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Sunday, 16 June 2013


Sunday, 16 June 2013 - 0 Comments

From view counts to this blog I know that there are a lot of people interested in traveling to Iceland (It is so beautiful and the temperature is actually milder than New York City during the summer/fall.. who knew?), but yet there are very few websites that provide practical information about this tiny rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  Combining my own Iceland experiences with what is most often asked on travel forums... Here are my "10 tips for visiting Iceland":

  1. Credit card is king – Credit cards are accepted everywhere (even for small purchases)
    • Make sure the card is chip activated and uses a 4 digit pin number because there are a lot of self-help gas stations outside of Reykjavik
    • If you still prefer to carry some Iceland kronas with you, convert your money at the airport (right after exiting the customs gate, to your left).  I converted $100 USD and I barely touched them on my trip.

  1. Car rental – what should I rent and who should I rent with?
    • The Ring Road is a very well maintained road – if you are going to be on the ring road, any car would be suitable (of course the weather will have to be considered as well)
    • Secondary roads are often unpaved and are often doable with a regular sedan (you will be going at a snail pace due to gravel/pot holes.  To experience Iceland to the fullest (mountain roads/F-roads), I would recommend a 4x4.
    • Remember, fording rivers are NEVER covered under your rental insurance... so do it at your own risk.  It is super fun and rewarding though.
    • Car rental can be expensive in Iceland, and there are some cheap options out there for older + under-maintained vehicles for hire.  You will have to weigh out what is more valuable to you (a peace of mind VS money).  One thing is for certain... you get what you pay for.

  1. Telecommunication is fantastic in Iceland - I was on 3G surfing the web at night in the middle of nowhere.
    • Bring an unlocked phone – SIM cards from Siminn and Vodafone is widely available for a reasonable price

  1. Waterproof everything – from camera gears to waterproofed pants.
    • Weather can change on a dime in Iceland.  Don't be discouraged if the weather turn sour, because the sun will probably come out 5 minutes later.

  1. You CAN drive around the ring road in 3-4 days.
    • But why would you want to?  Isn’t the point of going to Iceland... is to enjoy the view and the tranquility Iceland has to offer?  Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.  In my opinion 7 days would be the minimum amount of time to complete a ring road journey.
    • There are ample photo opportunities close to the ring road (like these)

  1. Iceland is not for budget travel, but here are some things you could consider doing…
    • Eating at gas stations (fish and chips or burgers) for ~$15 USD.  Or buy 2 yogurts (Skyr) which are tasty beyond belief as a meal substitute (<$5 USD).  I would suggest going to a restaurant every couple of days to experience local Iceland cuisine (delicious seafood and lamb).
    • Don’t buy water in Iceland: bottled water = tap water = delicious Iceland water

  1. “On the official website it is indicated that road X or site X is closed.  We are smart people and experienced hikers, do you think we will be OK if we brave it?”
    • Sometimes the weather in Iceland may not cooperate with you the way you would want it to be.  But do you really want to risk your life doing it?  In Iceland the one thing I learned to do is to respect the weather… closed = do not go.

  1. Grab a GPS or a detailed map if driving away from the ring road.
    • There are no way you can ask for directions when all you’ve seen are sheeps for the last 2 hours
    • Some road names are so ridiculously long and unpronounceable.. you’ll be confused even if the road sign is in front of you.

  1. Stock up on booze at the duty free store before exiting the customs gate - Alcohol is prohibitively expensive in Iceland (a beer could cost ~$10-15 USD)

  1. Everyone speaks perfect English in Iceland - just like other Scandinavian countries.

... and of course... HAPPY TRAVELS and ENJOY ICELAND!

Do you have any questions?  Do you have other tips that you would like to share with fellow travelers? Leave a message below!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013


Wednesday, 12 June 2013 - 0 Comments

Before leaving Iceland I decided to buy an alcoholic souvenir from the airport duty free shop. The gentleman quickly recommended Brennivín as it is widely accepted as Iceland's national drink (It was quite cheap too... about $20 USD). On the bottle label it is branded as "The Original Icelandic Schnapps" containing 37.5% alcohol. The only 'Schnapps' I have tasted before Brennivín was Peach Schnapps... and they are not even remotely similar.

Per Wikipedia, Brennivín is often referred to as "Black Death" due to its potency and its unique taste. It is made from from fermented grain or potato mash and flavored with caraway, cumin, angelica, and other botanical ingredients.

First impression: 
Brennivín smelled like rubbing alcohol mixed with various spices.  When I took the first shot I felt my taste buds being overwhelmed by an intense flavor similar to black licorice.  Brennivín was amongst the worst alcoholic beverage I have tasted to date.

After speaking to an Icelandic friend I found out that Brennivín is supposed to be served chilled.  I gave it another try and although the experience was better than my first impression (resembled vodka at first, but the after taste was just as potent).  I could only sip 1/2 shot...

Brennivín is the worst alcohol I have had to date (a sentiment shared by my friends as well). How do you like Brennivín? and do Icelanders actually drink Brennivín for real? (please let me know in the comments below)

Thursday, 6 June 2013


Thursday, 6 June 2013 - 0 Comments

I have always wanted to take photos of this beautiful bridge during golden hours... instead of the industrial grey that dominates the steel beams the sunlight paints a fantastic golden hue onto the bridge.  I waited and waited until I saw some clouds in the sky, and off I went!  I will go back for some nice night shots sometime.

Granville Island Sunset:

Wednesday, 5 June 2013


Wednesday, 5 June 2013 - 0 Comments

Wow I cannot believe the amount of support I have received from everybody since I uploaded the Iceland trip report.  Over 2000 page views in 2.5 weeks... So I have decided to upload more pictures for your viewing pleasure!  

Most of these pictures are taken from the side of the road randomly! (Feel free to click on the picture to get a bigger version)


If you've enjoyed this post feel free to leave a comment below!

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