Planning a Trip to Iceland in October

Iceland in October

We got to spend two nights in Reyk­javik, Ice­land in Octo­ber last year on our way back from Scot­land. All the time I was there, I was wish­ing I had been some­where out­side the city, sur­round­ed by the out-of-this-world nat­u­ral land­scape that Ice­land is famous for. Noth­ing again­st Reyk­javik, mind you. It’s actu­al­ly one of my favourite cities in the world, if not THE most favourite. I just like nature more. I tried to talk the hus­band into rent­ing a car for a day but he was set on spend­ing the whole stopover in Reyk­javik. Oh well. Can’t say I didn’t try.

We have done a road trip around Ice­land before in May 2013. It was the best trip ever, and the best two weeks I’ve ever spent trav­el­ling. We’d been dream­ing of doing anoth­er Ice­land road trip ever since we got back from that trip. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, in the years that fol­lowed, the Cana­di­an dol­lar only got con­sid­er­ably weak­er and the Ice­landic kro­na stronger. We’d had accept­ed the fact that we would have to save up for a lit­tle bit longer to be able to afford anoth­er trip around Ice­land.
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Reykjavik: A Lovely Autumn Day in October

Reykjavik in October

We took advan­tage of Icelandair’s free Ice­land stopover pro­gram­me and had a love­ly two-night stay in Reyk­javik in Octo­ber on our way back to Canada from our two-week road trip around Scot­land. We arrived on the same day Hur­ri­cane Nicole arrived in Ice­land! It made for an inter­est­ing flight with two abort­ed land­ings before we final­ly touched down safe­ly on the tar­mac of the Keflavik air­port.

After we got all our lug­gage back, which took forever due to the bad weath­er, we hopped on a shut­tle bus for the 45 min­ute dri­ve to the heart of Reyk­javik. There are two com­pa­nies that run shut­tle busses from the air­port to Reyk­javik and vice ver­sa, but we’ve always gone with Gray­line because they charged slight­ly less than the oth­er com­pa­ny. We’ve been quite pleased with their ser­vice so far.
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Planning a Trip to Iceland in April

Iceland in April

We’re cur­rent­ly plan­ning anoth­er trip to Ice­land in April. Plan­ning a trip to Ice­land or any­where is so much eas­ier when you’ve been there before. I remem­ber feel­ing quite over­whelmed when I was plan­ning our first trip in 2013. So much to see, so lit­tle time! (Two weeks is bare­ly enough time to see every­thing Ice­land has to offer, unfor­tu­nate­ly.) Though not being able to afford to rent a 4x4 vehi­cle did help lim­it our options a lit­tle bit. 

Plan­ning for this year’s trip in April is a lot eas­ier because we already know what to expect and we know what we want to see and where, how to get there and so on. Well, at least we kind of know what to expect. We’ve nev­er been to Ice­land in April before and googling “Ice­land in April” didn’t real­ly yield in any­thing that sat­is­fied my curios­i­ty (I tend to trust inde­pen­dent reviews from oth­er trav­ellers more, but here’s a sum­ma­ry from a hotel chain), or that basi­cal­ly said “go to Ice­land in April, it’s the best time ever!” which is what I’d real­ly like to hear. ;-)
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How to Circumnavigate Iceland Without Getting Terribly Lost

If you’ve been fol­low­ing some Ice­landic news sources this week, you would’ve read the news about an Amer­i­can tourist who, while dri­ving from the air­port to his hotel in down­town Reyk­javik on his first vis­it to Ice­land, got so ter­ri­bly lost and some­how end­ed up in a sleepy, north­ern Ice­land town of Siglufjörður, at least 5 hour dri­ve away from Reyk­javik. In his defense, he was tired after a red-eye flight and he just went where the car GPS unit told him to go, in addi­tion to the hotel not spelling the street name cor­rect­ly in the address. But still, had he used a lit­tle more com­mon sense, I don’t think he would have end­ed that far off course from his orig­i­nal des­ti­na­tion. He should’ve at the very least known that Reyk­javik was where he need­ed to go and that it was only less than an hour dri­ve away from the Keflavik air­port. He’s become some sort of a celebri­ty because of this mishap. Fan­cy that!

