Icelandair offers a free layover program for all of it’s flights from the Americas to Europe. This week Charlene and I are taking our granddaughter, Alyssia to Paris and the first leg of our trip was a full day layover in Iceland.
Late in the afternoon of the 20th of June we met up with our granddaughter Alyssia at the Boston airport and the three of us flew into Icelandair’s home airport in Kelflavak, Iceland. After two delays in Boston, it was 11PM Iceland time when we landed. To our surprise the sun was still up and my body had a difficult time believing that it was really 11PM. It was a five minute cab ride to our guest house and by midnight we were settled in.
One thing to keep in mind, if you decide you want to stay a few days in Iceland, is that lodging in Iceland is limited, expensive and a little Spartan. Our rooms at the guest house we booked cost about $130 a night and consisted of a bare room with three single beds and shared bathroom facilities. These Spartan arrangements worked out OK because all we did at the guest house was sleep. When I did my original search for rooms in Iceland I was disappointed to find that there were very few chain motels and none of the hotel chains I had points with were in Iceland. That left me with having to buy our rooms for our two nights in Iceland with cold hard cash. Our $130 room was about as inexpensive as I could find, all of the rooms on the internet were between two and four hundred dollars a night. Icelands tourist industry is blossoming and I have no doubt that the hotel situation there will improve but right now if you do decide to go to Iceland keep in mind that the lodging will be very expensive.
We also rented a car for one day so we could do a road trip and I would recommend renting a car to anyone doing an Iceland layover. The rental cars are a little expensive and gas is 1.9 euro a liter but a car is a great way to see the island of Iceland. Navigation is easy, there are signs to everywhere you will want to go. The roads are mostly two lane, paved, and in excellent condition. If you are into absolute scenic beauty you will love driving in Iceland.
We took about an eight hour road trip and from the lava covered coastal plains to the volcano generated mountains the scenery was magnificent. During our drive the island seemed to be covered by purple flowers the locals called Lupine. The presence of the Lupine and the native grass doted with huge volcanic boulders left a landscape that would have sent Monet scurrying for his brushes and a large canvas.
The dominate geology of the island is volcanic so there seems to be a botanical battle going on between bright yellow lichen that covers much of the coastal lava fields, green native grasses,and the purple Lupine that prospers everywhere. Add to the islands magnificent color scheme a rugged landscape dominated by tall extinct volcanos, long high ocean eroded bluffs, and roaring rivers cutting deep gouges in the raw lava and you get an almost surreal landscape that will take your breath away at every turn. The raw beauty of Iceland is diverse and hard to describe but if you have a bucket list seeing the island of Iceland should be on it.
As we started our road trip just outside Kelflavak we got to experience some of the local art. Somebody with a crane and some super glue had built a series of stone large statues. These unusual examples of the art of Iceland dotted the landscape for a few miles just east of Kelflavak.
On our road trip we made a good circle and showed Alyssia a few natural wonders she had never seen before.
First we went to the sea shore which is lined by tall black cliffs and punctuated by miles of rocky tidal shores marked by glistening tidal pools.
Next we drove north of the main City of Reykjavik and went to “Geysir” Geysir is an area with serious hot pools and Geyser activity. The drive up to Geysir takes you up the twisting mountain road over bridges that expose roaring white foam filled rivers and deeply eroded gorges. Our next stop was the Gullfoss Water Falls which is an amazing natural wonder that is well worth the drive. Finally on the way home we stopped at the Kerio Crater a huge extinct volcano that is now the home of a small volcanic lake.
In All in one day, Alyssia got to see majestic tidal coastline, geysers, a huge water fall, and an extinct volcano. Not bad for her first day in Europe.
We only had one real sit down meal while we were in Iceland but it was excellent.
Iceland is surrounded by some of the best fishing grounds in the world so we went for the sea food. We went to a local restaurant called the Kaffi Duss. The Kaffi Duss is situated by the harbor in Kelflavak and looks over a beautiful ocean view. Charlene and I had the Sea Food platter that consisted of local fish, lobster and shrimp and like every other experience in Iceland the meal was excellent.
Charlene and I have so many places we want to see, we rarely go back to anywhere twice, but we now have a one or two week trip to Iceland on our bucket list. If you fly Icelandair I would strongly recommend taking advantage of their free layover amenity so you the raw nature of this amazing island. The island offers an abundance of adventures from exploring the depths of some of the largest caves in the world, to watching whales off the coast, to treks up to the arctic circle, and exploring the islands glaciers. We only had a day and made the most of it but I can say without a doubt a day is not enough.