Hello fellow travellers
This is part one of my two part blog from our recent 6 day trip to Iceland.
We arrived into Keflavik airport at 9:30am looking forwards to our first taste of Iceland. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t in as happy a mood as we were and were greeted with a thick overcast fog and a drizzle that was like a fine mist. Although this looked like light rain after a couple of minutes of exposure to it you were actually soaked to the skin, sadly this was the most frequent weather that we encountered on our trip.
We picked up our hire car and headed out to explore the Keflavik peninsular and our first taste of Iceland. The weather wasn’t looking like it would improve and viability was down to less than a hundred meters but this gave the moss covered lava fields and black volcanic beaches of the peninsular a eerie windswept feel. My first impression of Iceland was how quiet it is, we had the peninsular all to ourselves and every small town we passed through was empty and no sign of life. Iceland is a huge place and outside of Reykjavik it is
very sparsely populated.
The peninsular main tourist attraction is the blue lagoon, the world’s most famous natural spar and we headed there for a few hours of soaking and relaxing to ease the jetlag, it doesn’t matter if it is raining when you are soaking in scorching hot volcanic waters. Once of the main reasons we decided to visit Iceland is that after the country went bankrupt the Krona crashed massively against the Pound so in theory it should be a cheap time to visit Iceland. I got my first taste of how eye wateringly expensive it still is when the admission into the blue lagoon (just a dip not anything else) was 30 Euros each!!
After a couple of relaxing hours soaking in the lagoon we grudgingly dragged ourselves back into the hire car and set off towards Vik a tiny seaside village 230km down the road where we would be spending our first night. Iceland has one major road called route one which is a circular road that hugs the coast and will take your right round Iceland in a big loop, this makes for a great road trip as the vast majority of the attractions
(included literally hundreds of waterfalls) are just off route 1. We arrive at Vik which is a tiny but very picturesque village on the south coast just before night fall and the place was deserted, the only supermarket was shut and the petrol station was just closing. We made our way to our hostel and there was a note on the door directing us to our room there was only one other couple staying at the place. There is one restaurant in town that was open but only upto 9pm so we dashed there for something to eat.
One of the other reasons we visited Iceland this year is that the northern lights were supposed to be particularly active this year (the most in 20 years). This partly explains why we visited in April as it is the shoulder season where if you are lucky you still get to see the northern lights but Iceland is coming into spring so the roads are more passable and the weather is that little bit better. So we rolled the dice on this trip but it came up snake eyes as there was no chance of seeing the northern lights in Vik
as the Fog layer was blocking out the sky, it was also blowing a gale, the weather was awful.
We were up early the next morning and to our surprise we could see patches of clear sky and the sun was trying its best to shine through the clouds. This was excellent news as we were booked on a Snow mobile tour on one of the many glaciers that make up the interior of Iceland. To get upt o the Glacier your needed to take a super jeep up to the glacier which is a 4x4 on steroids, the tyres are massive like those on a monster truck. There was about 10 of us on the tour riding 2 per snowmobile following our guide across the ice cap. The views from the top were incredible and we spend a really fun morning up there.
Our next stop was the Jokulsarlon iceberg lagoon where they filmed Die Another Day and one of the few places that you can see icebergs calving from a glacier before making their way through the lagoon and into the open ocean. It was a pretty long drive as there with lots of stops on
the way. We drove for two hours without seeing another car through breathtaking scenery. We were driving through a huge lava field with the ocean on the right and the inland mountains ranges with Glaciers hugging the side of them to the left. The sun was shining and we were in good spirits and really enjoying the views. We were driving down route 1 on a arrow straight piece of road in one of the most sparsely populated parts of Europe. There was a slight incline in the road for about 15km and when we got to the top we saw our first car for hours. Sadly it turned out to be a police car and it was flashing its lights at me, oooppps I was in a bit of trouble!!
The speed limit in Iceland is a ridiculous 90km/h which on arrow straight roads in the sun shine where there is no traffic is ludicrously slow. The police officer who like most people in Iceland spoke perfect English showed me the video camera of me speeding which he had captured from 10kms away (it really is the perfect speed trap) so I was totally busted. He handed me
a laminated card explaining the speed fine system and I fell into the category that was 36,000Kr (about £180) WHAT!!!! For speeding and that was with a discount. I know Iceland is bankrupt but fleecing tourists is not the way to reverse that!!! Also all hire cars in Iceland are grey and look identical so it appears that he is there every day ripping off tourists, he didn’t appear to stop the locals. The last time I got caught speeding was in Mozambique and it cost me £4.
We headed on towards Jokulsarlon a lot poorer but at least the sun was shining, for now anyway. I had read that the weather in Iceland can change in 15mins but for us it changed in 5km. We rounded a headland and drove straight into a fog bank that was trapped against the costal glaciers and mountain ranges and we were only 50km’s from our stop so we were back to the normal weather of impenetrable fog and drizzle. Jokulsarlon is an amazing sight, a real WOW and we lost track of time watching the icebergs and the seals play and it was only when it started to get dark did
we realise the time. That night we left our guest house at 11pm on a hunt for the northern lights the conditions were still overcast and there was a really bright full moon. Also the steep mountains around where we were staying block your sigh line north so it’s not a great spot for viewing the northern lights and we were again disappointed.
Our next stop was Reykjavik for a Saturday night out on the town to see if it lives up to its reputation as a party hard city.....
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