Does anything ever go exactly as planned? Of course not! And rightly so. What's an adventure without a few hiccups?
I read of a saga about the Berserkers of Iceland. These were warriors who fought in a nearly uncontrollable trance-like fury and underdressed for battle. They were known for wearing only bearskin pelts. Hardly enough protection in my opinion. They gave rise to the word berserk (erupt in a furious rage). I'm pretty sure we experienced this once or twice during our trip due to situations out of our control. Best laid plans and such.
It's now something that also made this trip even more memorable.
I want to share our 9 night, 10 day itinerary through Iceland, traveling along the Ring Road as a sample of what your trip can be like.
I searched for the perfect itinerary to follow and found that there isn't one. You have to make it yourself.
Here is what our route looked like.
Nights spent in:
1. Reykjavik, West
2. Vik, South Iceland
3. Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, South East Iceland
4. Seydisfjordur, East Iceland
5. Myvatn, North East Iceland
6. Akureyri, North Iceland
7 & 8. Snafellsnes, West Iceland
9. Reyjkavik, West
We were exceptionally disappointed and honestly a bit berserker when our luggage didn't show up to Iceland with us. We stood there looking at the carousel long after the last person on our flight left, willing the bags to appear. We had just left San Diego during a heat wave to arrive into Iceland during a blizzard and all our warm clothing except for the boots on our feet were in those bags. No!!!!!!! This isn't happening!!!!! Then we were told there wouldn't be another flight in until the next day so HOPEFULLY, they would arrive then. We had planned on leaving very early the next morning and driving the Golden Circle and had no less than half a dozen other stops in the south planned. If we were getting our luggage it wasn't going to be until at least 10 am. This was going be our busiest day and my carefully researched plans were already breaking apart. So after stomping my feet and pouting, we headed to the duty-free to buy alcohol. That usually helps my attitude.
If you plan on drinking at all in Iceland, make sure you stock up on everything you may need here because the price for booze in stores and restaurants will make your head spin. I noticed we weren't the only ones stocking up on beer, wine, and vodka. Everyone else seemed to be rolling their carts, piled high with libations and snacks, from the duty-free out to their rental cars.
You will be able to purchase alcohol in bars and restaurants but not in supermarkets. Not to worry. If you miss the duty free store just head to the many Vinbudin around the country. They are the state-owned alcohol shops. You can find everything you might want there but they do have limited hours.
There is also no need to continually purchase bottled water for your road trip. We each bought a liter bottle of water and just refilled it straight from the tap. Iceland's tap water is completely safe and I can honestly say that it tastes significantly better than any bottled water I've had at home. You may smell a slight sulfur smell sometimes, but trust me, you won't taste it.
We rented a Chevrolet Captiva from Sixt. I wanted a big comfortable 4x4 because I knew this is where we would be spending the majority of our time over the next week.
I'd also advise you to get the maximum insurance while in Iceland. I don't normally get additional insurance but getting the gravel, ash and sand insurance seemed like a good idea. We experienced some amazing weather while driving and we're glad we had it.
The Lagoon is an obvious stop regardless of its touristy stigma. It's a 20-minute drive from the airport on your way into (or out of) Reykjavik. It's a great way to start your adventures after a long flight and it's on many lists of places to see before you die. My goal was to have a cocktail at one of the worlds most unique bars. There's a swim-up bar here that you swipe a bracelet you're required to wear that's linked to your credit card. Brilliant!
You can pre-order your tickets online so you don't have to queue up with the group that just got off the tour bus 30 seconds before you pulled into the parking lot.
Reykjavik is an easy walking town and many of the popular attractions can be seen within a couple of hours.
It was snowing outside and the wind was blowing so hard that you could hardly walk without being blown over and we had no warm clothes.
Our day was supposed to be driving the Golden Circle and down south into Vik for the night.
We couldn't sit in the hotel and mope so off to buy new clothes we went.
66 Degrees North is Iceland's answer to North Face.
These are now the nicest warm weather clothes we own.
After this expensive unexpected purchase, we packed up the car later than anticipated and headed out on our first day's adventures.
Fuel was around 211 ISK per liter, $1.52 (about 4 liters per gallon makes $6 a gallon!) So set some $$ aside for fuel costs.
We decided to drive the Ring Road counterclockwise because after diving over 950 miles I knew we'd want to be able to spend 2 nights in a very beautiful remote spot and relax at the end of the trip.
The ring road itself is 820 miles long and you can plan on adding many more miles with all the side trips.
When we got to the parking area, we experienced the most incredible wind. It felt like our clothes would be ripped from our bodies. We had to shield our eyes from the stinging rain and lean into the wind and concentrate on not being pushed over. It was remarkable!!!
Not nearly enough clothes! Really needing our luggage to show up!!!!!