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Archive for the ‘Iceland’ Category

Travel Tips for Iceland

Posted by Heliocentrism on February 10, 2018

2017

You have to bring:

  • Make sure to bring your prescription medication and a doctor’s note.
  • Everything else can be bought here.
    • BUT, it’s expensive, so bring as much as you can.
    • Only buy food here, if you can help it.

Things you can buy here or bring with you:

  1. Luggage:
    • You can use a suitcase or a backpack. A Backpack gives you a little more mobility, but it’s not a must-have here.
    • It is easier to pack away a backpack in a camper van than it is to pack away a suit case, no matter how small that suit case is.
  2. Clothes:
    • You can buy anything here, but it’s expensive.
    • They do have nice clothes.
      • I had my eye on some 66°North gear, but it cost more than double what I paid for my Gore-tex jacket (and I got it at LL Bean!)
      • (Freda says she can always spot the Americans when they travel because they always wear something from LL Bean.)
    • You can buy clothes almost anywhere. Most sightseeing spots that you have to pay to enter, restaurants, rest stops, and gas stations sell clothes.
      • And not just random generic clothes either. It’s usually name brand clothes from Iceland and Europe. $$$$ (I mean ISK ISK ISK ISK)
  3. Towel:
    • Bring your towel!
    • Don’t forget to hang it up in the van when you’re driving around.
  4. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion:
    • You can buy all of these at Bonus, N1, or any convenience store, but they are pricey.
  5. Deodorant/ Antiperspirant:
    • You can find this here.
    • Oddly enough, I ran out and had to buy some in Iceland. It was the same price as I would pay for it back home…
  6. Sunscreen:
    • No problem; you can find it here.
  7. Over the counter medicine:
    • I’m not sure. I brought more than enough with me and never needed to get more.
    • It’s best if you know the generic or chemical name of the drugs you need.
      • Instead of asking for Bufferine, ask for ibuprofen.
    • I would still bring some medications for basic illnesses like diarrhea, fever, and constipation.
      • Don’t run out of these.
      • It’s always tough to look for medication when you’re already sick.
      • It’s easy to find what you want if you have a label of the drug you are looking for.
  8. Other things you should bring:
    • Wool Hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Flip-flips
    • Smartphone
    • Hiking shoes
    • Rain jacket
    • Rain pants
    • Rain boots
    • Clothes line
  9. If you need to buy groceries:
    • Costco or Bonus
  10. If you need outdoor goods on the ring road:
    • N1, any gas station, or Bonus

General Tips:

Driving:

  • Watch out for sheep.
  • Stay off the F roads.
  • Don’t forget to use the gas card to save money on gas.
    • I think most camper van companies will give you a gas card.
    • It’s on the key ring.
  • There are a lot of hitch-hikers.
    • I hear that if you pick one up, they are obligated to entertain you with a tale of their journeys.
      • Some might even pitch in for gas.
    • We did not pick up any hitch-hikers.
      • I’ve seen too many horror movies to do anything like that, even in Iceland.

Food:

  • Try the meat soup.
  • Try the lobster soup.
  • Eat as much skyr as you can.
    • It’s not yogurt, it’s cheese. But, it tastes like yogurt and you eat it like yogurt.

Get Membership:

  • If you are going to stay in hostels, join Hosteling International, or any of its subsidiaries.
    • YHA – England & Wales
    • SYHA – Scotland
      • Membership at any of these will get you the discounted rate at any of the other hosteling organizations.
      • These hostels tend to be better than most other hostels.
    • Reykjavik has two HI hostels.
      • One is across the street from a bar and is more of a party hostel.
      • The other is not.

Money:

  • Most places only take credit or debit cards
    • But, some places will only take cash, so you will need to have some cash on you.

Scams:

  • Not many scams to look out for, just use common sense.

Iceland

How to get there:

You have to fly or get a boat from Scotland or Denmark.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • 1777 for weather information

Website:

Data:

  • Siminn
  • You can easily get one at most convenience stores in Reykjavik.

