Iceland. Is. Beautiful. That’s what Lisa said when she posted a collage on Facebook and I completely agree.  That is the best way to describe the country.

This was a completely different type of trip for us. Usually our trips lean towards countries that are more developed, populated, and also offer more organized tours, but Iceland was almost completely opposite.

The country is still very untouched.  It is very unique in climate, landscape, natural wonders, and culture.  Reykjavik is Iceland’s capital and the only true developed city. You will find other small cities throughout Iceland, but nothing with the amount of restaurants, hotels, residents, or people as the capital, which isn’t very large.  You can finish seeing the entire city within an hour.

We really enjoyed Iceland and the more relaxed and simple lifestyle.  It seems as if most people there are fairly happy and more importantly, happy with what they have.

Trip Information

  • Time of Year Traveled: May 2015 (End of Spring, beginning of Summer)
  • Total Cost per Person (Airline tickets, transportation, hotel, food, excursions, gas, etc): $2,000
  • How many days: 5 Days

Tours Taken:

Suggested Routes:

The sites in Iceland are so spread apart that it’s hard to list each one. Tour groups and other people refer to each area by a specific name, which I’ll use as well.

Two girls, 5 days, and 2742 Kilometers later or 1703.8 miles.

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How did we drive so much?  We took turns driving and napping.

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Below is our list of all the things to see and do. Click on each link to see a detailed post on each area.

Other Things to Do:

  1. Dress appropriately. Doesn’t Lisa look like the ideal Icelandic woman?CYMERA_20150527_112224
  2. See Icelandic horses.  We didn’t want to ride a horse, but just see one.  We were driving along the road and saw a few near the road. We fed them some food and had a photo shoot with them too.
  3. Randomly do a photo shoot in the middle of the road. Why not, right?CYMERA_20150524_210110
  4. Try an Icelandic hot dog. Everyone raved about this, so I had try it.  It was ok, but it’s not anything I would rave about.CYMERA_20150527_100602
  5. Thai food in Iceland is really expensive, but it is very good.CYMERA_20150529_210905
  6. Postcards and postage is expensive. Lisa offered to send them thinking a postcard was the same price as everywhere else around $.13 to $.25 per card. Little did we know it was $.99!  So times that by 40, it was a lot of money and time to write these post cards. She cracked me up when she said never again will she do this and people better treasure it.CYMERA_20150527_092334
  7. Try geothermal rye bread.
  8. Take pictures of the road.
  9. Other Trip Pictures
  10. Lisa on her phone. A must in every trip.CYMERA_20150527_080834
  11. Lisa sleeping in random places. This is on the whale watching boat.CYMERA_20150527_102655 CYMERA_20150527_102645
  12. I always need coffee.
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Hotels:

We stayed in 5 different hotels this time because we were moving around so much.  When you do plan on doing that, pack light so you don’t leave things behind.

  • Arctic Comfort Hotel– This was a cute little hotel.  It wasn’t fancy, but clean and comfortable. It was about 15 minutes from downtown.  It was a great bargain, but out of all the hotels this would be our least favorite.
  • Hotel Hafnarfjordur– This is the “elf hotel.”  This was my favorite hotel.  It was very nice. The room was extremely large, it had a kitchen, and the shower was very roomy. It was clean and breakfast was also included.  The hotel is about 10 minutes from downtown and it has free parking.
  • Icelandair Hotel Fludir– This hotel is a great location if you want a middle ground to stay on your journey through the Golden Circle.  The hotel is located in Fludir, which is one of the few cities that have more than 1,000 people in population.  The town is very small, but the hotel is very nice.  It is pricier since there aren’t very many options in the town, but the rooms were clean and roomy.
  • Hotel Edda Vik– This is a very cute hotel.  If you are planning on going along the south coast, there aren’t many hotel options.  The room was one of the smallest we stayed at, but it was clean and the lobby was nice.
  • Bed and Breakfast Keflavik– The hotel is located about 5 minutes from the airport.  This hotel is very nice. The bedroom was large, clean, and had good amenities. The place included a great breakfast that starts at 4 AM and a free shuttle service to the airport.  And better yet, it’s very affordable

Transportation:

