We’re a spouse who enjoyed our superb spring in Iceland. The man is a professional photographer (www.williamsetiawan.com) and his wife is the one who brought you this blog. Our stories are purposed neither to be your guide book nor to be another too dense information source. We simply want to make sure you well informed and do not fall into the same pit shall you decided to travel to Iceland.
We felt the advantage of browsing about Iceland and creating an itinerary beforehand. However, it’s also possible to shape your journey spontaneously there. Information center offices are available during office hours in most big cities with complete guidebook, map, and friendly staff. In the middle of the road, there are a lot of stoppage points with information board about nearby objects, cities, or villages
Frankly speaking, it’s a pleasure to visit an information center to get regional detailed map, asking local advices, souvenir shopping (So tourist. I know, but I cannot help to resist a chance for shopping). In this era, free-WIFI for a while. Don’t worry shopaholic, in another post I will elaborate more about places to buy souvenirs 😉
Guided by our rough itinerary, we had estimated check points in our road trip marathon every day. Having milestones is extremely important shall you plan to circle around Iceland on limited days.
The rest is just a matter of time management strategy to conquer the time. Despite wishing we had all the time in the world, we were shortening our visit time in the next point if we spent a longer time at one point. No guilty feeling when we cheated our itinerary. Quoting a wisdom man, travelers see what they see and tourists see what they have come to see!
I hope you can excuse our choice for going late to bed to experience Icelandic midnight sun and consume a long time to neat up our tent (and ourselves, of course) in the morning. We initially planned to wake up on 6-7am and arrived in the campsite on 22pm in our itinerary. As perfect as it sounds, fact is we woke up on 8am and touched down campsite at least 12 o’clock at night. That’s unpredictable, way beyond our itinerary. Anyhow, since each journey is different, let me know yours afterwards!
Day 1: Arrival in Iceland – Exploration of South Iceland
Our first experience using WOW Air was not so good. We informed about the delay of the flight on our way to Amsterdam Schiphol airport, leaving us to walk around in the airport for hours. Due to 2.5 hours delay, we arrived in Keflavik Airport around 16:30. Too bad we lost few hours to explore Iceland!
Firstly, we cashed some Icelandic Krona (ISK) from an ATM machine in the Keflavik Airport arrival hall with considerable and also stable currency (€ 1 is 145 ISK). We found out that it was a better exchange rate than in the Netherlands.
It’s wise to compare ISK exchange rate in Iceland with your national bank. A lot of places in Iceland accepting card and credit card actually, so no worries.
Since we reached villages and entered campsite in the middle of the night, paying cash really was the best option for us. Small change is essential, since you have to insert coins to use most of the camping showers. Usually, 100 ISK coin will drain (thankfully) hot water for 2 – 3 minutes
Our second stop was Geysir, a rental car agency, to pick up our city car. Located within five minutes walking from Keflavik Airport, spotting Geysir office was quite easy. You need to go to departure hall, across the airport parking lot, and continue walk towards building complex where rental car offices are present together. We booked a Hyundai i20 but we got a Renault Clio, which was not a problem for us. Plus, its white colour made my judgment biased.
With a full tank, off we went to find supermarket. We stopped at Bonus supermarket in Hveragerði, a city before Selfoss and still in ring road 1, just before this supermarket closed at 19:30. Grabbing our basic needs, we hit the road again towards Seljavallalaug. Well, it may be boring to say: always be prepared. Better stock up your needs and fill up your gas tank, in case you don’t pass any big cities in further days. Gas station shop sometimes quite pricey.
Built in 1923, nestled in the valley, and hidden behind basalt rocks without any signage, Seljavallalaug outdoor natural thermal pool was not easy to find.
How to get to Seljavallalaug? Just park your car in front of newer thermal pool called Seljavellir, walk around 20 minutes towards the valley, cross a small stream, and then continue to walk until you see pipes and mists. Lucky us, we had heaven-sent dog lead our way to this amazing pool that day. When we saw the pool bustling mists in the air, we pat his head, “great job, doggy!”
It was already 22:00 when we reached Seljavallalaug. We’re cold – with outside temperature 5oC – and deeply longing to soak in this hot pool after a delayed flight. Ignoring my cold feet in changing room, quickly I dipped into an approximately 35oC natural geothermal water. My joints and muscles were relaxed while I was just laying around picturing the stunning view around the pool with my eyes. Lucky you, I’m going with my man who was born to capture moments. Here are some sneak peeks to invite you to Seljavallalaug.
That was how we spent our first sunset in Iceland. We got back to our car exactly on witching hour. Without any doubt, we directly ran to campsite near Seljalandfoss. Too tired to enjoy anything else, we built our first tent in Iceland in accompany of showers. Voila, the tent is ready.
I need to be honest; I didn’t sleep well that night because I was shivering under showers, plus bothered by noisy teenagers in the other side of the camp site. Want to know whether we had better day afterwards? Just wait for my next posts describing each day in Iceland. In the end, the time will see…