9 days in Iceland

Discussion in 'Trip Reports and Trip Photos' started by Keith009, Feb 10, 2019.

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  1. Keith009

    Keith009 Established Member

    Mar 6, 2005
    4,443
    252
    Brisbane / Sydney
    Without hesitation, our time in Iceland over the Christmas/New Year break was one of the best holidays of my life. Very different from anything we've ever done (usually our trips are more city or beach resort centric)! Feel free to ask any questions if you're planning a trip, and I'll try my best to answer them. Also, please pardon the links to my Instagram profile but I lost access to my photobucket a while ago and now can't be bothered to upload pics to the Interwebs twice. I promise this isn't an exercise to solicit more follows!


    As we don't like driving when we're overseas and have a dreadful sense of direction - would rather let someone else do the hard work of finding places - the itinerary was comprised of a 3 day Golden Circle tour with Arctic Adventures and a one day Lake Myvatn tour up north near Akureyri with Saga Travel. Plus the snorkelling at Thingvellir also took up the better part of a day. We also worked in a fair bit of downtime in between as it can get a bit exhausting with all the physical activity. Normally the most we ever do is a bit of snorkelling, or multi day shopping sprees which are actually energising. It all worked a treat as the guides were great at tailoring timings to maximise daylight.

    On the foodie front i chickened out of trying fermented shark which smelt vile (even from afar!) but as I love cute animals i obviously had to try puffin and minke whale (ordered it for the LOLs but ended up really enjoying it and it's something you don't get to eat in most of the world - albeit not the most healthy thing to have so best they're not widely available) which were delicious. Arctic char, despite the way the fish looks, is also really nice (like trout with less fat). I've tried and loved reindeer on a past visit to Sweden so it was nice to be able to eat it again with abandon.

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “Reindeer burger . . . #feedfeed #icelandeats #wheniniceland #icelandscape #icelandic #icelandfoods #instagood #foodporn #foodietravel”

    ROK - we really loved this restaurant in Reykjavik that serves Icelandic specialities in a tapas format so you can try as many things as possible.

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “Sorry, I ate Rudolph so Christmas is cancelled. This place serves tapas style food so you can try multiple yummy Icelandic specialities in…”

    Random tips - probably not news to the seasoned travellers on here but hopefully it'll help someone in future:

    - Even though the nightlife in Reykjavik is vibrant, this isn't a place where you want to go cocktail bar hopping when booze prices are even worse than Singapore or Stockholm. Plus it never is going to compare to any number of cities around the world for the best cocktails because this is not what Iceland is about. By comparison duty free booze was insanely cheap and comparable to SYD duty free (UK-based folks will find it's cheaper yet again at LHR), so we stocked up on 2L of whisky which did the trick for our time there. The duty free store at KEF is open with all flight arrivals and located by the baggage belts. Our bags arrived right after we finished getting our duty free, time well spent! We stuck to house wine with dinner (and the occasional beer) and even then a bottle of wine is sometimes more expensive than the food. Our first proper cocktail of the trip, when we got to Happiness Forgets in Hoxton, tasted all the more amazing!!

    Reykjavik is a really cool, easygoing hipster town with a bit of a whimsical quality - much like most Icelandic people we've met. I can recommend the Alda Hotel which is pretty funky, whilst being incredibly good value and centrally located.

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “Reykjavik is like one big hipster town . . . #igtravel #instaiceland #reyjkavik #igiceland #wanderlust #global #nomad #explore #instagood…”

    - The Northern Lights are not to be expected, it's a bonus if you get to see them. We saw them very faintly on our final night when they showed up relatively early (quite apt that we spent that night at the Northern Lights Inn near the Blue Lagoons, located halfway between KEF and the city centre). We'd heard of other people staying up till 2am to catch them which isn't practical when you have a tour or activity commencing at 9am the next day. After we left we learnt that you can pretty much predict when they appear based on solar activity and levels of cloud cover, and set your alarm to wake up at set times - next time!

    - Credit card acceptance is universal, with a decent level of AMEX acceptance. No hassles with min spend or surcharges. Only place we had to use cash was at an unmanned booth selling horse candy in the middle of nowhere which ran on a honour system (to feed a pair of Icelandic horses).

    - Flying domestically within Iceland is pure bliss. Air Iceland Connect will tell you to rock up at check in 45 mins before departure but that's actually the time check in opens (not a cut off time like I thought)! RKV (this is the domestic airport of Reykjavik whereas international flights use KEF) & AEY airports were adorable little tin sheds with no security scans and no liquids restrictions. Both airports are also located within the town centres and take no more than a 5 mins cab ride to get to from a hotel in the city.

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “Rookie error. Got to #Reykjavik domestic airport an hour & 10 mins before our flight to #Akureyri. Check-in isn't open yet and there's only…”

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “Stunning #tarmacviews at #Akureyri airport. @airicelandconnect . . . #avgeek #icelandscape #icelandic #northiceland #nature #adventure…”

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “On approach to #Reykjavik with @airicelandconnect . . . #avgeek #propplane #bombardier #wheniniceland #icelandscape #icelandic #q400…”

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “Very innovative IFE on this 35 mins hop with @airicelandconnect. . . . #avgeek #mynorthadventure #bombardier #instatravel #wanderlust…”

    - Definitely do spend some time in the north in Akureyri. The north east of Iceland is stunning. Because of how hassle free domestic flights are you can do a day trip in conjunction with a tour but it's such a cute little spot that's worth at least a night.

