Author Topic: BrachaB's Iceland Teeny Tiny Trip Report (WOW Airlines Layover)  (Read 681 times)

Offline BrachaB

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BrachaB's Iceland Teeny Tiny Trip Report (WOW Airlines Layover)
« on: November 06, 2017, 03:39:33 PM »
So I recently returned from my trip to Israel via Iceland and I wanted to share some thoughts. I'm not going to do a full trip report, but I do have some pointers for people who might want some information about flying Wow Air.

TTTR (Teeny Tiny Trip Report):
    Getting to Newark was a little annoying, but once I was there, I was not asked any questions when checking my luggage or going through passport control. It was weird going from the usual grilling that we get about the luggage and where and why we're going, to this. But I liked it :)
    We sat on the runway for a while, taxied, sat some more... then finally took off more than an hour after the scheduled time. The flight (a red-eye) was a bumpy one, but I had my own row! That was awesome! About 2-3 hours into the flight, the pilot announced that there were Northern Lights that could be seen.... from the other side of the plane. I tried to look through the little window in the door at the front of the plane, but couldn't really see much. :(
    We landed at the scheduled time, with one of the smoothest landings I've ever experienced. We hung around for a bit trying to find people to join us, so by the time we got to customs, there was no line at all.
@bluesky connected me with another frum woman going on the same flights as me, and we ended up finding two other people in the airport to join us. We rented a car from MyCar - Toyota RAV4, which with paying for a 3rd driver, plus gps, minus the small amount we were able to bargain him down = about $135. The car was new and clean and the rental company was great!
    We set off, later than we planned to... made a small stop at a gas station/tourist center near Hveragerđi for maps and information, of which they had very little. They did have some cool jewelry and other stuff made out of obsidian and other volcanic rocks though. The guy at the tourist center directed us to the Hveragerđi hot springs (which technically it's redundant to say that because Hver means hot springs...). It had only just gotten light outside and it was still chilly so we didn't spend much time there. On our was back we passed some nicer looking hot springs that we had missed by just a 1/4 mile or so... but what we saw was still pretty cool.
    We continued driving down the Ring Road, and stopped at Seljalandsfoss Waterfall (also redundant - Foss means waterfall. Iceland's cool like that ;) )and were about to go walk behind it, but then realized it's probably better to do it on the way back so we don't have to be wet the rest of the trip. It was a good decision because we got really wet!! Also, parking there costs money, but I don't know how much because we didn't check the first time, and then forgot to pay the second time! (More on that soon.)
    While driving down we passed the Eyjafjallajökull Erupts museum but we didn't go in, instead joined the masses of people across the street a few feet down and took some beautiful pictures of the volcano and mountain.
    We then drove down to Skógafoss, which you can climb up to the top and look at from a platform next to it, but we were short on time and all exhausted (red-eye flight, remember?) and it's something like 530 steps to the top.
    Our next and farthest stop was Reynisfjara - black sand beach that also has some beautiful basalt and other rock formations. It was really windy and a little rainy, so we got a little wet, but it was still beautiful! There are waves there that sneak up on you (the signs called them Sneaker Waves) that we thought we were far enough and safe from, but then one huge wave started coming so we hightailed it back some 20 feet and were good.
    We then went back to Seljalandsfoss, forgot to pay for parking, and walked behind the waterfall. It's incredible, very different from walking behind Niagara Falls. The walk is very wet and slippery, and probably shouldn't be done if you're unsteady on your feet. The whole walk from the beginning of the path to the end took us about 15 minutes. When we got back to the car, there was a yellow slip of paper on our windshield. Shrek! We forgot to pay for parking. We asked some locals about it and they said it's just a warning, not a ticket. (Hopefully they were right!)
    Driving up and down the Ring Road is an experience in itself - there are Icelandic horses and sheep (the pamphlet on the plane said that there are 350k residents in Iceland and 450k sheep!), cute little towns at the foot of the mountains, random ribbon waterfalls all along the mountains, some rainbows caused by those waterfalls, and lots and lots and lots of bales of hay.
    Having seen all the sights we planned on seeing, we headed back to the MyCar office, stopping at a gas station on way. MyCar gives you a little thingy to use to get a discount for gas, so we stopped at one of the participating stations... only to discover that you can only use their prepaid cards to pay. So we had to estimate how much money to put on the card. We ended up needing to fill up 3/4 of a tank (we drove about 450km), which cost about $70-75!!
    After we returned the car, we took a shuttle back to the airport. It takes about 10-15 minutes to get back, but we were running late so we asked him to hurry and he gunned it - took him only about 7 minutes from door to door.
    There was almost no line by security but we were stopped so they can go through our liquids, even though we passed through in Newark and everything was legit. We then were all selected for a "random security check" before we could go to the bus that would take us to the plane. My brain was muddled at this point because I had gotten so little sleep on the previous flight, but I think they were sending everyone without an Israel passport through extra security, before entering Israel.

