Thursday, June 1, 2017

Travel Post: Iceland!

So.... in all honestly, this blog has been dead for awhile. I haven't been shopping a lot lately and frankly, that's just because most of my money has been going towards rent, food, car payments, and traveling! I could go on and on with my absence but mainly wanted to start over and document other things happening in my life.

Last November, I had a MAJOR travel bug but with no idea where to go. I had apps downloaded to my phone like Kayak and Hopper and email travel alerts set up from Airfarewatchdog and TravelPirates. I received an alert for Seattle to Barcelona flights for $360. And what did I do? I decided to wait until I got home from work to make a decision. Major fail because prices went right back up after a few hours.

Later that month, tickets to Denmark were advertised for $450ish through IcelandAir. Through their airline, you can make an extended layover in Iceland at no additional charge. Sooooo I booked! In March this year, we did: 2 nights in Iceland, 3 nights in Denmark, and 2 nights in Sweden since it was 30 mins away by train from Copenhagen. 

My main reason for wanting to visit Iceland? The Northern Lights! Which we saw a total of 3 nights even though we only stayed for 2. We flew in around 5am the first day which was early enough for the sky to be dark and lit with lights we could see from our airplane window. It was truly breathtaking. They weren't SUPER easy to find but all it took was literally watching the sky and driving to places further out from the city. 

We also got to see a TON of beautiful scenery. We rented a car for pretty cheap and an add-on option was a little portable wifi device (Mi-Fi) for $9/day. TOTALLY worth it as a GPS was more expensive and we could use the wifi on our phones for GPS. It also allowed us to look up places to go, post pictures, communicate with friends back home, etc.

The first day we mainly explored Reykjavik, the capitol. The city was small but so cute. There were tons of little shops and places to eat, though things were pretty pricey. Makes sense considering islands usually have higher prices. We still managed to keep in-line with our budget, though. We ate at cafes vs. formal restaurants and drank Pilsners which were significantly cheaper than other beers (there are cultural reasons for this - but we didn't mind as we drink them here in the states lol). 

The second full day was dedicated to the Golden Circle road trip, which you can easy find routes for by Googling! It took us in a loop to see unique landmarks that were pretty varied but each amazing. There were waterfalls, valleys, crater lakes, hot springs, etc. Even driving between destinations was picture perfect. 

Overall, our quick trip in Iceland left me wanting more. We plan to visit again next summer so we can see the landscape in a different season, and we plan to visit another region of Iceland because there's so much to see and we only got to see a teeny fraction of it. For the future, I also know we can wait for ticket prices to drop EVEN more because we saw tickets to Denmark via Iceland for $380 shortly before we left for our trip. Truly.... deals.

Some quick notes:

  • Cold water is SO clean and fresh in Iceland. Don't bother buying bottled water.
  • Hot water... kinda smells like eggs. We only showered at hot springs facilities and didn't smell anything different but the sinks in various restrooms smelled like eggs from the sulfur when it's hot. Just brush your teeth with cold water and you'll be fine.
  • Restaurants are pricey due to taxes and the general cost of things. Cafes are definitely the way to go. Filling food at a lower cost!
  • Everyone we ran into was so friendly. They spoke English and were very kind about us not being locals.
I have a TON more pictures but wanted to keep this post light. May upload more at a later time. :) 
And will post about Denmark and Sweden some time. 

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