Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Land of the Midnight Sun- Iceland Days 1 and 2

Due to popular demand, the blog is back... at least momentarily since I'm lazy.  I do wish I wrote more during my time in the Indian Ocean and other travels.  Anyways I'm now in Iceland for the summer solstice with my family and will give you the DL.

Flight and Day 1: Reykjavik

We took a red-eye flight on the budget airline WOW from BWI to KEF (Keflavik, Iceland- where the international airport is and about an hour from the capital Reykjavik).  We had heard some horror stories about WOW but the price was right so decided to take our chances.  You are allowed only ONE bag per person with a max of 11 lbs, which is nearly impossible for me so I pre-bought a checked bag for $48.99, otherwise it's $66 at the airport.  Our shuttle bus driver from the parking lot was not encouraging when she told us that everyone says they will not fly WOW again and Trip Advisor basically says just cough up the money for a better airline.  We ran into our first snag at the airport when the checked bags we pre payed for were not in the system and they wanted to charge us the airport rate. Wonderful.  It took a lot of persistance, demanding the manager, and holding up the line to work this out but WOW was fair in the end.  I recommend bringing a water bottle to fill up post security and buying lunch/dinner in the terminal though the food on WOW wasn't that expensive and didn't look bad.  The flight was better than expected.  The plane was brand new and in great shape and the employees were courteous.  It's not frills, no tv screens or outlets or any entertainment, the seats don't recline, and there's no pillows or blankets- you're on your own for all that.  But it's a cheap, safe ride to Iceland.

We arrived in Iceland Sunday morning at 6am after a longer than expected flight and long shuttle bus ride from the LZ to the airport.  After a trip to the snyrting and some Duty Free shopping (needed candy and alcohol, life essentials) we picked up our bags and rental car.  Our VRBO apartment is so cute and only 2.5 miles from city center.  Reykjavik is a smaller and more suburban city than expected.  We got a delicious breakfast at Bergsun Matthus, where it seemed our whole plane was eating and then took a 5 hour nap.  No worries because the sun is up a whopping 24 HOURS!  We explored charming Reykavik when we woke and even ran into our friend from California who happened to also be here.

Day 2: Golden Circle

After sleeping in til noon, we had a relaxing breakfast at home with breakfast essentials- Skyr (delicious Icelandic yogurt), bread, butter, juice, milk, coffee- from our local 10/11 and braud haus.  Thanks to 24 hours of sunlight, my sister wasn't even mad that we all slept in since we can see the sights all day long! Plus the fog actually started to burn off by the time we got out.

We decided to do the standard tourist route today, starting off at Pingvellir (pronounced Thingvellir) National Park.  Home to the first Icelandic Parliament (the Alpingi) and separation of the North American and European Tectonic plates.

Next we headed to the Geysirs geothermal area, where we saw Strokkur erupt and most of us hiked to the top of the hill for a better view and we all spent way too long in the gift shop.

The 3rd stop on the Golden (or should I say Gullden) Circle was Gullfoss ("Golden Falls").  What a spectacle.  By the way it was 9pm when we left Gullfoss to close out our loop and the sun was still shining!

After turning around because we thought we had a puffin sighting (turned out to be some other black and white bird with a yellow beak) we stopped off at the Kerid Crater on the way to Selfoss.  This side stop turned out to be one of our favorites of the day.  Not only was it super clear at 10pm at night but we also didn't have to pay the 400 isk per person :)

We ended our trip with a stop at a local super market (Samkaup) in Selfoss to pick up some dinner foods, snacks, and breakfast foods since all the restaurants (except for Dominos and Subway...) were closed and we were still an hour from Reykjavik.

Great Day!  Hoping to see some real puffins on Day 3.


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