…when in Iceland

Saturday 09th of March

The flight from Munich started with an one hour delay, our plane was already on the taxiway, but we did not get the go.

Five hours later, when we luckily arrived at Keflavik airport, we had to wait for another hour until we got our baggage. Now we just wanted to get our car and head to the HI Loft Hostel in Reykjavik. We went out of the arrival hall and there was – nobody ( * The rental car company Firefly via CarDelMar has apperantly its own rules and I cannot recommend to book a car there. Please see the whole story at the bottom).

Finally we decided to go to Reykjavik via flight bus to check in to our hostel and to organize the car on the following day, when the rental office should be reachable again.

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After we had checked in at the hostel, we had a walk around the pulsating centre of Reykjavik, also in search of a nice litte restaurant to have dinner.

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We found Reykjavik Fish Restaurant and the dinner there was excellent. For me it was traditional icelandic Plokkari – love it!
Two beers and a shared choccolate cake later, we went to Harpa Concert Hall and I had the opportunity to take some pictures of colorful Harpa at night.

Somewhat tired we got back to the hostel afterwards, it had been a long day.

Sunday 10th of March

I woke up very early in the morning, being uneasy about the rental car issue. The kind mexican night clerk made me a coffee and we had a little chat before I tried to reach the rental office again.

Finally I learned that we had to go back to Keflavik Airport. So we headed to the bus station – a 15 minutes walk with us dragging our heavy suitcases across the empty steets of early morning Reykjavik – and took the bus back to the airport.

The staff at the Hertz counter was very friendly and helpful and we were able to start our journey at 11 am eventually.

With our Dacia Duster 4WD we drove back direction Reykjakiv to go on to Pingvellir and Geysir.

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After a short visit there we started again, now towards Geysir. Having a short photo stop for a few icelandic horses (with a bunch of asian girls) on our way we finally reached Geysir.

The Strokkur – the big one – was very impressive. The boiling water was rocketing high at about every 10 minutes. We stayed for tree times and loads of pictures. After having had enough of Strokkur, we had a short coffee break directly there.

Afterwards we drove back to the ring road at a good pace. We had to reach our accomodation in Vik i Myrdal this evening. In Hvolsvöllur we spotted a supermarket but unfortunately it had been closed just 3 minutes before our arrival. At the same place is also a UNA souvenir shop and I bought my first icelandic wool sweater: “Lopapeysa”.

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Next stop was the Seljalandsfoss. Originally I had hoped to take pictures from the back of the cascade, but it was closed due to ice on the path. So I just made some from the front, but at least with a rainbow.

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Finally we arrived at Vik i Myrdal in the guesthose Galleri Vik and got a very warm welcome from our landlady. The accomodation is beautiful with common kitchen and bathroom. Almost immediately we walked down to the wonderful black sand beach to get a view of the Reynisdrangar Seastacks before sunset. The waves were high and impressive according to an upcoming storm.

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Later that evening we went to Sudur Vik Restaurant for dinner which was a recommendation of our landlady. The food was excellent!

Monday 11th of March

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That morning I woke up very early for the second time and decided to visit the beach for some more pictures at blue hour. On my way to the beach I found an already dead starfish which now decorates my book shelf in Germany. I stayed at the beach in the violent wind, taking pictures until ice pellets started falling from the sky. While I was going back to the accomodation I got soaking wet.

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After a short breakfast and some shopping in a groceries store we started quickly, eager to reach our next accomodation in Hali before they would close down the ringroad because of the storm.

We had violent winds, rain and snow on our way east, stopping just for some short but worthwile photo sessions.

At Jökulsarlon  we had the longest stop, admiring the famous glacier lagoon.

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We reached our accomodation named Gerdi Guest House in Hali at 1 pm, but for understandable reasons we could not get our room until 4 pm.

So we went to the Thórbergur Center for lunch and visited the museum afterwards.

Than we decided to give the Hot Tubs in Hoffell a try. We grabbed our bathing suits, towels and clogs and headed to Hoffell, which is half an hour’s drive away. There we found public toilets and changing rooms and a hot tub on our own for a fee of 1000 ISK per person. The water was perfectly hot and relaxing!

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Back at Hali we got a nice room with beautiful ocean view, that should be our “home” for the next three days.

After an excellent dinner directly in our guesthouse we went to sleep quite tired.

Tuesday 12th of March

There was a fierce storm during the night and the ring road had been closed down from Vik i Myrdal until the bridge over the glacier lagoon of Jökulsarlon.

