and pay for anything while there (kind of like Disney's Magic Bands). 
We went to the dressing rooms and picked out lockers. The lockers are pretty big. As you saw in my last post I had a big carry on duffel bag and it fit just fine.
We then used a dressing room to change into our swimsuits, cheesy swim caps that we bought, and flip flops. 
Most people just changed right in the dressing room but we weren't really comfortable with doing that and had to use the dressing room. 
Then we walked to the shower room and took a quick shower before walking outside where it was very cold and getting into the water which was the PERFECT temperature. 
I was afraid that it would be really hot like a hot tub and we wouldn't be able to stay in too long but it was actually so perfect. There were patches of warm, really warm and hot depending on where you were. 
We bought a towel for 6 euros and the nice girl gave us two even though we only paid for one. 
These we were able to hang up outside the water and we stashed our flip flops there as well.
Now here is my next bit of advice: 
Invest in a waterproof phone case if you want to take really good photos. 
I didn't want to spend the money for that and instead bought an old school water camera. 
We got photos. But they do not do the place justice. 
I will show you some photos of what it looked like in person after the photos that I took. 
I highly recommend a visit to this place. 
After the long flight it felt so good to walk around in the water here.

My mom and I had the exact same swimsuit. Hers was black and white and mine was blue and white. 
We both wore these old school swim caps to keep the water from getting in our hair as I had heard that it can make it extremely dry and unmanageable for a while after it gets on your hair. 
I kept laughing whenever I thought about what we must look like to everyone else. 

So the two photos below from the Blue Lagoon website show what the water looks like in person:

I also wish we would have stayed longer.
We got it into our heads a few hours in that if we went and got a bus to Reykjavik we could then catch a bus back to the airport and we would have a few hours in the town of Reykjavik, which we really wanted.
We went back into the dressing room and got dressed and used their great vanity areas to freshen up.

But there were no buses. For at least an hour. And then every bus I went up to was not the right one.
Finally a bus came that we could use and we didn't have enough time so we had to wait for one to take us back to the airport, which also took a while to show up.
This is why I wish we had a rental car.
We had a couple of hours sitting around that we could have been back in the water!
I wish we had done that differently.

I did use that time to get a picture of Jennifer Rain on the lava rock.

Eventually we got back to the airport but then they didn't have anyone at the gates letting you in. 
We had to wait another hour before anyone showed up and let us check back in and go through security. 
We were hungry at this point and so tired we didn't feel like walking back over the food court area so we ate a Zone bar. We brought a ton of these on the trip with us and they came in so handy. We used them for breakfast a lot and sometimes for other meals when nothing was available!

When we finally got back to our gate we sat to wait for loading. We met a really nice man from England and spoke to him the entire wait which was very pleasant. 
We had to ride this bus out to our plane...

We got on the plane at around 4:10. 
But then our pattern kicked in and we were, again, delayed. 
We had to sit in the plane for a while. 
This plane was also small, smaller than the last one. 
There wasn't much room and we did have someone come to sit with us again. 
But it did have one cool thing. 
There were foot rests under the seat in front of us. I liked that!
We soon took off and headed for England!

However, once we got close to Heathrow, we circled for a very long time before they gave us clearance to land. In the end the 2.5 hour flight ended up taking about 3.5 hours. 
By the time we landed we were exhausted, hungry, and sore. 
But we were there!
It seemed unbelievable to finally be in England. 

We went through customs and then got some trolleys and picked up our luggage. 
It all arrived!
Heathrow was huge and it took us a long time to get to baggage claim and then even longer to get to the Heathrow Express. 
We saw this along the way. 

You can take the regular tube for less money but we opted for the quicker Heathrow Express and I am so glad we did. 
It was only about $25 each because we bought our tickets a few months in advance (we didn't have to specify a time, just a day) and it only took 15 minutes to get from Heathrow to Paddington Station. 
At that time of night after traveling for so long it was worth every penny. 
We also splurged to spend the night at the Hilton Paddington so that once we got to the train station we could just exit the train and walk to our hotel without even leaving the station.
Again, worth every penny. 
We checked in a little bit after 10 P.M.
By this time we had been up for about 36 hours and we crashed. 
The beds were extremely comfortable and we slept so well. 
And, it worked out great because we had NO jet lag because of getting on their schedule immediately upon arrival like that. 
I will post pictures of the hotel in the next post!

Next up: Hilton Paddington and Paddington Station


The Kings said...

Loved your write-up! Such fun memories!

cheryl said...

Glad you do! It is fun to go back and write about it all. Like living it again!

Donna said...

Those hot springs (is that what they are?) look so nice. I've always wanted to go in those.
The waiting you had to do sounds rough! I would have been so tired, and probably grumpy. :) But at least you had England waiting for you at the end of it.
I totally believe in paying for convenience! It's usually totally worth it.

cheryl said...

It is a geothermal pool created by accident from the power plant next door... sounds weird but it is totally safe and really nice.
I agree. Especially when you are somewhere foreign. Time is money too so if it will save me time and stress I am willing to pay it if I can!

Seth and Julie said...

Iceland! How cool! What a fun little stopping point.

cheryl said...

Yeah. If I ever make it to Iceland again I will try to explore more though. It really looks like such a cool place off the beaten path.