Realizing now that my TTTR is not so TT after all... I'm almost done...
    On the way back from Israel, we had standard security leaving TLV, but then were surprised by more security right when we landed in KEF, which we were not prepared for. I had bought 2 bottles of water in Israel and only drank one, so they confiscated my other bottle. For people who had non-sealed Duty Free bags with liquids in them (like alcohol), they sent them to another room for extra checking, but ultimately allowed them to take it on the plane if there were no other issues.
    Okay, I think that's it! I wanted to add some pictures but don't want to make an imgur account... I did want to say though that you can get some beautiful pictures even if you only use a smartphone camera! Going to do another post with some pointers and FYIs soon.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2017, 11:01:33 PM by Something Fishy »

Offline BrachaB

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Re: BrachaB's Iceland Teeny Tiny Trip Report (WOW Airlines Layover)
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2017, 09:16:34 PM »
And now for some pointers and FYIs:

On the Way to & from Iceland/Plane Ride
  • The plane has great usb ports and universal outlets for charging.
  • If you don't sleep well on planes, the red-eye to Iceland stinks, but it was great for touring because we landed early in the morning and had the whole day to tour.
  • I paid to reserve seats, and I'm happy I did so. I like the window seat, and I was able to get that each time, and 3/4 of my flights I had no one behind me and was still able to recline. I booked the window seat in 2 rows in front of the exit row, and since in the row in front of exit row there is no window seat on some of the planes, there was no one behind me. This turned out to be great for me, because I can't stand people kicking me from behind. I called Wow Air to make sure that my seats will all recline, and the nice customer service man told me that they all will. Buuuut one didn't. Basically, it depends which type of plane you're on. The Airbus a320 (NEO) was not good - the seat did not recline, but on the Airbus a321 (GPA, JOY) the seats were great!
  • There is a special TLV to KEF in flight menu, but the only thing I was able to tell was kosher was the ramen noodles. I did check the plain pringles, but they were from Iceland and did not have a hechsher.
  • They charge you for water on the plane ($3), so if you find water for a better price in the airport, buy it then. (Water in TLV and KEF was $1.80-2.00, but 4.00-5.00 in Newark!) Just make sure you don't have extra water after your TLV to KEF flight or they'll confiscate it!
  • There is no in-flight entertainment or wifi, and there aren't even any screens where you could track the plane's progress. Someone said that felt like a Twilight Zone episode, because you never know where you're up to or what time it is… You can, however, rent an ipad for $25 that you can use for the duration of the flight.
  • All landings were the smoothest I've ever experienced. Go Wow Air pilots!
  • The guy in front of me on my KEF to TLV flight said "Honestly, at $350 a ticket, I didn't think I'd make it." but overall, we were quite impressed with the airline! The seats weren't small (comparatively…), the flight crew was very kind and accommodating, and the flying was great too :)

In Iceland
  • All the locals we met were great sources of information and were happy to share and help.
  • Since we were only going to be in Iceland for 13 hours, I didn't want to pay for phone service there. I have T-Mobile, which included unlimited 2G and texting. Or is supposed to. I had about 5 minutes of coverage of each, in two separate areas. I was going to rely on my phone for gps/googlemaps, but couldn't, so we had to rent a gps with the car ($17). (You can actually also get unlimited wifi in the car as well for $15.)
  • The drive from KEF area to the Ring Road is a little confusing, even if you have a gps, because there are traffic circles and signs in Icelandic that don't always read the way the gps is sounding them out. But once you hit the Ring Road, it's clear driving all the way, at least as far as Vik.
  • We did a lot of research on car rentals, and ended up deciding to use MyCar, for a number of reasons: They had current cars for good prices; a free shuttle from the airport, with no extra charge; we needled with the them about the price and they begrudgingly but did give us a small discount; and they include taxes and all basic fees in the price quotes, so there aren't hidden fees. The only drawback was that the shuttle runs only on the hour, so you might have to get back earlier or later than you would have wanted to. Oh, and the shuttle leaves KEF from the departures lounge, so you have to cross the whole airport and exit on the other side in order to catch the shuttle.
  • The weather, while cold (40-45 F), was beautiful and sunny most of the time (we were there mid-October, but it was warmer worldwide…).  It drizzled a little, but mostly while we were driving, so it didn't impact our sightseeing. We did have to clean the windshield often though. As far as temperature, we were pretty much okay in a couple of not-coat layers, except when we went to certain places. It was cold by the waterfalls and also by the beach, so you would need extra layers then if you want to spend more time there.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2017, 11:04:17 PM by Something Fishy »

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Re: Re: Iceland Master Thread
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2017, 09:26:35 PM »
Nice!
Out of curiosity, which side of the plane were you on when the aurora was on the other side?  Is the aurora typically on that side outbound and the other side inbound.  POSH kind of thing?
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Re: Re: Iceland Master Thread
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2017, 10:15:36 PM »
Nice TR, brief and to the point !!
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Re: Re: Iceland Master Thread
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2017, 03:28:49 PM »
Great TR! I enjoyed reading it.

