My husband and I randomly decided to go to Iceland because the fares were very cheap. A few of our friends had posted photos and it looked like one of the places where you probably wouldn’t go once you had a family, or got too old and arthritic (cold, y’know?).
So, when he caught a fare for $110 one way on WOW Airlines, we jumped on it. We also added a Stockholm leg to the trip (another post), and caught a fare of about $240 coming back home on Norwegian Airlines. Overall, with the flight between Iceland and Stockholm, and all the fees , including the additional luggage and train/bus fares, it came out to be about $750 per person round trip.
Before we jump in: I thought this trip was already going to be a disaster because I had such a crap start to everything.
First — work. Emergency popped up and I barely managed to drag my butt to SFO with 45 minutes to spare on an International flight. Right? Good thing I had no checked baggage. But I was already starting my vacation apoplectic.
Second, my shoe broke. Literally the entire bottom of my left boot came unglued. I was aghast. It was not a cheap boot and I had only worn it a couple of times before. I spent what little time I had at the AMEX Centurion Lounge trying to Gorilla Glue my shoe back together. I should have been stuffing my face with free food and drinks because…WOW Airlines.
Third. Yep, WOW Airlines. Let me just say: the seats are tiny. They recline by about a nano-millimeter. They’re not comfy, period. And there’s no food, no drinks (water in a glass maybe), no blanket, no nothing unless you pay an exorbitant amount. Before booking their relatively cheap fares, I encourage you to go on their website and read their rules and FAQ’s. You pay for everything including a hand-carry. (personal items are free.) I am She-Who-Can-Sleep-No-Matter-What-When-Or-Where…and I had a hard time sleeping (and the flight was at night).
Fourth, Chris fainted a dead faint on the flight. Like I literally saw him get up, walk, and face plant to the gasps of the rest of the passengers. You don’t know panic till you see something happen on a plane and the passengers all gasp simultaneously and people jump out of their seats dramatically…I mean, I, myself, have never bolted out of my plane seat so fast, no shoes, dropping my phone and all. Luckily, as much as I am ragging on WOW’s bare necessities policies, their flight attendants were on top of it, and Chris was back on his feet in….oh, ten minutes or so. They even dragged a poor doctor from her seat to see to him. (Don’t worry folks, it wasn’t anything serious, just a bad mix of drinks, getting overheated, not eating…etc…) They checked on him throughout the rest of the flight and got us free sodas and snacks. *wink. File under how to get free snacks on plane.
When we got to Reykjavik, we missed the bus that would take us to the rental car center. So we stood in the cold for about 10-15 minutes. When the bus came, it promptly dropped us off across the parking lot. We. Could. Have. Walked. There. *facepalm
Then, when we got our rental car from SIXT, I was told that it was going to be $2,000.00 as a deposit if I didn’t want to pay the exorbitant insurance fees. Apparently literal rocks can fly at you while driving in Iceland and destroy a car, I dunno. I even clarified, like, haha, you mean, $2,000 Icelandic Krona, right? (which conversion-wise, would have been a solid $20). Stone-faced and humorless, the answer was, “No, $2,000.00 U.S. American dollars” — like by adding both U.S. and American together, I couldn’t mistake his meaning.
Fuming, we began our trip…
DAY 1 of misAdventure: Which really was a half-day after landing, gathering our luggage, going to the rental-car place and arguing with the clerk at the rental car place…*shrug
- We drove to Reykjavik from the Keflavik International Airport. I personally underestimated how long this would take. I mean, YES, I read all the other blogs and info guides that say it’s an hour away. But I also read it was about 47 km, which is roughly 30 miles, which in the San Francisco Bay Area is about a 30-40 minute drive, less without traffic. BUT there is one main highway, and the speed limit is slow in Iceland, so there’s that. And the GPS we rented had some sort of speed radar that yelled at us every time we drove over the speed limit. I should have believed all the other travel bloggers…so for anyone reading this…believe me, it is about an hour away.
- Reykjavik is an atypical urban city that suddenly turns into a quaint fishing town. One minute, you’re driving past nondescript buildings like you were in San Jose, California, and the next thing you know you see cute little cobblestone streets and colorful buildings.
- Our hotel, Room with a View, was really quite nice. It’s an Apartment-Hotel, so came with a little kitchenette and fridge which came in handy later. It’s also located quite nicely along Laugevagur, in the heart of some shopping and restaurants.
- Walking around Reykjavik can be a little confusing because some of the streets sound alike, and isn’t something you can just easily memorize. It’s more of a, “Our hotel is on the street that starts with the letter L that sounds kind of like that whiskey, and at the corner of that other street that sounds like xx. Oh, and it’s next to the Chuck Norris Grill. In short, use GPS.
- We had a late lunch/snack at Loki Cafe, known for very Icelandic dishes. Think pickled herring, fermented shark, and the like. I really enjoyed my meal (seen below).
- We got lost in Reykjavik and could barely find our way back to our hotel somewhere on the street that sounds like Lagavulin scotch (okay, it was Laugevagur).
- Then we went to The Blue Lagoon. Yes, in retrospect we should have started with the Blue Lagoon given that it’s right by the airport…but I dunno. There I go again miscalculating how long 30 miles was really going to take.
- Doing the Blue Lagoon at night does deprive you of the “blue” part of the Blue Lagoon. It is basically a giant hot tub you share with strangers. Until you get wrinkly. Cuz you paid money to be there. And it’s really f’ckn cold everywhere else but in it. Also, it is only recommended if you’re staying nearby. We were so tired and relaxed, it was hard to make the drive back to Reykjavik. Well, not for me. I napped in the car, while my strapping handsome husband drove. We may or may not have seen our first Northern Lights on this drive back. If we weren’t on a misadventure, I’d say we would do the Blue Lagoon in the daytime.
- Finally, back in Reykjavik, I had the most infuriating meal ever. It was the meal that was a portent of all our other meals in Iceland: it was ridiculously expensive.
- See all those yummy looking appetizers above? + 2 beers = $88.00 Yes, that one tiny ass slider, was $18.00. And it said “to share” on the menu! We were still hungry after this meal, but unwilling to spend any more money on food. ON PRINCIPLE. So we went to bed hungry, with a plan to hit up a grocery store before going off on our Golden Circle Adventure!
Up Next, our GOLDEN CIRCLE jaunt.
I hope you enjoyed our day of misadventure in Iceland!