Videos:

Notes:

  • The weather can change quickly. Make sure to dress in layers.
  • Assume that it will rain.
  • It will also be very, very windy.
  • Everything is very expensive in Iceland.
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What to Pack

Posted by Heliocentrism on February 5, 2018

Monday, September 4th -17th, 2017

The biggest question I had before going to Iceland was, “What should I pack?” Mark and I travel very light so we didn’t want to bring things we didn’t absolutely need. After the trip I have a better understanding of what to bring and I’ll tell you about it. We traveled in September and the weather we experience was all over the place. Sometimes it was so warm during the day we could walk around in t-shirts, but by evening we needed jackets. Other times it was cold and rainy.

Clothes

  • T-Shirts (4)
    • These were the same quick-dry summer t-shirts I’ve been wearing on the trip so far.
    • Mark bought 2 thermal shirts, but I decided not to.
  • Running Tights (2 pairs)
    • These were simple running tights from Uniqlo
    • I prefer running to regular tights because they are thicker and less see-through when you bend over.
    • I would wear these under my jeans during the day and sleep in them as pj’s at night.
    • I wore one while I washed and dried the other.
  • Jeans (1 pair)
    • These hardly ever got washed.
  • Rain pants (1 pair)
    • These could easily be put on over my jeans.
  • Merino Wool Socks (2 Pairs)
    • I wore one while I washed and dried the other.
  • Underwear
    • I have a little less than a week’s worth.
    • I will happily wear an unwashed shirt or socks as long as they don’t smell, but I refuse to wear the same underwear two days in a row.
  • 1 Merino wool cardigan
  • 1 Fleece jacket
  • 1 Down Jacket
  • 1 Gore-tex Jacket
    • Depending on how cold it got I would wear one, two, or three of the above.
  • 1 Wool Hat
  • 1 Pair of waterproof wool gloves
  • 1 Buff (It’s smaller than a scarf and does a scarf’s job.)
  • 1 Swim Suit
  • 1 Pair of flip-flops (which I hardly used)
  • 1 Pair of water-proof hiking boots

Most nights I hand-washed a few clothes and hung them near the van’s heater to dry over night. Some campsites had coin operated laundry machines. On those nights, all four of us would put our washing together and do a load for about 400ISK. We never paid to have someone else do our laundry in Iceland. That would run us up to 1,600 ISK per 3 kg of dirty clothes.

Only one campsite had a machine dryer. Mostly, they had drying rooms instead, if they had anything at all. We would place our wet clothes in a closet that was kept warm either by a heater or by running the hot water pipes through it. When we hung our clothes in a drying closet, it would always be dry by morning. Shoes can also be place in a drying closet to be dried by morning.

Electronics

  • Smartphone
    • You can get a SIM card as any convenience store in Reykjavik.
    • Download google maps (The van came with a Garmin, I just liked google maps better.)
    • Download some podcasts and books
  • All the Smartphone accouterments
    • Car charger
    • Regular charger
    • Audio Auxiliary cord
    • Selfie stick (If you’re into that sort of thing)
  • Camera (If you need more than your smartphone)
  • Make sure you have a big enough memory card
    • You can, of course, buy a new one in Iceland, but it will cost you.

Other things to bring

  • A travel clothes line
  • A good dry bag (I mean the really thick ones, not the light weight things.)
    • Put wet clothes in it
    • Keep electronics dry when it rains
    • Wash laundry in it
  • Lotion
    • Your skin will be dry after soaking in the spa

One more thing

  • Rain boots

We were lucky in that it didn’t really rain that much until the last full day we were in Iceland. For most of the trip, it would rain for only a few hours during a hike and then it would just be cloudy for the rest of the day. Many days, we had nothing but sunshine.

On the last full day however, it rained ALL DAY. My water-proof hiking shoes were soaked. The problem was that my hiking boots are water-proof with one serious vulnerability; the part where my feet go. My rain jacket and pants kept a steady stream of water pouring from my back, down my leg, and into my shoes. When I put on the rain pants, I made sure the pant legs hang lower the top of my shoes. But with movement and time, the cuffs would tuck themselves into the shoes and let water flow right in.

It would be too difficult to bring rain boots with me. I would have to buy a pair there and then leave them behind after the trip.


Iceland

How to get there:

You have to fly or get a boat from Scotland or Denmark.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • 1777 for weather information

Downloads:

Website:

Data:

  • Siminn
  • You can easily get one at most convenience stores in Reykjavik.

