Travel Tuesday: The Blue Lagoon, Iceland

If you missed it last week, I started my Travel Tuesday series with a recap of my trip to Reykjavik, Iceland!  Visiting The Blue Lagoon is def at the top of most people’s lists when visiting Reykjavik, so I wanted to have a little post for it on its own, especially since I talk about the face masks I used while at the lagoon!!

Make sure you check out my last Travel Tuesday post on Reykjavik, here!  & don’t forget to read about my Reykjavik food adventures, here!

 

 

Take a Day Excursion to The Blue Lagoon

Use Reykjavik Excursions as your transportation, as mentioned above, it takes about an hour.  & treat yourself by upgrading your admission to the Premium Package.  There are four options for admission into the Blue Lagoon, I think the premium package is the best option, it’s about $100 USD.  The difference between this package and the less expensive packages is this one includes an extra face mask, use of robe & slippers, and a guaranteed reservation at their restaurant, Lava, with a glass of sparkling wine.  I took advantage of securing the reservation at Lava, and had a light lunch there, which you can read about in my food post, here!

All transactions that take place while your visiting scan onto a bracelet (just like in Disney World), and then you pay for it all at the end.  They make it super easy fro you, which was great!

In terms of time, I spent about 5 hours total at the Blue Lagoon.  I had the earliest entry time, 7:30am, and loved being there so early, it wasn’t too crowed.  They have lockers available in the lounge/ shower area, there was such a long line for lockers by the time I left at 12:30pm.  I noticed some people just leaving their things unattended instead of waiting, something I’d never do, but as I said, there was a long line.  The locker room area had decent showers, plenty of changing room, hair dryers, and some amenities to use once you’re ready to leave.

PS: You can only buy 3 alcoholic drinks!!

 I was so shocked when I realized I had spent 3 straight hours in the lagoon, the weather was beautiful, it was slightly chilly but the water was so warm and soothing.  I had been having back issues before my trip, and sitting in the lagoon was the perfect remedy.  I brought a book, and was able to sit in the water, which was awesome.

Through the 3 hours I did 2 face masks and a scrub, all of which were incredible!  I started with the Lava Scrub, to exfoliate and prep my skin for the masks.  This scrub is made from lava that surrounds the Blue Lagoon- it was quite grainy and gave a great exfoliation.  Even if you have sensitive skin, I think you can still use this, you just might not want to scrub as hard.  After my scrub I let my skin rest a bit before applying The Blue Lagoon’s signature Silica Mask, which is the typical mask you see people applying at the lagoon.  This is a mud mask that aims to deeply cleanse, perfect after exfoliating with the lava scrub, strengthen & illuminate skin, & tighten pores.

The last mask I applied was the Algae Mask, this is a part of the Premium Package I bought.  The Algae Mask is geared toward preventing fine lines and wrinkles with The Blue Lagoon’s patented algae.  I found this mask to be super refreshing, and it’s strong, so you don’t need to leave it on for too long, just about 5-7 minutes.

These masks are def not cheap…I can’t say I would ever buy them solo, I think my favorite The Body Shop and other masks might be better.  At the end of the day, it’s about the experience with the masks, and the experience was top notch!!  I’m looking forward to visiting the Blue Lagoon again some time, it’s an experience not to be missed!

XO.
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Travel Tuesday: Reykjavik, Iceland

Back in July I went on a two week European adventure through six countries, only one of which I had been to before.  Aside from the perfect summer vacay, the main purpose of my trip was to attend the wedding of one of my best friends, Sabah, in Bulgaria.  I was more than honored to be her Maid of Honor, if you didn’t see my post on 5 Tips on Throwing an Unforgettable Bachelorette Party, you can check it out here!

Seeing that I’m a teacher, & having the summer off to recuperate from the school year, I wanted to take full advantage of being able to travel through Europe.  I did just that, and planned quite the trip over the course of two days.  I had been watching flight prices for months…yes, literally months, and I had finally found prices I was thrilled with, so I bought one, then just kept going!

I’ll be featuring a new country per post, for the next few Tuesdays.  I’m a huge planner, whether it’s in the travel, teaching, or party realm.  If you’re looking for additional tips on how to up your planning skills, in any area, feel free to email me & we can chat!  I can always be reached at lovelifebeauty90@gmail.com!

