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Old 19th July 2017, 14:22   #61
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Default Re: A Roadtrip in Iceland - 66°N

Thank you for penning down one of the best travelouges on T-BHP. Two questions:-

1) Is vegetarian food or more correctly eggitarian food easily available at restaurants or does one need to pre-pack and cater to it on one's own
2) If I don't drive around my self are there regular buses etc that can take me to the various points

Thanks in advance for your answers. - Narayan
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Old 19th July 2017, 15:07   #62
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Here goes my mini travelogue.

Prelude: We are budget travelers and generally find out the cheapest and most cost effective options while travelling. So this mini travelogue will give some insight on how to do the impossible “Iceland on a budget”.
We wanted to go to Iceland for quite some time but the insanely high ticket prices, the lack of proper transportation, expensive hotels kept us from going there. So even though Iceland was on the top of the bucket list, we ended up ticking NZ and Philippines waiting to be ready for Iceland.

Then came this thread from Kings_wit and coincidentally a Yatra.com offer for international flights at the same moment and we booked the tickets in a jiffy. Ticket prices were 42000 INR per person up down from Mumbai to Reykjavik! It could have been lesser as well if we had chosen Amsterdam as the layover spot for both onward and return, but we chose Paris while return which hit us by 5000-6000 INR extra per person.(Tip1)

Now we were looking for buses to travel through Iceland, after researching frantically for few days, we found out it’s impossible to do Iceland with just buses and that too on a budget. So we searched for a good car rental company for the cheapest and reliable car and we came across this www.orangecarrental.is/‎. They had super reviews and were having very competitive rates and we booked a Toyota Aygo for 7 Days with GPS at around 34K INR. It could have been 28K if we had not taken the GPS.(Tip2)

With transportation in place, the next in line was to book accommodation. Hotel prices are insane in Iceland. So booking.com was given a miss and off we went to AirBnb. We found a good deal at AirBNB in central Reykjavik for an independent accommodation (owner stays in Berlin). It was a small basement room in an apartment just behind Hallgrímskirkja. It came at around 27K for the 7 days with some discount for week long booking. So we booked it for the 7 days.(Tip3)

With all these done it was a long wait of 9 months. In between came the dreaded moments where there was a probability to go to Brazil for 7-8 months on a work assignment which led to a PlanB for a trip to Patagonia instead of Iceland but somehow my heart was not convinced and luckily that project got shelved.

Visa was done through the thieves called VFS global in Hyderabad. It was the worse experience I had in this whole trip. The visa application had to be addressed to Embassy of Denmark and we had to provide colour Xerox of every page of the passport. Being the thrifty people we are, we took colour copies of the first and last page and also the pages which were previously stamped and had visas. The blank pages were taken in black and white. They simply didn’t accept and we had to take colour Xerox of each and every page at Rs.30/page from them. The only difference between colour Xerox and b&w copies of blank pages were a blue margin! They added some SMS charges of 300 rupees w/o even asking. The attitude of these people were worse and they take ONLY cash. (Tip4)

So, with just two bags, one for clothes and one for food (cuppa noodles/ready to cook stuffs/cakes & biscuits etc) we set off. We reached Reykjavik at 3PM on 8th July but the bag with food didn’t make it. It turned out that IcelandAir keeps losing baggage and there was a long queue at the lost baggage counter of IcelandAir. We were given a form and given the assurance that if our bag is not traced within 24 hrs all food bills will be reimbursed by IcelandAir.(Tip5)

Day1, 8th July: - There was the Orange Car representative waiting for us at the arrival hall with a big van waiting outside. No prizes for guessing the colour of the van, nobody would miss it from a distance. We exchanged our EUR to ISK at the airport itself an d also picked up a Vodafone SIM which had data and calling for 2000 ISK(SIMINN stock was over at the airport store!). However I had no problems with Vodafone and had full signal and internet throughout the trip.
We were driven to the car rental office and they gave us a Micra automatic instead of the Aygo. Now this was difficult for me as I have never driven an automatic(except test rides) and didn’t want to take chance. It turned out that they have run out of MT cars and the only one left was a Toyota Auris Diesel which they gave to us for no extra charges. So with the GPS fit in, off we went.
The drive from Keflavik to Reykjavik was harrowing for me. I stalled the car twice, searched for the transmission stick on the left door, kept forgetting to keep to the right, got honked at numerous times and finally followed another slow car to reach our airbnb at Reykjavik somehow. By the time we reached Reykjavik, things looked somewhat in control. I always made myself remember to keep the median lines of the road to my side which helped.(Tip 6)
We had done a street walk tour in Amsterdam before reaching Reykjavik and were dead tired and so we just rested for the day.

