Wednesday, September 27, 2017

World tour: Iceland

After our last minute pivot to Boston, we left for our first destination abroad: Iceland.  When scheduling flights from the US to Europe, Icelandair had some of the least expensive flights.  They also let us stopover in Iceland for up to 7 days for the same cost as flying directly to Europe.  Since we wanted to see Iceland anyway, the stopover worked great.  They turned out to be a really comfortable airline too; more pleasant than others I've tried.

We rented a small house on the south coast near Strandarkirkja.  It's about an hour's drive south of Reykjavik (which we didn't visit).  We loved the rural feel in this area.  The closest town was about 15 minutes away.  There were only about 5-10 houses near us.  Everything else was open fields, lava rocks, ocean and the occasional rainbow:

During the five days we were here, the sun shined for about 12 hours total.  It rained the rest of the time.  I thought that was pretty good weather for autumn in the north Atlantic. The kids enjoyed walking along the rocky beach near the house on one sunny day.  The water was too cold for swimming, but they enjoyed throwing rocks and watching sea critters:

When we travel, we try to live like the locals and to avoid the most popular destinations for foreign visitors.  So instead of eating at restaurants, we buy groceries at a local store and cook our meals at home.  Instead of visiting Blue Lagoon, we went to a small community pool in Hveragerði, etc.  A slow pace in small venues suits us well.  Anyway, as you can imagine, seven Americans wandering around a small town grocery store in Iceland draws plenty of attention.  Our meager attempts at Icelandic were laughable, but everyone we encountered spoke excellent English.  Iceland is roughly the same size and population as Wyoming and they speak their own language so very few goods are manufactured specifically for the Icelandic market. That meant that their grocery store is an amalgamation of items imported from UK, Norway, Sweden and Denmark with labels in the same assortment of languages.  It was fun to decipher all the languages.  We ate horse sausage with dinner one night and had Icelandic lamb another night.  We also enjoyed the name of local milk brand:

Iceland is a remarkably beautiful place.  It reminds me a lot of Wyoming: open, windy, treeless expanses in a harsh climate.  The barren landscape that we saw may not be for everyone, but we really liked it.  Other areas, like Hveragerði were gorgeous in a more traditional way:

Our only regret about Iceland is that the stopover prevented us from spending more time here.  We enjoyed the country so much that we think we'll stay in Iceland again on our way home in the spring.

After Iceland we had planned to stay in London for a few days before flying to Madrid.  However, three days before departing Iceland, Ryanair canceled our flight to Madrid so we had a quick, overnight turnaround in London instead (the only flight remaining).  We should be able to see London in the spring when we return to the UK.  We did enjoy seeing London at night as the plane landed:

Next stop: Spain


Mary Hendricks said...

You pics and comments about Iceland make me want to go there. Maybe I'll plan it for some future date.

Happy to hear you're all doing well.


JJ Hendricks said...

Only one international location in and you have changed plans several times already. Sounds like being flexible and rolling with the changes will be very important on a trip like this.

A buddy of mine goes to Europe once a year and always flies Iceland Air for the layover. It must be super effective marketing because everyone who has done it has great things to say about the country.