Iceland...."land of the Vikings"

Bhaskar

BB Camper
18.08.2017 (New Delhi, India)

I feel like waking up from a slumber as I start writing this travelogue. The last travelogue I had written as an amateur was on my trip to Kashmir (https://www.bcmtouring.com/forums/threads/gulmarg-gurez-sonamarg-doodhpathri-aru-gaganpathri-arampathri-kashmir-through-my-lens.64102/). It was never a dry patch though as we did a bike trip via Paniat-Dalhousie-Chamba Valley-Kalhel-Killar-Sach Pass-Jispa-Sinkhola Pass-Keylong-Manali-Jalori Pass-Shimla-Panipat, a travelogue I wish to complete someday.
Its not unusual to have heard so little about Iceland until recently we thought of booking our tickets to this island nation, not in mainland Europe. We will be on our own with information from a few travelogues and certain websites to rely on, a list of which I will mention later on. With our flight tickets booked during March'17, six months prior to our date of departure and mandatorily so, the itinerary has to be ready and for that one has to study a lot about this country. We have booked our tickets with Finnair for the round trip and are set to depart from IGI airport New Delhi on 10th September'17 with layovers at Helsinki and Copenhagen.
Our itinerary includes destinations which are mostly offbeat- around the Snaefellsnes peninsula, Rauðisandur Beach and Látrabjarg Cliffs in the Westfjors, Glaumbær and Tyrfingsstaðir turf houses in North Iceland, Akureyri, The Turf House Museum at Grenjaðarstaður and the Þverá turf houses nearby, Myvatn area and Landmannalaugar to name a few.


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Preparations for the trip

We have booked a 4x4 Dacia Duster(diesel) with a car rental company Blue Car Rental (https://www.bluecarrental.is/) which cost us 98.600 IKR (or ISK) with all the necessary rental car protection covers like CDW, GP, SAAP (Optional), SCDW, TP and one Extra Driver. Blue Car Rental shares a good rapport with its customers with excellent reviews mostly. So far, my experience with them has been good as they will always reply to my queries through e-mails. With their office located near the exit of Keflavik International Airport it is also convenient for us to pick up our vehicle on arrival. There are other good car rental companies as well like Hertz, Sixt and some local car rental startups. It is recommended that one knows knows about different car protection covers and their significance in the respective countries- GP, SAAP (Optional) and windshield protection (included in our case) especially for Iceland. There are also a special protection covers available for damages caused under the chasis of the vehicle and required during off road (marked as F roads) travels. We have not included GPS in our booking as we will be relying on the BIG MAP to be bought from Reykjavik Tourist Information Center and SYGIC software installed in our handsets. SYGIC also has some additional advantages mainly for its extensive offline usage as the user can mark and save all the destinations in offline mode. For network we have Siminn, Vodafone and Nova as local operators with Siminn offering the best data plans in their tariff.

Accomodation

The nature of our trip with uncertain weather conditions typical to Iceland makes it a tough call to make our hotel bookings. We knew about a few hotel /hostel booking sites namely airbnb, hostel.is, hostelworld, hrs.com and booking.com. Booking.com offers bookings with the options of no pre-payment and free cancellation( till a particular date after which it becomes chargeable) on bookings with many properties. There is a new option of booking without credit card available on Booking.com for a few properties if one does not wish to share one's credit card details. It is advisable to check with the property's website regarding their cancellation policy. Some properties preauthorize your cards or hold the complete amount in their bid to verify the card details supplied. One such property Reykjavik Peace Center Guesthouse charged the full amount just after two weeks from the date of booking though the terms of booking through Booking.com was for no pre-payment and free cancellation within 04.09.2017. After much deliberation and writing to both the property and Booking.com we now have our money refunded on 17.08.2017; needless to say we can cancelled our booking with the property too. As there are many campsites around Iceland we have decided to pitch our own tent for each night. We will be carrying our own tenting gear- one Arpenaz Tent (x3), Quechua sleeping bags (0-5o) which we bought from Decathlon stores at Rohini and Zirakpur and mattresses. Locations and websites for all such campsites are available in the official tourism website http://www.inspiredbyiceland.com

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Visa application

Meanwhile we already have our Visas stamped. In India the Embassy of Denmark processes Visa applications for Iceland through the consultant Vfs Global for Denmark (http://dk.vfsglobal.co.in/). We submitted our applications at the Vfs Global Center in New Delhi (Shivaji Stadium Metro Station, Mezzanine Floor, Baba Kharak Singh Marg, Connaught Place New Delhi - 110001). A checklist for the required documents is available in their website. We received our processed visas on 18.07.2017, within one week from the date of submission after two telephonic interviews. Every Embassy has its own mode of operation. Some Embassies processing Schengen Tourist Visa don't even bother calling you. We just followed their checklist and it was easy.
 
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Bhaskar

BB Camper

Camping Accessories

Mattress sized 180 x 60 x 1 (in cm) was available for 1500 INR at Decathlon Store Rohini (https://www.decathlon.in/p/8330385_forclaz-m200-foam-hiking-mattress.html#/180-235-_); the thickness and width were not worth the price tag. So we decided to search for some local foam product in one of the local markets. It was just yesterday (22.08.2017) we got something of worth - two mattresses sized 180 x 70 x 2.5 (in cm) and two pillows just for 800 INR from one local vendor 'Meenakshi Furniture' selling customised furniture and household items and based in Panipat Railway Road Market near Jain Electrical Store. With its thickness of approx 2.5 cm it was just easy to roll the mattresses and pack them in our camping gear.

