Author Topic: 2 days in Iceland TR  (Read 1396 times)

Offline sddd

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2 days in Iceland TR
« on: March 24, 2019, 02:08:23 AM »
As the title says, this was a mini trip, more of a quick getaway then a true vacation. I got interested in Iceland after reading Something Fishy's excellent TR and when Dan posted the Delta 22k promo back in August, I booked a Saturday night to Tuesday morning NYC - Reykjavik round trip for myself and a friend for late January. Our goal was mainly to see the ice caves in Vatnajökull National Park and the northern lights.

Itinerary
Day 1:
 1.  Skógarfoss Waterfall
 2.  Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
 3.  Reynisfjara (Black Sand Beach)
 4.  Check in by Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon - chosen due to it's proximity to Vatnajökull National Park
 5.  Northern Lights?

Day 2:
 1. Vatnajökull National Park - We booked the "Blue Ice Cave Adventure" with a company called Glacier Adventure
 2. Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon
 3. Northern Lights?
 4. Hot Springs?
 5. Drive back to Reykjavik

Companies used:
Lava Car Rental: We reserved a Rav4 4x4 with Wifi and Studded Tires. They were easy to deal with and sent someone to pick us up at the airport. (We got a Hyundai instead of the Rav4 but it was comparable.)
Glacier Adventure: They had some of the best reviews on Trip Advisor so we chose them. We had a pleasant guide named Stephen and our experience was consistent with the positive reviews.

Driving:
   While planning the trip, our main concern were the roads. Research yielded endless warnings not to attempt driving in winter Iceland roads unless very experienced with icy climates. So we debated simply taking a 2 day tour from Reykjavik to the ice caves which seemed like a safer alternative while still making all the stops we wanted. In the end we chose to rent for the flexibility it gave us, also the tours did not allow luggage on their mini buses. The roads in Iceland are indeed dangerous - there were few stretches of blacktop during our 2 days of (mostly) driving. There were about 5-10 mini snowstorms/blizzards where it would suddenly become a whiteout, but only for about 15 minutes. There are few lights, and due to the short days (~10:30AM to ~4:30PM) much of the driving was done in total darkness. On the other hand, the SUV handled the roads especially well (metal studded tires perhaps?) and for the most part, once comfortable, we were able to drive at or near the speed limit. Still, driving required extra concentration, a stronger grip on the wheel and nerves of steel.

Northern Lights:
 We knew with our short stay we would need some luck. Unfortunately, both nights were partly cloudy and had Aurora forecasts of only 2. The hotels in Iceland offer wake up calls from the front desk if the lights become visible overnight, sadly, no calls were needed. On the drive back to the airport, out eyes played tricks on us and we kept chasing fantasy lights, alas, they all turned out to be a mirage, usually generated by lights from buildings.

Rest of Itinerary:

 The hot springs we scratched early on for practical reasons - they were mostly off of our itinerary, some were dirty, and almost all were really small, so there was no guarantee we would be able to use them anyways. Skógarfoss and  Seljalandsfos were both amazing, Skogarfoss was especially majestic as it afforded epic views from behind via a quick hike around the back. Reynisfjara (Black Sand Beach) was much more then the novelty we imagined it being. The waves were intensely strong and you could hear them crashing on the black beach from far away - it was super loud and pretty cool (Read up on "sneaker waves" before getting too close). Vatnajökull National Park was the highlight of the trip. We took a super jeep ride from the base onto the glacier itself. From there we went on about a 3 hour round trip hike on the glacier with 3-4 stops by various ice caves. The ice caves are very interesting and pretty. They look pretty much like the pictures on Google although of course the pictures look better then in real life, at least the ones we saw. The hike was also cool in it's own right, the scenery all around is very stark and surreal. At one point on the hike we got lucky and witnessed columns crumble from the glacier into the lagoon, a uncommon occurrence according to our guide. Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon was very interesting, unfortunately we arrived at dusk and did not get clear views.

Misc. Notes:
- There are no true last names in Iceland. Our guide explained that they simply take the father's first name and add son for a boy and dóttir for daughter. For example, a son born to John would be Johnson; a daughter would be Johndottir. Our guide's take on the practice was that you needed to create your own name and not rely on your ancestors. Mussar in Iceland  :)
- Meats. All uncooked meats are prohibited to bring in. We brought a ton to BBQ. I was a little nervous when we landed but to my surprise there were no forms to fill out. There was simply 2 paths to take after picking up our bags - one to a door labeled "Something to Declare" the other to a door "Nothing to Declare". We chose the latter and simply exited the airport. Methinks customs in Iceland has room to improve.
- There is a saying in Iceland: "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes". Very accurate.
- Garbages in Iceland hotels are micro sized.
- Breakfast before Shachris and Netz at 10:40 AM? Very nice indeed.
- There are many "EINBRUD" or one way bridges in Iceland. Right of way goes to first approaching car.
- Random observation - the entire country looks like cookies 'n cream ice cream in the winter.

3 days would have been ideal for our itinerary, but both of us had few vacation days to take off of work (Monday was MLK day so we were off anyways), and Delta only has one midweek flight back to NYC.

Most of my photos were taken on a camera that I left in my rental car. If anyone is traveling to Iceland in the near future and can bring it back from Lava car rental, I would greatly appreciate it. PM me for details.





Offline ludmila

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Re: 2 days in Iceland TR
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2019, 03:14:30 AM »
Thanks , the info about last names is interesting, hope you have luck in getting your camera back.
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Offline Something Fishy

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Re: 2 days in Iceland TR
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2019, 04:15:59 PM »
Methinks customs in Iceland has room to improve.

I'm happy the way it is, thankyouverymuch ;D.


- Random observation - the entire country looks like cookies 'n cream ice cream in the winter.

LOL, very true. Didn't think of it that way.


Most of my photos were taken on a camera that I left in my rental car. If anyone is traveling to Iceland in the near future and can bring it back from Lava car rental, I would greatly appreciate it. PM me for details.

They won't just ship it back to you?
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