When you think “vacation”, I’m sure you are picturing blue skies, a blazing sun, sandy beaches, a Mai Tai in one hand, and if you’re me, a chicken wing in the other.
So flying to an island south of the Arctic Circle, which starts with the word “ice” if you didn’t catch that, is out of the question, ESPECIALLY during winter. I mean, how are you supposed to wear your bikini on a beach like this?
Well, I went to Iceland so you don’t have to. Here are 14 reasons why you shouldn’t go, especially in the winter.
1) There are A LOT of waterfalls, so you’ll get bored easily.
Waterfalls in Iceland are cold and if you get too close you will get soaked. Like this.
They’re also pretty boring as they’re all the same. Proof shown below. I mean, it’s just water falling over some rocks, so what’s the big deal?
TLC warned me to not go chasing waterfalls, but I did it for you.
2) Your palate will be ruined.
It doesn’t matter if you are eating at the most popular restaurant in Reykjavík or at a gas station fast food joint in the middle of absolutely nowhere, you will be consuming the freshest fruit, vegetables, and meat you have ever eaten. Every bite will make your eyes roll to the back of your head and have you moaning with each chew, just like the annoying person you promised yourself you’d never be.
Move over Seattle, Iceland brunches HARD.
Lots of beer was also consumed. It’s the Iceland way.
And don’t even think about going to the world acclaimed Reykjavík Food and Fun Festival. This is where some of the most well renowned chefs from all sides of the Atlantic partner with Icelandic chefs and magic is created. At one sitting I ate crawfish, horse, goose, scallops, bacon, lobster, and lamb. We also had reindeer meatballs, which makes my inner-child scream with disgust, but they were damn good. No regrets baby.
So where do they get all of this fresh food?
Greenhouses. Like this one below for tomatoes. They even have a tomato soup and Bloody Mary bar. How lame, right? [By the way, they apparently have “The best Bloody Mary in the world.” We tried it. We didn’t like it. Reasons why? IT WAS TOO FRESH. Too tomatoey. No sugar added. Our American, sugar-addicted palates didn’t like it. “Excuse me, do you have Tabasco?”]
3) You don’t have an excuse to diet months before your trip in preparation of feeling good in a bathing suit.
You don’t get the chance of being a grumpy, cleansing queen that binge eats every weekend because food is life, just to start that cleanse all over again on Monday (and repeat). Vacationing in Iceland during winter means parkas, layers, beanies, wool everything, and the chance to look like a potato. No preparation for your body is required. You don’t even need to shave. Why would you rob yourself of that?
4) Swimming is out of the question (those ice chunks looked sharp. And cold).
You don’t get to pretend you’re that “cool chick” that doesn’t care if your hair you curled for hours in those beach selfies gets wet. Here, no one will know your identity because they can’t even see your face. Which sucks because I spent zero time getting ready and who even likes getting to sleep more because you don’t have to do your hair and make-up? [And to make sure you know the truth about my beach Instagram posts, I am not wearing any make-up and am definitely NOT sucking in. I do Pilates so my abs are always that defined. Oh, and #nofilter. Also, those ARE my real lashes, in case anyone asks.]
5) You will meet people from all over the world and may have to talk to them face to face (so scary, so so scary).
The more you travel to other countries, the more you will realize how ACTUALLY different cultures are. For example, you may be in Iceland for a matter of three minutes trying to get some sort of fruit smoothie bowl at the airport coffee stand, when the young, male baristas ask to follow you on Instagram and invite you to a party. Three minutes in Iceland and we already had plans. Alright, cool. I like forward people. Let’s seize the moment, right? However, about four hours later you may meet another group of young men from Europe and within 20 seconds they invite you to drive north and stay with them. Ehhh, not so cool. But culturally, we are different, and meeting people from all over the world CULTURES YOU. There’s no other way to learn that than to actually experience it first-hand. But let’s all give a big shout-out to this Icelander who knows what’s up.
6) Iceland loves America, so if you’re trying to get away from the beautiful US of A, this may not be the place for you.
America has major influence on the entire world, for reasons we will not be discussing here. However, it was shocking to me to see just how much America has influenced this particular island and how much they liked Americans. I felt like EVERYWHERE we went, American music was playing. And not just the current hits, but I’m talking Tupac and Biggie kind of music. (No complaints here.) We decided to rally and go out in downtown Reykjavík one night. We were warned by many that the locals stay out abnormally late and get crazy. I would like to point out that we are from Reno and out-did all of the locals. Going home at 6am was nothing. We were still dancing in the pizza shop at 5am. #renobreedsheroes
Moving on. Our favorite bar was The Lebowski Bar, dutifully named after the movie The Big Lebowski. The inside was decked out in decor from the movie and had a DJ playing better music than any club I’ve been to in America. Which meant I danced, and I danced hard. If only you could have seen those moves…
These two American men, from Chico, CA of all places, kept talking to us. I kept thinking, “There are beautiful, foreign women all over this bar and you want to talk to us WHY!?” Well, they kept following us around. We were being polite at first, then kept having to have side conversations on how to respectfully decline whatever offers they were putting forward. My dance moves at an underground salsa club finally scared them off. I felt as if I was back home.
