Iceland - 2007
Iceland had been on my todo-list for a long
time. As expected, it is a country with unbelievably
beautiful (and sometimes weird) scenery that is hard to
describe by words. I definetely recommend hiring a car as
many of the natural wonders are located in very remote
places and public transportation is often sporadic or
non-existent. And yes, it is a very expensive place.
Check out the photo gallery.
- Blue Lagoon
- Skaftafell / Jökulsarlon
- Vik / Hella
- Golden Triangle
13.07.2007 Helsinki - Reykjavik
the summertime there are direct Icelandair flights from
Helsinki to Iceland so travelling should be convenient. So I
start my trip on a cloudy friday afternoon. Interestingly
the plane seems to be rented from some American company I've
never heard of. Anyway quite a pleasant flight after all.
There is about 50km from Keflavik airport to Reykjavik -
fortunately there is a bus leaving in 10 minutes.
During the bus journey I get my first
impressions of the fascinating scenery. This part of the
country is mostly of the moon-like rock territory that
somehow reminds me of Lapland in Finland. The cheapest
decent guesthouse I could find is located in a suburb some 5
km from the downtown area - luckily there is free pickup
from the guesthouse included. As expected the place is a
peaceful suburb with no tourists or activities. I'm too
tired to go to downtown in the evening so I explore the
surroundings for a while. Not much to see so I spend an hour
in a nearby geothermal pool that includes an outdoor
swimming pool, some hot-water pools and a jacuzzi. After
some pleasant baths I'm starting feel sleepy because of the
small jet lag so I return to the guesthouse.
shining in the morning. Breakfast is included and I enjoy it
using the good old "all you can eat" approach. Then it is
time to start Reykjavik sightseeing. I try to locate the
nearby bus stop but they seem to be located somewhere in a
maze of numerous bridges so it is hard to figure out which
bus to take and in which direction. So i decide to do some
walking. After a kilometer I arrive in the Perlan which is
an interesting complex of museums and restaurants built in
an old water tower. The museum has displays of old Icelandic
sagas with authentic looking wax figures.
I continue walking to the downtown. I
visit the bell tower of Hallgrimskirjan church. There is a
fine view over the rooftops of Reykjavik - the town is
fairly big but there are no tall buildings to be seen. After
some additional walking I'm in the middle of the busy
downtown area. There is a pleasant small town feeling
everywhere - somehow the place reminds me of Mariehamn in
Åland, Finland. There are lots of small designer boutiques,
bars and art galleries. There is lots of things to be bought
but because of the price level I skip shopping. Instead I go
to "Volcano Show" that is a combination of documentary film
and some stories told by a guy who is addicted to
researching the volcanic wonders of Iceland. Rather
impressive and worth visiting.
I have some time to visit the national
museum before closing time - unfortunately there is nothing
especially interesting. I spend some time wandering in the
downtown area before catching a bus back to the guesthouse.
I buy some food from the local supermarket to be cooked in
the guesthouse. Not much activities for the rest of the
evening apart from reading a book and watching the sunset...
15.07.2007 Reykjavik - Blue Lagoon
I'll start my three-day tour by car. A guy from the car
rental agency picks me up from the guesthouse - what a
pleasant surprise as I was prepared to go back to the
airport. The car is a new Volkswagen Polo. My first stop is
Blue Lagoon that is an interesting open-air spa built on top
of a hot spring. The lagoon should be coloured in azure blue
(because of the clay in the bottom) but as it is full of
people it is rather grey in colour... Anyway the main
activity is to chill out in the pool and enjoy the warm
water. There are also saunas, steam rooms and sunbeds
available. As the weather is beautiful I easily spend over
two hours there. Even the saunas are decent - they are
pretty close to Finnish saunas actually!
In early afternoon I continue my journey
to the easter parts of the island. I quickly end up driving
some dirt roads that are in terrible condition (which is
pretty normal by Icelandic standards). The scenery is
beautiful and there are numerous places where you have
to stop to shoot some pictures. This is the best part of
driving in Iceland - you can just drive to a random location
and find so many beautiful spots on the way. The scenery
varies from the rocky moon territory to green fields with
cattle. There are basically no trees to be seen.