We decided to visit Diamond Beach in hope to find not so many people there due to the closed down ring road. Unfortunately the road had been reopend too fast leading to a rather short-lived quietness there.

Back in Hali we had lunch at “our” museum again. Afterwards we left for Höfn to visit Vestrahorn at Stokksnes.

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Before we were allowed to go to the Stokksnes peninsula we had to pay 900 ISK fee per person at the Viking Cafe. The ocean was wild as we took pictures of the lighthouse.

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Than we went to the black beach in front of the Vestrahorn. I covered my shoes with plastic galoshes due to the unpredictable waves. Nonetheless I was getting wet feet during my photo session, because one big wave went up until my knees. All I could do was to grab my tripod and to try not to loose the ground under my feet. But it was worth it!

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When the wave went back to the ocean again it left a film of water on the black sand which was like a mirror. The pictures I made there are showing an amazing double sight of famous Vestrahorn.

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We had our usual coffee break at the Viking Cafe and drove to the groceries store at Höfn afterwards to get some sparkling wine for the hot tub (We got that inspiration from a bunch of Dutch girls in the tub next to us last time, they had apparently loads of fun 🙂 ).

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But the hot tub was not really hot that time. After a few minutes and one quickly shared small bottle of sparkling wine we made our way back to Hali.

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In Hali I took my camera and drove quickly to Diamond Beach for the sunset. When I came back we had dinner at our guesthouse again. Like the day before the food was excellent!

Wednesday 13th of March

My alarm clock rang early and I drove to Diamond Beach for one last time in hope to get some pictures of the sunrise. The sky looked promising.
Unfortunately the sun did not show up between the clouds and I got the pictures of the sunrise not until I was already on my way back to Hali.

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We had breakfast and started the day’s journey with direction to Svartifoss cascade than.

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A few kilometers after we passed Jökulsarlon we noticed a signpost to Fjallsarlon and decided to look, what we will find there.
We parked our car on a huge parking lot in front of a restaurant and started walking to the glacier lagoon. We crossed the hill and looked fascinated at the scenery on the other side. A big, silent and partially frozen glacier lagoon with (floating) ice sheets.

We had our usual coffee break nearby the glacier lagoon and continued our trip to the Svartifoss half an hour later. From Fjallsarlon we reached the appendant parking lot in approx. an hour’s drive. In contrary to Fjallsarlon it was very busy there. We payed the parking fee and started walking uphill to the cascade. The weather was foggy and the landscape was covered with snow. As we reached the waterfall we were somewhat disappointed, beause it looked more like a man peeing in the snow than anything else… maybe this location is more impressive during the summer.

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We went back to our car and decided to visit one more glacier lagoon. As “place to go” we choose Svinafellsjökull and the place was really awesome.
The glacier lagoon was frozen just like the Fjallsarlon, but the ice was much more blue. An amazing blue. I had never ever seen anything like that before.

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I learned later that this intense color results from the huge pressure on and thus the lack of oxygen in the ice. The less oxygen is in the ice, the more blue is its color. We made some pictures and planned to visit one more glacier.
Just because we found the two we had visited already very impressive.


Due to the weather we had to quit this plan. After a few kilometers driving back in direction “home” it started snowing quite hard. In fact it was snowing so much in such a short time, that we had to use the four wheel drive of our Dacia Duster to drive on farther. It was definately not possible to drive a “normal” car in that road conditions anymore. But our 4WD brought as home safely.

Back at the hotel in Hali, we were told that we will not get dinner at our hotel’s restaurant that evening, because the restaurant was crowded to the last place.

So we took our car again – just for 500 m, but it was snowing too hard to walk – and had dinner at the museum’s restaurant.
Thursday 14th of March

When we woke up that morning it was snowing horizontal. We stayed in bed a little longer and had an extensive breakfast. This was our last morning in Hali. We had to say goodbye to our nice little room with the great ocean view and to move on to a 6 bed room in the HI Höfn Hostel, that was just an hour’s drive away.
So we packed our things, removed a huge layer of ice from one side of our car and went on to Höfn.

The lady at the hostel was appaled, we had arrived much to early. For us in contrary it did not matter to wait for the room, because the weather did not look like too much fun.
We enjoyed the lazy time in the clean common kitchen, chatting with some fellow travellers and drinking tea.

Later, after we got the keyes to our room and it had stopped snowing, we visited the Höfn harbor for some pictures, bought more sparkling wine at the groceries store
and went to our beloved hot tub in Hoffell. On the way to Hoffell we met a bunch of reindeer and I was happy to get better pictures this time.

Fortunately the hot tub was as it was meant to be – hot – again.