Next, this Brazilian man was very intrigued with “us American women”. (Hmmm, you don’t say?) A lot of us stereotype so I think he was wanting to prove his stereotypes right (or wrong?). I wasn’t sure. But he first pointed out that my dance moves “for an American, white woman” were incredible. I failed to tell him I had indigestion and those moves were to work that out. Either way, he then asked what I do for a living and I said as blandly as possible, “I’m a Mechanical Engineer.” His eyes got all big and shocked and I was thinking “Oh boy, here we go.” He didn’t believe me so I told him to go ask my friend across the room what I do. He went and asked her. She told him I was a dolphin trainer. So that was that.
On we went.
Walking down the street, I got approached by a British man and we had the most romantic 10 second walk to another bar where he bought us beer. He immediately tried making out with me, so that ended quite abruptly.
(Earlier when I was talking about becoming cultured, I really meant you will learn how to say “No” to advancing men from many cultures.)
But the fun started when I left that Brit and headed to the restroom. There was a line so I waited and waited. But the table next to me had two gentlemen sitting there, we started chatting, and universes collided. I met this handsome, blue-eyed, blonde-haired, Ryan Gosling look-a-like, Icelandic man who took me to eat kababs at 6 in the morning. Could it be any more perfect? I’m still waiting on that marriage proposal, but if you’re reading this Einar, please don’t call the cops.
Speaking of men, who could possibly be the manliest man of all? Chuck Norris of course, so naturally they had a bar and restaurant just for him.
“Chuck Norris can do a wheelie on a unicycle.”
“In Monopoly, you pay Chuck Norris to stay off your property.”
“Chuck Norris once took a lie detector test. The machine confessed every thing.”
And my favorite:
“Chuck Norris once kicked a horse in the chin. It’s descendants are known today as giraffes.”
Who cares if their spelling and grammar are off! This is gold. And you can’t forget about the good ole’ American Bar.
7) Snowmobiling, hiking, and ice climbing on glaciers? That’s really dangerous.
I was so scared to snowmobile on the second largest glacier in Iceland, I couldn’t even have fun.
Crevasses open often on these glaciers, so I was absolutely sure I was going to die. ESPECIALLY in the ice cave. Look at me trembling in fear.
Some inception going on here.
I ice climbed only to be able to tell you TO NEVER DO IT. Just ignore my smile.
8) There are criminals everywhere, despite Iceland being the safest country in the world. I mean, look at all this graffiti, you damn hooligans.
9) The animals are vicious and you should take caution. Definitely do NOT make eye contact.
I was really worried that going dog sledding was a form of animal abuse. Turns out, they love it so much that they even get a thrill of making sure you fall while they keep running away…
She was licking her chops right before she aggressively pounced.
Real footage of an attack.
More evidence of the scariest animals I have ever seen, all to be found in Iceland.
There were also swans everywhere. It was beyond the most romantic setting I have ever laid eyes on. Good thing I hate romance…
10) Their fashion is just like everyone else’s. Nothing to see here folks.
However, you may find something stylish at the local Salvation Army, such as these extremely pricey Icelandic sweaters that smell like old woman perfume (no offense grandma).
And here I am pretending this sweater isn’t the itchiest thing I have ever worn. Oh look! More beer.
11) You’ll feel social pressure to enter the most famous lagoon in the world, but there’s probably a lot of pee in there…
My tribute to Kaleo. (Call me.)
And here I am trying to drink away the idea of how much urine I am soaking in.
The masks made me look quite scary. I don’t think they worked, but I sure was a happy lady. Also, I got it all in my hair. Patience and control would have been good tactics to use during this time. My hair felt like pieces of twigs after.
12) The hostels and cabins clearly had no charm.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
“Please remove your shoes and put on slippers with other people’s athlete’s foot in ’em.”
This little restaurant in our hostel was the cutest place ever. For breakfast, you could make your own pancakes by spraying non-stick on the griddle and then putting ONE scoop of pancake batter to cook. Well, my beautiful friend thought non-stick spray wasn’t needed and she wanted four scoops of pancake batter instead. Who cares that it made the biggest mess they’ve ever seen and we had to shamefully show ourselves out?
(I see you gentlemen.)
13) We drove across (almost) the entire island, and the Northern Lights were probably THE WORST part. Not worth your time.
We don’t have the fanciest cameras, but we captured some of Iceland’s landscape and scenery. Don’t set your expectations too high.
14) Visting Iceland might make you want to be more adventurous, so be careful.
If this convinced you in any way to travel to Iceland then I have failed you. If you are stubborn, like me, and insist to go, feel free to reach out to me for advice on how to survive. You might find your self in a winter dreamland like we did.
But in all seriousness, go see these things for yourself if you can. You won’t be the same person when you come back, but you will most likely like yourself more for it.
Finally, this blog has been dedicated to JEP. You were the reason we had a trip of a lifetime. I hope to meet again, travel buddy.
With love and hopes of adventure,
Jennifer Mabus, The Whimsical Woman