Picture it! Reykjavik, Iceland...2016. It was a cold and windy April when over one hundred beautiful bearers of melanin descended upon the island which received its name based on a play on words. About six months prior, WOW Air had a sale on flights, which sparked a huge interest in visiting the country. Note: WOW Air is not as "fancy" as most international airlines, but they are fine for a 5-6 hour flight. Just be conscious of their strict baggage policies.
With some individual research on Iceland and the help of a very enthusiastic organizer, the plans for the trip went underway. A private Facebook group was started, and clusters of travelers were joining by the day. The group ended up with over 400 people in it. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't overwhelmed by all of the discussion and planning that occurred within the group. It actually hindered me from being excited for a while, but once I sat and mapped out an itinerary, it all started coming together. First, I tried writing out the itinerary. That was a fail. I then took time to scroll through the posts on the group, and created a new itinerary in Google Docs for my travel partner, Jasmine, and I to utilize.
Okay, but enough about how the trip came about. Let's get to the fun!
We arrive at Keflavik Airport at around 6AM, and after pussyfooting around in the duty free shops and grabbing breakfast (Jasmine got a bacon-wrapped hotdog for breakfast - but I'm not judging), we jumped on the FlyBus and headed to Reykjavik to drop our bags at the Hlemmur Square Hostel and chill for a bit before our Your Day Tours bus picked us up for the Golden Circle Tour. The majority of the group was staying at the hostel, or the Hilton hotel located about seven minutes away. The hostel was just...okay. That's it. Okay.
The Golden Circle Tour is an all-day commitment, but it's a great way to start the trip. The bus is comfortable, and most importantly, it had WiFi. The highlights, for me, were definitely the waterfalls and Geysir. The Geysir Strokkur erupted about every 4-5 minutes, so we were able to get plenty of pictures and videos. As far as the Gullfoss Waterfalls, the view is breathtaking. It makes most want to take a bunch of super-posed pictures...you, know, the ones where the ladies arch their backs, lean to one side, and place one hand on their hip? As for me...it made me want to dance, because well...black! We did take pictures, though.
The tour ended around 4:30 PM. We then went back to the hostel, checked in, and took a nap before heading to dinner. We ate at a barbecue spot called Roadhouse, where I scarfed down some ribs and Jasmine smashed a burger that was topped with....macaroni and cheese. She was really going all in on this trip, huh? Side note: We found it funny that every restaurant that served barbecue or basic burgers was called "American Restaurant." They really see us as a group of backwoods cowboys, don't they? They even call their Cool Ranch Doritos, "Cool American Doritos." What?
In our itinerary, this was deemed "Free Day." We woke up around 11:00 AM, grabbed some lunch at Culiacan Mexican Grill (please don't mind the fact that we still have yet to eat any Icelandic food. Actually, don't hold your breath, because we didn't at all...). We then walked to the Laugardalslaug Geothermal Pool. Yes, we went to the pool. Yes, it was an outside pool, and yes, we are still black as hell! Going to the pool is actually a huge part of the Icelandic culture. Some people go every day. It's actually a great way to end a work day. The pools are all naturally heated, and there are plenty of hot tubs. We picked a comfortable spot in two of the hot tubs, and laid around for a couple hours. Admission into the pool is about $7.20, and you aren't allowed to take phones or cameras in the pool area.
For dinner, we met up with about 40 other members of the #IcelandBlackout for dinner at Cafe Haiti. The food was delicious, and we pretty much shut down the restaurant, as there were no seats left for anyone who was not in our group. I highly recommend the chicken and rice dish.
The day we had been waiting for finally arrived! We woke up at the crack of dawn and headed to the airport pick up our rental. We also opted for the mobile hotspot, which was €10 per day, so that we could easily navigate the island while driving, and so that we could stay connected for the duration of our trip.
