Saturday, April 20, 2013

Return To Reykjavik

I saw Iceland as the near perfect country.  Vast, rough, educated, large enough, strong values, stronger people, environmentally ahead of almost any place I've ever been to or heard of, refined and "wealthy", even with the downturn.

It is nice to be in a place where I didn't have to worry about people eyeing what I owned.  A place where I didn't feel like I had to dress down to fit in.  If anything, I could have dressed up more.  Cost of living is still high.  Food, clothing are still pricey.  In line with other Scandinavian countries. 

The first thing that struck me upon my return to Reykjavik was the increased traffic.  It is a 45 min ride from Keflavik airport to the city and I did not remember so many cars last time around (more people moving to the city for work?). 

The types of vehicles have shifted away from luxury German SUVs to Japanese (Toyota and Subaru, and not new ones).  The sprinkling of luxury vehicles this time around leaned towards Range Rovers and Cayenne Turbos. Things have changed. 

The second thing that struck me was how developed tourism was compared to 3 years ago.  When Icelanders take on something, they Do It.  The tourist infrastructure is impressive and so has been their recovery.  They've managed it without bailing out their banks, something they're very proud of.  The majority of the population no longer wish to join the EU. 

Icelanders are so fiercely proud of their country, it made me feel ashamed I was not more proud of mine.  And there was no time to wallow in the "economic crisis".  They are so very present and focused, being there was like getting a shot of adrenaline.  However, I was dismayed to find out they will be "getting rid" of a waterfall by damming it to create power for a new aluminum plant.  Our Superjeep guide felt it was poor business.

The airport itself is undergoing renovations to handle the greater visitor loads.  Visitor numbers are expected to be double their population (700+K) in another year.  For example on our departure, they had 2 major transatlantic flights (Toronto and Boston) boarding within 5 min of each other from this small departure hall.  That's at least 500 people trying to line up.  You can imagine the chaos.  They need to restructure the logistics. 

One cool thing you can do on Icelandair flights is use your "Saga Miles" to pay for anything available on the plane from food to duty free.  You will need your membership card, not just the number.  A great way to use your miles.  The card itself will cost $4 if you need a replacement one like I did.

 This video may make you dizzy.
(should a picture appear beside the video, I see it too but
wasn't able to make it go away)
We couldn't leave the country without
seeing some of these fellas.
And I couldn't miss attending this concert.
Until next time,
one last look from above.
 Urridafoss Waterfall, before it disappears.



  1. Good evening MW (and D) I've been away for some time taking a break from reading blogs, accessing the Internet, avoiding Trump news etc and living more day to day in the present and greatly enjoying retirement life.

    DW and I have a number of travel plans shaping up this year including a possible layover in Iceland on our way back from Europe (one of several trips planned). I remember reading and viewing comments and photos about your experience there and how much you enjoyed it. Curious to your thoughts, suggestions, recommendations (if you have the time and/or inclination) should we follow through on our plan. Note, we are looking at arriving on a Monday and departing on a Friday of the same week so not a lot of time - I figure 3 1/2 days to explore. Timing would be the last week of June. Looking at staying in Air Bnb's and renting a vehicle. BTW: Couldn't find a way to pm you so added this as a comment to a prior post... hope you don't mind. With thanks...

    1. Hello!!!

      First of all, Congratulations on your successful transition to retirement! I'm excited for you and all the plans (care to share?) you have in store.

      Regarding Iceland, with a short stay, I'd probably based myself in Reykjavik (Access to supermarkets, easy to walk around, compact city) and drive from there.

      With a car, you could easily duplicate a number of day tours, at a fraction of the cost, blue lagoon, south to Vik, into the Golden Circle and up to the Northwest to Snaefellsnes.

      Here's a link to a popular company that has good descriptions and with a map, you could easily do it all too:

      Should you be interested in hiking, at the end of June, access to Thorsmork and Landmannalauger should be open. Gorgeous places (google for pictures) but definitely check to see if the roads allow regular cars -- The roads will have clear warning signage.

      If not, you should not consider entering, as the terrain can kill tires and wouldn't be surprised if there is a stiff fine as well. The last time I was in Thorsmork, we went by superjeep -- Worth every penny.

      And for currency, there is a branch of Landsbankinn right at the airport. And they will even take all the change back when you are ready to leave.

      Also saw a lot of people buy the max allowable liquor on arrival as well, as the prices are higher in the city.

      Am heading out on a short 4 night quickie trip myself shortly, so won't be able to reply until I return. Happy planning!

    2. ps. Here's our current favourite video of Iceland: