Downtown Akureyri.

Downtown Akureyri.

A large pile of snow in the middle of town set up for snowboarders.

A large pile of snow in the middle of town set up for snowboarders.

Let me first start off by saying this was one of the best family vacations we’ve had. And I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that we didn’t accomplish half the things we wanted to and spent most of our time relaxing. I will have to remember that the next time I schedule one of our mad holiday outings.

Akureyri is a little town on the north coast of Iceland and the country’s second largest city outside the Reykjavik metro area…with a population of 18,000. 🙂 It has a surprisingly warm climate thanks to the Gulf Stream, and I once visited their flourishing outdoor botanic garden in September, even though it is only 62 miles south of the Arctic Circle. However it still gets more snow than Reykjavik in winter and spring. It snowed six inches when we were there.

So it is also home to the Hlíðarfjall ski resort. We actually didn’t have too much on our list other than to do some spring skiing and check out a couple restaurants. Sadly, the skiing attempt failed miserably. It had been 10 years since I skied, and my hubby and son never had. I figured we would just spend some quality family time on the bunny slopes.

Instead we spent an incredibly frustrating 30 minutes trying to get our skiis on our feet, which kept getting jammed with snow, then taking them off again to help A who eventually just lay in a heap in the snow crying. My hubby was getting increasingly frustrated. My feet and legs were already killing me, we hadn’t even made it to the first lift, and the fun had pretty much been leeched out of the day already.

So rather than ruin the little one for the slopes forever, I called it quits. We lost the $90 worth of gear rental, but they were kind enough to return the two days’ worth of lift passes. Next time we will put A in the kids’ ski school and crash around on the hills for a while on our own before we try it as a family.

After that we went back to our vacation rental, I took a nap, and N took A to the local heated pool. Our rental also included a private hot tub on a balcony overlooking the fjord, and I have to say, that was pretty much the highlight of our trip. We got in that thing at least twice a day. And it was so wonderfully relaxing. Plus there’s something so fun about sitting in a hot tub while it’s snowing.

On Easter we hid a dozen eggs around the rental and watched A search for them, then gorge himself on chocolate.

The view of the fjord from the rental.

The view of the fjord from the rental.

Hot tub covered in snow.

Hot tub covered in snow.

We also tried to drive over to the Myvatn Nature Baths an hour or so away but were thwarted by weather. I’m a fairly calm driver, but after pulling over multiple times because you couldn’t see 10 feet through the blowing horizontal snow in front of you, we again made an executive decision to turn back. Besides, I can’t imagine the conditions would’ve been that great for outdoor swimming. So back to the hot tub we went!

When we weren’t in the hot tub, we tried a few places to eat recommended by friends: Greifinn was super yummy, had a large and varied menu, including one for kids with booklet of mazes and pictures for coloring, and tasty Icelandic beer on tap. The sushi at Rub 23 had also been a must-try, but A was too tired to go out for dinner. So my hubby picked up a 48-piece sushi-to-go and brought it back to the rental. And it was fantastic! Also tried the local ice cream shop, but so far I’m not a huge fan of Icelandic ice cream, not sure why.

The rest of the time we just walked around town, did a bit of window shopping and even went bowling! Another first for our little one, and he seemed to really enjoy it. The balls were a lot heavier than I remember them being…too much time on the Wii apparently. But we ended up playing next to a group of guys from Los Angeles that turned out to be part of the crew that was in country filming the latest segment of the Fast and Furious franchise…I believe they’re up to number eight. They were really nice and even cheered A on when he got his first strike. 🙂

Keilan bowling alley.

Keilan bowling alley (internet photo).

Bowling next to the crew from Fast and Furious 8.

Bowling next to the crew from Fast and Furious 8.

Another one of the cutest things about the trip was that our little family all slept in the same room in the rental since it was a kind of studio apartment. Normally that’s not a selling point as we’ve kept each other up in the past snoring and whining. But A has been quite lonely in his own room at home and often laments the fact that no one’s sleeping with him. So I very much enjoyed seeing his little face beaming at me at the end of the day from the bed across the room. He even managed to go to the bathroom by himself in the middle of the night without needing to wake anyone up…the first night anyway.

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