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “#Akureyri panorama - swipe left. . . . #icelandscape #icelandic #visiticeland #instaiceland #wanderlust #global #nomad #explore #adventure…”

    - If i had to pick a favourite spot it'd be Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Diamond Beach adjacent to it, just stunning and mind blowing when you understand how the lagoon was formed.

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “This is the glacial lagoon which leaves the chunks of ice you see on Diamond Beach as it flows through to the Atlantic Ocean. . . .…”

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “So shine bright . . . #wheniniceland #icelandscape #icelandic #diamondbeach #wanderlust #global #nomad #explore #igtravel #instaiceland…”

    - Thanks to whoever here who talked me into snorkelling between the tectonic plates of Europe & North America. It's also possible in winter as you get a warm onesie thing and a dry suit. The water in the lake is pristine & delicious.

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “Spent #ChristmasEve snorkelling between North America & Europe! . . . #latergram #wheniniceland #icelandic #icelandscape #legit #butchAF…”

    - Yes the Blue Lagoon is touristy but i always believe the path is beaten for a reason. It has a curious geological basis (originally an environmental disaster) but it's just beautiful. Also did Myvatn Nature Baths up north near Akureyri which actually had nicer views but Blue Lagoon itself is definitely bucket list stuff and the lagoon itself is beautiful (great for your skin too!).

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “Blue Lagoon experience tick. We were also at the Lake Myvatn Nature Baths yesterday. Yes the Blue Lagoon is much more touristy but i always…”

    A selection of other pics:


    Keith Tan on Instagram: “The stunning Gullfoss waterfall . . . #wheniniceland #icelandscape #icelandic #visiticeland #instaiceland #wanderlust #global #nomad…”

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “At the Great Geysir . . . #wheniniceland #icelandscape #icelandic #instaiceland #landoffireandice #iceland #wanderlust #global #nomad…”

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “Black Sand Beach. The diversity of landscapes in #Iceland is amazing. We could see glaciers behind us. . . . #latergram #wheniniceland…”

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “Obligatory tourist jumping shot . . . #wheniniceland #icelandscape #icelandic #visiticeland #wanderlust #global #nomad #lifewelltravelled”

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “ . . . #icelandic #wheniniceland #icelandscape #stunning #instaiceland #wanderlust #global #nomad #explore #lifewelltravelled”

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “Where they filmed The Wall in #GameofThrones. . . . #wheniniceland #icelandic #icelandscape #instaiceland #adventure #global #nomad…”

    Went ice-caving and glacier hiking (without the aid of a helicopter contrary to popular belief) and survived both. #butchAF

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “We survived ice-caving! . . . #latergram #butch #icelandscape #wheniniceland #icelandic #Iceland #visiticeland #instaiceland #wanderlust…”

    Keith Tan on Instagram: “Hiked up a glacier & are still alive. So far. . . . #wheniniceland #icelandscape #icelandic #adventure #knackered #instaiceland #wanderlust…”
     
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  2. kileskus

    kileskus Newbie

    Jan 20, 2019
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    Were there any drinks, though, that struck you as being uniquely Icelandic? (or at least something you hadn't had elsewhere?)
     
  3. RB

    RB Established Member

    Nov 17, 2004
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    A great write-up. You certainly got some fantastic photos
     
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  4. bigpetebrown

    bigpetebrown Established Member

    May 24, 2011
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    Great report. Can't wait to go back when there's snow. Agree with comment about Akureyri and Myvatn. Need to learn to scuba so that we can dive between the continental plates. Didn't get a chance to try puffin but would have. Whale is pretty much only sold to tourists so it was a no. Fermented shark was also a no for the same reason as you.
     
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  5. love_the_life

    love_the_life Established Member

    Dec 21, 2012
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    #5 love_the_life, Feb 11, 2019 at 7:04 PM
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019 at 7:51 AM
    Love, love, love your TR. Thanks. Spent a few days in Iceland when on a cruise to Svalbard a few years ago and found it such an interesting place. Agreed on the char - very tasty - and I did eat Hakri! Loved the Icelandic sheep; they were like cotton balls on matchsticks.:)
     
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  6. Denali

    Denali Established Member

    Sep 17, 2012
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    Nice. We leave early April so hubby can scuba dive the plates :)
     
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  7. Keith009

    Keith009 Established Member

    Mar 6, 2005
    4,443
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    Brisbane / Sydney
    #7 Keith009, Feb 11, 2019 at 10:26 PM
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019 at 10:34 PM
    I didn't get that sense no. Tried some local vodka and whisky, but there weren't any defining craft cocktails that jumped out unlike say Quinary's Earl Grey martini in Hong Kong or the 6 Foot 7 Foot at 28 Hong Kong Street in Singapore (such a fun reimagination of Sazerac). Cocktails seemed well-made but not really anything I'd consider imaginative - or pay Icelandic prices for!
     
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