The first leg of my European adventure landed me in Reykjavik, Iceland, a nice little departure from the hot humid weather in Washington D.C.  The first question everyone asked me was, oh that’s so cool and all but, why Iceland?!.  Well, as I mentioned in my Reykjavik food post, which you can read here, Iceland is def having a moment!  I’ve seen countless bloggers visiting Reykjavik, the country has seriously upped their tourism reach out, and since it also has a connection with Game of Thrones, I feel like people are just flocking to visit the unique Nordic country.  Aside from the fact that so many people are visiting Iceland, I could not beat the one-way ticket I found, departing from Newark Liberty International in Jersey.  I was able to snag an evening flight, that landed me in Reyjavik at 5am, for $250.

View from the tower in Hallegrimskirkja.  The hotel I stayed in, Hotel Leifur Eiriksson, is the large white building in the front of the picture!

PS: Yes, I live in the D.C. are but I was going home to visit my family first, so it made perfect sense to leave from NJ!


Hotel Choice: Hotel Leifur Eiriksson
I wanted to balance having a great vacation with, ya know, not going broke.  So, I traded out my usual higher end hotel choices for a middle of the road, family run hotel, right in downtown Reykjavik called Hotel Leifur Eiriksson.  I was in Iceland for two days, and I knew I would be out of the room for the majority of the time, so I wasn’t really bothered by the hotel not having much amenities.  I had a single room, and the room was very small, one towel, one pillow- which is really no big deal to me, but I know can be a big deal to others.  It was a no frills environment, but it was clean, which is always my first concern.  Iceland is expensive, so the rate for this hotel did seem a little too much given that it was mid-range, but it was the least expensive mid-range I found.  & I quickly realized that with the location, the price was well worth it.

The staff did provide breakfast each morning, & it’s included with the room rate…it was a decent spread, with assorted hot items, waffles, cereal, meats & cheeses.  The owner is such a nice man, and let me know that if I had an early morning excursion before breakfast officially started, they would make me a breakfast to take with me.  The check-in, check-out process was easy, which is always helpful, and there were no hidden fees or anything like that when I arrived.

Overall, if you’re okay with a middle of the road hotel that’s not too updated, I highly advise Hotel Leifur Eiriksson.  As I mention below, the location is amazing, and since Iceland is already expensive in every way possible, if you can help the budget by staying at a 3-star hotel, do it, the customer service at Leifur Eiriksson makes up for it not being a Ritz!

What To Do in Reykjavik, Iceland

Use Reykjavik Excursions for Transportation 
I used the company, Reykjavik Excursions for my transport to and from the airport, and to and from the Blue Lagoon.  I had the best experience with them, and highly, highly, recommend this company over others in Iceland.  It was so easy to book the reservations online, I was able to leave within 10m of exiting the terminal at the airport, which was awesome.  Also, all buses have Wi-fi which is great.  The bus trip to and from Blue Lagoon was also perfect, and I could choose whenever I wanted to leave, there was a bus every 30 minutes.  They had great customer service, and the buses were all super super clean and well maintained.

Visit the Tower of Hallgrimskirkja Church 
The location of Hotel Leifur Eiriksson cannot be beat, it is walking distance to everything, and is right in front of the Hallgrimskirkja, an Icelandic church and national sanctuary.

I highly advise buying a ticket to go up to the top of Hallgrimskirkja, the view, as seen below, is so gorgeous.  It’s a $9 donation to visit the top of the tower, and I suggest getting there nice and early in the AM when nobody is there.  I was able to go right when it opened, seeing that I was staying across the street…when I walked back to my hotel later in the afternoon it was packed, and the line for the tower was out the door.

Walk Down Skolavoerdustigur Street & Laugavegur Street 
My hotel was on Skolavoerdustigur Street so on my first day I walked all the way down stopping at all different types of shops, it’s a busy street with tourists, but not too crazy.  The very end of it is Laugavegur Street where you can walk toward the main square area where there are tons of restaurants, and of course many more shops.

Check out my Reykjavik, Iceland Nomz post for all food related pics and info, especially the amazing restaurant I had dinner at, Sjavargrillid Seafood Grill, which is located on Skolavoerdustigur.

