Today is the day I’ve been waiting for. The day we get to ride Icelandic Ponies!!!!! I’m out of my mind excited, I just want to cuddle these gorgeous animals!! Our tour wasn’t until 10:30am and the ranch was only 30 minutes from our hotel so we got to “sleep in” a little today. We had a nice leisurely breakfast, I messaged the Ice cave tour company about a possible tour tomorrow and we headed out to the ranch.
Much to my happiness there was a fresh blanket of snow everywhere! It was gorgeous! The sun was starting to peak out over the clouds and it was just a winter wonderland everywhere you looked. As we are driving up to the ranch I’m getting more and more excited for this ride. The Hestheimar ranch (link here) is on a gorgeous piece of land with a little stream, rolling hills and open plains. I could not WAIT to get out there. We arrive at the barn and find again we are lucky enough to have a private tour. We didn’t pay for a private tour, we were just the only ones to sign up for the time slot. Score! The two interns (one from Denmark the other from Finland) took us to meet our horses and for the life of me I cant remember their names (the girls or the horses, I’m a terrible person). The horses had Icelandic names though, so its not like they were easy to remember American names like Steve or something. My horse was so friendly, he let me scratch his head, sink my hands into his mane and love on him. Joe’s horse was the same way but he was so fat! I asked the girls if the horse was pregnant he was so fat (before I knew he was a boy horse of course lol).
We took our horses for a loop or two around the indoor pen mainly so Joe could get used to being on a horse and to get acquainted with our horses. I have ridden before and remember a lot of what my friend Courtney taught me years ago (she was a champion barrel racer when we were in High School. Girl knows her stuff). Confidence is key with horses, no problem there 🙂 We walked out onto the grounds in a single file with the first intern leading the way, followed by Joe, then me and finally the last intern. We took a beautiful walk through the grounds alternating between walking, trotting and galloping. All in all we were out for about 1 1/2 hours. It was so peaceful to be on these gentle creatures, just you and nature. Joe was having the time of his life too! He was a little worried about horse back riding at first but once he got used to it loved it just as much as I knew he would. We brought the goPro along for the ride but I forgot to delete videos from our cruise and didnt get to capture as much of the ride as I would have liked. Oh well, it lives on in my memory at least! This ride was by far my absolute favorite paid activity out of everything we did. It was also one of the least expensive things we did (I think it was $75 per person) and worth every single penny.
I would have loved to have gone longer, and honestly the girls would have let us but I was FREEZING! Before you say anything though, I came prepared! I had on fleece lined leggings, jeans, ski socks, toe warmers, a thermal undershirt, bulky sweater, Patagonia jacket, thick scarf, beanie, hand warmers and ski gloves. I was FREEZING!! I’ll tell you the strangest part though was my knees. They were so cold if felt like I was being stabbed by a thousand knives in my knee caps. Everything else I could pretty much tolerate but the knee pain was out of this world. If I ever go riding in the winter again, those hand warmers are going on my knees! It did make me feel better when the interns were just as cold as we were and were relived when we said we were ready to go back to the nice warm barn. At least I wasn’t the only one freezing my booty off!
Once we got back to the barn I had the best cup of hot chocolate in my entire life!! Just kidding, it was a cup of swiss miss but as cold as I was it might as well have been a cup of melted chocolate from Angelina in Paris. After I thawed out (Joe for some reason wasn’t nearly as cold as I was) I went back outside to say goodbye to the horses, and take some pictures of course. We also got to meet the owner of the ranch and he was so nice! He said we could stay as long as we liked and hoped when we come back we will stay at his bed and breakfast. Yup, that’s happening the next time we’re in Iceland. I mean, we might not get to see the ice caves and I have to come back for that right?!? While I was warming up I heard back from the ice cave tour and they said there was a good chance there would be a tour tomorrow. They said to message them back at 5pm and they would know more so I didn’t spend the money again just to have it cancelled. Plans swirling around in my head I messaged the Blue Lagoon to see if we could change our reservation from tomorrow to today. Long story short, if we did get to do the tour tomorrow it would be a 4 hour drive so we wouldn’t be able to do the blue lagoon that day like originally planned.