Funny, I don't remember paying at Seljalandsfoss and didn't have any issues. Maybe it was because I was sleeping at Hamragardar and they comped the parking? (@Something Fishy do you know)
I also didn't find the walk behind the falls slippery. Guess it gets worse in the winter.
I think you did a great job of seeing a nice amount of beautiful Icelandic sites on a stopover!

Offline BrachaB

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Re: Re: Iceland Master Thread
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2017, 09:57:25 PM »
Nice!
Out of curiosity, which side of the plane were you on when the aurora was on the other side?  Is the aurora typically on that side outbound and the other side inbound.  POSH kind of thing?

I was on the right side of the plane, aurora was on the left. I have no clue if it's a set thing... but it might be, considering the specific flight paths the Wow Air planes take from Newark - they fly in an arc from W to NE, so maybe since the left side is facing the North, it's can be seen on that side?
What's POSH? It's not in the acronyms wiki.

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Re: Re: Iceland Master Thread
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2017, 09:58:16 PM »
Nice TR, brief and to the point !!
:) thanks!

Offline BrachaB

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Re: Re: Iceland Master Thread
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2017, 10:02:21 PM »
Great TR! I enjoyed reading it.

Funny, I don't remember paying at Seljalandsfoss and didn't have any issues. Maybe it was because I was sleeping at Hamragardar and they comped the parking? (@Something Fishy do you know)
I also didn't find the walk behind the falls slippery. Guess it gets worse in the winter.
I think you did a great job of seeing a nice amount of beautiful Icelandic sites on a stopover!

Thanks! I actually wanted to put it out there (not sure if I included this in my TR or not), if you want to spend more time at each place, you'll need a longer layover or need to cut out some stops. We were kind of rushed, but I said I'd rather see more things than spend a lot of time in fewer places. And glad we got to do that!

I don't know... or maybe they only recently started charging for parking.
That could definitely be, maybe it also depends on the general weather. It's possible it had rained before we got there, because it was slippery the whole way out, especially the path up past the waterfall.

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Re: BrachaB's Iceland Teeny Tiny Trip Report (WOW Airlines Layover)
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2017, 10:12:38 AM »
Thanks for posting. Planning a short trip soon, so this will be helpful

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Re: Re: Iceland Master Thread
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2017, 01:29:19 PM »
I don't know... or maybe they only recently started charging for parking.

Maybe it's a general trend across Iceland? Tourism picking up so they hope to capitalize on entrance and parking fees. Keriđ volcanic crater just started charging an entrance fee in July. We noticed Pay and Display parking meters at a bunch of the more frequented areas. Though we usually didn't notice until our way out - thankfully we didn't come back to any tickets/warnings.

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Re: Re: Iceland Master Thread
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2017, 10:23:21 PM »
Maybe it's a general trend across Iceland? Tourism picking up so they hope to capitalize on entrance and parking fees. Keriđ volcanic crater just started charging an entrance fee in July. We noticed Pay and Display parking meters at a bunch of the more frequented areas. Though we usually didn't notice until our way out - thankfully we didn't come back to any tickets/warnings.

Keriđ is on private property and has always charged a fee AFAIA. I definitely paid the fee in July of 2016.

Apparently the fees at Seljalandsfoss is indeed new:

http://icelandmag.visir.is/article/parking-fees-introduced-seljalandsfoss-waterfall-morning-will-pay-maintenance

http://icelandmag.visir.is/article/view-will-still-be-free-parking-not-so-much-a-toll-gate-planned-seljalandsfoss-waterfall

I can't say it's a bad thing. $7 is a small price to pay for decent facilities and improved management of the site, IMO.
Check out all my Trip Reports here!

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Re: BrachaB's Iceland Teeny Tiny Trip Report (WOW Airlines Layover)
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2017, 04:07:24 PM »
Thanks for posting. Planning a short trip soon, so this will be helpful
Glad to be helpful! Enjoy your trip!

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Re: Re: Iceland Master Thread
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2017, 01:17:20 AM »
I was on the right side of the plane, aurora was on the left. I have no clue if it's a set thing... but it might be, considering the specific flight paths the Wow Air planes take from Newark - they fly in an arc from W to NE, so maybe since the left side is facing the North, it's can be seen on that side?
What's POSH? It's not in the acronyms wiki.

POSH is an acronym that comes from when the wealthy British would sail to colonial India and would get to sit on the Port side Outward and the Starboard side Home....hence POSH

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Re: Re: Iceland Master Thread
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2017, 06:04:22 PM »
POSH is an acronym that comes from when the wealthy British would sail to colonial India and would get to sit on the Port side Outward and the Starboard side Home....hence POSH
That's funny, I never knew the word was actually an acronym...
Wow UK has an article about which seat to sit in to see various landmarks, but I did see on some other sites that you should sit on the left side when coming from the west. So I guess it is a POSH thing.