‘Traveling’ always makes the short list of New Year’s resolutions. Not only do we understand the draw, but we’re in the business of making it happen. Our advice to kick off 2018: don’t wait. Travel plans don’t happen by themselves. And we never know what tomorrow will bring. Just do it. We’re here for you. Wishing you a rich and meaningful year ahead!
Erika Reategui and Fernando Gonzalez
Interest in Iceland keeps heating up. Maybe it’s the easy weekend access from New York, or the island’s compact size, diverse landscape, and variety of outdoor activities. Fernando Gonzalez recently set out with 10-year-old daughter Sofia to discover the country’s growing allure.
Why did you select Iceland for a Father-Daughter trip?
We were looking for a new destination where we could interact with nature, which is Sofia’s passion, be outdoors, and have a true bonding adventure. In five short days, we saw craters, waterfalls, icebergs, geysers, and black sand beaches. And we met some of the warmest, most welcoming people ever.
What did you do?
I highly recommend touring the Golden Circle to sample the best of the island. In total, we did 19 adventure-packed activities. After arriving in the capital Reykjavik, and a quick rest, we began by horseback riding through the countryside of Selfoss. On our second day, we went snowmobiling on Langjokul, the second largest glacier. Highlights along the way included ice hiking at Myrdals-Jokull, quad biking along the shores of Grindavik, and rock climbing along the black sand beaches of Myrdalur. On our final day, we visited the country’s greatest tourist attraction, the Blue Lagoon. This geothermal spa is famous for its therapeutic and healing powers. After a full throttle adventure, we happily enjoyed a few hours relaxing in the crystal clear waters, soaking up the steam, and getting facial treatments too!
Was there a moment that stood out?
On our last night, a little miracle happened. Sofia had desperately wanted to spot the Northern Lights, but August is not the right time of year. We had just finished a perfect dinner at the Red House in Eyrarbakki, the most charming little fisherman’s village, when the phone rang. Our guide’s husband was calling from the capital to alert us that there had just been rare sightings of the Northern Lights. We gathered our things and rushed to a remote beach at midnight. Suddenly, the pitch-black sky lit up with the most beautiful formations of the aurora borealis. It was magic.
Where did you stay?
In very different properties each night, which kept it exciting. From Trophy Lodge, the most exclusive and discrete private lodge in the country; to a charming country inn; to Merkigil, a 100-year-old fisherman’s home; to 101 Hotel, the chicest property in Iceland.
What dining experiences stood out?
Lunch at Hotel Anna, where chef-owner Einar prepared our meal, was very special. The cod over couscous was Sofia’s favorite, and she ended with skyr, a tasty and nutritious Icelandic yogurt-like treat. At the Red House, the night we saw the Northern Lights, I had the best lobster of my life. It was so sweet and tender. In fact, the amazing salmon, cod, and lobster that we ate during the trip are now benchmarking our meals here at home.
Any advice for the first time traveler to Iceland?
Just go! It is very easy to travel around Iceland. Most tourist destinations are less than an hour apart. Visit the small villages around the countryside, try to get to know the locals. Walk around Reykjavik, including its museum. Stroll along Laugavegur, one of the oldest shopping streets, and Skólavörpustígur, which is full of small shop with Icelandic handicrafts and design. When you’re in the countryside, go troll spotting! There’s a legend that trolls roamed the land and turned to stone if they couldn’t make it home by sunrise. People even have built tiny homes for the trolls, which you can see in the hillsides.