We left the horse ranch before hearing back from the blue lagoon and decided to drive to Reykjavik. It was pretty close to the blue lagoon and our hotel for that night. We also had not had a chance to see the capital city yet and thought it would be a perfect opportunity to kill some time, get some wifi and wait for a response. Once in Reykjavik, we found it wasn’t a city we wanted to spend a lot of time in. We found a cute bookstore and got my Icelandic version of Harry Potter. By this time the Blue Lagoon had messaged us back that yes we can come today and there is no price difference! Score! We headed out of Reykjavik and over to the lagoon to see what the fuss was all about.
Once we got to the lagoon it was a nice walk into the main building. From there, here are some important things to know:
- Entry is timed, you need to arrive at the time you pre-booked and yes you need to pre-book a ticket.
- Your basic entry does not come with a towel, that is extra. There are different packages available but know that minimum its $80 per person.
- Your entry allows you access to the locker rooms/shower facility
- You MUST shower before entering the lagoon including your hair. It is highly recommended to cover your hair in their conditioner as the sulfates in the lagoon will damage your hair
- You do have to walk outside a bit to get in and out of the lagoon. You do warm up quickly when in the water but once you’re out you get cold fast
- There is a cafe on site with some food but its a poor selection. There is a restaurant on site but its just as expensive as you would think a tourist trap like this is.
- Everything is expensive so be prepared for that.
- Its not crowded early in the morning or late at night but that’s also because it gets dark early in the winter and you cant see the blue of the lagoon
We had a nice time but the hot water was starting to mess with my stomach for some reason and we left after about an hour. You can stay as long as you want but I was pruny and ready to leave. We had planned on getting something to eat at the lagoon but like I mentioned the cafe had nothing great to offer so we headed to our hotel to check in and get recommendations. Oh and in this time I messaged the ice cave tour and they said no the tour would not be happening tomorrow. I was so sad I was just ready to crawl into bed and be sad. Unfortunately I couldn’t do that since we still had to check into the hotel and find some dinner. But…SURPRISE I hadn’t booked a hotel but a house. Y’all…I was PISSED at myself. I am not the kind of person that enjoys sharing a house with other people I think its creepy. I have no idea how I missed this crucial detail but color me shocked when we pulled up to a house. *Face palm* is all I can say. The house was nice enough but ugh I hate being in a house with strangers. After we got settled we headed out to the only place still open for dinner. I don’t remember what Joe had but I had the fish and chips and they were actually really good. The sweet potato fries, not so much, but the entree was pretty dang good! After dinner, we decided to head out to see the northern lights. We felt pretty good about a location Joe had scoped out and we didn’t have anywhere to be in the morning so we were fine staying out late. Let the light hunting begin!!!
The drive to the location was about an hour and a half each way but, this is literally what we came to Iceland for so we headed out. I was getting frustrated with Joe because I was upset about the ice cave tour and he was driving on streets that were heavily lit (for Iceland). How were we going to see the lights on bright streets! yes I am aware how stupid and childish that sounds but I was cranky ok?! Joe found his turn off street and within minutes we knew magic was going to happen tonight. Why you ask?! We started seeing tour buses parked on side streets. What’s so special about tour buses you ask?! You can book a northern light tour and they only go out if there is a good chance you will see the lights. Now I’m getting super excited and I tell Joe to find a pull-off road so we can park and I can get set-up my camera. We find a great spot with no lights and I get situated.
Off in the distance there is what looks like a white cloud streak. Joe suggests I take a picture of it, he thinks its the lights. I don’t think so but I do anyway and…IT TURNS GREEN!!! On the camera screen, I see magic happening right before my eyes. Its amazing you guys. It started out as a little streak in the sky and turned into this arch of dancing beauty. I was mesmerized and snapping so many pictures I didn’t know what to do with myself! We stayed in that spot for about 30 minutes, until it seemed like the lights were done for the night. We could see the other buses leaving too so we packed up. On our way out we saw the lights again in a different spot and Joe let me out…on the side of the road…and I spent another 10 minutes getting pictures. For the record I asked to be on the side of the road to get a good spot but there are no shoulders and I was doing my best to avoid getting hit by the few cars that went by. Gotta do it for the photos right?! Again it seemed like the lights had finished, I got back in the car and we made our way back to the house for a good night sleep.
I will have another post all about how to find the lights, how to capture them with your camera and all of that. There is a lot of information I want to share and it deserves its own post.
On the way back to the house we decided what our plan was for tomorrow since now it was 100% wide open! I’ll share our last day in Iceland with you in another post but here is a sneak peak!
CHIME IN!!! Have you been to the blue lagoon? Are you a northern lights chaser? Do you like hot or cold weather vacations?