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South Iceland Travel Adventure

Adventures on the island of fire and ice

By Holly Rosen Fink, GoGirlfriend contributor

If you’re looking for a unique getaway, you can’t get more interesting than a trip to Iceland. When the tourist board invited me to come and learn about the country’s best food and activities for visitors, I was instantly intrigued and jumped at the chance.

I visited 5 years ago after the last volcanic eruption and I’d sworn a return trip was in my future.

Getting to Iceland from New York

glaciers, geysers and natural beautyGetting to Iceland is easy from NYC – it’s quick 6-hour flight. Icelandair offers service to Iceland from Boston, Chicago-ORD, Denver, Edmonton, New York-JFK, Newark, Seattle, Toronto, and Washington, D.C. They also allow passengers to take an Icelandair Stopover for up to 7 nights at no additional airfare. It’s really an irresistible offer. I didn’t take advantage of this as I spent nearly a week away from my family in Iceland, but I did during our family trip five years ago when we stopped in Reykjavik en route to London. Another great thing about the airline is that you can check in two bags for free, something I no longer experience on other airlines.

Why I love Icelanders

beautiful views everywhereThe people are part of what makes the Icelandic culture so inviting. According to a seemingly serious academic study reported in the Guardian in 2006, Icelanders are the happiest people on earth. I don’t think I met one unhappy person – during either of my visits.

Why are folks so happy? For starters, Mother Nature is pretty generous here. Every which way you look, you can see geysers, waterfalls, volcanoes, glaciers, hot springs and caves. They also have excellent, cost-effective health-care, which I, unfortunately, had to experience during my visit. Icelanders also have healthy diets, with the majority of their intake being fish, lamb and dairy products. In general, they’re a very kind, generous nation and they seem to love their homeland and want to share it with visitors.

#AskGuðmundur

#AskGuðmundurI happened to be in Iceland during the launch of a very cool initiative by Inspired By Iceland called ‘Ask Guðmundur’, the world’s first human search engine, welcoming questions from the world. Offering a human alternative to traditional online search engines, 7 Icelanders named Guðmundur (male) or Guðmunda (female) across Iceland volunteered for the role, offering insider knowledge, advice and local secrets to tourists who want the ultimate Iceland experience.

We met three of the AskGuðmundurs and watched them in action, shooting videos and answering questions. We spent an afternoon watching one Guðmundur, a local teacher, shoot a video on a playground in Reykanes, in which he discussed family activities in Iceland. Remembering my visit 5 years ago with my kids, I told him and the crew to head to a geothermal swimming pool, an experience my own family enjoyed daily during our visit.

During a hiking adventure, we met the Guðmunda from the South, a female footballer, and had a great dinner with the Guðmunda from Reykjavik.

My adventurous view of Iceland

Iceland is truly magical. Everywhere I looked, smoke spewed from the ground in active lava fields, volcanoes, ash, snow-covered glaciers, waterfalls and geysers – and I saw a lot in a few days. The photo-taking opportunities are endless. Highlights of my trip included:

  1. Swimming in The Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa. popular to not only tourists but also natives. I indulged in its heavenly mineral-rich waters, giving myself mud facials, lounging in the steam room and drinking sparkling wine.
  2. Riding in a horse farm in the vicinity of the volcano Mt. Hekla, bordered by the river Rangá, called Hekluhestar.
  3. the popular Blue LagoonA hike and geothermal bath in Hveragerði with Iceland Activities.
  4. A visit to landmarks such as Eyjafjallajökull, the glacier, and Seljalandsfoss, the waterfall, with South Iceland Adventure.
  5. Exploring the culinary options in Reykjavik, which has a bit of a hipster vibe, at Matur og Drykkur, where the Brooklyn-born chef prepares Icelandic delicacies like fried cod croquettes, smoked salmon with char and salted cod.
  6. I also loved Grillmarkaðurinn, where I indulged in farm fare like brown bread with lava salt, lamb, beef, trout, quail, skyr and honey.
  7. Staying at Frost and Fire, a quaint hotel outside Reykjavok with bubbling geothermal springs in a town called Hveragerdi (where they also made bread outside in the steamy ground) and having lunch at Hotel Rangá, a 4 star hotel, well-situated just 96 km from Reykjavík that provides stunning, picturesque surroundings, such as Mt. Hekla, Eyjafjallajökull glacier and the Westman Islands.

Ever been to Iceland? Did you find it as life-changing as Holly? Share your experiences in a comment below or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

Holly Rosen Fink ~ @HollyChroniclesAbout Holly Rosen Fink

Holly Rosen Fink is a Marketing, Communications, Public Relations, Branding and Social Media expert with over 15 years’ experience increasing brand awareness and sales at leading publishing houses and media companies. She is the founder of theculturemom.com and is a current contributor to This Girl Travels, Ciao Bambino, Family Vacation Critic, The Broad Side, BlogHer and Women & Hollywood.

Last year she edited Come Closer: How Tourism is Shaping the Future of Nations and associate produced the off-off-Broadway hit The Best of Everything and the NYC production of Listen to Your Mother.

Disclosure: Holly’s press trip was hosted by VisitIceland.com. All opinions are her own.

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