Travels in Iceland, anyone?

I’m going to England in a couple of months to visit a friend. I’ve been to England before, but never to Iceland, so I’m considering an itinerary that takes me to Iceland for a couple of days first, and then on to England. So…

Is this a good idea? Can one “do” Iceland in just two-three days?

(From Atlanta), is it practical to fly to Iceland and then to England?

What’s to do there? I’m pretty rugged and fit, so if any of the tourist “must-dos” involve hiking or climbing volcanoes, I’m up for them.

How expensive is it to visit?

Would I need a visa (the diplomatic permission, not the credit card, wiseasses)?

Thanks in advance for any useful responses.

I went to Iceland about two years ago. We visited the Westmann Island…a little town called Heimaey. Its former claim to fame was when a volcanic rift opened up and the lava almost covered the whole town and threatened to close off the harbor. They used high pressure hoses to douse the lava and saved their harbor.

You can take a tour of a volcano there. The ground is still steaming and feels warm on the surface. Below the surface, it’s hot!

Here’s a link:

http://www.ncpnet.force9.co.uk/Iceland/

Now, it’s best known as the place where they brought Keiko (Free Willy) the orca.

We also walked all around Rejkyavik. Neat place. We took a trip to the Blue Lagoon. (Geothermally heated swimming pool–think: yummy sulfur dioxide aroma)

Much of Iceland looks like the surface of the moon: barren, broken rock…especially on the drive in from Keflavik airport to Rejkyavik.

The Viking village replicas were pretty cool.

No visa needed if you’re a US citizen with a valid passport.

There are lots of other things to do and see: the original Geyser (where the name originated), glaciers, horseback riding, hiking, plenty of waterfalls, salmon fishing.

The Icelanders were pretty nice. A bit reserved, but nice.

Just for fun, look at the names in the phone book. They use the system where, if Lars Magnusson has a son named Eric, then the son’s name is Eric Larsson.

Three days, maybe…depends on how much you want to see and do.

I definately recommend Iceland! Try to fly via ICELANDAIR-they have an excellent 3 day package. There is lots to see-if you have time, do go to the Blue lagoon-the girls are very pretty. One caution-bring your own booze-alcohol in Iceland is VERY expensive!

Funny, that’s what I hate about Iceland :wink:

I lived in Iceland for years, in fact I was born in Reykjavik and grew up there for the most part.

I can recommend the Blue Lagoon, especially because it has recently been renovated and made to look really amazing, the water is nice too.

Apart from that I wasn’t really taken with the place, it’s cold and desolate and the people are generally small minded. But then I think 15 years was maybe just way too much, a couple of days should be just fine :slight_smile:
My only concern would be money, check out how much things really cost! It’s totally outrageous in some respects.

Most of my friends love going to Iceland, especially the nature buffs, and I am always told I am weird for hating it. So don’t let me discourage you. If you need any more detailed information or anything, just mail me at g-hrafn@visir.is and I’ll help you out the best I can (see, I even have a remote e-mail adress based back “home” ;)).

If I were to try to fill this thread with everything I have to say about Iceland it would take forever and probably not interest anyone apart from us, so don’t be shy with the e-mail :slight_smile:

  • G. Hrafn

Oh, yeah. Two more things…

  1. You can get some great sweaters there.

  2. The have some kind of national drink. I think it’s distilled from puffin entrails and old tires. Don’t try it.

They eat horses, don’t they?

I did the Icelandair 3-day thing, too. And it was well worth it! Try to do as many one-day tours leaving from Reykjavík as possible, you’ll be surprised at how fast you’ll be in the middle of the unique Icelandic landscape. You’ll have to try to ignore all the other tourists, but you’ll be able to get in more in the short amount of time. The capital itself is a bit sleepy and expensive, but pleasant nonetheless.

Actually, we’ve been planning to go back for longer ever since, but haven’t managed it yet.

Okay… few things…

I loved walking on the one of the glaciers… it was the coolest thing i have ever done… Hated the dried fish… i think the cal it ‘ysa’ … was refreshing to see how friendly and safe…truly safe an entire country can be… there is really no crime… except maybe the 15-yr old joyriding … Don’t be surprised to be smelling fish all the time… i was there in the summer… so it was not too bad as far as cold… but i can tell you WINDY WINDY WINDY … so prepare
i thought it was the most beautiful place i have ever visited… go for it

I visited Iceland last year and nearly moved there to study at the university. Contrary to Morrison’s Lament, I find the Icelandic wasteland to be compellingly beautiful and the people to be warm, friendly, and extremely cool. If I had the cash and the vacation time, I would hop back on a moment’s notice.

egkelly is dead on about the booze, though. Taxes on alcohol are unimaginably high: you can spend at least twelve bucks on a cocktail. Good food is not cheap, but pretty much everthing else is. Go while the dollar is strong.

If you plan on traveling in the summer, do not miss a side trip to Thingvellr National Park. Just look at the pictures, as they speak for themselves.

Good luck, and enjoy!

MR

I haven’t been to Iceland (yet) but can add my .02 – if you can find it go rent Cold Fever. I haven’t seen it in quite a while, but it is a fantastic (and funny) journey across Iceland. Has anyone here seen it? Do those little girls really exist? KKKRRRRIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Any comments?
Rhythmdvl

  1. Hi Opal!

I just happen to like Brennivín. It means “bitter wine” in Icleandic, and also sells under the name Black Death. It’s a schnapps of sorts and most people drink it after they eat cured shark to kill the aftertaste. Personally, I like to mix it with cheap champagne or drink it by itself.

