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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Iceland: After thoughts & Tips

So, did Iceland satisfy my craving for excitement?  Yes and no.  Driving in a foreign country was a weird experience.  Although we were in a foreign country where I could not pronounce most of the places we visited, once we were in the confinement of our car, we were in our own familiar mini-universe.

Everyone spoke English so we never encountered the "lost in translation" moment.  Everything could be purchased with a credit card and I had no idea what the Icelandic currency looked like.  

However, the amazing surroundings with the rare force of fire and ice, the variety of exotic foods, and the people who are straight forward, down to earth, and don't take themselves too serious that we have encountered are uniquely Icelandic.

And how can I forget the adorable sheep that kept us entertained on the road?  

There is also some unfinished business left on this trip.  For one, I did not get a chance to experience the wild weekend party scene in Reykjavik.  I also wish we had more time in South Iceland to explore Landmannalaugar.  Last, I am really curious about Iceland in the winter time and wonder what it is like to have no sunlight for 24 hours.  It's good to know that Iceland is so accessible from New York.  Maybe there will be another visit at another time.....


1. Trip Planning

This trip was by far the most difficult one to plan.  The driving tour is always more challenging to plan since there are many elements to consider:  the driving distance from point A to point B, the estimate of how long you want to spend on each site, and lodging for each dates, etc. It is even more challenging to plan a driving trip in Iceland because: a, the spelling and pronunciation of  most locations can be quite confusing. b. there is no detailed map online which is quite frustrating when planning a driving trip. 

I would strongly advise purchasing an Iceland Driving Map to begin your trip planning.  Another easier option is to purchase the package deals with the airline companies or tour companies, such as: Icelandic Air, Iceland Express,  Icelandic Farm Holidays, Hostelling International Iceland, and many many more.

2. Icelandic Air

No free food or beverages are served on Icelandic air when we traveled from JFK to EKF.  However, there is a USB port at your seat.  I am assuming that Iceland Express airline do not provide food or beverages since it is also a budget airline.  

3. Car Rental

Car rental was another big expense for our trip to Iceland.  We ended up getting a 2WD because renting a 4WD would have cost probably twice as much, not to mention the extra gas driving a 4WD.  Geysir Car Rental  has the best price among all the car rental companies that I have searched.  The website states the office opens from 8AM to 6PM, but when we called to confirm our car rental, we learned that the office at the airport opens much earlier.   

4. Outdoor Gears

Fight  your metropolitan fashion urges! You would look really ridiculous in your low rise jeans and fancy coats when you are fighting the strong wind and side-way rainstorms hiking on the mountain path with sheep giving you a funny stare. 

Instead, suck it up and invest on a good waterproof  (not water resistant) jacket and a pair of angle high hiking boots.  While you are at it, consider a pair of waterproof pants if you are planning to do a lot of outdoor activities. It is best if you can try on the clothes in an actual store since sizes of outdoor wears tend to run bigger. 

I had a hard time buying waterproof jackets and thought they looked like oversize bright colored plastic bags.  However, two days into the trip, I was seeing the outdoor wear in a completely different light.  The waterproof parka I bought was the best investment I made on this trip! 

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