Day2, 9th July – The day started with the SMS that our lost bag with food was tracked and will be delivered to our doorstep by afternoon. This was good news. We ventured out and looked around the “town” of Reykjavik. It was windy and beautiful. We went on top of Hallgrimskirja (entry fees are 900 ISK per head) and walked across the shoreline. Had hotdogs from “Bćjarins Beztu Pylsur” who are probably the best in Reykjavik is what I read. Received our prodigal bag in the afternoon. Practiced driving the Auris and got used to the left hand drive. All good.
Some pics:

Day3, 10th July – South coast trip: Since it was 24 hr daylight, we thought of a very simple approach to avoid crowd. We followed IST. In that way we were 5.5 hrs ahead of everyone. So we set off at 8:30 AM IST which was 3AM in Iceland. Reached Seljalandfoss in 1.5 hrs, then also saw the Gljúfrabúi falls just beside it. Off we went to Skogafoss. There was not a single soul except us at these locations at that time. Then we went to Solheimajokull and drove towards Vik. Saw the Solheimasandur parking but the sun was out and it was too hot outside for a 45min walk!!(yes you heard it right). So saved it for later.
Reached Dyrholaey, drove to the top as well. What a drive it was.
Drove to Reynisfjara from Dyrholaey. By this time there was too much crowd on the beach (by Icelandic standards, not like Puri/Marina beach of course). So we took a pause and had our lunch. It was 10AM there but 3:30 PM in India(remember we are following IST) and headed back to Reykjavik.
Went to Skogafoss again on our way back to see if we can catch some rainbows. Now the place has completely changed. There was hardly any parking spot left. People were taking a dip in the water, some were having picnic, Some were running to the washroom with towels. Reminded me of Haridwar(excuse the exaggeration). We didn’t take a chance to go to Seljalandfoss again as we could see a traffic jam on the approach road to the falls. So we were back in Reykjavik by afternoon, which was night in IST.

Pics:

Day4, 11th July – Jokulsarlon: This was to be the longest day of the trip. We had our bookings at Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon tour at 5:30 PM in the afternoon. Started off at 2:30 AM in the morning, first stop was Solheimasandur. Walked for 45 min to reach the plane crash site. As expected, we were the only people there. It was 4-4:30 in the morning.
After Solheimasandur, we filled up the tank at Vik and drove to the canyon of Fjađrárgljúfur(don’t ask me how to pronounce it). The canyon was a surreal place, however there was a small crowd there.
After Fjađrárgljúfur we made a small stop at the glacier that comes just before Jokulsarlon(forgot the name) and reached Jokulsarlon by 1PM. Our boat ride was 4 hours later.
We decided to visit Stokksness which was an hour drive from Jokulsarlon. Stokksness is a private property and you need to pay 800 ISK per head to visit it at the Viking café. However, when we reached the Viking café was closed and there was no one to collect the visiting fee. There was a box though to drop the 800ISK, which we did out of goodwill. The place was ethereal and we were the only people in that black beach.
We were back in Jokulsarlon by 4 PM and parked our car at the diamond beach opposite to the lagoon. The diamond beach was beautiful. Spent 30 min there and were at the boat tour platform by 5:30. The amphibian boat tour was a touristy affair, not much awe.
After the boat ride it was a looong drive back to Reykjavik and we returned exhausted. The total km driven on that day was above 1000. Would advice if you can find a cheap accommodation in between, then put up there (we couldn’t find anything cheap).
Pics:

Day5, 12th July – We were dog tired after yesterday’s drive and woke up late. It was drizzling outside and we thought we could manage the Golden circle in the afternoon. So we set off for Golden circle at around 1PM. First stop was Ţingvellir.
By the time we were in Ţingvellir, the sky opened up and it was raining heavily. We saw the Silfra fissure somehow and decided to call it a day as the weather was getting worse. Came back to Reykjavik and rested.

Day6, 13th July – The weather was better today and we set off for snaefellsness by 3AM. First stop was Budir. Before reaching Budir you need to pass through the underwater tunnel of Hvalfjörđur. The toll for this tunnel is 1000 ISK. Beware of the speed limit in this tunnel. The Garmin GPS(where I tracked my speed) lost signal inside the tunnel and suddenly I realized that I am over speeding by looking the speedo. Not sure if I drove over the limit for how many seconds/minutes. Be very aware of this fact.
We were at Budakirkja by 5 AM and as usual we were the only people there. This place looks eerily haunted.
Next stop was Arnarstapi followed by the Djúpalónssandur beach. After Djúpalónssandur we drove straight to Kirkjufell. Most of the places were not readily available in the GPS and we used google map along with entering the co-ordinates in the Garmin.
So we were done in Kirkjufell by 1PM.
Since the weather was pleasant and the forecast said tomorrow will be a stormy day, we decided to complete the rest of the Golden circle on our way back(which turned out to be a very good decision).
So on our way back to Reykjavik from Kirkjufell we visited Geyser/Strokkur and Gullfoss. Was back in Reykjavik by afternoon.