Stroll Through & Have a Drink in Ingolfur Square 
Perfect for people watching, a glass of wine and/or a hot dog, and live music.  I noticed a lot of the super touristy restaurants are around here, so you might want to go into a more quiet area for dinner instead, but there are so many bars for nightlife or just happy hour that seemed awesome.  I had drinks and an appetizer at Uno Bistro while they live streamed the Iceland Women’s EURO game on a big screen TV.  It was an awesome mix of locals and tourists.

Walk Around the Harbor Area
Great restaurants and some museums too!  Some of the old boats were fun to look at as well!


Visit the Blue Lagoon
Check back next week for my tips for visiting The Blue Lagoon!  It was such an awesome experience but you should def plan ahead a bit before showing up!

What I Wish I Could Have Done
I only had two days in Reykjavik, so I couldn’t do all that I wanted to do.  If I had had more time I def would’ve used Reykjavik Excursions for a full day Golden Circle Tour & Lava Tunnel in southern Iceland.  This tour takes you to Iceland’s beautiful hot springs and national park.  There’s also Fontana Wellness Geothermal Baths, which would be an interesting option too if you had more than just a few days in Iceland.

I also highly suggest going whale & puffin watching if you have the time, I really regret not carving out time to do this, but I guess it gives me a reason to go back!

Feel free to tweet or email me any questions you have about traveling Iceland, it was an awesome experience!  & remember to come back next week for my tips on the Blue Lagoon!

XO.

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Recipe Wednesday: Reykjavik, Iceland Nomz

Happy Wednesday!! My teacher life is back in full swing, we just moved back into our renovated building, setting up our classrooms, etc…there’s a lot going on.
I’ll be sharing my European travel adventures in a Travel Tuesday series, but since there are so many pictures of well, food, I figured I’d separate my nom-ing pics from the actual sightseeing.
So, for the next few weeks, Recipe Wednesday will be recipes someone else did a fine job creating, that I enjoyed while abroad!
My first stop was Reykjavik, Iceland…I think we can all agree Iceland is having a moment..amirite??  I feel like everyone is talking about it, and it’s so trendy to like…go to Iceland. The city of Reykjavik is so beautiful, but let me tell you, the food is not cheap.  At all.  It’s so expensive, but also, as I quickly learned, so worth it. 
After walking around the city for a few hours the day I arrived, I was looking for a quiet place to have some lunch and read, and I stumbled upon Bryggan Brugghus Bistro & Brewery, located on the water.  First of all, the location of this restaurant is top notch, they have a great outdoor patio, and the inside had a rustic chic feel.
This seems like a great place to gather friends and enjoy drinks on the patio, the picnic table set up made it friendly for larger groups, and the overall vibe of Bryggan Brugghus is chill and fun.  It’s a brewery, and they offer tours, which was awesome too.  Even though I’m not a beer drinker, I still took a tour, the man who took me around was so nice and answered all my silly questions…I know nothing about beer, so I’m sure I sounded ridiculous to him, but whatever.
I enjoyed some Chardonnay and had the fish soup for lunch.  It had the taste of a bisque, filled with shrimp, and other local, Nordic, fish…i.e. mussels.  Perfect first meal in Iceland after traveling!!
Later that night, after so much more exploring, I stopped by Sjavargrillid Seafood Grill, which was on my possible list of restaurants to try.  This restaurant is definitely not a cheap eat, it was quite expensive for one person, but it was so worth it.  I mean, so so so worth it.  If you’re visiting Reykjavik any time soon, you need to put this restaurant at the top of your list, I’m 99.9% sure it was the best dinner of my whole trip!  Also, make a reservation, it was a Monday when I went & I was thankful they could fit me in, but it got packed quickly.
I was exhausted from walking everywhere, so I was really looking to a relaxing, slow, dinner.  Luckily, I got just that at Sjavargrillid, my server was excellent, and I was truly able to relax and just chill out after a long day of sightseeing. 
I opted for Sjavargrillid’s 3 course summer menu, which had great choices.  As a first course I had fried Brie cheese, I learned in Iceland they love their Brie, which is awesome because I too love my Brie.  It was so delicious and had a rhubarb jam, honey, and toasted bread.  I cannot remember the name of the delicious cocktail, I should’ve written it down, ugh!  It was so fresh, pretty sure it was vodka based, and according to my server, their most popular original cocktail.

