Iceland

Iceland

 

Background information:

Cold, cold, cold...windy...and cold

 

Visited, in 2018.

 

Iceland is a destination that must be visited at least once by every intrepid explorer. Rocks, volcanoes and water...I like to think of it as the landscape of the planet when the world was new.

 

You will enter the country at Reykjavik airport. At the time of this posting, there were several carriers that fly there. The two Icelandic choices are Iceland Air and WOW airlines. I prefer Iceland Air for a number of reasons...first, the arrival times are a little more convenient, second, the airline runs a large tourism infrastructure network so you can bundle some activities and reservations when you buy your tickets. Here are a few pointers...first, Iceland Air's premium economy service, at least on the flight I was on, rivaled Business class at a small fraction of the price and included lounge access, drinks, a meal and a reasonably comfortable seat. Second, if you are going to visit Europe, you can save a ton of money by booking your flight from the US to Europe with a stop-over in Iceland (or visa-versa). Not only is this inexpensive, but when you catch the second flight to Europe after spending a few days in Iceland, you will land there in the early afternoon, thereby eliminating jet lag that you experience with most direct US flights to Europe that arrive there early in the morning before you can check-in to your hotel.

 

Another tip...the "Blue Lagoon" is not to be missed...hot mineral water in a beautiful and elegant setting. Since the airport is almost adjacent to the Blue Lagoon Spa, you can book a bus ticket to Reykjavik with a stop at the Blue Lagoon (or visa-versa when you are leaving the country). The Spa is setup for travelers who opt for this itinerary, with a safe and efficient luggage check at the Spa, lockers, towels, etc. and buses leaving to the airport or to Reykjavik every hour.

 

The Icelandic people are welcoming and educated. Most speak English. Please keep in mind that the hotel standards in Iceland are NOT what you would expect in the US, particularly the bed size...it is not uncommon for a hotel to have nothing larger than a twin or double with the expectation that two people would be using the bed. To get around this look closely at the bed arrangement described by the hotel to make sure your expectations meet their reality. I stayed at an exceptional property called The Black Pearl, located one block off a main square. It is essentially a modern apartment, with exceptional service and furnishings including a full kitchen. It is a bit pricey, so some seasons will offer better cost options that others.

 

Depending on the time of year you can explore Iceland by rental car or tour-bus. The tours are well run with multi-lingual guides and will hit the highlights. Due to the remote nature of Iceland and the long distances, expect long tour routes...13 hours is not unusual, but there will be plenty of stops and things to see. You can take a trip to "try to see" (depending on conditions)  the Northern Lights if you visit in the winter months.

 

One last note...keep in mind that the weather could be mild, or "frick'n cold and windy, so dress appropriately and be prepared for rapid weather changes.

Standing outside the entrance to the Blue Lagoon

Note the water color due to the mineral content

Inside the Blue Lagoon Facility

There are locker room facilities, a swim-up bar, luggage valets, and a restaurant

An Icelandic Pony (I named him "Don King")

The Icelandic ponies, for the most part, are extreme calm and friendly

This is the exact place where the European and North American Continental Plates meet

...it was also a filming location for Game of Thrones

The hexagonal basault columns along the beach give an "Other Worldly" appearance

This cave, adjacent to the columns, is where a scene from "Noah" was filmed

The magnificent Dettifoss Falls (also the scene from the opening shots of the movie Promethias)

Another of the (many) waterfalls in Iceland

It gets a little icy (and this was Springtime!)

Some of the thermal activity that can easily be seen in Iceland

Capturing a geyser in the midst of spouting

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