Day7, 14th July – Took it easy, strolled around Reykjavik and lake Tjornin. Tasted some more hot dogs. Went to Café Loki for some Icelandic food. Cleaned the car, packed our bags and took good rest as we were to binge travel Paris next day.

Day 8,15th July – Our flight to Paris was at 7:40 AM. Returned the car after filling up the tank by 5:00 AM. They just did a quick check around the car, checked the fuel level and dropped us to the airport in the same orange van. No tantrums.
Once inside the airport, it seemed that the whole population of Iceland was inside it. It was total mayhem and somehow we managed to check in and board our flight.
We also exchanged the spare ISK for EUR at the airport. Rate was pretty good.
P.S- We didn’t swipe our credit card at any place in Iceland. We took cash and got N1 prepaid cards for the diesel. This saved us a lot of “service charges”. Total cost for the trip for two was less than 2 lakhs INR. Yes, target achieved!
Airfare - Rs. 85000
Accommodation – Rs. 27000
Car rental – Rs.34000
Fuel – Rs.12000
Food and other expenses- Rs.10000
Visa – Rs.13000

Oops I started with the intention to write a mini one, but seems it has crossed 5 pages. Extremely sorry for that.

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Last edited by bblost : 19th July 2017 at 15:41. Reason: as requested
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Old 19th July 2017, 15:50   #63
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Default Re: A Roadtrip in Iceland - 66°N

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kings_Wit View Post
Wow, thanks! I am super happy that you had a great trip!

If not a travelogue, please do add pointers/tips that might come in handy for other travelers. It's becoming a hot destination these days.

P.S. Wife and I have resolved to visit again in September - more of Ice and Auroras.
Waoo, you inspire me. Will look forward to your winter trip travelogue. I couldn't go to Northern Iceland because of time constraints, maybe another time.

BTW penned down my experience as per my limited literary capabilities. Apologies again for bombarding this thread,have asked admin to merge it into one post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post
Thank you for penning down one of the best travelouges on T-BHP. Two questions:-

1) Is vegetarian food or more correctly eggitarian food easily available at restaurants or does one need to pre-pack and cater to it on one's own
2) If I don't drive around my self are there regular buses etc that can take me to the various points

Thanks in advance for your answers. - Narayan
1) Subways are available, but would advice to pre-pack from bigger towns if not carrying from India.
2) I tell you it would be very difficult. I tried planning this and its gets very expensive compared to hiring a car if you are to see all the places. Also you will not have the places to yourself as the whole 50-60 people of the bus will be scattered at every stop.
There are buses though from Grayline and a bus pass from "reykjavik excursions" as well https://www.re.is/iceland-on-your-own/. Check if that suits you.

Last edited by saion666 : 19th July 2017 at 16:09.
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Old 19th July 2017, 17:00   #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saion666 View Post
Here goes my mini travelogue.
Few comments..

1. WOW! I think you just set a new frugal Iceland travel record! Insanely cheap.

2. For travelers driving to remote areas in North, East Iceland and Westfjords, take the hit for the GPS. Cellular reception is spotty that side.

3. Sweet deal on AirBnB, that. For people planning a Reykjavik++ itinerary, definitely take saion666's advice.

4. VFS Chennai was ok. We had color xerox for all pages and they took only the bio pages and visa/stamps. Strange.

5. IcelandAir loosing baggage was the biggest risk in our trip too, because our itinerary did not have us centrally located in Reykjavik. So very unlikely that lost baggage would be delivered. Something for other folks to keep in mind.

6. You had a van pick you up? Very nice! I lost a few fingers in the freezing drizzle walking till BlueCar.

7. The drive from Keflavik to Reykjavik IS very harrowing. The traffic builds up and your senses have to be in overdrive to learn all the new controls. This happened to us at the end of the trip when we were used to driving on open roads and suddenly had to drive in traffic. Took around an hour for the nerves to settle. Besides, the speed limits make no sense. Almost no one in Reykjavik was adhering to it.

8. Traveling on IST while in GMT? Great idea! It sort off beats the jet lag and leaves PoIs empty. Photographers take note!

9. Did you guys try your luck with Fjallsarlon, the neighbouring glacial lagoon at Jokulsarlon?

10. Thanks for taking the time out for sharing your experience. Very succinct with lovely pictures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saion666 View Post
Will look forward to your winter trip travelogue. I couldn't go to Northern Iceland because of time constraints, maybe another time.

