Following are fun facts from our tour guides (Dooley out of Reykjavík and Matthias out of Húsavík) as well as personal observations while traveling in Iceland for a week:
The population of Iceland is 320,000 people with over 100,000 living in the capital city of Reykjavík. It isn’t unusual to be visiting with someone and discover that you have a common acquaintance. Iceland is about the same size as the state of Kentucky. It is called Iceland because when it was first discovered, it was mostly covered with ice. Today, glaciers cover 11% of the island. It snows somewhere on the island every day with the glaciers getting snow throughout the summer. Continue reading →
We boarded a 19 seat propeller plane at the Reykjavík airport, a tiny airport where the desk clerk is also the baggage handler and grounds crew! There was absolutely no security screening and no one even asked to see our ticket/boarding pass as we boarded. Apparently seat assignments were merely suggestions. Those seasoned travelers who routinely fly in this manner simply sat in an available seat.
Near Húsavík, Iceland
We flew from Reykjavík, which is in the southwest part of the country to Húsavík, which is on the northeast coast, only 60 km from the Arctic Circle. We were met by Matthias, a German who came to Iceland 30 years ago and never left; he has given up his German citizenship and now carries an Iceland passport. It wasn’t until our first stop that I realized Matthias was our guide for the day and we were getting a private tour! Continue reading →
We began our journey by driving the same route as we did for the Golden Circle tour, passing Hveragerði. Instead of turning north toward the interior of the island, we continued on the Ring Road staying along the coast. The land along the south coast is extremely flat because it was carved by a glacier; the south coast is also the warmest part of Iceland. We ate lunch in Vík (which means bay – Reykjavík means smoky bay). Continue reading →
Tour books about Iceland state that most roads outside the cities are closed September through May; furthermore, one is taking their life into their own hands if attempting to drive these roads at any time of the year! They are described as being rough gravel roads; therefore don’t consider renting anything other than a 4-wheel-drive vehicle with high clearance. It also isn’t uncommon to cross a river by driving through it; it is a river only in the summertime when the snow is melting so no bridge exists. Moreover, if heading into less-traveled areas, the books suggest notifying those at your destination of the expected arrival time so that if you don’t show up, a search party can be sent out! I even saw a sign posted at a gas station convenience store: Register your travel plan at http://www.safetravel.is. Check it out!
Based on these dire warnings, we thought it prudent to take an organized tour rather than striking out on our own! 🙂 Therefore, we took a guided driving tour of the Golden Circle – sort of an “Iceland in a Nutshell” tour. Continue reading →
Flying to Reykjavík, Iceland from anywhere outside Iceland means you are actually flying to Keflavík, a 45 minute drive from Reykjavík. Reykjavík has its own airport but it appears to be used primarily for domestic flights and flights to Greenland – people actually go there! We had pre-arranged for a driver to meet us at Keflavík and drive us into Reykjavík; he charged 30 Icelandic Kroner per person.
Reykjavík is a very compact city and easily navigated on foot. In fact, through circumstance a number of days into our visit, we walked from the Reykjavík airport on the western edge of the city to our apartment on the eastern edge of the city in 45 minutes. (Picture 3 people running full-out to catch a bus that has no intention of waiting! Admittedly, it is very difficult to run full-out when laughing hysterically!) But I digress… Continue reading →