Iceland & Amsterdam April 2019 planning

Discussion in 'Destination Guide' started by Denali, May 17, 2018.

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  1. Denali

    Denali Established Member

    Sep 17, 2012
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    Bit scary typing 2019 but scored SQ J reward seats to Amsterdam return for April, having used VA website for SYD-SIN-AMS 139K points + $96pp and SQ website for AMS-SIN-SYD, converting VA141K to 105KK +46euro pp (not brave enough to attempt redeeming RTW SQ yet).

    Will be flying IcleandAir AMS to KEF return.

    Hubby chose April, I was hoping for May or June but prepare for the worse (cold) and hope for the best.

    Current plan is 8 nights in Iceland and about the same for Amsterdam, never been to either before.

    Must:
    Iceland: Scuba diving the tectonic plates - its the reason why we are going so anything else is a bonus. Because its drysuit diving, Im thinking I might snorkel only.
    Will be doing a few tours, Golden Circle ect and hire a car to drive around a couple of days. Hubby refuses to do a 3 or 4 night organized tour. Maybe visit Blue Lagoon but it looks like a bit of a overpriced zoo, is it worth it?

    Amsterdam: Totally going to get my cheese on with Edam, Gouda and the cheese markets. Added bonus is the Keukenhof Flower fields! We arrive 3rd week of April and the festival runs mid March to mid May so fingers crossed for a good season plus the usual, Anne Frank house, cheese, Van Gough museum, cheese, maybe a day trip to Belgium for chocolate, cheese.

    So any advise, ideas, hints, must do or see is appreciated and many thanks!
     

  2. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
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    We stayed at the Marriott Amsterdam after our original choice withdrew from SPG and award nights unlikely to be honoured.We got a club room.Lounge is very good.
    Found it very convenient.Close to Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum.Concierge arranged timed admissions.Tram goes virtually past the door to get into the centre of town.And if you want hop on hop off bus and canal boat very close.
    And easier to get out of the city.
     
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  3. AisleSeat

    AisleSeat Active Member

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    I read a great article a few years ago about diving in Iceland. Super clear water; the photos were amazing. I haven't done a drysuit dive in over 10 years, its not something I'd rush back to though.

    Blue Lagoon was OK when we went. It wasn't packed with people, but a unique experience. Just don't put your hand under the water and pick up the silica from the ground. Yuck.

    All the Iocal pools are heated and I recommend visiting those. If you get the city card you get free access.
     
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  4. VPS

    VPS Established Member

    Apr 2, 2011
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    I'd love to go to Iceland and love your TR so following along
     
  5. tgh

    tgh Active Member

    Apr 23, 2006
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    We plan to visit Svalbard next year and may also check out the neighbours.. so following with interest
     
  6. JessicaTam

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    Be prepared for some eye-watering prices in Iceland, and then double them! :eek:
     
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  7. RooFlyer

    RooFlyer Enthusiast

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    Amen to that. Even the English find it expensive!
     
  8. ellen10

    ellen10 Established Member

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    We went to Kuekenhof Gardens at the end of April and they were amazing, so beautiful and the surrounding tulip fields were stunning.
     
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  9. RooFlyer

    RooFlyer Enthusiast

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    #9 RooFlyer, May 17, 2018
    Last edited: May 17, 2018
    Half a day in Reykjavik - the cathedral with its 'basalt' architecture; the 'pearl' lookout, waterfront, old-ish town. Place where Reagan met Gorbachev in 1986.

    Gulfoss waterfall, Geysir geyser (I posted a pic somewhere else), but most important Thingvellir (or, more accurately, Þingvellir :)) . World heritage site, where the Icelandic parliament commenced in the 900s AD. And (drum roll): where the mid Atlantic ridge is on-shore! Yes, hubby can dive for it, but you can simply walk it, and have one foot on European plate, and other foot on the American plate. :D:cool:. I visited in near winter, everything white, bit its quite green and pretty in summer -dunno about when you are there, but its probably the #1 site in Iceland to visit.

    All these in a day trip from Reykjavik IIRC.

    BTW does hubby really want to dive on the mid Atlantic ridge (that's the boundary between 2 plates thing)? At mid ocean ridges (AKA 'spreading ridges'), this is what's usually happening:

    MOR1.png

    Mor2.jpg

    New oceanic crust (basalt) is being created, pushing the 2 plates apart.

    BTW, in Iceland, your 'surname' is created by your father's first name. The son of John Smith will be Karl Johnsson, the daughter will be Emily Johnsdottir. :)

    Also, after visiting, you'll know the answer to this great trivia question. Which country is Europe's biggest banana producer?

    Travel really broadens the mind, doesn't it? :rolleyes:
     
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  10. Denali

    Denali Established Member

    Sep 17, 2012
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    Yes I was looking at a pizza cafe yesterday and a single pizza came to almost $50aud!

    We're actually going to go down the airbnb route for once. The one im looking at is city Central to everything, inc bus stop with grocery store, bakery and thermal pools within a few minutes walk.

    Interesting fact. Last year the city banned tourist buses from the city centre so if youre on a tour, you go to a designated bus stop for the pick up. If you're going to use Skybus for airport transfer, you have to walk your luggage to/from a bus stop as well. After 30+hrs of travelling, I'll make our own dinner but pay for taxi door to door transfer.
     
  11. Denali

    Denali Established Member

    Sep 17, 2012
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    Immigration and EU question, if someone could advise please.

    We arrive in Amsterdam and clear EU immigration (different PNR, 6hr layover so collect bags, clear, Sheraton day room for a nap and shower and then check in again), when we arrive in Iceland, do we have to clear immigration again as its a EU country and we would have been cleared in Amsterdam?

    thanks,
     
  12. JessicaTam

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    #12 JessicaTam, May 18, 2018
    Last edited: May 19, 2018
    Iceland are is part of the Schengen zone so no worries there.
     