I found the roads in Ice­land to be pret­ty well-marked. We man­aged to nav­i­gate our­selves around Ice­land (even took some detours away from the ring road) with­out get­ting ter­ri­bly lost, and all we had with us was a copy of a good, old-fash­ioned, paper map of Ice­land, which we didn’t even use that much. Grant­ed, we also had an access to Google Maps on my tablet but we only ever used it to nav­i­gate our way around Akureyri and Reyk­javik, two of Ice­land big­ger cities, which our paper map didn’t cov­er very well. So, here are some tips I could give you in order to not get lost dur­ing your Ice­land road trip:
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West Iceland’s Hvalfjörđur: Worth A Detour

I’ve been think­ing about our lit­tle detour around West Iceland’s Hvalfjörđur (Whale fjord) a lot late­ly. I don’t know why. It could be that I’m just miss­ing Ice­land in gen­er­al and the dri­ve around Hvalfjörđur was the last item in our itin­er­ary before we head­ed down to Reyk­javik to spend the last two nights of our two week road trip around Ice­land, so it was one of my last mem­o­ries of Ice­land. But it could also be because it was sur­pris­ing­ly beau­ti­ful. Like, breath­tak­ing­ly beau­ti­ful.

Hvalfjörđur used to be a busy route because it used to be the only way for peo­ple in Reyk­javik to get to the town of Bor­gar­nes, which is like the gate­way to the beau­ti­ful Snae­fell­snes Penin­su­la. How­ev­er, in the late 1990s, the tun­nel Hvalf­jarðargöng­in was opened for pub­lic. For a small fee, peo­ple are now able to bypass the 62 km detour around Hvalfjörđur by tak­ing the tun­nel. When we were there two years ago, the Hvalfjörđur route had very lit­tle traf­fic. Dri­ving around the fjord on a driz­zly and fog­gy day, I felt like we were the last two peo­ple on Earth!
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Iceland Road Conditions and Weather Information

So you have a road trip around Ice­land com­ing up but you’re not quite sure what the road con­di­tions and the weath­er will be like (the weath­er part will also deter­mine whether you need to pack your win­ter coat or not). The fol­low­ing web­sites are your friends and they will show you just what you need to know. We found them very use­ful dur­ing our vis­it.

Road Con­di­tions

For road con­di­tions, make sure you book­mark Veg­agerdin (Ice­landic Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion) web­site. This click­able road con­di­tion map is essen­tial. Don’t hit the road before con­sult­ing it first. If that’s not enough and you need to know what road con­di­tions are like in (almost) real-time, there are road web cams, ready for your perusal.
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The Game of Thrones Tour of North Iceland

We did the Game of Thrones tour by acci­dent. We didn’t realise that the places we were vis­it­ing were some of the spots where they filmed the episodes Beyond the Wall in the Sea­son 3 of Game of Thrones. Only found out about it once we were back from Ice­land.

There are a few tour com­pa­nies that offer the Game of Thrones guid­ed tour in North Ice­land for a fee, but if you wish to do a self-drive/self-guided tour, all you have to do is pick up a copy of the Lake Myvatn attrac­tions brochure from the vis­i­tor cen­tre or the front desk of your hotel and vis­it the major attrac­tions list­ed there. You’ll find your­self in most of the Game of Thrones Beyond the Wall film­ing loca­tions!
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8 Good Reasons to Visit Iceland in May

Iceland in May

If you’re con­sid­er­ing a road trip around Ice­land, please take me with you I’m going to try to per­suade you into doing it in May instead of any oth­er time. Why? Because I think May is the per­fect time to vis­it Ice­land! We had such a great time dri­ving around and expe­ri­enc­ing Ice­land in May and I’d like you to expe­ri­ence the same. :-)

Before we con­tin­ue, I should prob­a­bly let you know the kind of trav­ellers we are. We are bud­get trav­ellers for sure but we are not the back­pack­ing or even the camp­ing type. Our backs prefer not to car­ry any­thing heavy for pro­longed amount of time and we like to lay our backs on a soft, warm bed at the end of the day. We’re get­ting old! We also enjoy a good amount of pri­va­cy dur­ing our trav­els. That said, on with the list!
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Iceland’s Golden Circle

On our sec­ond day in Ice­land, our plan was to dri­ve the Gold­en Cir­cle route. After hav­ing our first Ice­landic break­fast at the farm we were stay­ing at, get­ting dri­ving rec­om­men­da­tion from our host, and check­ing out the waf­fle-eat­ing ducks and the hors­es, we hit the road.

