It all started with Pinterest – a picture of a geyser, a majestic waterfall…and I’ve been hooked ever since. The thing is, Iceland seemed like such a faraway land that I didn’t even begin to consider it as a vacation destination, but then here comes the government’s tourism push and I definitely reaped my benefits.
Of course traveling by yourself as a female sounds like a textbook “taken” situation, I’ve never felt more at ease and comfortable than I did in Iceland. It helps that Iceland has been deemed the safest country in the world with only 200 (out of their already small population of 330,000) people in the prison system. Aside from walking around at night by yourself and your only dangerous threat being too cold, my trip was all the more comfortable because of these few things:
1) Thanks to WOWair for getting me to Reykjavik direct from San Francisco for almost about as much as a tasting menu here in town, I’m more than happy to tout your name! It was no frills and super easy. There is decent food for purchase and way more leg room than a standard U.S. domestic flight. A one-way flight was a remarkable $140. I flew into Keflavik International Airport and was greeted with Joe and the Juice to satisfy my 20Something, San Francisco Juice cravings. Little did I know that would be the only vegetable I would have for three days. They really love their meat in Iceland.
2) I was staying at the very cool Kex hostel which is right off the main road, Laugavagur, which has an incredible breakfast of fresh bread, jams, salmon, and yogurt. If you pre-book when you reserve your room you get breakfast at a discounted price. Highly recommend because Iceland made cost of living in San Francisco seem reasonable. Kex used to be an old bread factory and whoever interior designed this place did an amazing job capturing the old with the modern – a lot of honeycomb tile with herringbone wood flooring alongside a modern kitchen. There’s a pretty popular bar in the lobby that was noisy until late at night but after all your adventuring you will sleep right through it. You can stay in a co-ed, all female, four or six dorm ranging from $40-70 a night plus breakfast.
3) Iceland is very expensive since the only thing they can grow naturally is a root vegetable, but the best deal I found was pre-booking a food tour. Thirteen stops and four hours of someone’s time really peaked my interest. I booked through http://www.thereykjavikfoodwalk.com and do not regret how many calories I consumed. I learned a lot and ate just as much. Other than that, you can walk around downtown Reykjavik in half a day. My tour guide was Marin who is a local chef who really knew the town. We had everything from lamb to langoustine and licorice to rye bread ice cream. Seeing that by the seventh course I had been up for 26 hours, I passed out shortly afterwards.
4) Another thing that definitely helped make Iceland one of the most convenient places I’ve been to is renting a car. I didn’t have to rely on others for transportation, I lived on my own schedule, and parking was INCREDIBLY convenient – a nice refresher to the reality of San Francisco. For example, by my hostel, all day parking was three U.S. dollars. ALL DAY PARKING FOR THREE DOLLARS. I was able to make my own schedule and saw what I wanted to see to make my stay really count. This was my biggest expense by far, especially with gas (or petrol as they call it), but the benefits outweighed the cons by far. My car with gas ran me about $115 a day.
And there you go! I know you’ve been intrigued by everyone’s pictures and videos (see some of mine below) so you should take the plunge and make this your next destination. I’m jealous you’ll get to go again!