The second course was langoustine tacos with figs, but I ordered it sans figs.  In case you’re wondering what langoustine is, it’s the Nordic lobster…I honestly didn’t know that beforehand, but apparently most people know what it is…I didn’t. Ha.  THESE TACOS WERE SO GOOD I WISH I HAD THEM RIGHT NOW.  They were garnished with garlic, red onion, and an aioli, my mouth is watering thinking about them they were so delish. 
Lastly, for dessert, the second food dish from Iceland I can’t stop thinking about, I had a deconstructed creme brûlée with cocoa pieces, strawberry, caramel, and sorrel, which is a more bitter herb that balanced out the super sweetness of the dessert perfectly.  I loved the presentation of the creme brûlée too, it was so funky, and I wish I had been able to finish it because I’m not sure where I’ll find a dessert so impeccable again.  Le sigh.    
The next day I went to the Blue Lagoon and with my ticket I was able to get a reservation at their restaurant, Lava.  Since I was booking the reservation that day I was only able to get an 11am by the time I got there, which was fine since I hadn’t eaten breakfast.  I did the two course set menu, and had langoustine soup and then creme brûlée, again.  They love their creme brûlée in Iceland just as much as they love their Brie, which totally works for me.  The langoustine soup was not as filling as the fish soup at Bryggan, and the creme brûlée was also quite light with main flavors of vanilla & orange.  Yum.  
Side note, loving how the Iceland versions of creme brûlée look so much different than ours!
I had a great lunch at Lava, everything was yummy, but nowhere near as jaw dropping as the night before.  My ticket into the Blue Lagoon included a complimentary glass of sparkling wine with my meal which was a nice touch.  If you visit the lagoon, try out the restaurant, it’s worth it!  Make sure to make a reservation when you arrive, it’s not so easy to just walk in and get a table.
When I got back from the Blue Lagoon I took a nap and then went walking around the city again.  I really wanted to try the hot dog stand, Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, everyone told me to go to.  I mean, even Conde Nast Traveler wrote about it back in 2014!  I’ve also had a few friends go, so I knew I needed to stop by and get a dog.
BTW this translates to “best hot dogs in town”.
It was about a 25 minute walk from my hotel, so I was ready for a hot dog by the time I got there, but didn’t really know what to expect.  I ordered it with all the traditional condiments, ketchup, sweet mustard, fried onion, and raw onion, but passed on the sweet relish mayo.  If you know me, you know I’m terrified of pickles.
Okay so, I feel really weird saying this, but…I didn’t love the hotdog.  It was okay, but I was prepared to be in love, and I…wasn’t.  I’m a grilled hotdog type of girl, and this was not grilled, so I’m thinking that was part of my issue?  Also it’s a bit crunchy, without being grilled, which I found a little weird.  I waited so long in line for it, and while I’m happy I tried it out, I guess I’m just confused about the crazy hype around it all.  Or, I don’t know what I’m talking about & I’m not hotdog cultured.  Not sure which it is.
After my famous, yet slightly underwhelming dog, I continued to bop around Reykajavik while I listed to my favorite Podcast, Casefile True Crime, and eventually I started to head back to the hotel.  I heard a lot of noise & what I thought was a concert in the main square, so I walked on over to see what was going on.  It’s an amphitheater-esque set up, and they were showing the Iceland women’s soccer game.  There were tons of people gathering around to watch, and locals leading chants.  So, I grabbed a seat outside at the super cute Uno Bistro, ordered some wine and baked Brie, watched the game, & read some of my book!
 My Icelandic food adventure ended a couple of hours later at Eldur & Is, an ice cream & crepe shop close to my hotel, apparently the best in the city.  I should’ve ordered a crepe, not sure what I was thinking, but I opted for a mint chocolate chip sundae instead.  Um, it was so yummy and the perfect ending to a great 2 days in Reykjavik!! 

Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s post, where I go in-depth on my trip to Reykjavik, and give some helpful hints, tips, and must sees for the city!
XO.
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