Videos:

Notes:

  • The weather can change quickly. Make sure to dress in layers.
  • Assume that it will rain.
  • It will also be very, very windy.
  • Everything is very expensive in Iceland.

Sundlaugin á Hofsósi

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • 700ISK

Hours:

  • M – F ~ 7:00 – 13:00 & 17:00 – 20:00
  • Sa – Su ~ 11:00 – 15:00

Notes:

  • Many tourists come by and take photos, from the outside, of the spa.
  • There are complimentary tea and coffee in the lobby.

Mývatn Nature Baths

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • 3800 ISK (01/01 – 14/05 ’17)
  • 4300 ISK (15/05 – 30/09 ’17)
  • 3800 ISK (01/10 – 31/12 ’17)

Hours:

  • 12:00 – 22:00

Notes:

  • This spa has a restaurant.
  • You can order drinks to be brought to you in the pool.

Don’t Miss:

Campsites:

Map:

Posted in Hofsós, Iceland | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Other Worldly

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 30, 2018

Monday, September 4th -17th, 2017

65.3127001,-15.1456302

The biggest surprise I got when traveling in Iceland was how the landscape changed from day to day. Sometimes it looked like we were on another planet. I kept telling Mark that if they had filmed Star Trek: The Original Series here, the stories would have been more believable as taking place on alien worlds. So for this blog entry, I’m just putting up pictures with some information about where the photos were taken.

Þingvellir National Park

Geysir

Skógafoss

Reynisfjara Beach

Reynisfjara Beach

Laufskálavarða

Scenic Green Lava Walk

Fjaðrárgljúfur

Skaftafellsjökull

Fjallsárlón Glacial Lagoon

Diamond Beach

Old Viking Village

64.2877778,-15.0661111

64.2877778,-15.0661111

64.2877778,-15.0661111

Grjótagjá cave

Grjótagjá cave

Hverfjall

Hverir

Dettifoss

Dettifoss

Hofsós Camping Ground

Hofsós Camping Ground

64.9617357,-23.0311146

Kirkjufell

Hot Pot

Reykjadalur Hot Spring Thermal River

Blue Lagoon


Iceland

How to get there:

You have to fly or get a boat from Scotland or Denmark.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • 1777 for weather information

Downloads:

Website:

Data:

  • Siminn
  • You can easily get one at most convenience stores in Reykjavik.

Videos:

Notes:

  • The weather can change quickly. Make sure to dress in layers.
  • Assume that it will rain.
  • It will also be very, very windy.
  • Everything is very expensive in Iceland.

Old Viking Village

Basic Information

Website

 

Cost:

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 18:00

 

Notes:

  • There is also a cafe here.
  • There are people who try to go to the film set without paying. They get mad when they are caught and leave bad reviews online.
  • The place is wonderful for taking photos.
  • You can camp here, apparently.

Don’t Miss:

Campsites:

Map:

Posted in Höfn, Iceland | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Iceland: Pools, Hot Pots, and Lagoons

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 25, 2018

Monday, September 4th -17th, 2017

Iceland, as the name implies is cold. But, luckily for Iceland many of its waters are not. The land is literally bursting with geothermally heated pools. Mark, our friends, and I made it our mission to soak in as many types of heated water as we could.

The Public Pools

As I said in the last post, we always went to a public pool if the showers at out campsite weren’t free. The idea was, if we were going to pay, we wanted to get exactly what we wanted: unlimited hot water, clean facilities, shampoo and soap, a hair dryer, and pools of various degrees of hotness. Water slides were always welcomed. The public pools cost on average of 700ISK.

The pools do come with rules, though. Because we had all lived in Japan and had many, many, many onsen visits under our belts, the rules did not come as a shock to us.

This counts as a shower, right?

1. You have to take a shower before you get in the pool.

Even in the states this is a normal expectation for pool goers. Most pools world wide make swimmers clean up before diving in. The difference in Iceland (and Japan) is…

2. You must shower naked.

I assume we all shower without clothes. The hard part for some people comes when they realize that the showers take place in an open shower. There are no shower curtains or partitions. The showers aren’t co-ed or anything. Still, it is hard for many people to shower with strangers for the first time, even when everyone is of the same gender.