Then, we were off to the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa! It was about 38° when we arrived at the lagoon. However, the temperature outside doesn't matter when it comes to dipping your unworthy human body into the sexy pond of hot goodness that resembles a royal bowl of milky prosperity. We had arrived and all we could think about was how relaxing the entire day was going to be. If you ever plan to visit the Blue Lagoon, you should make your reservations ahead of time, so that you can avoid the lines. We got the premium package, so it came with a robe, towel, slippers, silica mud mask, algae mask, a reservation at Lava for lunch, and a free drink while in the lagoon (there’s a bar in the water). After getting showered, I walked outside, found a place to put my bathrobe, and took in the sights of the lagoon in all its glory! Pictures really don’t do it justice.
As I’m scanning the scene, I see women with drinks in hand, face masks on, and their hair tied up. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, my fellow blacks were already in there luxuriating, and in true form, the ladies were not about to get their hair wet. All I could do is chuckle. It felt good to see everyone out there enjoying themselves, though. It was freezing outside so I didn’t spend too much time looking around. I stepped foot in the water and sighed a breathy and heartfelt “hallelujah.” The water was hot…but the perfect temperature! We spent time just walking around in the water and discovering all corner of the lagoon. There was a waterfall, steam rooms, and saunas. In the water, there are also places with raised stones that you can sit on and pockets of water that are more heated than others.
We then put our robes back on and walked to Lava to have lunch. We had lunch in our robes like true bosses. I asked the host if she could give us a seat with a view, and she didn’t disappoint. She gave us the best seat in the house, right by a window overlooking the milky lagoon water. The waitress poured a complimentary glass of champagne for both of us and then took our orders. Both Jasmine and I ordered the tenderloin and we were thoroughly pleased! After lunch, we headed back into the water to have our 30-minute in-water massages that we were able to schedule at the last minute. Heaven!
A couple hours after our massages, we left and headed back to our rooms to nap and get ready for the turn up that was planned for that evening. We had two party busses (one with about 50 people and the other with about 30) take all of our crew out to the middle of nowhere to attempt to see the northern lights. On the way to the destination, however, we were not just sitting around looking out of the window at the scenery. The busses….were….lit! Everyone brought liquor of their choice, with very little chaser, and drinks were flowing. I was tasked to DJ on my bus, so I played a mix of two Tidal playlists: “90s Hip Hop and R&B” and “Ratchet Summer Jams.” The busses were filled with people dancing in the aisles, singing loudly, and having a great time. We didn’t get to see much of the northern lights that night but it was okay, because the bus ride was what made it fun!
The next morning, although we were all extremely tired, many of us were able to wake up for an early call time to Safari Quads for our scheduled ATV mountain biking safari. The excursion lasts a little over an hour and you get to take pictures (and in my case, dance) at the top of the mountain for a bit before heading back to the starting point. Everyone gets coveralls, but be aware that some of the trip can be dusty or muddy, so wear shoes that you are okay getting dirty. I was able to get some pretty dope snaps and photos while my partner in crime was doing the driving up the mountain.
After that event, Jasmine and I went to downtown Reykjavik and had brunch at the Laundromat Café. The food was great and the atmosphere was cool.
We were scheduled to go snorkeling at Silfra that afternoon at 4:00, but due to the extreme winds that day dragging people out of the designated area into the wide open lake, they canceled our appointment. This will definitely be something I do next time I go. I was quite disappointed despite it being freezing that day.
We then drove the Minniborgir Cottages, where we had six cottages rented out just for us! Some cottages were designated as party cottages and others as “chill” cottages. Only one of the cottages ended up partying for real, though. Since it was the last night of the trip for many of us, I am assuming that most were tired. One of the cabins ended up having an impromptu game night. Have I mentioned how I’m not a huge fan of game nights? Yeah, I didn’t stay long. That evening around 2:00 AM, we all get a WhatsApp message saying “COME OUTSIDE! THE NORTHERN LIGHTS ARE SHOWING!” Sure enough, I jumped out of bed, through some pants and a coat on, and ran outside, zipper open and all, and there the lights were, in all their green glory.
That, my friends, ended the trip. The next morning, we burned some time by getting breakfast and picking up some souvenirs before heading to the airport.
And now I’m back at the office working for the man. But who cares? I was a part of the #IcelandBlackout, Class of 2016 and nobody can take that away from me!