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Means of Sustenance

As Iceland runs mostly on plastic currency, we recently got our credit cards upgraded for our intended trip. Our upgraded cards offer associate Priority Pass Membership along with complimentary accesses to International Lounges under the Priority Pass Programme (www.prioritypass.com) and very low FCY mark up charges on international transactions. This will allow us access to lounges at the Vantaa airport, Helsinki during a long layover of 8 hrs. on our return trip. HDFC Regalia, Regalia First and Jetprivilege World Intl. are a few CC's in India offering both Priority Pass Membership and complimentary lounge accesses. My friend got HDFC Regalia First while I got the HDFC Jetprivilege World. Most gas stations in Iceland are unmanned and accept CC's with chips and 4 digit pin. As an alternative, there are prepaid cards available for respective Gas Stations like N1, Olis and Shell/Orkan. We also plan to withdraw some cash from the ATM on our arrival for use at places which accept only cash (few camping sites we presume accept only cash in ISK). Hence, now we have abandoned the idea of carrying a bulk of cash in EUROS as Iceland run mostly on ISK/IKR sparing a few institutions and establishments which deal mostly on tourism like car rental companies, institutions at the airport etc.

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N.B: The above images are sample images and just for reference
 
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Sanswam

Santosh Swaminathan
Is this going to be live feed? I am excited. Iceland is in every photographer wish list. All the best for your trip!
 

Bhaskar

BB Camper
Is this going to be live feed? I am excited. Iceland is in every photographer wish list. All the best for your trip!
We will definitely try to follow the trails; this log has been created for our upcoming trip to this unique sub-arctic part from 10th Sept to 19th Sept- a trip mostly inspired by its geological status, troll stories and unique history. Thanks for the good wishes !!:supz:
 

Bhaskar

BB Camper
Hello fellow BCM Tians. It has been quite a while since my last update. It was a successful and lovely trip to the amazing country for most of the part. Our journey started on a disappointing note as our connecting flight from Helsinki to Copenhagen with Finnair was delayed and we would have missed our connecting flight with Finnair(operated by Icelandair) from Copenhagen (Kastrup) to Keflavik International Airport (KIA). Finnair Transfer Service was quick to re-route us via Oslo (Norway) to KIA with partner airlines Icelandair. Our baggage tags(received during check-in at DEL) were updated accordingly by the Transfer Service for the new route. Hence in our case we had an advantage in booking with the same/partner airlines for connecting flights. Complimentary access to the Aspire lounge at Helsinki airport provided some much needed refreshment during the layover. To our dismay we did not receive our checked-in luggage which we later found out was held back at the Helsinki airport and was scheduled to arrive on 12.09.2017 in the evening. Accordingly we had to modify our itinerary. We picked up some beer(Gull, Viking, Boli, Thule) and chocolates from the Duty Free store at the arrivals and bought a Siminn mobile pre paid sim from the 10-11 stores just before the exit (tariff: 50 mins and 5 GB of data for 2900 ISK). Siminn has a good network coverage in Iceland. We used our CC's for payment at both the Duty Free and the 10-11 stores.

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They serve what they claim
Other mobile networks available are Nova and Vodafone. The duty free store had only Nova sim on offer.

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At KIA

Rental Car from Blue Car Rental
We then had to pick up our rental car from Blue Car Rental and we hiked to their office near the airport(IDP is not required for driving in Iceland; normal driving License will do). On check-in we were offered an auto upgrade over our booked Dacia Duster. It was a Nissan Qashqai, 2017 model. With some preliminary checks we left for our booked guesthouse "Disa's Homestay" at Garður. We were quite late by then and reached the guest house at around 2:00 am on 11.09.2017. As we had informed the owner about our arrival details, she left the guesthouse open. The next morning we had a sumptuous breakfast. It was a nice and comfortable stay and I would really recommend this place on arrival at Keflavik.

Day 1 (11.09.2017, Garður, Iceland)

We planned to drive around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula on our first day.

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Feels blissful to wake up in a peaceful and calm neighbourhood (@ Disa's Homestay, Garður)

Borgarnes
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Stopover at Borgarnes
Time for some local Salami, Hamborgarhr(processed meat slices), Skyr(yogurt) and the muu mjólk(for milk in Icelandic) from the Bónus supermarket. There are many supermakets around Iceland- Bónus, Nettó, Krónan, Samkaup Strax, Samkaup úrval, Hagkaup, 10-11 and many more- Bónus and Krónan being the most economical.

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I couldn't help taking a selfie even in this chilling gust of wind(@ Borgarnes)

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Bhaskar

BB Camper

Snaefellsnes Peninsula( A Journey to the Center of the Earth)
From Garður to Borgarnes, route 1 has toll which charges 1000 ISK. From Borgarnes leaving route 1, route 54 takes you around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the abode of the majestic Snæfellsjökull. On the way one can have a view of the Eldborg Crater to the left from the road. We skipped it as we were on a tight schedule.

Eldborg range at a distance
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Views from Landbrotalaug
 
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Bhaskar

BB Camper
Landbrotalaug hot spring

Continuing on road 54 look for the following road sign on the left for the Landbrotalaug Hot Spring. There is also a farm house on the other side of the road. This gravel road leads to a car parking for Lanbrotalaug.

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There you can see the rocky bridge and the car parking at the backdrop.

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Way to the Landbrotalaug hot spring
The hot pool is hidden behind a stone barricade. Visitors were taking a dip. Take care not to litter around it. The hot pool already had some visitors taking a dip and others waiting for their turn. Hence I couldn't get the angles right.

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Landbrotalaug

There is another pool nearby(the one with the piping supply below). It is visible from the Lanbrotalaug hot pool. You can walk up to the pool taking left from the car parking. The water is not as warm though.

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