An Icelandic Quest – Top Icelandic Sights

Takk fyrir síðast – thanks for the last time I saw you. And welcome back to our latest rumination. This time on Iceland. Iceland the country not the food store. #obvs

Icelandic SceneYou know how it is – you’re thinking of a place or a holiday suggestion, and then before you know it, that country or idea appears in front of you all over the place? Well, it’s called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.

Call it karma, co-incidence or, more likely, the dubious miracle of digital advertising – it begs to be investigated.

And that fellow campers, is how this blog on Iceland started to be born.

Icelandic Itch

Our own Baader-Meinhof experience started a couple of years ago with an itch to investigate an Icelandic adventure in the campervan. Before we could say ‘Magnus Magnusson’ our neighbour announced she and a gaggle of scouts were going to be camping there. Wadda?!

Ok, now we need to get a bit more serious and do the research. If you’re thinking the same, there’s loads of information out there all over the web (of course), but this little blogette is about what we found.

So next year perhaps we’ll get to Iceland. But for now, sadly – well not that sadly – we’ll be getting lost in France on a super little site down near Bordeaux.

How are we going to get there?

If you’re opting for self-catering the most obvious means to get there is to fly. There’s lots of options out there, too many to list here really, so that bit of investigating I’ll leave to you.

Apropos of hiring a campervan when you get to Iceland, there seem to be several companies offering such a service, including Campervan Iceland  or Motorhome Iceland.

An average spend for two weeks July/August, for a 4-berth motorhome, runs from £2872.

Stephen Markley 'Tales of Iceland'At this point I feel we should offer up a cautionary note from Stephen Markley on driving around Iceland: “The problem with driving around Iceland is that you’re basically confronted by a new soul-enriching, breath-taking, life-affirming natural sight every five goddamn minutes. It’s totally exhausting.” From Tales of Iceland or “Running with the Huldufólk in the Permanent Daylight”

So factor in plenty of rest stops to prevent picturesque overwhelm.

Camping under Canvas

Alternatively, you can camp in Iceland. Indeed, I’ve no doubt you could BE camp in Iceland but that would be a different blog entirely.

Rent the equipment from Iceland Camping Equipment with a 4-man tent and you’re looking at it costing approximately €54 for 3days/2nights. They make it very easy to collect/drop off equipment and have excellent reviews. If two of you are going, and assuming you needed a tent, sleeping bag and mat each (you could always share), lantern, cooking equipment, table and chairs, heater, First aid kit, blankets and fridge, it would cost approximately €44.90 a day. For a two-week holiday – €629.

We wondered then, if we could get the campervan to Iceland? Ah ha! First hitch: the only ferry to Iceland sails from North Denmark. Our first port of call is the Harwich to Esjberg ferry. We did that several years ago. Good job too as it’s not sailed since 2014!

Map of route to IcelandOk plan B. Take the ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland and drive up through Germany, to Denmark. One ferry company operates a link from Hirtshals in Demark to Seydisfjordur in Iceland. A crossing of 48 hours. Again, prices for travelling out in July 2017 and returning in August 2017 (school holidays – we’re not the only ones) are prohibitive at £3463 for 3 of us. We could possibly BUY Iceland for that amount.

So, I think that puts paid to that idea, until retirement, a 4×4 campervan and the #bucket list kicks in.

Having got to Iceland, what can we expect?

We often think it’s more a case of what do we think we’re going to find? Volcanoes? Remember the unpronounceable Eyjafjallajokull? The volcano that erupted in 2010, and brought Northern Europe to a standstill. That’s one of approximately 200 volcanoes in the country.

How about elves and trolls and other aspects of Icelandic folklore? Do we look for the Hobbit? JRR Tolkein was inspired by the Icelandic landscape to create the Gates of Mordor – otherwise known as Hobbitat. Geddit?

With modern technology being what it is, and the world shrinking to your laptop, we began with YouTube. In the old days we began with a guide book from WH Smith but now we start with drones! Let’s take a look at a drone over Iceland.

Now, with a feel for Iceland, its population of approximately 300,000, it fulfils our expectation of sparse, wide open spaces, thermal pools and glaciers. Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik is the world’s most northerly being a mere 1,787 miles from the North Pole. Not far when you say it fast.

Iceland Scene by TPSDave

Iceland by tpsdave

What’s on the Itinerary?

I don’t know about you, but when we plan a holiday we collect rough ideas of what we’d like to see. Well, ok I do a planned itinerary, the other two play ’dodge the itinerary’.

Here’s the top sights/experiences we found on the WWW.  See what you think.

  1. Bathe in the Blue Lagoon – formed following the operation of the Svartsengii power plant, the lagoon (which is actually white/milky coloured water made blue by the sun’s reflection on the silica in the water) attracts locals and visitors alike. Geothermal seawater containing algae, silica and minerals, combined with the constant temperature of 37°C and 40°C, provide relaxation and restorative powers! The water is self-cleansing, renewing itself every 40 hours, so you won’t be sliding on somebody else’s sludge. Always a bonus we feel.

    Blue Lagoon Iceland

    Courtesy Blue Lagoon

  2. Be awestruck under the Northern Lights – is this another #obvs?
  3. Bathe like an Icelander in the hot tubs and swim baths in each town.
  4. Svið

    Svið

    Eat like an Icelander – When in Rome and all that! We want to try Harðfiskurthe fish-cheese dish, or Svið the singed boiled sheep’s head, perhaps just to say we ate it. Or finally – Kjötsúpa a meat soup.

  5. Golden Circle – this 300km route covers the most beautiful landmarks in the shortest time. It’s different to the Ring Road – that covers the whole country. The Golden Circle takes you from Reykjavik, to Kerid Crater Lake via Thingvellir National Park, Geysir (where our English word Geyser comes from) and Gullfoss Waterfall.
  6. Stare at the Seljarlandsfoss waterfall – at 65metres high this waterfall appears on many sites as a must do. Walking behind the waterfall to catch a rainbow.
  7. fossatun iceland troll

    Troll at Fossatun

    Discover the folklore: Trolls, elves, ghosts and hidden people – the thought of catching a rainbow behind a waterfall, put me in mind of my native Leprechaun! The Icelanders version is trolls and elves. Apparently many believe they exist, and why not? So troll hunting would be on our list, starting with a visit to Fossatún in West Iceland, a Troll’s Park.

  8. Visit Víkingaheimar the Viking Museum – we’re a family of Viking enthusiasts. Well someone has to be! A visit here adds to our collection, having seen the Viking Museum in Roskilde Denmark, and traipsed after them in York!

    Removing Rye Bread from Earth

    Courtesy of Fontana.IS

  9. Get Geothermal baking – try your hand at baking bread in the earth. This wasn’t originally on any bucket list but think we’ll add it on. Using the ‘hot black sand’ to bake actual bread, we found this Icelandic version of the GBBO available at Fontana Hot Springs.
  10. See Icelandic horsesthese equine lovelies are unique to the island and are so protected that Iceland doesn’t allow the import of horses for fear they will contaminate the pedigree.
  11. Be reckless in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital. The world’s most northerly capital being ‘only’ 1,787 miles from the North Pole.

Bucket List??

There you have it, our little bit of planning for a bucket list trip to Iceland. We will get there one day, and campervan it around this wondrous island.

If you’re fortunate to have been, let us know and tell us what you think we should visit.

Until next time….. Skál to you and yours!!

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