Thursday, June 2, 2011

Iceland Overview

I never really described how we toured Iceland yesterday, so here is sort of a general overview of where we went and how we got there.  We booked this trip through Nordic Visitor, a travel agency that specializes in Scandinavian tours.  Like I said yesterday, I am so glad we booked our trip through a travel agency.  Not only did we save a TON of money on accommodations (we found out how much some of the hotels we stayed at would have cost if we hadn't booked a package through Nordic Visitor), they were very helpful in rebooking things when the volcano erupted and reversed our itinerary.  The package also came with a borrowed cell phone which we used a few times to check in with our travel agent and check accommodations, etc.  It was also great to get picked up at the airport rather than having to figure out how to make it to our hotel on our own in a brand new country when we were operating on no sleep!

The hotel they booked us into in Reykjavik, the capital city, was right next door to the Nordic Visitor office and also right on the main shopping street in the city, so easy walking distance from any of the touristy things we wanted to check out there.

After our first night, we were picked up by our car rental agent at the hotel to get our rental car, which we used for the next 9 days to drive around the entire island.  There were no tours pre-booked for us or anything, all we had to do was get to our hotel the next night and we could vacation at our own speed.  Some days we vacationed as hard as we could and some days we packed it in at 5 pm and relaxed in our hotel playing Mahjong and Solitaire on our hand-held devices :)

Breakfast was included in all of our accommodations as well because of booking with Nordic Visitor (which we found out probably saved us about 30 bucks Canadian a day considering what the hotels charged).  From also having been to Norway briefly in the past, I was expecting and looking forward to the breakfast typical in lots of Europe and especially Scandinavia - cold cuts, cheese, crusty bread, hard boiled eggs, vegetables, and fruit.  Brahm took a picture of one of our typical breakfasts at a hotel that also served AMAZING pastries, oh man, I miss those pastries.

When I first had to eat breakfasts like these in Norway I thought it was a little weird, but when you think about it, what better way to start your day than with a sandwich??  I'll have a sandwich for breakfast any day over a bowl of cereal.

Our trip was 10 days, 9 nights, and we pretty much stayed on the Ring Road #1 highway that circles Iceland.  Here's a map showing where we went and where we stayed (numbers correspond to what night we stayed there).

 (The crossed out section means we didn't go up there, but followed the black line instead.)

It was just amazing how small the island really is, yet how different the landscape was from day to day.  The east coast and the west coast were completely different.  And the fact that it's a country of only 330,000 people, yet so rich in culture, maintaining its own currency and language and many many Icelandic store chains continued to fascinate us throughout the trip.  This entire country has a population of less than 100,000 more than the city of Saskatoon, yet it thrives as a culture.

I found out today that a work friend from a few years back was inspired to book an Iceland trip after hearing we had booked our trip.  I would absolutely recommend an Iceland vacation to anyone.  Our trip got a little pricey but there are definitely ways it could have been done to fit a really tight budget (bringing a cooler and eating grocery store food all the time would have been one easy way).  Not sure how we are going to top this vacation!


  1. Hi Robyn,

    We are going to book with Nordic Visitor for a trip next year. I just wondered if you booked one of their "set" trips or made up your own? What was the accommodation like and which category did you stay in? Finally, would you recommend beating the crowds by going in May, or did the snow or anything else outweigh any benefits?

    I've really enjoyed both yours and Brahm's blogs.

    Jennifer, UK

  2. Hi Jennifer,

    I'm glad you have enjoyed our blogs! We booked a "set" trip (the link right on this blog entry is the trip we did) but we had to turn it backwards because of the volcano. We stayed in the middle category (Comfort) and the accommodations were all very nice. The food was quite expensive at the hotel restaurants though but there isn't much you can do about that. I think going in May was a great time to go. The snow didn't hold us back much at all and we only had one really rainy day that prevented us from seeing the scenery along the road (but it stopped in time for us to see some cool places). Hope this was helpful and hope you have a great trip!