Like most of the days we got to spend in Ice­land, it was wet and windy. It was also a lit­tle chilly, but we’re Cana­di­ans. Any­thing above zero degree is not worth com­plain­ing about. ;-) I think the aver­age tem­per­a­ture dur­ing our stay was around 6° Cel­sius.
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Horses of Iceland

Like any self-respect­ing vis­i­tors of Ice­land, I took a boat­load of pic­tures of the adorable Ice­landic hors­es while I was there. I read so much before our vis­it about how friend­ly the­se hors­es were and how they would come to you and prac­ti­cal­ly ask for a pet, so I wasn’t pre­pared for the harsh real­i­ty:

The num­ber of hors­es I saw: Too many to count.
The num­ber of hors­es who didn’t mind being pet by me: One.
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Iceland: My Recommendations, Part 1

It had been three months since our trip to Ice­land so I guess it’s about time that I write some­thing about it. I had been putting off writ­ing it down, part­ly because I didn’t think my words could do jus­tice to the expe­ri­ence, and part­ly because I hat­ed to admit that it was all over. I think my hus­band is tired of hear­ing me lament about how bad­ly I want to go back to Ice­land like I’ve been doing since the day we were back in Canada.

I don’t think I’ll be able to write every sin­gle detail of the trip, but I can sure­ly rec­om­mend a few things to those think­ing of vis­it­ing Ice­land in the future or research­ing for a trip there. I had a lot of fun read­ing a lot of blog posts about Ice­land while research­ing for our trip and I’m writ­ing this hop­ing that some­one out there will have as much fun as read­ing my posts. I’m going to write down my rec­om­men­da­tions in a few install­ments.
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Planning an Epic Road Trip Through Scotland

We had to can­cel our April trip to France and Ice­land due to a can­cer scare. After over a mon­th of wor­ry­ing like crazy, we found out it was just a benign tumor–thank good­ness! But I fig­ured, we should still go some­where to cel­e­brate the non-can­cer diag­no­sis and the husband’s mile­stone birth­day. So, as soon as I received the final diag­no­sis, I start­ed plan­ning anoth­er trip.

Our des­ti­na­tion short­list includ­ed Ice­land (again!), Wales, the Azores, and Scot­land. A trip to Ice­land end­ed up being too expen­sive for our lik­ing. Wales is too fussy. The Azores seem love­ly and is the cheap­est des­ti­na­tion of all, but in the end, I decid­ed to save it for anoth­er time. The thing is, after doing ton­nes of research, I found out that Scot­land is actu­al­ly less expen­sive than Iceland–at least in terms of accom­mo­da­tions and car rentals–and is just as stun­ning. Plus, the hus­band loves Scot­land. He went there 13 years ago and still couldn’t stop talk­ing about it. Scot­land it is then!
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The Wonders of Southwestern Saskatchewan

On the 10th anniver­sary of my first arrival in Canada last year, I made it to the only Cana­di­an province I had nev­er been before: Saskatchewan. When I told peo­ple that I was going to Saskatchewan, they usu­al­ly looked at me fun­ny and then asked why. I sim­ply said, because I’ve nev­er been, which is pret­ty much the main rea­son for all my trav­els, real­ly. I didn’t expect to fall in love with the province, but fall in love with it I did.

Most fel­low Cana­di­ans seem to think that Saskatchewan is flat and bor­ing with noth­ing to see, but I’ve found it to be quite the oppo­site. Now, I’ve only been to a small cor­ner of Saskatchewan, but if one small cor­ner could have that much to see, imag­ine how much the whole province has to offer! In the four days I spent in South­west­ern Saskatchewan, I saw so many amaz­ing scener­ies and so much wildlife unlike any­thing I had ever seen before.
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