My first “day” of my week-long vacation to Iceland in June is just flying there. I’ll arrive at the international airport at Keflavik at 8:30 AM local time (which is the same time as London’s).
I’ll take a bus into Reykjavik, which will drop me very close to my hostel. The rest of the real first day will be devoted to museums, the Saga Museum, Reykjavik 871 +/- 2, and the National Museum. Whichever I don’t get to on that first day, I plan to hit on the morning of my last day.
Day 2 will be a boat ride to go out and look at puffins. I can hardly wait! 😛 I had originally planned this trip for August, but then found out that the puffins would be leaving by then. Fortunately I was still within my 24-hour free flight cancellation period at Expedia when I made the discovery, so that I was able to re-book for June with no penalty. *Whew!*
I would have been a very unhappy camper if I went to Iceland and didn’t see puffins! 😦
American travel maestro Rick Steves says that when planning your itinerary, you should put first those things that interest you most. That way, if there is a problem and the sight is delayed or cancelled on an early day of your trip, you will have the flexibility to add it back on later while you are still traveling.
Puffins and Icelandic family sagas are what has propelled me to want to go to Iceland. So puffins are going to be seen right at the start of my stay in Reykjavik. Although I won’t be seeing the specific saga sites that I had hoped to, by driving myself around in a rental car, still I will be going “up west,” to saga country. It’s all good. 🙂
The puffin boat ride is very early in the morning. I planned it that way so that I could fit another destination in on the second day of my stay. I’ll be seeing the sites on the Golden Circle–Thingvellir, Geysir, and Gulfoss–and then relaxing in a warm steamy pond called the Secret Lagoon. Thingvellir is the site of the first Icelandic parliament, which began in 930 C.E. and was held in a natural outdoor amphitheater annually thereafter for many years. The modern Thingvellir is in the capital city, and I may see it, too. Geysir is, well, some geysers. 🙂
Gulfoss is an amazing waterfall.
My third day will be a long trip around the peninsula up west called Snaefellsnes. There we will be seeing volcanic mountains, a small glacier, more waterfalls, black sand beaches, and some charming fishing villages. The most iconic mountain and waterfall combination in Iceland is Kirkjufell:
I’m hoping that we might stop for lunch in the picturesque town of Stykkisholmur, because nearby is the mountain called Helgafell, which features significantly in my favorite saga, Laxdaela.
I would love to be able to walk to its top and have my 3 wishes granted.
One rather confusing thing about Iceland is that many places and natural features share the same name. For example, Helgafell. I didn’t realize that there was more than one mountain called that in Iceland until I did an image search! 😛 Now I know!
There are too many other interesting things on Snaefellsnes to list here. But I am hoping that we will stop at the black church in Budir:
The trip to and around the Snaefellsnes peninsula from my Reyjavik hostel will take at least twelve hours, from seven AM to seven PM. Of course, since it is light almost 24 hours every day there in June, there will be plenty of time to see Iceland’s amazing sights.
I am packing two eye-masks for sleeping, although I’ve never had trouble sleeping when it’s light outside. Better to be prepared. I should have been a Boy Scout!
Day Four is another one I’m really looking forward to: the Game of Thrones tour! We’ll be going to various locations that GoT has used in filming many of its scenes.
Day Five will be another long day, the South Coast tour. We’ll be stopping at many beaches along the way to Vik, before we return to the capital. For some great pictures of this tour, which I’ve now booked, see my post at Iceland’s South Coast by day trip.
My last real day in Iceland, Day Six, I plan to shop in the morning, if I still have any money. If not I will window shop. I’d really like to get a traditional lopapeysa, a sweater hand knitted from Icelandic sheep’s wool in distinctive traditional designs.
They are very expensive, though: around $300 for a real one. I doubt I’ll have that kind of money left by my last day in the most expensive country in Europe. But I won’t despair: I have found a couple of respectable sites online that sell them, and once my budget recovers from this trip, I can order my souvenir lopapeysa retroactively. LOL. (I laugh because I used to be a criminal defense attorney and retroactivity was a common issue in the appeals I did for prisoners.)
[UPDATE: the exchange rate of IKR to USD is really favorable right now, as of January 2019, so I’ve ordered a lopapeysa from Icewear, along with a knitted hat. Icewear has shops in Reykjavik and other towns in Iceland, and is now also online. See its online site at https://www.icewear.is/us/. My only caution is that if you want a traditional lopapeysa, which is knitted by hand from Icelandic wool, make sure that the description for the item that you’re looking at states that the item is “hand-knitted.” I can vouch for Icewear’s great online customer service!]
After a morning spent shopping, either spending money or just window-shopping, or else picking up a visit to a museum I missed earlier, I’ll be doing the most daring activity of my trip: an hour of horseback riding! I haven’t ridden since I was 12, and I didn’t even ride much then either.
But I want to be near those amazing small Icelandic horses and experience their smooth, fast walking gait, called tolt, for myself, because that is something that hasn’t changed since the Saga Age in Iceland.
I’m doing the riding experiment last of all, so that if my old arthritic joints get too sore from it, or if Heaven forbid, I fall off, I won’t miss any activities planned for later in my stay. I’ll just limp to the airport bus and huddle on the planes back to home in the USA!