I’ve gotten used to it. I did the communal showers in high school and college when playing sports. Also, living in Japan for about 7 years has taken all the terror out of showering with people I’ve never met before. Now I feel like, since I have never met these women before and will never see them again, who cares what they think of my body. Besides, they don’t seem to mind, why should I?

3. Wash your hair, arm pits, feet, and crotch. 

Soap and shampoo are provided for you if you have forgotten to bring your own.

Essentially, when you get to the public pool first you pay and get a ticket or key or something. There is a place where you can leave your shoes, like a shoe rack or cubby. Then men and women separate and go to their respective lockers.

Once in the locker room, there are either lockers or baskets to put your clothes in. When there are no lockers for clothes, there is sometimes a small locker for things like car keys or a wallet.

Put your clothes in the basket or locker. At this time, I like to organize my new clothes in the order I will put them on and put my dirty clothes in a separate bag. Sometimes when I’m ready to leave, the locker room is full and a little chaotic. Moving around to get out of people’s way while getting dressed can be a little stressful no matter how comfortable one is with one’s body.

When you head off to the shower, while being completely unclothed, take your towel, swim suit, and any soap or shampoo you want to use. You can use the soap and shampoo provided, but you don’t have to. There is a cubby near the shower for your things. Sometimes the number there will match your locker number if you have one, sometimes you can take any one. Enter the shower with nothing or just your soap and shampoo.

Take a shower and make sure to wash all the important parts. When you’re done go back to where you left your swim suit and put it on. Leave your towel and soaps in the cubby and head out to the pool.

4. Dry off before going back to the locker room.

After swimming, when you’re getting ready to go home, no one really cares how or if you shower again. Shower naked, shower clothed, do what you like. If you keep your swim suit on, however,  you will stick out. Either way, make sure to dry off with your towel before going to the locker room. The floor of the locker room should stay as dry as possible, so make sure you aren’t dripping when you go back there.

Get dressed.

There are some amenities you will find at some public pools. Most will have a hair dryer but only some will have a clothes spinner. I love the spinners. After every swim I look for one and dry my swim suit and towel.

Geothermic Pools

Next you have the naturally heated public pools. These cost more money to use; from about 4,000 – 8,000ISK. The rules for showering are the same as the public pools. But because they are bigger, you will spend more time in them. Because you will spend more time in them, they all have cafes or restaurants on the premises.

Many of them will have a sulfur smell. They smell like farts. So, if you are gassy, go ahead and relax. No one will no when you cut one. Don’t worry, you will not smell like sulfur after you leave the pool.

Some people will have you believe that most of the overpriced natural pools are overrated, especially the Blue Lagoon. I’ve been to a few including the Blue Lagoon. They are all overpriced, but none of them, in my opinion are overrated. The Blue Lagoon was really awesome. We went there on our last full day in Iceland. Freda and I were even saying that we were glad we left it for last, because it was the best one of all.

The Blue Lagoon is crowded. The line is very long to get in, even when you have bought your ticket online ahead of time. But, once you get in the pool you don’t notice a crowd because the thing is so big. You can hardly move in the locker rooms without bumping into anyone, but the pool itself is not densely populated.

Hot Pots

Then there are the hard to find “hot pots”. During our trip we managed to take a dip in only one even though we were constantly hunting them down. They sound great theoretically, but I was a little put off by them generally.

A hot pot is a term used for a small, hidden, geothermal pool that only a few people know about. They are mostly found on some farmers’ land. Since so few people know about it, it is possible to bathe there alone with only sheep for company.

A lot of hot pots require you to either sneak onto someone’s property or ask a farmer for his or her permission. I was not too keen on trespassing. Roland and Freda were the one’s looking for the hot pots and I knew they weren’t the trespassing type. In fact, there were a few hot pots we did not go to, because Roland couldn’t get a hold of the farmer to ask if we could have a swim.

Some of the hot pots had signs near them forbidding tourists from going any further on the land. Not everyone obeyed. I didn’t want to be associated with those types of travelers. I like to be respectful of people and their property, especially when that property is a means to their livelihood, like a farm.

The one hot pot we found was nice. It was a little boggy. The water was muddy. But it was free, out in the open, and we had it all to ourselves… for about 20 minutes. Shortly after we jumped into the water we saw another camper van drive up. It was a couple and they got into the water too.

