Iceland: the best layover ever

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So whenever you book the cheapest flight available, you’re going to have to wait for a long time. Our layover in Iceland was sixteen hours, almost a full day in the airport at Keflavík. However, we flew with the surprisingly great Icelandair who offer stopovers in Iceland of up to seven days with no extra cost on your flight.

We decided to take a tour with the company Reykjavík Excursions to the Blue Lagoon: geothermal hot springs located in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula

At first I was hesitant to take a tour to a place that was so obviously a tourist attraction. The tour was a little pricey for us: admission to the Lagoon is 45 euros and along with the bus pick-up and drop-off the whole thing cost about $80. However, for us it was definitely worth it. Even though it was 40 degrees outside, we were able to bathe for hours in warm hot springs that were a translucent and misty blue. We put on face masks and floated for hours with people from all over the world. It was the most relaxed I’ve felt travelling and was the perfect cure for no food and jet lag.

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Some things to know about Iceland:

1. Icelanders are well-educated. The island has a 100% literacy rate, and 1 in 10 Icelanders will publish a book in their lifetime.

2. It has the largest glacier in Europe: Vatnajökull.

3. The only native mammal is the arctic fox.

4. Sheep outnumber people.

5. Icelanders love ice cream and will wait in lines for hours to get it, even in blizzards. We were lucky enough to fly on National Day in Iceland, and the stewardesses gave everyone free ice cream.

6. There are so many things to do: from glacier hiking to river rafting, snorkeling and kayaking, whale watching and horseback riding, going inside volcanoes or seeing the Northern Lights. Iceland is an adventurer’s paradise.

7. Iceland is a leader in geothermal energy and 85% of its energy usage is renewable. 90% of homes are heated geothermally. Because of the cheapness of energy, Icelanders use tons of it.

8. The Geothermal Training Programme of the U.N. University is in Iceland. Students come from developing countries that have geothermal potential to learn and then bring back the knowledge to their own countries.

9. About half of Iceland’s population believe in elves. The place is full of folklore and myths relying on Scandanavian traditions.

10. It is the most sparsely populated country in Europe with just 329,100 inhabitants.

Iceland looks like another world. It’s geologically and volcanically active and was shrouded in mists when we arrived. The word for Reykjavik, the capital, actually means smoky bay. Photographers love it for its ever changing light. During the summer it stays light most of the day and night. In the winter, you can see the Aurora Borealis.

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It was unlike any place I’ve ever been. I wish we could’ve stay longer, but after spending an uncomfortable night in the airport, going on our tour and then heading back to the airport, we had to catch our flight to Frankfurt, Germany.

Some Icelandic words for the road: Takk means thank you. Góðan daginn is good day.

Also, Iceland is known for its great music scene. Check out this video from a  band my cousin Audrey showed me: Ásgeir.

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