Tips for Travel in Iceland

Can you believe it has almost been a month since I’ve been home?! I can’t.

Anyway, while in Iceland I put this list together of tips for travel in Iceland. Of course, I know many of these things will be on other lists, this is just my own list that I wish I had while planning my trip, and things that I am oh so happy I did.

Firstly, I always start with this list I found online last year. It is my go-to list for packing no matter where I am. It gets adapted, but at least I know I’m not forgetting anything. Now here are my notes:

1. Outerwear is what most people will see while you’re out and about, so don’t overpack to be stylish. No one is going to see your cute top, anyway.

2. It’s windy in Iceland so leave your umbrella at home.

3. I brought a fleece jacket and a plastic raincoat. Since wind goes right through fleece, I usually had my raincoat on over the jacket. If you don’t want everyone to hear you crinkling as you walk down the street, just bring one wind/ rain-resistant jacket. Long (hip-length) black jackets with hoods were pretty popular with gals my age, which is a bummer because I have one and didn’t take it.

4. Unless you’re absolutely sure you’re going to a cocktail party, don’t bring fancy clothes. I brought a pair of slacks and a nice blouse, but didn’t even need them for church. Jeans were normal and I just wore a nice sweater. So dress clothes = Waste of Space.

5. You are going to go hiking. Bring hiking boots. The day Dan and I hiked to the top of the mountain I was wearing sneakers. And walking through snow drifts. I had brought dressy tall boots (and wore them twice)… I should have swapped them out for my hiking boots.

6. It’s arid like Colorado even though it rains a lot, so make sure you pack some good lotion and heavy chapstick like Blistex or EOS that you know will stay put and protect your lips from the wind.

7. Pack a reusable water bottle. I used my all of the time. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. And Icelandic water is amazingly clean. The toilet water is probably cleaner than most filtered water in America. Just saying.

8. With that said, drink tons of water. See #6 for a really good reason why.

9. Bring a comfortable eye-mask if you’re coming in the summer. I didn’t bring one so I only lasted for three days before I started using my headband around my eyes. Which I really liked. It was a soft cotton tube band that was super wide, and it stayed put really well.

10. The food isn’t really spicy. It was very comparable to the food I’m used to eating in America, so I didn’t have any issues whatsoever. Most meals had potatoes, lamb, beef, pork, or salad included. Yum! I love Icelandic food.

11. Make-up isn’t a big thing here unless you’re going to a party. Feel free to go au-natural. Throw on some lotion, drink tons of water, and enjoy the sea breeze. Your skin will love you.

12. Don’t forget your swimsuit. Big swimming culture here, get in the hot tub. I saw a few bikinis but black one-piece suits were most popular.

13. Yes, you have to shower naked in the locker room. Yes, you’re going to have ladies chatting with you while you’re showering naked, completely oblivious to the fact that you find it very awkward. Suck it up, Buttercup, when in Rome…

14. Food and gas are expensive in Iceland. Most food is imported, and I think all of the gas and diesel are, so that is why. And there is only one McDonalds in the country. Budget accordingly.

15. The roads can be horrific. If you plan on driving a ton, (around the Ring Road? I hope so!) I would upgrade to a vehicle that doesn’t sit low to the ground. Pothole protection, yeah?

16. Don’t even think about speeding. It’s such a safe country, I think the police have nothing better to do than make sure you’re not being reckless on the road. And they will fine you an arm and a leg and your first-born child if they catch you. I learned this from an American I met at a party. His first child will be named Bill.

17. Yes, they speak very good English. And a couple of other languages, too. Being monolingual is a sad American phenomena.

18. This one is for kicks and giggles: If you like yarn, I suggest this as your main souvenir. I freaked out when I saw how cheap pure Icelandic wool was. So that was what I bought. =)

And there you have it! My personal tips and tricks for Iceland. I hope you like them! If you have any questions or any tips to add, please let me know in the comments!

Packing My Bags

So I leave Patro tomorrow after work. My bags are packed, and I’m ready to travel again. It will be a +5 hour drive to Reykjavik, stay overnight, then take the 45 minute bus ride to the airport in the morning. My flight leaves at 10am and arrives in New York two hours later. #TimeZonePerks

This is week is going to be very busy. I get home late Tuesday night, one of my girlfriends–I need to stop using that term, people think I’m a lesbian… and I’m not– is coming over while I unpack/pack on Wednesday, then Thursday morning one of my other… friends and I are going to Iowa. I assure you I will be sleeping the whole seven hour drive. We’ll be there until Sunday and I will finally be able to relax. This week has been very busy with work and going on adventures, so I will glad to just stay home and get some rest.

And after I get rested up, I want to SHOP and go to the MOVIES and get rid of this BREAD BELLY I’ve accumulated in the past three weeks. But most importantly, I want to spend time with my family and friends. I love traveling solo and being gone for long stints of time, but I do so get lonely. So it will be nice to be somewhere smothered in familiarity once again…

And in a few months I’ll be dying to get out in the unknown again.

See you on the other side of the pond…

Hitch Hikers and Waterfalls

A few days ago after work, Dan and I decided to go to a waterfall about 45 minutes away from Patro. As we were driving out of town there were two hitch hikers waiting by the road. Honestly, I squealed like a little kid. “Dan, can we get them, can we get them????” You see, in the States this is illegal. In the States, you can pick up a lunatic and get killed. Here in Iceland, however, it’s completely normal. I’ve wanted to pick up a hitch hiker for years now, but couldn’t or wouldn’t. Here was my opportunity!

We pulled over and, of course, it was two Americans whom I had just served breakfast to a couple hours prior in the hostel. They hopped into the car and away we went! Skyler and Christian were super cool guys from D.C., and it was great to chat with them until we dropped them off at the ferry. So there’s Bucketlist Item #4 down. And it was way more cool considering it was in Iceland.

Dan and I drove a while farther and got to the waterfall. It was gorgeous, we took pictures. We climbed to the top of the waterfall and found… more waterfalls. It was gorgeous, we took pictures. We climbed to the top of the waterfall and found… you get the picture. Long story short, we eventually stopped taking pictures while we climbed to the top of the mountain to try to find the source. Nope. By now we were down to our teeshirts and trekking through snow drifts, but it just kept going. We finally turned around, but I’ll never forget the time we chased the waterfall up a mountain.

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Camping with Jesus

Iceland Churches

A couple of blog posts ago I made an observation about the churches being one of the few buildings locked in Iceland. Well, I now know why. Alda told me this morning that there was a report on the news about a church in a small farming community which was left unlocked. When someone came to check on the building, they found someone (or someones) had been using the chapel as a camping spot, pitching their tent, using the christening font to wash dishes, and using their camping stove inside.

Apparently this is why locking the church building can be a very beneficial practice. I just hope they were using the camp stove to cook fish.