A weekend in Iceland
The introduction of WOW Air over the last few years has been an amazing service for those who realize that travel does not have to be expensive or for extended periods. With WOW flying directly from BWI, a flight to Iceland can be had for around $300, and the flight is direct.
I have been to Iceland before, my wife and I had a long layover in 2014 when we flew to Sweden, we rented a car and did some driving, saw the Blue Lagoon, but mostly slept because I was exhausted. It was not a real trip to Iceland but was enough to sate my desire to get back. Couple that with the exploding tourism of the island, I really had no strong draw to go back. Then, in the way that life works, my friend Nate said he was going to go for a weekend and invited me to join, as no one else was going. "I've rented a room with two beds and a car, so that is all taken care of if you want to join." At that point, a weekend in Baltimore or a weekend in Iceland with one of my best friends, the choice was pretty easy. I plunked down $330, well my wife did for my birthday, and I was going back to Iceland.
We were here the last weekend of October 2017, so it was pretty cold, and mostly rainy while we were in Iceland. We took the shuttle from the airport to the offsite car rental place, picked up a cruiser, and headed to a few spots before hitting our hotel. Our first stop was Kerið, a volcanic crater. We arrived before anyone else, and promptly fell asleep in the car, as we weren't sure if it was open or not (it was). When we woke up, there were tour buses, 16 million people taking their selfies, and us. We spent about 30 minutes here before we moved on. The rain and fog really were not conducive to good photos, and the wind contributed to a very "get back in the car" attitude. This was also a bit of classic foreshadowing for the rest of our trip here.
Our hotel was in Hella, on the southwest side of the island, and close enough to see most of the major attractions we wanted to see. We had a sauna and a hot tub at the hotel we stayed at, it was very nice and I'd suggest it. It is called Stracta Hotel Hella. They even had a Northern Lights wakeup call. We did not see the lights, though.
After we dropped our stuff at the hotel, we ventured back out to this waterfall and that waterfall and purchased food at the market. We went back to the hotel to eat some food; we decided that we would go out to the plane wreck at night to see what that was all about it. Disappointment is what it was all about. One used to be able to drive their car the entire way out, the land is owned by two separate people who allowed people to do so. However, because people are people, you now have to walk, it is a distance of about two miles. It was raining the whole walk, and using my GF670w, a fully electronic camera, I did not take it out to shoot.
Much like the rest of Iceland, everyone goes from location to location, stopping in the same parking lot, walking the same path, and taking the same photo. Do not get me wrong, Iceland is beautiful, but it is packed with new tourism and new tourists. A small island with limited infrastructure that has just exploded with popularity.
After the plane, where four groups were vying for the best angle to take their version of the photo they had seen 100 times on Instagram, we went back to the hotel and hopped right in the sauna and then the hot tub. It was a great day spent with a great friend. The following day we opted to head up towards the top of the island for a glacier lagoon. The drive was fine, the gas was expensive, and the laughs were plentiful. We stopped quite a bit along the way and the way back. We had another night of hot tubbing and saunaing when we finally did make it back.
Our last day was early back to Rekjavik, up some church that was a few bucks, a stroll through town, and then Quiznos (there is Quiznos all over) before filling the car up one last time before Nate dropped me off at the airport.
To be honest, I'll remember Iceland most for the time I spent with Nate and not what I saw while I was there. If you're inclined to visit, please do, it is a beautiful place, albeit a little expensive. I'd suggest you rent a car and plan on spending a few days there, a week at most. Don't feed the horses candy, and remember to pull off the road completely if you have to stop and take a photo or see something. I likely will not be back anytime soon, unless you want to go, in which case, when are we going?