Yes, yes we know. It took quite a while for us to write our very first blog about our world trip. But here it is! In this first blog we’ll tell you more about our week in Iceland through a travel diary. So here we go!
8th of May: heading to Iceland
D-Day is here! Oddly enough we had a good night sleep our last night in Borger. We figured that we would be nervous as hell, but it was all good and calm. We woke up early, packed our last things and had one last very emotional goodbye before our dear friend Carla would pick us up and bring us to Schiphol Airport. After a good and fast ride in her Tweety yello car we arrived nicely on time. After a last Dutch bite to eat and a good hug it’s time to say goodbye to Carla and ready to go! (Getting goose bumps while writing this.)
As we booked our ticket to Canada through Iceland Air, we were very curious how this flight was gonna be. It would be our first time on this airline. But we were very happily surprised. The leg space in economy class was quiet spacious. This was especially nice for Tjeerd-Paul. Food was optional on this flight, so we figured we could save quite a bit of money by bringing our own food. (This saved us €100 per ticket to Canada!) Besides the flight would only take 3 hours, before landing in Iceland, home of the Vikings, trolls and elves!
Our first night in Reykjavik
There was no passport check, neither in Schiphol or at Reykjavik airport, so no visa stamp for us! (Of course not, we’re still in Europe!) We were picked up at the airport by the car rental company. This took a nicely 40 minutes but finally they picked us up/ There was no rush at all. When arriving at the pick up it was quite busy. So after waiting again for a while it was our turn to get our car. Unfortunately our reserved, small, car wasn’t available anymore. So instead of a Kia Rio we got a Opel Mokka 4×4. A very nice free upgrade we must say! The car had quite a but of cosmetic damage, so we checked to car very closely to ensure that everything was noted before taking the car. This car would be our buddy for the next couple of days!
When driving to our hostel in Reykjavik there were volcanic rocks everywhere! You could immediately see the surreal nature of Iceland. After entering the urban areas we also noted that almost every house has a very simple design and was covered with corrugated sheets. After arriving in our hostel we got a nice, tiny bedroom with a shared kitchen and bathroom. All very basic, but pretty cheap for Iceland. Time to make some dinner, relax and realize that the first step of our world trip is done! We’re in Iceland!
9th of May: off to Vik
After a noisy night, we packed our stuff and checked out. The host at reception was a very nice guy who gave us some really nice tips for our drive to Vik. He really took the time to show us everything, including the extensive research on Google Maps. Time to hit the road and explore Iceland!
We took the Ringroad via Selfoss to Vik. The first 60 km aren’t very exciting, but views are pretty anyway. You immediately notice that outside of the villages there is no one. It’s just you, the road and nature. A very special feeling, knowing you’re in a country that has more tourist per year than it has inhabitants. Along our drive to Vik we saw a few tiny water falls, but also the famous Skogafoss and Seljalandfoss waterfalls. Amazing waterfalls in a beautiful scenery. Definitely worth a visit! Unfortunately there can be many tourist around, which was the case when we were here. But it didn’t really bother us. We just enjoyed our views! It was also really, really wet around the waterfalls. As you can walk very close to the waterfalls and even walk under Seljalandfoss, you really need waterproof clothes. We were soaked after visiting both waterfalls. There was water and mist everywhere! We continued our way to Vik and also made a stop at Reynisfjara Beach, a beach with beautiful black sand and enormous basalt stacks. Also the waves here are very big, strong and dangerous! We were also very lucky to spot puffins here!
10th of May: visiting Skaftafell
As Iceland is famous for its glaciers, we really wanted to visit one. So we got up early to drive to Skaftafell at Vatnajökull National Park. Along the way we say all these different landscapes; grasslands, mountains up close, long plains with black sands leading up to snowy mountains in the background, volcanic rocks with moss, you name it. Once arrived at Skaftafell we hiked our way up to the famous Svartisfoss waterfall and did an extended hike towards one of the glaciers. The views from up here were amazing! We were surrounded by some kind of heather, seeing snowy mountain peaks between the gray clouds, looking over the white, frozen mass that covers the earth for meters. Every 5 meters we could just stop and stare. But we had no time to linger, rain was coming!
11th of May: exploring the Golden circle
Because we only had 8 days in Iceland, we wanted to see as much as possible. So a little bit of pace was in order. There is just so much to see! This day we drove back to the west side of Iceland, towards the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is the most popular route in Iceland. Three famous sights are very close to each other, so this common route is very popular with day tourist who have a layover in Iceland. And this is something you notice when driving here. Even though it’s low season in early May, you still see quite a bit of touring cars driving around. But we must say all well known sights along the Golden Circle; Thingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area and Gullfoss waterfall are all well worth seeing. Although I find Geysir geothermal area a little boring compared to what I’ve seen in New Zealand.
We’ve seen a lot today and start to appreciate Iceland more and more. Our road trip of today ends in Fludir at a nice Air-BnB with a spacious kitchen and living room. We also meet our first Dutchies here. Time to make some dinner and relax!
Speaking of which, food is very expensive in Iceland. Prices can be up to 4 times higher compared to food in The Netherlands. Bonus is one of the cheapest supermarkets in Iceland and here you can get some groceries from Dutch A-brand prices, which is pretty OK. We were very happy that we brought some food with us from home, such as noodles, pasta, cup-a-soup, nuts and other handy snacks.
12th of May: visiting Thingvellir National Park and Snæfellsnes
After seeing Kerio Crater, Geysir and Gulfoss, it was time to hit our final stop along the Golden Circle; Thingvellir National Park. A beautiful national park which was named a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2004. It’s the place where world’s oldest parliament was established. Aside from the historic interest, Thingvellir is also the visible site of the mid-Atlantic Ridge where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. The plates are being pulled apart approximately with 2 centimeters each year, creating Thingvellir Rift Valley. After visiting this rare phenomenon we were headed towards Snæfellsnes peninsula. Icelanders often say that Snæfellsnes peninsula offers all it’s unique natural elements in just one ‘small’ area. Everything from cliffs, black and white beaches, lava fields, volcanoes and glaciers can be visited in just a few hours drive. So exploring we did!
13th of May: from Snæfellsnes to Reykjavik
As we could’t explore everything in one day, we continued exploring Snæfellsnes on our way back to Reykjavik. We just took our time and had a relaxing drive. In the middle of the afternoon we arrived at our last accommodation of our trip, a nice comfortable apartment in the city center of Reykjavik. As we still had so much time left we walk along the shopping street of the capital and went our for a meal. As going out for diner is also really expensive in Iceland, we went for a nice burger with fries at a cosy take-away burger joint.
14th of May: Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon
As we’d only seen the shopping street of Reykjavik, we wanted to explore more of the capital. We went to the Hallgrímskirkja, explored the rest of the city center and walked along the shores of the city. Reykjavik isn’t a big city so it’s very easy to explore in just one day. Then it was time to hit back and pack our swimsuits, because we had a reservation at the famous Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa with mineral-rich water. When arriving it was quite busy, but after entering the white, hot, silky water people start getting their own way so it seemed less busy. It was a wonderful and relaxing experience and something you should definitely see when you’re in Iceland, but paying about 80 euros each is a bit overrated. But hey, all part of the experience!
15th of May: time to leave Iceland
Iceland, you’re so beautiful. You keep surprising us with you’re amazing views, stormy weather and breathtaking nature. We’ll definitely visit you again one day. There is just so much more to see and explore! Now it’s time to leave and head for a new adventure: Canada!