Smooth&Savvey

ICELAND

Things You Need to Know About Iceland

Mornings

Iceland has the best sunrise I have ever seen. The way the sun glistens on the snow covered mountains with an array of colors spanning the entire rainbow. I could not wait for morning to come because each day the colors were a little different and a little brighter than the previous morning.

Iceland Pic 1

What to Wear
Traveling to Iceland the last week in March is an adventure because the weather is very unpredictable. It is sunny for 20 minutes, blizzard conditions the next 20 minutes, hailing the next 20 minutes, and then, back to the sunshine. If you travel to Iceland in the winter, carry a very warm and long gortex coat with a hood that has a Velcro attachment that can cover the majority of your face because the jet stream in Iceland produces horizontal winds so the sleet can be painful to the skin. Wear rain pants over your jeans because you do not want to experience wet, cold jeans in that climate. Take very warm waterproof boots with great traction with you. I had to purchase a pair of pure wool socks on one of my tours because my feet were cold in the boots that I chose to wear.

What to Eat
Iceland has the best beef and spring water I have ever tasted. Try the Icelandic brand of water. It tastes so pure and delicious. The beef tops any other beef I have eaten. It is better than Kobe, Argentine or Angus. The food was so delightful at my hotel I never ventured out to the local restaurants. While participating in the daily tours, I did each at other venues that were acceptable.

Currency
Reykjavik is the most expensive city in Europe. The country continues to use the Icelandic Krona (ISK). The money is a little complicated to convert so use the XE Universal Currency Converter for assistance at http://www.xe.com/ucc/. Icelandic hotels will exchange currency. Banks are located at the airport and in town. Business hours are 9:15 am - 4:00 pm, Monday – Friday.

Industry
Iceland is known for knitwear or wool. It is a course, heavy wool that is extremely warm. Other industries include fishing, farming and crafts.

Lodging
I stayed at the Radisson Blu Saga Hotel. The service, food and accommodations were excellent. There were other hotels in Reykjavik, but when I traveled there in 2003, the Radisson was one of the best and still is. Hotels can range from $49 to $162 per night.

Taking showers can get a little complicated. It was so difficult trying to turn on the shower in my hotel room I had to call the front desk for instructions because the water comes directly from a hot spring so you have to turn a certain number of knobs to have the water come out of the faucet. Maybe things have improved since my visit, but I thought I would give you a heads-up.

Iceland Pic 2

Transportation
Flights – Flights on average are listed as follows: Los Angeles (LAX) - $932, New York City (JFK) - $576, Baltimore (BWI) - $761
Transfers – The Flybus is located outside the Keflavik Airport and the Reykjavik Airport. It is a quick, inexpensive way to get to your hotel destination.

Points of Interest

Iceland Pic 3

Tours
Most tours can be booked with the hotel concierge.

Golden Circle Tour – This tour is a must-see. On one tour, you can see, the Pingviellis National Park which is Iceland’s most historic site, the Great Geyser, Gullfoss Falls, Hot Springs, Karid which is and extinct volcanic crater now filled with water, and Hveragerdi where the heat-energy for the “center of the earth” is harnessed to grow exotic plants, fruits and vegetables.

South Shore Adventure Tour – This is even more fabulous than the Golden Circle tour. I was able to walk to a glacier and touch it. I saw striking waterfalls, black sandy coastline with incredible rock formations in the water, and the village Vik surrounded with high bird cliffs.

Iceland Pic 4


Reykjavik City Tour – Take a city tour so you can get a sense of the surroundings. My favorite part of the tour was visiting the Lutheran Cathedral.

Blue Lagoon - Iceland is also known for the Blue Lagoon. It is a geothermal spa that totally relaxes the body. It’s located about 40 minutes outside of Reykjavik. Again, tours should be available at the hotel concierge.

Suggestions

Consider taking a day to Greenland to see the different territories and customs.

Consider paying for tours instead of renting a car. During the winter months, the weather conditions can deteriorate very quickly causing individuals to become disoriented. Leave the driving to a professional.

The Phalloligical Musuem or the Penis Museum in Husavik houses one penis specimen from all 276 Icelandic species. The museum is located in Reykjavik.

Iceland Pic 5

Other Tips

Iceland Pic 6

Electricity – 220 volts 50HzAC

Tipping – There is no tipping for Icelandic hotels or taxis.

Shopping – Supermarkets stay open later on Thursdays and Fridays.
Shops in main shopping areas are open 9:00 am - 6:00 pm, Monday – Friday and 10:00 am – 4:00 pm on Saturdays.
The Kingland Mall has everything you will need while you are visiting Reykjavik . The hours are 10:00 am – 6:30 pm, Monday – Thursday; 10:00 am – 7:00 pm, Friday; 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, Saturday and 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Sunday.

Main shopping areas include Adalstraeti, Austurstraeti, Hverfisgata, Bankastraeti, Laugavegur and Skolavordustigur. If you like flea market finds, the Kolaport Flea Market located next to the Reykjavik harbor is available.

Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis – The northern lights are very unpredictable and can only be seen on very cold, calm and clear nights around December. I found out that information while riding in a taxi in Iceland.

Religion – Lutheran is the national religion. Two percent of the population is Roman Catholic. Reykjavik has the only Roman Catholic cathedral.

Temperatures are in Fahrenheit. Due to the jet stream, Iceland does not get extremely cold.

SEASON
MONTH
HIGH AVERAGE
LOW AVERAGE
Winter
Dec.-Feb.
36 - 39
28-28
Spring
Mar. - May
39-50
32-29
Summer
June – Aug.
54-57
45-48
Fall
Sept. – Nov.
52-36
43-34

Before booking your flight and lodging, consider travel package deals to Iceland because the packages can be considerably less expensive. I traveled to Iceland with Club ABC tours at http://www.clubabc.com/. They were fantastic. My package included round trip airfare, transfers, the Golden Circle tour and lodging at a first class hotel with free breakfast each morning.
Consider staying in Iceland for about five or six days. That is all the time needed to get a sense of what Iceland has to offer.

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