I see so many Instagram posts about Iceland and its waterfalls, The Blue Lagoon, Icelandic wild horses and the famous Iceland Hot Dog. So, when I saw airfare being published for less than it would be to fly to Florida, I figured, here’s my chance!
WOW Airlines is the big purple air carrier that touts these amazing airfares. However, as I have learned in life, things are seldom too good to be true. I had purchased my round trip, non-stop flight out of Baltimore, MD for $270.00 departing April 2017. This is the bare bones and you must purchase the flesh that covers these bones. In other words, you must pay to have a seat (having airfare and having a seat are two different things on this airline), you must pay if your carry on is larger than 17x13x10 and weighs over 22lbs. and you must pay for water. I’m on the cheap side so for the four day trip, I only had a backpack that held two shirts, an extra pair of pants, extra socks, a Patagonia down sweater, small electronics, my DSLR, extra underwear, snacks, and water. (Side bar: use a Smart Water bottle, they’re tall and slim. Don’t open it before going through security to show the security personnel it’s sealed, but if you’ve opened it already, just go through with it empty and refill.) I knew the extras that WOW charges you for and aside from that, I would highly recommend this airline. I do encourage you to look at the numbers and compare WOW’s nickel and dime version versus other airlines. You may discover you could be saving more with WOW. The staff was very nice and accommodating, and my only complaint was their boarding process was a bit chaotic with row numbers not being called and every row boarding without order making for a long boarding process.
We … yes, I do have friends, haha … arrived in Keflavik at 0600. I called Lotus Car Rental and they were promptly over within five minutes to pick us up and take us to their office. (Side bar: I have Verizon as my cell phone carrier. I set up a Travel Pass so that I was able to use my phone in Iceland using my regular data package with no roaming charges for $10 per day. Contact your cell phone carrier to see what they can offer you when travelling abroad.) I had researched renting cars in Iceland, and with the ever-changing weather, was really debating about purchasing car insurance this time. We could be driving on a beautiful spring day and then, BAM, snow storm or volcanic explosion or chip in the windshield! Lotus made this decision very easy by providing CDW, SCDW and TP insurance and studded winter tires as standard in the rental. They were the only rental company to provide this and stay below $200.00 for the four days. They also gave you a chip which offered discounted gas at certain stations. We did add an extra driver and GPS, but I would suggest you forgo the GPS. Google Maps is a great tool and the roads and landmarks in Iceland are well marked.
After picking up the car, we promptly proceeded to our first stop, Thingvellir National Park. Þingvellir (Thingvellir) is a historic site and national park in Iceland, east of Reykjavík. It’s known for the Alþing (Althing), the site of Iceland’s parliament from the 10th to 18th centuries. The park sits in a rift valley caused by the separation of 2 tectonic plates, with rocky cliffs and fissures like the huge Almannagjá fault. We were lucky enough to arrive here before the crowds came and explored the area in amazement of the huge cracks of earth. Silfra is also located here. Silfra is a unique and famous dive site. The visibility in Silfra exceeds 100m, making it some of the clearest water in the world, and divers are able to float between the American and Eurasian continental plates.
After visiting the gift shop and getting some uber awesome Swiss Mochas that generated a Swiss Mocha mission for the next 4 days, where we were unable to find Swiss Mochas as good as the ones at the Thingvellir Gift Shop, we headed towards Laugarvatn Fontana. This is the home of the Fontana Geothermal Baths. They also give bakery tours and you can watch as they dig out a pot of fresh bread from the hot black sand. Guests are offered to taste the bread, served hot from the ground with some butter. Unfortunately, we were in between tour times (1130 and 1430) and didn’t bring bathing suits as we figured we would be too pressed for time to sit in baths, or even The Blue Lagoon, for that matter. Hence, next stop, FOOD!!!!
Okay, I knew food and fuel were expensive in Iceland, but I thought I kept doing my exchange rate incorrectly when I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that a cheeseburger and fries were $25.00. That’s without a drink, but water is free in Iceland. 🙂 Anyhow, yes, $25.00 for a restaurant style cheeseburger and fries…holy Iceland, Batman! Now patrons do not tip here, so there’s that, but unless you limit yourself to coffee houses or pack food, you will be paying around $40.00 for food and drink per person. If you enjoy your alcohol, your drink may cost just as much as your meal. Some coffee houses we found were a bit less pricey, but not by much. Keep in mind, it is an island and a majority of their items are imported.
Next stop was Gullfoss. Gullfoss is a waterfall located in the canyon of the Hvítá river in southwest Iceland. The Hvítá (White) river is fed by Iceland´s second biggest glacier, the Langjökull. This amazing site is a true testament to Mother Nature’s power and beauty. The glacial waters have this gorgeous blue tint denoting their source of purity.
A short back track down the road and we were at Geysir and Strokkur, fountain geysers located on a geothermal field believed to have a surface area of approximately 3 km². Most of the springs are aligned along a 100 m wide strip of land running in the same direction as the tectonic lines in the area, from south to southwest. There are bubbling mud pits in the area of sulfurous fog, transporting you to another landscape. Geysir only erupts when Mt. Hekla has a volcanic eruption. Luckily, Strokkur erupts every 6-10 minutes so you’re able to take photos of boiling water being spouted into the air, sometimes at over 70 meters.
On our way back to Reykjavik, we visited Kerid Crater Lake. A popular stop on the tourist route known as the Golden Circle, Kerið is located in the Grímsnes area in south Iceland. One of my cohorts and I got into a discussion of how the lake came to be. I’ll spare you from the banter and let you know that I’m not always clueless. According to SCIENCE!, it is believed that Kerid was originally a cone volcano that erupted and and emptied its magma reserve. Once the magma was depleted, the weight of the cone collapsed into an empty magma chamber, later to be filled with water. (Side bar: Hey, C.R., it was an implosion!!!)
Fin, Day 1.
Much love and Aloha,
your expert on implosions the clueless wanderer