- 85% of island is uninhabitable
- Roughly 90% of Icelanders can trace their ancestry to the first settlers.
- Iceland sits on two tectonic plates; Eurasian and North American.
- The Icelandic language does not have a direct translation for the word “please” as noted by a local.
- All Icelandic horses are pure bred and any that leave the island are not permitted to return.
- Lastly, they have no standing military
- I think all of this is mad cool
I traveled to Reykjavic in early October 2012 with the initial plan to take a two-week trek to mainland Europe and then stay in Amsterdam and Belgium. After seeing the outlandish flight prices from NYC to Amsterdam or Bruxxels, we stumbled upon IcelandAir. This particular airline has more affordable flight prices because you can obtain a free stop-over in Iceland at no additional fare. This, along with Norwegian Air, are the cheapest ways to get to mainland Europe.
It took forty-five minutes to shuttle from the airport to our rental apartment in the middle of Reykjavic. Staying in apartments when traveling, even if your stay is less than one week, is ideal. You have your own space and most importantly, you aren’t spending frivolously on every single meal out on the town. You can buy groceries. It changes the whole game of travel. I find that AirBnB or Booking are great sites to begin searching for residential rentals.
Let us face the facts here; Iceland is chilly. It is downright cold when one is coming from the final days of summer in Eastern USA and bouncing into Reykjavic with a hoodie and shoes, sans socks. Layering is a must and most people wear the brand name outerwear line, 66ºNord; similar to the US NorthFace. Don’t forget, at certain times of the year, Icelanders are used to having 24 full hours of daylight. If you plan a trip here, please do quick research and check the climate/day light situation for your stay. That could be a real conundrum, I think, if you are caught unawares coming out of the club at 3am looking a hot mess. This could also be Snapchattable — your decision.
There are roughly 350,000 people on the entire island AKA there is only so much one
can do before boredom kicks in. If you are adventurous, you can rent an expensive rental car and drive around the entire island. Yay fun. Taking a Gray Line Tour and doing the “Golden Triangle” is a relaxed day of seeing glaciers, Thingvellir nature reserve and waterfall, and geysir. I would refrain from spending (a lot) of money on a tour to MAYBE see the northern lights. Especially in October or November, when the Aurora Borealis has just made a return from a summer hiatus, there is no guarantee to see this phenomenon.
A better idea would be to go out on the harbor if you are in Reykjavic between 10pm and 4am. If you are in central Iceland or anywhere else, you can probably just go outside and be able to catch them because there is less light pollution from the bustling city. Another necessity is lounging in the Blue Lagoon geothermal pool. Grab a beer, wine, or juice along with an algae bar to scrub on your skin, and get all types of pruney in this naturally heated pool. This is a major tourist spot, so face the facts, you will be paying for that aspect as well.
LASTLY, there is excellent food all over the place, but the best meal I had in Reykjavic was at Pisa Restaurant on the main street. This is a proper (aka expensive) Italian restaurant with an excellent maitre d’, Ollie. If you want to do something the locals do, eat one of their famous hot dogs from a random hot dog stand (Bæjarins beztu pylsur) across from the harbor. Naturally you will want seafood, as you will be on an island this is an understandably appropriate desire. An affordable, on-the-harbor, mom and pop seafood joint is called Sægreifinn and it has extremely fresh and extremely delicious seafood.
At the end of the day; I would absolutely return to Iceland. Do a few more/different things. I would not stay more than five days though, let us keep it real shall we?
Until next time.