*side note: I own Cold Fever. It is a quite funny movie, albeit a bit strong on the accents there. The sweaters are warm, the people do still eat stuff like sheep heads, but mostly around Þórrablot time. I haven’t seen any of those little girls, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. That’s like saying your socks cease to exist after the sock monster in the dryer takes 'em.

I used to go to Iceland a lot in the summers and stay at summer homes and wander about Reykjavik when I was in the city. There’s a lot of nice things to go see, like the glaciers and waterfalls, etc. I haven’t been to the east coast, so don’t ask me what’s over there. I have absolutely no freaking clue. I miss visiting there, but well, I don’t have the money to spend going anymore. Also, the people can be a bit close minded, but part of it has to do with the fact that there’s so few of them and that it’s been that way for an extremely long time. If you’re a foreign guy/girl and a bit racially different and attract members of the opposite sex easily, you might get a few attempts at starting a fight from the jealous people. I mean, it happens in a lot of places, especially in areas where there’s a lot of people drinking in big groups. I’ve never encoutered it, but then again, I stick out and blend in at the same time in most places.

Thanks for all the feedback, people, both here and via email. This “Blue Lagoon” thing sounds like the one thing I should definitely schedule if I go.

If I go, it’ll be during the first week of May, like the 2nd-5th or something like that. How cold will it be around then?

Rysdad, I already knew most of what you wrote. Why? Because I’m a good Doper, and searched previous threads about Iceland before starting this new one, so I read your post from two years ago. Thanks for the recap, though.

Thanks for all the feedback, people, both here and via email. This “Blue Lagoon” thing sounds like the one thing I should definitely schedule if I go.

If I go, it’ll be during the first week of May, like the 2nd-5th or something like that. How cold will it be around then?

Rysdad, I already knew most of what you wrote. Why? Because I’m a good Doper, and searched previous threads about Iceland before starting this new one, so I read your post from two years ago. Thanks for the recap, though.

Well, I bet I didn’t tell ya about the fact that swinging from a rope along some cliffs is Iceland’s national sport (they actually told me that), and that, during a certain time of the year when the baby puffins hatch, townspeople collect the little birdies that get disoriented by the city lights and then set them free in the ocean.

Just to catch them the next year and eat 'em. Really.

But good job on that search, though. :slight_smile:

Thanks for fixing that faux pas.

An earlier thread on this subject:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=13730

There was an article in Details magazine a few months ago about Iceland. One of my old college buddies has been hounding me non-stop since he read to join him and about 5 other guys on an expedition there.

It seems the article, which I never got a chance to read, made it seem that there are women every where and “they screw first, ask for names later.” I think there was supposed to be some big party/festival mentioned too, but again, I don’t really know the details.

There are lots of misconceptions floating around here, mainly because we Icelanders like to get drunk and bullshit the foreigners a lot, THAT is our national sport. :smiley: The cliff thing is almost unheard of outside of a small island off the coast of Iceland, “The Westman Islands” as they call it. They are also mad about puffin, mostly they like eating them and taking their eggs, but they also help out the ones that they spare so they can have more puffin next year. It’s really a sight to see them jumping on birds with those big bags on the edge of some hair-raising cliff.

Brennivin is made from cumen and some other grains, and I don’t like it but I’ve met lots of hard types that claim to love it :wink:

That weird little girl in Cold Fever was supposed to represent our old mythology, it was some kind of “Huldu” person, or elven in other words. They have different rules of behavior than most elves and live in rocks, but that’s a whole other story. I personally don’t believe in them, but again there are many people that do, often older people.

Yes, Icelandic women seem to be more beautiful than most other nationalities. I don’t know why and since I don’t live there any more it sucks big time, 'cause I have different standards than everyone else. :frowning: Anyone who doubts this is true only has to walk in to a convenience store in Iceland to see what I’m talking about. Odds are there will be a TOTAL babe or two working there for minimum wage in a some stupid company sweater. We really should export more models :slight_smile:

The racism thing IS a problem, but it’s getting better. We were isolated for a long time and it’s a very homogenous society at the moment, but things are slowly changing.

Anyway, just wanted to clear that stuff up.

— G. Raven

Okay, I’m all set. I will be flying into Reykjavik on May 3rd and will be there through the 7th, then flying on to London.

So I’ll have three nights and ~four days on the Island At The Top Of The World. How cold will it be in early May?

Is the airport in the city or farther out? If out, are there shuttles into town? Are the hotels terribly expensive? Is there a hostel? I’ll research all of this elsewhere, of course, I’m just looking for the DopeTake on the matter.

Oh! Oh! How extensive are the Viking village replicas? Is there also a Viking museum?

How much Icelandic should I learn before I go? Iceland’s an EU nation, so I’m hoping most of them speak English.

Hey, if come across any souvenir mes, pick up one for me. I’ll repay you.

I think most Icelanders speak English. There’s an Icelandic waitress at one of the restaurants I frequent, and she said that Icelanders have to learn English in high school (as well as one or two other foreign languages).

When I was there most people spoke English, at least enough to order dinner, pick out a sweater, etc. Still, a few words wouldn’t hurt.

There was a youth hostel in Reykjavik (well, there was ~8 years ago) 8 bunks to a room, locker-room type showers down the hall, if you’re really looking to save money. Don’t know the name or exactly where it was.

The airport is in Keflavik, which is a bus ride outside Reykjavik.