At the end of 2014, I decided to be a little more intentional about time with my kids, culminating in a decision to take each one of my kids [and my wife] on a trip, just the two of us, in 2015. This was the second of these, a trip with Katie our older daughter, to Iceland.
The quest for this trip was to see the Northern Lights, an item on Katie's bucket list, and, frankly, a little adventure would be good for me. The trip was definitely an adventure alright, we had an amazing time. Iceland is a visually stunning country that takes your breath away everywhere you look. They love tourists there, everyone speaks English pretty well and the cultural distance from American culture is small. Iceland was also highly recommended by our friend Terah who had traveled there last fall.
Here are some tips if you make it there:
+ Citywalk Reykjavik is a great thing to do. Marteeen is a fantastic tour guide.
+ If you want to drive around in some awesome modified Land Rover Discoverys to see the Northern Lights, Superjeeps.is is what you want. [And you do.]
+ Fish, mens beards, the constant change in weather, and water are pretty significant cultural icons.
+ Gullfoss and Geyser are pretty easy to get to - we had a rental car and the road to both of these locations were plowed every day. You should get to these if you can.
+ The first day we were there, it alternated snow and sunshine every 10 minutes. Most of the next days were clear, sunny and cold. That being said, don't underestimate the weather in the winter, especially if you drive out of Reykjavik.
+ We saw a few short and fast snowstorms on mountain passes and those mountain roads can get covered with snow from drifting. We rented a Toyota Yaris, 2 wheel drive, but most of their rental cars have studded tires in the winter. Drive a little bit out of Reykjavik and it can seem pretty desolate.
+ Seljalandsfoss is definitely worth the drive. It is a little further out of Reykjavik as Gullfoss in a slightly different direction. Don't miss going to the fourth waterfall away from the highway.
+ The Blue Lagoon was fun but I would rank this a little lower than Gullfoss and Seljalandsfoss if you were limited on time. Other people we know loved it a lot more though.
+ Hot water smells a little like sulphuric but it's not a big deal and you get used to it. Icelanders pride themselves on the purity of their water.
+ Wifi is plentiful everywhere. I did not have an international data plan, although that might have helped with directions at times. But like I said, adventure. One day, we stopped at a gas station and I got on the wifi there and skyped with home.
+ We are definitely suburban people and got to all of this stuff pretty easily on our own. We did purchase some quality cold weather gear though - hats, gloves, and insulated clothing.
Fantastic adventure and Katie and I had a great time traveling together.