Awkwardly, they didn’t talk to us. They just swam around and made out like we weren’t there. The pool wasn’t so big that we could easily ignore them, or them us. We felt very uncomfortable. They clearly wanted to have sex outdoors and we felt like we were intruding.

We didn’t want to hop out just because these two horny people showed up. We had been hunting for hot pots for days and this was the first one we found. So, we stuck it out until we were good and ready. When we got out, the couple must have been so happy to see us go. I can imagine them anticipating the moment when our vans drove away.

Unfortunately for them, as we were getting dressed, another van pulled up. Out jump 5 loud, boisterous, frat boys. They were hootin’ and hollerin’ about how “awesome” various things were. They got undressed as they ran to the heated muddy pool, high-5-ing as they went. One of them carried a bucket of beers and a boombox.

The biggest downside to these secret hot pots is that most of them are not so secret.

Cheers!

I was soaking in a public pool one day and talking to some travelers I had just met. I was telling one of them about the trouble we were having finding just one hot pot. She bragged that she knew where so many secret hot pots were because she was part of some exclusive Facebook group. “You have to know the right people to be invited to the Facebook group,” she told me. I wondered if she wanted me to beg her to invite me, but I didn’t ask for an invite.

I did ask about the quality of the hot pots. “Oh, they are really nice,” she said, describing a truly lovely utopia centered around a hole of hot water. The people there were practically skipping and holding hands while humming Kumbaya. “Wait,” I stopped her regaling. “There were other people there?”

“Yes, I was not alone.”

“How many people?” I was curious about how exclusive these things were.

“Uhmm,” she thought. “Maybe 50 people…”

I looked around the public pool we were soaking in. My friends were sitting in another pool that had 3 other people in it. The was one guy doing laps in the big unheated pool. There were 2 kids running up the water slide and 5 of us sitting in the really-hot tub.

“So your super secret hot pot had more people in it than this public pool?”


Iceland

How to get there:

You have to fly or get a boat from Scotland or Denmark.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • 1777 for weather information

Downloads:

Website:

Data:

  • Siminn
  • You can easily get one at most convenience stores in Reykjavik.

Videos:

Notes:

  • The weather can change quickly. Make sure to dress in layers.
  • Assume that it will rain.
  • It will also be very, very windy.
  • Everything is very expensive in Iceland.

Þingvellir National Park

Basic Information

Website:

Downloads:

Cost:

Hours:

  • Daylight hours

Notes:


Reykjadalur Hot Spring Thermal River

Basic Information

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • daylight hours

Video

Notes:

  • There’s a cafe in the parking lot.
  • It’s about a one hour hike from where you park your car.
  • Many people ride horses on this trail, so watch out for horse poo.
    • You might want to wear rain boots and hose them off afterwards.
    • There’s A LOT of poo!
  • There are places to change near the hot river, but it does not provide a whole lot of privacy.
    • Be careful when taking photos near the river…
    • Don’t be a jerk and change at the front door of the cafe, even when it’s raining.
      • I saw many people doing this and they blocked the way for paying customers to enter.
      • It doesn’t give you much privacy or shelter from the rain anyway.

Blue Lagoon

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • 6100ISK is the most basic ticket
    • The next ticket is about 20USD more and it come with a towel, a drink, and an algae mask
    • I don’t think it’s worth the 20USD extra.

Hours:

  • 8:00 – 22:00

Video

Notes:

  • Always buy your ticket ahead of time.
  • In the showers, there is complimentary shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion for everyone to use.
  • There are lots of water fountains are the pool with fresh water for you to drink.
  • What you should bring:
    • a towel – so you don’t have to rent one
    • extra money – in case you buy something at the bar
    • a bag for your wet swim suit
    • a hair tie – You want as little contact between your hair and the pool as possible.
  • What you can bring, but don’t really need:
    • flip-flops – You will do very little walking around the pool.
    • a water bottle – There are plenty of water fountains; you don’t need to bring water
    • a robe – You will spend most of your time in the water where a robe does you no good.
      • Most people who have robes spend 3 minutes in them, then hang them up to get in the water.
  • What you really don’t need: (All these things are provided)
    • Shampoo
    • Body wash
    • Conditioner
    • Lotion
    • A hair dryer

Sundlaugin á Hofsósi

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • 700ISK

Hours:

  • M – F ~ 7:00 – 13:00 & 17:00 – 20:00
  • Sa – Su ~ 11:00 – 15:00

Notes:

  • Many tourists come by and take photos, from the outside, of the spa.
  • There are complimentary tea and coffee in the lobby.

