On Travels Tips for Iceland

Embed from Getty Images

Since about 2012, vacation travellers to Iceland has drastically increased – and the trend seems to be continuing. Because one’s travel will probably involve Reykjavik, here are some tips that are worth knowing before arriving.

Consider flying KEF-based Icelandair or WOW airlines (discounter) as they may provide considerable savings. We used Icelandair for our entire trip to the UK, and we would fly them again.

The international airport for Reykjavik is not in Reykjavik, but actually in Keflavik (KEF) – which is about 45 minutes from Reykjavik.

Given the airport location, Flybus and Grayline provide bus transportation to Reykjavik. Visitors can purchase tickets in the baggage area at the airport.

The buses will not take passengers to their hotel – but will stop at designated bus stops within the city, so select a hotel close to one of the bus stops. We got lucky with our hotel as it was very close to two stops. Thumbs up to the Skuggi Hotel.

 

Reykjavik is a very walkable city – so select a hotel in the city center or in the old city/harbor area.

Tour companies are abundant, and also use the same bus stops are airport transportation.

We found hotels and food to be expensive. Before booking we expected $300+ per night for a hotel. Once we were there, you learn to accept the $30 for pizza or spaghetti.

We mistakenly thought restaurants would be mainly fish – Not true as there are a wide variety of culinary offering.

Previous posts about Iceland

Enjoy any or all of the videos about intriguing Iceland.

Advertisements

On Iceland: Reykjavik

We spent bits of four different days in Reykjavik. It is an easy city to walk, and there is enough to keep us busy. Interestingly, about a third of Iceland’s population is in Reykjavik.

Admiring the architectural pattern of basalt rocks of the Lutheran Cathedral

 

Smiling at the Sun Voyager metal sculpture saluting the Viking heritage

 

Engaging in the quaint building architecture

 

Strolling the main shopping street.

 

Loving the modern feel of the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center

 

Marveling at the view across the water

 

Knowing how much Resa would enjoy the many murals (more in a future dedicated post).

 

Standing in amazement at the 10:45 pm sky

 

Enjoying the fireworks thanking us for visiting before leaving the next day

 

Reykjavik is the largest city in Iceland, but not expect the grandness of New York, Chicago, London, or Paris. It’s not even close to Cincinnati. However, at 110,000 people, it’s large enough to offer a wide variety of activities, yet quaint enough to be manageable and make one feel comfortable. Bottom line: we enjoyed it – Thumbs up!

On Iceland – Day 2: The South Coast Tour

We continued with Extreme Iceland for Day 2, but this time for a trip along the south coast. It was simply another day of the beauty providing sensory overloaded.

Wondering about the numerous lava field I expected, but observing ecological succession with lava field covered with moss was a surprise

 

Seeing wonderful scenery

 

Walking behind the waterfall (Seljalandsfoss)

 

Strolling black beach (Reynisfjara)

 

Marveling at rock formations

 

Enjoying the view from Dyrholaey of the black beach we just visited

 

Reflecting about the setting of a farm with its fertile land and the glacier above

 

Hearing the roar of Skogafoss in its gorge

 

Standing on the glacier (Solheimajokull)

 

Never tiring of the landscape and the views

 

Continually admiring the landscape

 

…. after all, how could anyone get bored with seeing places like this.

 

Hope you enjoyed the brief highlights of Iceland’s south coast. Here’s a 2+-minute video showing the sights in motion.

On Iceland – Day 1: Golden Circle

On our first full day in Iceland, we chose to tour the Golden Circle, which is one of the most popular tours. Icelandic landscape is fascinating, so the senses are constantly entertained. We used Extreme Iceland for two days.

Admiring the landscape.

 

Walking along the fault line where tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia meet in Thingvellir National Park.

 

Standing in awe of the view.

 

Witnessing the fury of Gullfoss, a spectacular and very large waterfall.

Notice the people on the left side

 

Patiently waiting for Strokkur Geysir to do its thing.

 

Relaxing to Faxi’s roar.

 

Enjoying a dip in a thermal pool known as Fludir: the Secret Lagoon.

Find the lifeguard

 

Hiking up to and around Kerid’s rim, an extinct volcano.

 

Seeing more wonderful landscape.

 

All in one day … so our first full day in Iceland was wonderful. Here’s a 2-minute video featuring some of the Golden Circle sights.

