Iceland – in many words

So. Iceland.

I basically showed up there with no clue about the history (used to be a territory of Denmark!) or the people (~330K, and two-thirds of the country lives in the Reykjavik area). I bought a flight, booked some tours and then showed up.

QUICK TRIP DETAILS

  • Where I stayed – Loft Hostel [7/10]
    • For a laugh, scroll down to the “Hostel Saga” section of this post
  • Favorite restaurants
  • Random favorites
    • Skyr yogurt is bomb!
    • Vedur was great for forecasts

WHAT I DID

Day 1

  • Blue Lagoon (from 8am – 1pm)
    • Recommend spending a while here! I arrived in Reykjavik at ~4am, and couldn’t check into my hostel till 2pm, so I stayed in the Blue Lagoon from it’s opening time at 8am till around 1pm
    • Do book this ahead! And when booking, if you select the cheapest option, just remember to bring a towel and slippers, and you’ll be all set.
  • Northern Lights tour (@8.30pm)
    • This got cancelled, and rebooked for Day 2. I highly recommend booking this on your first day, so you have many chances to see it if the forecast is bad on your tour date.
    • Check out Vedur for forecasts!

Day 2

  • Free walking tour – link
    • Highly recommend this! It’s similar to Sandeman’s in Western Europe and is donation based
    • You can only sign up a few days in advance, so don’t forget to do so!
  • Reykjavik Food Walk – link
    • This was AH-mazing, and I highly recommend!
    • If you don’t feel like doing a tour, and want to eat all the food on your own, we did:
      • Islenski Barinn – The Icelandic meat soup
      • Ostabúðin/Cheese shop – Cheese & Meat plate
      • Café Loki – Rye bread ice cream
      • Hot dog stand (Bæjarins bestu)
      • Messinn – Arctic char and Icelandic “plokkfiskur” or cod stew
      • Apótek – Apricot mousse and apple sorbet

Day 3

  • Extreme Iceland’s Golden Circle Complete tour
  • This was my favorite tour by far! However, there are a ton of stops. It was basically, drive for 30 mins, stop and stare at some amazing natural wonder, drive for 20 minutes, see wonder #2. By the end, my brain hurt a little bit, but in a good way!

Day 4

Arctic Adventure’s South Coast tour

Day 5

Troll Adventures Snæfellsnes tour

Day 6

  • Nothing! Just meandered around Reykjavik
  • If I did this trip again, I would put this meandering day in between some tours, to get a mental break

 

TIPS / RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PLANNING YOUR VISIT TO ICELAND

  • Go with Wow Air! It was pretty cheap, and I brought my own food, water & movies and had a great time
  • Note that once you land you will spend more money than you think you will (unless you’re down with PB&J sandwiches). Save money when you can and just come prepared to throw money away. Chips + Water for $10 sounds like a joke – it’s not!
  • In the KEF airport, you can’t make any purchases when you land, until you are in the “Arrivals” section of the airport (and vice versa when you’re taking off)
  • If you would like some alcohol at some time during this trip, get some at Duty Free in the airport
  • If you arrive really early, go to the Blue Lagoon!

AND NOW…ENJOY THE HOSTEL SAGA

This story is such a hot mess, that I’m going to tell it in bullet-point form

  • So some background…
  • Generally hostels have co-ed and female-only rooms within the larger hostel
  • I generally book beds in the female-only rooms for safety reasons / to make my parents less concerned and I did the same thing at Loft Hostel.
  • Remember that I landed in Iceland at 4am, and spent hours at the Blue Lagoon? So I’m feeling pretty exhausted and tired when I check in at around 2.30pm.
  • The person who checked me in was clearly new–the fact that she was surprised when I asked for restaurant recommendations should have been a hint
  • I also follow her instructions and store my bottle of duty free wine in the hostel shared fridge…
  • Getting to the juicy parts
  • I get to my room, and am about to pass out and sleep when a roommate walks in – and lo and behold it’s a fairly tall dude from L.A.
  • I’m sleep deprived and kinda tired, and I say “Isn’t this supposed to be a female room?” And he’s like “No, I’m in this room as well”. Which was like “duh”.
  • At this point I want sleep more than I want to figure this stuff out. So I say “huh”, and then proceed to get comfortably asleep
  • I wake up around 6pm and meet roommate #2 who is this funny British guy.
  • At this point, it is clear that I’m not hallucinating, and the hostel definitely made a mistake. But I was starving and priorities = food .
    • I also realize that in my 6-bed “female” room, my 5 other roommates were men. 4 British guys and 1 American guy.
  • But, priorities first. I get some dinner, come back to the hostel and proceed to go to sleep
  • At 2am, I am woken up by the sound of all my roommates coming back from their male bonding drinking session
  • And then …. I kid you not … there was a loud pillow fight, and blankets were being stolen from each other’s beds and drunken stupidity ensued for like 30 minutes
    • I was pissed
    • I had to text one of my friends who was enjoying an evening in Miami, and I vented to her, to prevent myself from yelling at these drunk grown ass 20-something year olds
  • Morning comes, and I’m kinda tired, but run to shower and get ready. As I get up from my bed and dig around my suitcase to get my clothes, I see…an item
  • There was an (unused) condom on the floor of our dorm room
  • At that point, I was done, but I had places to be
  • So I got ready, left the condom where it was, and headed out to my walking tour (mind you everything prior happened on day 1)
  • I arrive back in the hostel, after the walking and food tours, and go upstairs to get some of my wine. Because you know, this was a day for alcohol.
  • And of COURSE, someone had taken my bottle of wine
  • Ramping down
  • So I do what I don’t like doing, and went to reception, and calmly (in the mode of my sheroe) told them what was what
    • I got a new keycard to the room type I actually booked (where I met some amazing roommates from Korea, Hong Kong, Mississippi and Ecuador, who were all sober, fun and smart)
    • I also got free breakfast for the rest of the stay. If I had bought it upfront, the breakfast would have cost $16 / day (because #iceland)
  • So….there you have it! What would you have done?

Do go to Iceland!!! I’m already planning to go again in the summer, when apparently instead of Winter Wonderland, Iceland becomes a Hobbit-esque wonder!

P.S. Because Iceland is such a small country (~330k people), there is also an anti-incest app. Yup. That is a problem that they have to tackle. And they don’t make lives easier on themselves since there are no “family” names. Essentially sons are Father’s First Name-Son (ex: Erickson) and daughters’ last names are Father’s First Name-Dottir (ex: Erickdottir). The more you know huh?