Mývatn Nature Baths

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • 3800 ISK (01/01 – 14/05 ’17)
  • 4300 ISK (15/05 – 30/09 ’17)
  • 3800 ISK (01/10 – 31/12 ’17)

Hours:

  • 12:00 – 22:00

Notes:

  • This spa has a restaurant.
  • You can order drinks to be brought to you in the pool.

Hot Pots

Basic Information:

  • ??

Websites:

Cost:

  • Ideally, free

Hours:

  • Daylight hours

Notes:

  • The goal of finding a free and secret naturally heated pool of water is really hard to reach.
  • Everyone talks about all the hot pots they have found.
    • Many of them are trespassing, a few are bull shitting.

Don’t Miss:

Some Pools:

Campsites:

Map:

Posted in Bláskógabyggð, Grindavík, Hofsós, Iceland | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Iceland: Campervans

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 20, 2018

Monday, September 4th – 17th, 2017

I was so excited about the trip to Iceland. I had been dreaming about it since we left Japan about 6 months earlier. Iceland just seem so far away and exotic, like it stood at the end of the world.

We met up with the South African friends we made in Japan and together we drove the ring road. Roland did most of the planning. Mark and I were so relieved at this. After traveling for 6 months, we got to a point where we dreaded planning. There is just so much that goes into it. In fact, sometimes we just don’t. We cheat.

We like getting a tourist pass of some sort, like we did in Jaipur. Once you have a pass, you have a list of things to see. Or, we would get a membership to some sort of heritage society, like would we did in Scotland. So when we return to Scotland we don’t have to plan that much. There is an entire book of things to see in the many cities throughout Scotland.

It’s even better when you don’t have to do any work at all. We just followed Roland where ever he went. Both Mark and I were very grateful to be able to enjoy a trip to Iceland without having to plan a thing.

Camper Van

I’m not sure if it was done on purpose, in other words, I don’t remember if we copied Freda and Roland, but we ended up renting camper vans from the same company, Trip Campers. The company is run by some very friendly and talkative guys. Overall, I was very satisfied with the car and the company.

One thing I would do differently, if I were to do this trip again would be to get a bigger van. Mark had the hardest time getting in and out of the van at night when the bed was down. He would knock over everything near him. Then when I’m in bed and want to listen to some music on my phone I think, “Gosh, where did I put that thing?”

Then in the morning when I wanted to make coffee, it took ages. First I had to hunt down the coffee, then find the milk. Then I had to put up the bed so I could reach the kettle. Then I stood out in the cold for 10 minutes trying to remember which bag the sugar was in.

By the second day, Mark and I settled on the best way to pack the van so that we could find the things we needed throughout the day. But, if we had a bigger van, not only would everything be more organized, we wouldn’t have to keep putting the bed away to get to things. We could have some coffee and still rest in bed for a bit before starting the day.

BTW: Be careful when shifting your bed from sofa-mode to bed-mode. Many people break their beds.

Shopping

Before hitting the road, we stopped at Costco. Iceland is expensive so we planned to cook almost all our meals. The prices for things at Costco are low compared to the rest of Iceland. We bought things like pasta, canned tuna, snacks, nuts, and other things that don’t need refrigeration and that we would use large quantities of.

For things we didn’t want in bulk, we went to the Bonus next door. We did most of our extra shopping at Bonuses around the island. Their prices are lower than other stores. Other stores are a little nicer, but their prices are also higher.

If we needed something along the way, we could usually find it at an N1, one of the chains of gas stations on the island. They sell stuff like camping supplies, food, clothes, electronics… Most will have a nice looking restaurant. The prices of these items are pretty high, but you will find what you need. This is where we went to use the bathroom for free during the day. The gas prices weren’t too bad. And it helped that our vans came with discount cards for a couple of the gas station chains. So we were able to save a good 3USD at every fill up.

If I were to do this again, I would also stop at IKEA and pick up an extra blanket. The blanket that came with the van was okay, I just wanted one with a little more snuggliness. I’ve also heard of people saving money by buying a table and chairs there rather than renting them from the van company.