On Two Towns in Normandy

One of the reasons we selected the cruise itinerary we did is this one stopped in Normandy France as we wanted to visited the sights of the D-Day: 6, June 1944. Because we also prefer to book off-ship tours, we selected Overload Tours for our day. (Previous post about Omaha Beach)

Overlord picked up numerous passengers at the Le Havre cruise terminal. After visiting Omaha Beach and the American cemetery, we didn’t realize what a pleasure the rest of the day would be.

Beside the beautiful countryside, the area is also well-known for Calvados: an apple brandy the GIs loved. (Calvados is similar to Applejack and Somerset Cider Brandy.

First Stop: Bayeux

  • Town center has a medieval flare of architecture and cobbled streets
  • The first city liberated in the WW II Battle of Normandy
  • Home to the Bayeux Tapestry, a 15th century embroidery detailing events leading to the Norman Conquest 224+ ft. (68.4 m) by 1.6 ft. (0.5 m). Click for more information

The town exhibits an Old World charm …

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

… but the massive and impressive Bayeux Cathedral (The Lady of Bayeux) dominates the town center.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Second Stop: Honfleur

  • Located on the estuary where the Seine River meets the English Channel
  • It’s old harbor area is surrounded by Old World architecture
  • St. Catherine’s Church is composed of all wood
  • Point of departure for New World explores as Samuel Champlain and Binot Paulmier de Gonneville
  • Popular with tourists

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For those wanting to see more, here are short video tours of each: Bayeux and Honfleur.

Given their experience in dealing with cruise ships, Overlord returned us to the dock with time to spare. We recommend Overlord Tours for those visiting the area.

As we departed Le Havre, we realized our British Isles cruise was over. Simply a fabulous itinerary. In the morning we would be up early for our transfer to Heathrow. On the plus side, our vacation wasn’t over as we would deplane in Reykjavik for 3 days in Iceland – but I’m going to give you a break from the vacation by returning to other topics. I will post about Iceland later.

For other posts about our time in the British Isles, click here. Thanks for coming along!

On a Beach: But Not Just Any Beach

The walk to the view from above is as serene as the view.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The view from the beach is calm. The surrounding houses, people on the beach and in the water are reminders of the why.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The statue, the sign markers, the museum, the photos are reminders of what happened on 6 June 1944 – right here on Omaha Beach.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The rows and rows gravemarkers also reminded us of the importance of being about to enjoy happiness today on the beach below. This is the US cemetery above the beach.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well-trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely. (General Dwight D. Eisenhower, United States Army)

Next post: More Normandy

For other posts about our time in the British Isles, click here.

On Edinburgh

Although Edinburgh’s human roots date back to 8000 BC, the city along the Firth of Forth became chartered in 1125. Today, it is Scotland’s political, cultural, and commercial hub. We journeyed into Edinburgh twice – first on a bus trip from Greenock (on the west coast) for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (previous post) – then several days later after our ship set anchor in nearby South Queensferry for encountering more of this Scottish jewel.

To me, Edinburgh was the most captivating of the cities we visited on this trip. The grand old stone buildings, the charm of Old Town, the Georgian and Victorian architecture of New Town, and being a city bustling with activity; – let alone the highly visible Edinburgh Castle sitting high on a hill above it all.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

With 5 major festivals in progress during August, the streets were not quiet – plus two cruise ships in town. I wonder how many of the people we saw were Edinburghers? But cheers to the many street performers!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Royal Mile (High Street) is Old Town’s main street. It’s loaded not only physical charm, it’s a vibrant area filled with shops, eateries, and establishments featuring adult beverages. Taking the long walk up the hill from our bus to the castle was a great introduction into Edinburgh. The feast continues by wondering nearby streets.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As usual, our fee touched Edinburgh’s pavement many times on this day. This city is a visual feast – let alone filled with history. Greyfriars Bobby is an interesting story – a dog who faithfully stayed at his master’s grave for 14 years. Various people took care of Bobby during this time, and yes – he is buried a short distance from his master.

We loved Edinburgh and would like to return during a less-crazy time. We missed going into Edinburgh Castle because we chose to forego the long lines. Atop Calton Hill provides outstanding 360-views of the city, but I’ve shown enough pictures in this post. Besides the video shows it. Enjoy this 2-minute drone video tour giving you a taste of this fabulous city.

For those wanting to see more of Edinburgh, click here for a longer tour.

Next stop: Normandy France

For other posts about our time in the British Isles, click here.