We sadly wrapped up our U.K. part of our trip and left for Iceland the following morning for our long layover that Icelandair allows you as an option during bookings anywhere from 1-7 days. It was interesting that most people who knew about our trip seemed more excited about Iceland than anywhere else we were going. I decided to surprise Mom and upgrade us to first class for this leg, a first for both of us and well worth it. Unfortunately I had to drive our rental car upon arrival after our 2 hr flight so I couldn’t fully take advantage of as many shots of the delicious Icelandic Rhubarb liquor they had as I would have liked.
We arrived mid-afternoon, picked up our rental car, dropped our bags and drove for the Capital of Reykjavik, a 40 minute drive from the airport at Keflavik. It was nice to be back driving on the right side of the road, and the roads were thankfully straight and easy to navigate. The scenery between these two cities was basically a lava field that resembled the moon and we were afraid the whole country looked that way (which ended up not
being the case). The capital was a pretty town (albeit filled with gang style graffiti) surrounded by the ocean on a peninsula. It was walking around here we learned just how ridiculously priced Iceland is. I had heard that it was expensive but just how much so was a shock. I found that most things were at least double and often triple the price of the US, whereas UK was more or less the same as US. For instance I ran into Taco Bell to use the bathroom (yes they are in Iceland) and a quesadilla was $12! I’ve heard most travelers avoid the costs here by renting a camper van and buying oatmeal and PB&J to live off of, or bringing a suitcase of your own food with you, jeez, not enjoyable.
We drove out to the Blue Lagoon for our 9pm reservation. The Blue Lagoon is the biggest tourist attraction in the country and probably more selfies have been taken here than anywhere else on the planet. It is ridiculously priced but I decided to do it as a once in a lifetime treat for us, and it was well worth it. The blue lagoon is a
large geothermal lake with warm beautiful blue water filled with healing minerals. We got some drinks, donned mud masks and reveled in the much needed relaxation. There were lots of people there, mostly Americans, but the pool is large enough where you can find your own private corner. We got back to our BnB around midnight that night and we found that the sun was nowhere near to setting causing the birds to loudly chirp...all night...and the sun never set...life in the Arctic Circle. I wonder if and when these poor birds sleep, or just catch up in the winter when it’s dark for 23 hrs a day.
The following morning we set out to do the “Golden Circle Tour,” the 1 day 6 hr driving tourist loop to see the closest highlights this country has to offer. The scenery was beautiful once the fog cleared (which reeked of sulfur). We drove out to the farthest point, which are some hot springs and a geyser. Having been to Yellowstone the geyser was small and not particularly impressive. We stopped at Thingvellier National Park where the famous mid-Atlantic Ridge of American and Eurasian tectonic plates are and hiked up to
a beautiful waterfall.
All in all I would say we were both underwhelmed by our 27 hrs in Iceland and I can’t say I would be in any rush to return. Of course we only saw a small portion of the country but based on what we saw I could not justify the astronomical costs of visiting. I find the Northwest, Canada and Alaska to have much more impressive scenery. I feel that Iceland has done some amazing marketing coupled with cheap airfares to draw in hordes of tourists and good for them for putting their country finally on the tourist map.
And with that our trip came to a close. We had an incredible time, met tons of amazing people and saw some of the most breathtaking scenery imaginable. Scotland is for sure on our must return list, and I’ve already promised Mum next time the pace will be more relaxed know that we have driven over 1,200 miles looping almost the entire coast.
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