Freda and Roland rented a table and chairs, but they didn’t use them that much. Our trip was in September. In the evening, when we ate dinner, it was too cold to be outside. We usually ate in whatever shelter the campsites provided.

Other things I would get at IKEA for the van or bring with me to Iceland would be…

  • a lantern
    • some campsites were not very well lit
  • a power strip
    • many campsites only had a few outlets
  • a clothes line, clothes horse (That’s what Freda calls it), or “clothes octopus” (You know what I’m talking about?)
    • You will also have wet clothes either from the rain or a trip to a hot spring.
  • an audio auxiliary cable (They probably don’t sell these at IKEA)
    • I had to buy one at the N1. It was quite expensive.
    • The drive was long, we needed to listen to something, but the Bluetooth connection in our van wasn’t working.
  • a car USB charger.

After day 3, the vans were always dirty.

The Drive

The drive was long and there were fewer and fewer cars the further we got from Reykjavik. Sometimes the roads were unpaved. It was not too bad, but it could be bumpy for 30 minutes at a time. There were worse roads, but the vans we rented were not to be driven on F roads. Those mostly go inland.

But with so few cars around, when we saw lots of cars parked somewhere we would stop and check it out. Sometimes, it was just a photo opportunity. Other times, there was something like a waterfall we didn’t know about behind some rocks. Those types of finds were magical and made us glad we chose Iceland to visit.

You Cannot Just Camp Any Where

People keep saying this and it’s really not true. You cannot just put your camper anywhere and spend the night. Maybe it was true 10 years ago, before all the tourists started coming to Iceland. But, it is not true now.

Most rest stops will allow you to park for free during the day. You can have lunch there. It’s okay to take a nap or rest for a few hours, but you cannot stay the night. There are signs stating this. If you look really hard, you will find some places throughout the island that do not discourage the overnight parking of camper vans, but there aren’t many.

Camper vans, and people in tents, have to find campsites and pay fees to spend the night. Some of these have better amenities than others. Personally, I liked the camps at the national parks best. Some of the private campsites make you pay a lot then offer nothing more than just a place to park.

If you’re lucky you will get a cooking room. There you can cook your food out of the rain, wind, and cold. You can charge your phone and talk with other travelers. Many campsites had one of these areas, though only some provided a light bulb. Usually, there is a table somewhere in the room where you take or leave items for your trip. People usually leave food or fuel. The closer to Reykjavik you are, the more stuff you will find on this table. Wait until after your first campsite to pick up things like salt, sugar, and coffee.

The public pool

At some campsites showers are free. The ones with the free showers, tend to be near natural hot springs. Other places charge about 200ISK for an unlimited hot shower, others give you a set time. We only used the camp showers when it was free. Camp showers are usually not very nice. So we paid extra money and did most of our showering at public pools around Iceland, which cost about 700ISK. There, we had all the hot water we wanted and use of the heated pools and sometimes even water slides. Plus, the shampoo and soap were free and they had hair dryers. We did bring our own towel, rather than renting one of theirs.

Keep your tanks full and your car clean

The water in Iceland is very clean. It’s also free. You can drink any non-hot water anywhere you find in Iceland. So when we were at a campsite, we made sure to fill the van’s water tank. There was no need to run low on water.

If you go to Iceland, just remember before drinking hot water, smell it first. A lot of places in Iceland use hot water heated by a geothermal spring. It smells like sulfur. I don’t think it would kill you if you drank it, but it can’t be healthy.

Washing the car at most gas stations is free. When we returned our cars, we washed them first. It cost nothing and the van guys really appreciated it.

General Advice When Traveling in a Camper around Iceland:

  • Pay attention when the van company guy shows you around the car on the first day.
    • They give you a lot of information in a short amount of time, but try to remember.
  • Use a zip-lock bag to put your trash in during the day.
    • The trash won’t make the car stink.
    • It won’t matter if your garbage rolls around on a bumpy road.
  • Be careful when transitioning the bed.
    • Some of them break easily.
  • Use the facilities at N1 gas stations.
    • You can go hours without seeing a public bathroom otherwise.
    • These bathrooms are free, unlike the bathrooms at some tourist sites.
  • Use your GPS and/ or google maps.
    • Sometimes it’s hard to type in those Icelandic names in the GPS that comes with the car.
      • Another reason why you need to pay attention to the van guy.
  • Stay off F roads.
  • Don’t camp at places that say “No over night camping”.
  • Watch out for sheep.
    • Those fluffy monsters like to dart out into the road.

