Iceland, the land of ice and fire as they say.
I have dreamed about going there for a while now. Not too far from Europe, I never went though. Even when WoW air still existed and proposed free stop over for a week on your way to Canada or the USA. I stopped in the airport once though on my way to the US but I didn’t stay. Maybe I should have, I don’t know. You rarely know what you are going to miss until you actually do.
Anyway, this year I decided to go and it was a bit not what I intentionally planned for. I really wanted to go to Patagonia for my 30th birthday but clearly my body was not in shape so I postponed it to the end of my 30th year (Yeah, if only I knew back then..). Though I still wanted to go somewhere close because I don’t have that many vacation days. I was invited to a friend’s wedding in India but it takes 30 hours to get there and to get back from Montreal, which means four days of travel plus the time difference, I would have wanted to stay at least a week so it means taking two weeks off and I couldn’t.
The other thing on my life’s bucket list was to see Northern Lights. As some of you know, I tried many times and failed many times to see them. I started looking around but tickets to Yukon or Northern Quebec were super expensive (like 2500$CAD). And that’s when I thought about Iceland. Of course! It was perfect, plus it had the advantage to be close to Europe so my family could join me for my birthday there. DONE. In a few minutes the trip was booked.
Men! (or Women)! I was not disappointed at all.
All of my friends already went there and from the pictures I have seen, the stories I have heard, the country sounded amazingly beautiful. And it was.
We started East and drove back West. Wao. East was incredible, we saw so many sunrises and sunsets. I will share the full itinerary in other articles.
It is kind of funny to go to Iceland in winter because the sun is only there for a couple of hours and is always very low in the sky. It is almost as if we had 3 hours of sunrise and 3 hours of sunset. And you know how I love those!! Golden hour all day!
We were super lucky with the weather I still can’t believe it because usually, I have the worst weather in the world. Before we arrived, Iceland had this huge storm where people got stuck with cancelled flights and closed roads. I was really scared we wouldn’t even be able to get there. But we had only sunny days and perfect Northern Lights nights. It was a dream come true.
We rented a 4×4 car to get around because in winter roads are tough and as I have a 4×4 in Canada, I simply preferred it to drive on snow. We rented a Jeep (because I am a Jeep fan) but after 5 days, the car wouldn’t accelerate and we had a warning on the board. Hopefully I was dropping off my brother and sister in law at the airport so we stopped by the rental shop. Apparently, all new Jeep have a “safe” mode that turns off after a certain amount of kms (around 100 000 for the car we had) and they have to send the cars back to the Jeep factory, which they only have one shop in Iceland. They switched us for a Subaru Forester (the car I had in New Zealand, except this one was newer) and it was perfect. I am starting to like Subaru more than Jeep! Oops. (We rented with fara.is)
Driving in Iceland in winter
Driving in winter was alright for me because I am used to drive on snow. Most roads we took were clear of snow or very well cleared. As we also didn’t have a snow storm and it hadn’t snowed a lot before, all that didn’t bothered us. East it was a bit more tricky but still ok with the 4×4. Sometimes there were a LOT of wind though so be careful, it is often that cars get into the side roads because of the wind. By the end of the trip, I tried to get to more remote spots but the roads where not snow cleared so I didn’t want to go alone there.
Grocery shopping in Iceland
Regarding food, we stopped in the big cities around Keflavik to shop at Bonus, it is the cheapest shop we found. It looks like a classic grocery shop. We bought food to be able to cook at night and make sandwiches during the day. It was not the best food of our lives (the chicken ham was tasting really weird) but whatever, we survived! We only ate in restaurants for my birthday and afterwards with my sister at the end, and that was quite expensive but all in all, it was kind of like in Europe or Canada I would say.
The Blue Lagoon
I will just say one more thing in this article, and it is that you MUST go to the Blue Lagoon if you have not done it! I know everyone says it is touristic or something but OH BOY. It was beautiful. And even if there was a lot of people, we could still find some empty spots for ourselves. I will make another article about it with more pictures too! (Thank god for my waterproof phone!).
All in all
If I have not convinced you yet, go travel to Iceland as soon as we will be able too. Or at least, put it on your bucket list. It is affordable and safe to travel there. I haven’t seen the north unfortunately not the summer but it is a perfect reason to go back someday.
What are you favorite things in Iceland? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks a lot for reading!