My next destination is the small village
of Vik. On my way there I have to stop to admire one of the
most beautiful waterfalls I've ever seen. I enjoy some local
junk food in the town of Selfoss. When I finally reach Vik
it is getting rainy for the first time during my visit.
Unfortunately all the hotels and guesthouses in Vik are full
so I have to continue to the next village called
Kirkjubaejarklaustur. It seems to be the same situation in
here as well so the only alternative is camping. I don't
have a tent so I try sleeping in my car. It actually works
out pretty well as you can lower the seats to a horizontal
position and I have small sleeping bag with me!
16.07.2007 Kirkjubaejarklaustur -
Skaftafell - Hella
surprised after sleeping fairly well in the car. It is still
cloudy and there is some rain in the air. After buying some
breakfast from a local market I continue driving east
towards the Skaftafell national park that is today's main
destination. I somehow miss the main entrance of the park
and enp up in a fascinating place called Jökulsarlon. It is
basically a lagoon filled with icebergs (that are parts of a
melting glacier). The fog and rain make the feeling really
eerie - check out the photo gallery for some examples of the
beauty of the place.
I finally locate the main entrance of
the park. Fortunately the rain has also stopped (at least
for a while). I take two short hikes in the park - one to
see the glacier and another to a beautiful waterfall. As you
might guess the scenery is again awesome and I don't even
try to describe it with words. See the photos and make your
In late afternoon it is the time to head
back to the west. My objective is to find a place to stay
overnight somewhere near Selfoss. I almost hit a lamb that
decides to cross the road somewhere in the middle of nowhere!
After numerous breaks to shoot pictures and a brief visit to
check out Vik's basalt colums rising from the sea I end up
in the village of Hella. I decide to sleep in a proper bed
tonight so do some bargaining in a hotel to get sleeping bag
accommodation for ISK 4000. Not cheap but more comfortable
than sleeping in the car. As there is nothing to do in Hella
I test the local hotdogs and return to the hotel. For some
reason it is difficult to get sleep even though the room and
bed are OK...
17.07.2007 Hella - Golden Triangle
main destination is the "compulsory" sights in the Golden
Circle - the most well-known natural wonders in Iceland. The
first of these is Geysir - the famous hot spring that erupts
frequently in steam (or used to before it was filled with
debris and stopped to function). Fortunately there is a
smaller spring that is still working (and lots of steam
coming from other sources as well). And countless tourist of
course. Impressive but not that impressive.
I continue to Gullfoss that is the
biggest waterfall in Iceland (and in Europe as well?). The
place is impressive and you can easily spend a long time
just by watching the magnificent power of the waterfalls.
This place is equally populated but with some climbing you
can easily reach less crowded spots with beautiful views.
The final destination in the Golden
Triangle is the national park of Pingvellir. There is a busy
and narrow dirt road there. The main attractions of the park
are the narrow gorges between steep cliffs and the site that
hosted Iceland's first parliament. And once again the place
is very beautiful. I'm too tired for longer hikes so after
some wandering around I decide to return to Reykjavik. I
spend some time on the local beach that has warm seawater
throughout the whole year as there is water from a
geothermal spring going to the sea. The weather is so windy
that I don't feel like swimming and suntanning. I continue
to the final destination of the day - Keflavik. My intention
is to stay overnight there and wake up early to catch the
early morning flight tomorrow. The city is basically
deserted - just a couple of people to be seen. I celebrate
the last night in Iceland by having a proper meal in a local
Thai restaurant - ISK 1500 is not that bad. As the nearby
hotels seem to be expensive once again I spend the second
night in my car at a camping site.
18.07.2007 Keflavik - Helsinki
wake up as sun is rising (around four in the morning) and it
is close to freezing. Somehow I manage still to get about
two hours of sleep before it is the time to do the 5-minute
drive to the airport. I return the car in one piece and get
prepared for the flight back home.
As said quite a few times this was one
of the most enjoyable trips when it comes to the beauty of
nature. I would like to have stayed longer but it would have
cost a fortune. Iceland is a sort of spiritual place and I
would like to come back some day for more serious hiking in
the remote areas...