BTW penned down my experience as per my limited literary capabilities. Apologies again for bombarding this thread,have asked admin to merge it into one post.
Well, it could be September 2019 for all I know!

Apology rejected! Thanks for sharing instead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post
Thank you for penning down one of the best travelouges on T-BHP. Two questions:-

1) Is vegetarian food or more correctly eggitarian food easily available at restaurants or does one need to pre-pack and cater to it on one's own
2) If I don't drive around my self are there regular buses etc that can take me to the various points

Thanks in advance for your answers. - Narayan
1. All restaurants have at least one or two things on the menu that is vegetarian. That's been my experience. And like @Saion666 says, you'll find Subway in the cities and larger towns. Alternatively, you can pick up bread, cheese, salads, sandwiches from supermarkets. Light on the purse too.

2. Yes, Grayline is the most popular bus service. But going to Iceland and NOT driving is like going to the pool and not swimming. You'll miss the charm.

Last edited by aah78 : 19th September 2017 at 01:39. Reason: Quote fixed. Posts merged. Please use QUOTE+/MULTI-QUOTE when responding to multiple posts. Thanks!
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Old 21st July 2017, 14:05   #65
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Default Re: A Roadtrip in Iceland - 66°N

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kings_Wit View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by saion666 View Post
Here goes my mini travelogue.

6. You had a van pick you up? Very nice! I lost a few fingers in the freezing drizzle walking till BlueCar.

7. The drive from Keflavik to Reykjavik IS very harrowing. The traffic builds up and your senses have to be in overdrive to learn all the new controls. This happened to us at the end of the trip when we were used to driving on open roads and suddenly had to drive in traffic. Took around an hour for the nerves to settle. Besides, the speed limits make no sense. Almost no one in Reykjavik was adhering to it.

9. Did you guys try your luck with Fjallsarlon, the neighbouring glacial lagoon at Jokulsarlon?
Yes, in fact the ease of the car rental was one of the highlights of the trip.

I second you on that. However I tried following the speed limit as much as possible and always had 5-6 cars tailgating me on the country roads.
As for the Reykjavik traffic I got used to it after the 2nd day. In fact I was more at ease at Reykjavik as the tailgating problem was not there because of the extra lanes.

Fjallsarlon was on our itinerary, however we skipped it due to sheer laziness. Same with Svartifoss. We parked our car in the parking for the Svartifoss hike and then didn't find the energy for the hike. Feeling guilty now. Blame it on the heavily loaded Day4.

Last edited by aah78 : 19th September 2017 at 01:40. Reason: No in-line replies please. Thank you!
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Old 21st July 2017, 14:20   #66
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I had so much fun driving on Icelandic roads that even under the 90 mph speed limit, I was frequently overtaking. There is some spectacular charm about driving those endless roads without any car in front of you. Mesmerizing!

Skipping places is good. You have reason to return. Lol!
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Old 19th September 2017, 00:12   #67
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Default Re: A Roadtrip in Iceland - 66°N

Hi friends,

Help me out here as I am in a fix about deciding a few things. I am planning a road trip in Iceland end of this September. If people who have been there could help me out on a few things.
1. I plan on renting a car. Which car rental would be the best to go for based on your experiences?
2. Should I rent a 4WD or 2WD. I do not plan on going on to the F Roads. Just the ring road and attractions around it.
3. Can the damage cover insurance be purchased from any independent company rather than the car rental company as they seem to charge a lot for that. If yes, please suggest some.
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Old 22nd September 2017, 11:35   #68
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Hi friends,

Help me out here as I am in a fix about deciding a few things. I am planning a road trip in Iceland end of this September. If people who have been there could help me out on a few things.
1. I plan on renting a car. Which car rental would be the best to go for based on your experiences?
2. Should I rent a 4WD or 2WD. I do not plan on going on to the F Roads. Just the ring road and attractions around it.
3. Can the damage cover insurance be purchased from any independent company rather than the car rental company as they seem to charge a lot for that. If yes, please suggest some.
Sorry for the late response, Fahad.

1. I think Saionn666 went with Orange car rentals (http://www.orangecarrental.is/) which worked out cheap for him. I went with BlueCar Rentals and had a very decent experience. A little more expensive but the cars were brand new. (https://www.bluecarrental.is/)

2. If you are not using the F-roads then go for a 2WD. They are more than capable for a ring-road trip.

3. I think credit card companies and travel insurances may cover your car rental insurance in some cases, but I am not too sure. Sticking with the insurance for the renting agency will help your recovery be smooth in case of accident/damage. You wouldn't be spending too much time on insurance claim procedures and the agency would take care of that for you.
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