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  13. RooFlyer

    RooFlyer Enthusiast

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    Off to the grammar thread for you!:)
     
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  14. Azzy

    Azzy Newbie

    Feb 20, 2016
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    I went to Iceland in July last year and had a great time.

    Yes it's really expensive.

    Snorkelling in Silfra (between the two plates) was bizarre- very clear water with great visibility of rocks and plant life. There are fish there but I didn't see any. Although it is a dry suit it is still cold (even in July) as your face/hands/feet are exposed to the cold water

    April is in-between season. If you're there early enough you might get to see the Northern Lights. Late April is also the start of whale and puffin season. Hopefully there won't be a lot of tourists, but the weather might make it difficult for driving.

    I thought the Blue Lagoon was great. Yes it's really expensive and touristy, but still lots of fun. What they don't tell you is that it's the waste water from the geothermal plant. It's also near the airport, so you could go there after arriving/departing; there are tour buses going from the Airport-Blue Lagoon-Reykjavik (look on the website) and storage at the Blue Lagoon.

    Re the tour/airport buses- what happens is that the big bus stops at a depot outside the city centre, then a minibus takes you to your hotel depending on what area of town you're staying at. So don't worry about luggage etc. It does mean that the transport times can be really long, especially if your hotel is last on the itinerary.

    You may not enough time to do all three, but from Reykjavik there are 3 basic directions you can head
    a) if you head east along the south edge of the island, see if you can get to Jökulsárlón- where a glacier reaches a lake and chunks of ice break off and float out to the ocean. Also make sure you get to the ocean side- Diamond Beach- where the ice washes up on the black beach. On the way you'll also see some spectacular waterfalls- Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, and rock formations- Vik.
    b) North-ish to the Golden Circle. This is where Thingvellir and Silfra are, with some other waterfalls. This can be a day tour.
    c) North west-ish to Snaefellsnes peninsula- Iceland in compact form. Lots of things to do here including Kirkufell and its photogenic waterfall, its own glacier, and where you might want to try fermented shark.

    If you had a longer time you could just do the ring road.

    You'll have a fantastic time!

     
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  15. RooFlyer

    RooFlyer Enthusiast

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    We give all the good oil here :) (This was in another thread.)


     
  16. Denali

    Denali Established Member

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    Many thanks!

    I was reading about spa etiquette and I see that we're required to shower without swimsuit beforehand (no problem with this) but most places are public shower spaces, ie no private shower facilities - NOT a fan of that at all. Blue Lagoon have private showers but by the time you add that to the price for 2 people plus transfer it came to $1K for our 4hr visit. If it was earth shattering amazing I wouldnt blink but is it really that amazing?

    Any thoughts on Iceland Spa, Geothermal Baths & Steam Saunas | Laugarvatn Fontana, which is about an hour in the opposite direction from Reykjavic?
     
  17. deka2

    deka2 Active Member

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    We went two years ago and toured around for a week in a hired 4 wheel drive.

    Amazing place

    Where else can you descend into the magna chamber of a volcano

    Inside the Volcano, Iceland Volcano Tour | InsideTheVolcano.com

    Not cheap, but an amazing experience.

    Also if you can get this far Jökulsárlón, with it's iceberg lagoon.

    Very touristy, and rightly so.
     
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  18. Azzy

    Azzy Newbie

    Feb 20, 2016
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    Ha ha, great minds think alike

    I wouldn't worry about it too much.

    I was looking through my records- for June 2017 I paid 8800ISK for the "comfort package" and 4500 for the from/to Reykjavik transfer- so about $150 in total. I now see the comfort package is cheaper- I think they stopped charging people for the use of a towel.

    Don't bother with the private room. You can shower before entering with your swimsuit on. I did it and so did everyone else. Some of the shower cubicles have a door, so you can shower in privacy. However there's not really anywhere to hang clothes other than over the door, so what you put on is a bit wet from the shower.

    re shower situation also check out:
    The Blue Lagoon for the timid traveler

    Is it then worth ~$400 for the two of you? I liked it- it is kinda cool wading in warm milky blue water. You do forget how expensive it is as you have to prepay your visit, but I have still have lots of fond memories of it. When I came back to Australia everyone asked "Did you go to the Blue Lagoon?"- the one thing most people know about Iceland other than volcanoes. If you want hot water bathing then just go to the local pools- there's at least one in each town.

    Re Fontana, the other pool: I'm sure it will be fine. There also another pool in that area
    Secret Lagoon | Fluðir - We Kept It Unique For You!
    Both of these look much smaller than the Blue Lagoon. And they're not blue....
     
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  19. get me outta here

    get me outta here Senior Member

    Nov 18, 2011
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    I read that the Blue Lagoon entry fee gets more expensive as the time gets closer to the visit. I have more or less decided that I won’t go there as I get into a hot water pool here once a week.
     
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  20. RooFlyer

    RooFlyer Enthusiast

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    Trivia re the Blue Lagoon.

    The nearby geothermal power station started off disposing of its waste (cooled but still hot) water by simply piping it onto an adjacent lava field - the theory being that it would soak into the ground and recharge the reservoir.

    What happened was dissolved silica came out of solution in a sort of microscopic gel, settled and clogged up the lava field drainages and the water started to pool. The nice milky blue colour of the pooled water is the same colloidal silica in the water, Quite harmless and much the same effect of this water as any other 'mineral bath'.

    Here is a geothermalist's view of the Blue Lagoon (well beyond the baths, which are quite nice, looking at the power station :) )

    Blue.JPG

    And the Reykjavik Cathedral, paying 'homage' to the basaltic nature of the country.
    Church.JPG
     
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