Later that evening we had dinner at the Kaffi Hornid and I had – in honor of the reindeers – an excellent Reindeer Burger.

Friday 15th of March

This was our last “real” holiday. On Saturday we had to drive the long way back to Reykjavik. We wanted to visit Vetrahorn for a second time because of the nearby
reconstructed Viking village and the – much more interesting – nearby boulders. We are both passionate rock climbers.

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The usual bad weather rescued me of an early morning sunrise-photo-session-start, because it was raining. After an extended breakfast it started getting better and we drove to Vestrahorn.
The sky was a mixture of clear and cloudy and it was windy like hell. So a cup of coffee at the Viking Cafe was our first choice.

After a while we decided to give a try to the long walk to the boulder area and to make a detour to the Viking village.

The village was not too impressive and so we set off to the boulder. It was a long walk, for over an hour, and we found swampland, snow, ice and small creeks on our way. The latter we had to cross without falling head first into them, which was not easy all the time. The boulder were wet, but the place was beautiful and quiet.

Back at Vestrahorn we tried out another photo spot with a small lake in the foreground and after we had enough – of pictures and of fresh air – we went to the hot tubs for one last time.

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“Goodbye” dinner was at Otto Matur & Drykkur Restaurant, a nice little restaurant in the middle of Höfn. We had lopster soup as starter (Höfn is famous for its lobster, so we had to try), cod and arctic char as main dish and white choccolate mousse as dessert. Served by a kind and friendly waiter, a local fisherman.
Saturday 16th of March

An early morning start, with the long way back to Reykjavik lying in front of us. The weather in Höfn was okay, but the farther west we came, the worser became the weather. In the end it was bad enough that we had to use the 4WD again. We planned to have a lunch break at the Black Beach Restaurant at Reynisfjara beach. But when we arrived there, the restaurant had no electricity working and there were loads of asian tourists.


So we decided just to have a short look at the beach, because it was snowing quite hard, and to postpone lunch until we would find a less crowded place. That place we found  in Hvolsvöllur at the Eldsto Art Cafe eventually.

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Back in Reykjavik we visited the Perlan and had our usual coffee high up in the glass dome. We enjoyed the beautiful view at the city in the late afternoon light and met some really cool guys from the Bahamas.

Afterwards we checked in at our well known HI Loft Hostel, where we had already been 7 days ago and grabbed our things for an evening walk through the streets of Reykjavik.

We found a photographers shop where I spent my last ISK to purchase two pictures as a souvenir.  Than we walked to the harbor and made some pictures of Harpa Concert Hall in the last daylight.

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The nearby Reykavik Fish Restaurant we knew also from a week ago was a very welcome finish for the day as well as for our holiday.

On Sunday morning we were flying back to Munich again.

We are grateful looking back at very relaxing holidays at amazing places in an extraordinary environment.
Iceland is a place to come back again for sure.

 

… and last but not least many thanks to my great traveling companion!

 

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*The Rental Car Story:

In the arrival hall nobody was there to pick us up. Even though my voucher told so and I had informed the car rental service about my flight number (in case of any delay), nobody was there and I could not reach anybody of the rental office by phone.

Finally we decided to go to Reykjavik via flight bus to check in to our hostel and to organize the car tomorrow, when the rental office should be reachable again.

The staff at the hostel was friendly and helpful, but even they where not able reach anybody at the car rental office.

On Sunday morning I tried to reach the rental office again. According to my voucher open every day from 5.30 am, but the web page told me later except for Sundays. So I had to wait again…

At half past eight after half an hour of trying I reached somebody at the office eventually. The lady on the “other side” was neither friendly nor very helpful, just telling me the car rentals of FireFly are always via the Hertz counter. So we had to take the bus back to Keflavik Airport again.

The staff of the Hertz counter in contrary was very friendly and helpful and we were able to start our journey at 11 am eventually.

Back in Germany I tried to get at least the money (80 EUR) for the bus ride back, because of the lacking information on the voucher that I had to go to the Hertz counter, but CarDelMar (I was booking a Firefly car via CarDelMar) was claiming it was my fault because of the delayed plane. To make the long story short, I CANNOT recommend to book a rental car via CarDelMar!

2 thoughts on “…when in Iceland

  1. Hallo Andrea- ein schöner Bericht und vor allen Dingen tolle Bilder. Es ist immer wieder faszinierend das mir doch so bekannte Island aus einem anderen Blickwinkel zu sehen. Viele Grüße Günter
    Great report and phantastic pictures. It´s always fascinating to see how others perceive my well known country Iceland. Best regards Günter

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