Iceland

How to get there:

You have to fly or get a boat from Scotland or Denmark.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • 1777 for weather information

Downloads:

Website:

Data:

  • Siminn
  • You can easily get one at most convenience stores in Reykjavik.

Videos:

Notes:

  • The weather can change quickly. Make sure to dress in layers.
  • Assume that it will rain.
  • It will also be very, very windy.
  • Everything is very expensive in Iceland.
  • Don’t touch the moss.

Blue Lagoon

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • 6100ISK is the most basic ticket
    • The next ticket is about 20USD more and it come with a towel, a drink, and an algae mask
    • I don’t think it’s worth the 20USD extra.

Hours:

  • 8:00 – 22:00

Video

Notes:

  • Always buy your ticket ahead of time.
  • In the showers, there is complimentary shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion for everyone to use.
  • There are lots of water fountains are the pool with fresh water for you to drink.
  • What you should bring:
    • a towel – so you don’t have to rent one
    • extra money – in case you buy something at the bar
    • a bag for your wet swim suit
    • a hair tie – You want as little contact between your hair and the pool as possible.
  • What you can bring, but don’t really need:
    • flip-flops – You will do very little walking around the pool.
    • a water bottle – There are plenty of water fountains; you don’t need to bring water
    • a robe – You will spend most of your time in the water where a robe does you no good.
      • Most people who have robes spend 3 minutes in them, then hang them up to get in the water.
  • What you really don’t need: (All these things are provided)
    • Shampoo
    • Body wash
    • Conditioner
    • Lotion
    • A hair dryer

Hallgrímskirkja
and the Leif Erickson Statue

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • October – April: 9 am – 5 pm
  • May – September: 9 am – 9 pm

Video


Saga Museum

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • 2,100 ISK

Hours:

  • 10:00 – 18:00

Notes:

  • Start you visit with some Viking dress-up.

Sægreifinn
(Sea Barron)

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

Hours:

  • 11:30 – 22:00

Video

Notes:

  • The lobster soups is fantastic.
  • It’s a small restaurant and it gets very crowded.
    • There are more rooms up stairs and in the back.
    • But, when we were there, they had only one very crowded area open.

Costco

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • About 60USD / year for membership
    • The price is different in different countries.
    • Membership will get you into any Costco around the world

Hours:

  • 10:00 – 21:00 Su – F
  • 9:30 – 20:30 Su

Notes:

  • We took our Costco card we got in Japan and did some major shopping in Iceland before starting our Ring Road Trip.
    • Generally one Costco Member can bring in only one friend, but they didn’t seem to care that much here.
  • There is also an IKEA across the street.
  • Buy all the non-perishable items you need here.
    • If there is something you don’t want by the gallon, get it from the Bonus next door.

The Settlement Center

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • Museum
    • ISK 2500
    • Include an aduio guide
    • 2 exhibits
  • Buffette ISK 2200
    • 11:30 am -15:00 pm

Hours:

  • 10:00 – 21:00

Reykjadalur Hot Spring Thermal River

Basic Information

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • daylight hours

Video

Notes:

  • There’s a cafe in the parking lot.
  • It’s about a one hour hike from where you park your car.
  • Many people ride horses on this trail, so watch out for horse poo.
    • You might want to wear rain boots and hose them off afterwards.
    • There’s A LOT of poo!
  • There are places to change near the hot river, but it does not provide a whole lot of privacy.
    • Be careful when taking photos near the river…
    • Don’t be a jerk and change at the front door of the cafe in the parking lot, even when it’s raining.
      • I saw many people doing this and they blocked the way for paying customers to enter.
      • It doesn’t give you much privacy or shelter from the rain anyway.

Barnafoss and Hraunfossar

Basic Information

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • Daylight hours

Video

Notes:

  • No camping here
  • There is a cafe nearby

Rauðfeldsgjá

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • daylight hours

Video

Notes:

  • no camping
  • Bring rain boots

Don’t Miss:

Some Pools:

Campsites:

Map:

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