  • Wow Airlines– We took Wow Airlines through Boston since Lisa was stopping to visit her friend, so I decided to join and see the sights for a few hours.  We have heard great things about Icelandair, but not much about Wow Airlines, but I thought how bad can it be?  It was horrible!  Wow was probably one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had.  First off, they are not the cheapest airline as they claim. Other than really good branding, their service is extremely poor and be careful for the hidden fees.  They only allow one bag under 12 KG and their fee is $67.  If you thought Delta or United is bad, try Wow Airlines.  The worst part is they didn’t even give you water to drink on the plane, it was extra.  Here we are BEFORE we found out about the fee.20150521_174127
  • IcelandAir–  Icelandair was much better than Wow Airlines. It was clean, we got free water, coffee, and soda, and we were able to choose our seats. And, we could sent 2 luggage for free.CYMERA_20150527_075737
  • Auto Europe– We spent a total of $292 to rent the car for 5 days.  It was very easy to find, the transaction went smoothly, and the drop-off was easy too.

Facts about Iceland:

  • It is known as the land of “fire and ice.”
  • As of Jan 2014, only 325,000 people live in Iceland and 120,000 reside in Reykjavik.
  • There are almost 130 volcanoes throughout Iceland.
  • Even though some of my pictures shows scenery that looks as if they could be mountains, Iceland doesn’t have mountains, just valleys.
  • Most homes, businesses, and hotels use geothermal water for hot water and spring water for cold water.  You will see signs in all the hotels stating that the cold water is so clean, it is safe to drink from the faucet and all hot water has a sulfuric smell.
  • There are NO mosquitoes, mainly due to the cold.
  • And it really never gets really dark.  It really messes up your perception of time when at 11 PM, it’s as bright as 5 PM.  Lisa took pictures at different times at night.  This is how bright it is at 3 AM.received_10100360286080891[1]

Hassle-Free Travel Tips:

  • Everywhere takes a credit card. You don’t need to exchange money, even the hot dog stands take it!
  • Make sure to get a GPS and exact addresses.  The GPS saved our life out here, but be forewarned, it is not as extensive as the US. The main tourist attractions were already pre-populated.  For other places we wanted to visit, make sure you get addresses of local hotels along the route to help guide you.  Iceland doesn’t have very many main roads, so if you find hotel addresses along the way, you can find your destination that way.  For example if you type in a name of a national park, if it’s not a main tourist attraction, it may not be there.  The same goes for hotels, dining places, etc…
  • Eat early. Since we were on the go so much, we really did not have a chance to try any traditional Icelandic food, which is fine with us.  We would go on our adventures until it got fairly dark, which was close to midnight, at that point, most dining places were closed.
  • Bring toilet paper.  Toilets are a luxury in Iceland, especially when you leave Reykjavik, you don’t have rest stops, gas stations, hotels or coffee shops as abundant as in the states.
  • Keep a full tank of gas.  There were times when we drove almost a half a tank of gas on a small Kia before we saw a gas station.
  • Beware of foreign transaction fees. I love Capital One because there are no fees, but we used Lisa’s card, which is the Amazon Visa and we still got fees. Make sure to call the card company before you leave to check.  Those small fees can certainly add up.
  • Reservations are a must!  It’s hard to go to Iceland and “wing it.”  It’s easy to see the waterfalls, geysers, etc… because they are open 24 hours, but when you want to go see attractions like the Blue Lagoon, if you don’t have reservations, there is a big chance you can’t get in because they have limited availability.
  • Even if you have reservations, call before you leave the hotel.  We drove almost 2.5 hours to get to the famous “Jokulsarlon Glacier Boat Tour.”  Well, to our luck, I got lost and ended up finding Fjallsarlon Boat Tours.  They mentioned that the one I was looking for was a few miles down the road, but that they have had to cancel tours for the past few days.  I asked them to call and confirm, which they did and we ended up getting to go on the tour with this company and they matched our price.  We went to Jokulsarlon to get a refund.  They still had the place open, but when people got up to the window, everyone was told the tour was cancelled. We lucked out, but other people didn’t.

Iceland was a great time and we are so happy that we got to go.  We did end up leaving with many more questions on our many miles driving long stretches of road only to see a house here and there.  We wondered where do they go to school?  Where do they get food?  How do they date?  What do they do for a living?  And now that we are back in the states, how will we ever have our questions answered?!?

Things we learned about each other:

  • Lisa doesn’t eat cereal and milk.  She doesn’t like her cereal to get soggy.
  • I hate when people walk in the house with shoes on.

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