A visit to Iceland has been highly anticipated as it was on my destination wish list for many years. Seeing various photos and videos of the natural sites within the Scandinavian country always had me in awe and really enticed me to book a flight for short trip.
As it is a new year and I didn’t travel much in 2018, I decided to change my mindset and visit new destinations in 2019 and Iceland was firmly on the plan. My bestie rallied with my sister, so they were on board to go. The three of us booked a flight with EasyJet for an express 2-day visit to Iceland. Mid March came and we flew out to Reykjavík.
Iceland is undoubtedly a unique place to visit. It’s in stark contrast to any destination I’ve visited in Europe. When we landed at Keflavik Airport, the snowfall came down quite heavily. In a way, the snow provided some great scenery when we embarked on the Golden Circle tour ourselves with the 4×4 vehicle we rented.
With most of the attractions located outside of Reykjavík, driving around Iceland was must. We came across some amazing views of huge mountains, small fjords, rural lands, small waterfalls and the sea whilst on the road.
We were able to visit Thingvellir National Park, Geysir and Gullfoss on the Golden Circle route. With the deep snow, it provided quite a beautiful winter backdrop at each location. Although our stops at each point were quite brief due to the cold weather, we appreciated the natural scenery and beautiful aspects of each location.
Prior to our trip, we wanted to go the Blue Lagoon. The initial date and time we opted for quickly sold out online however we luckily found an alternative time during our stay in Iceland. The area surrounding the Blue Lagoon is remote so a transfer or driving was a must. Although we didn’t spend much time in the lagoon, the experience certainly relaxed our bodies after a stressful ordeal the night before.
The trip to Iceland didn’t get off to a good start as I ended having an argument with an EasyJet boarding official who was completely unprofessional and so rude. So that really altered my mood.
Prior to landing in Iceland, I knew that the country is expensive but not that expensive. I was alarmed at how much dining out, transport and experiences cost. It is by far one of the most expensive destinations I’ve visited. We ordered Dominos one evening and it cost almost £40 for a large pizza, one side and a bottled drink. It’s nuts.
We stayed at Reykjavík Lights Hotel and we chose this place mainly off the reviews that the free breakfast provided was very good. This was not the case during our stay. Not much selection that tickled our fancy and at times, it took long to replenish the scrambled eggs and baked beans. We weren’t impressed.
The weather conditions drastically altered during our time in Iceland. We drove through heavy snow and rain, strong winds and serious blizzards. As it was my first time driving abroad and being the only driver, it was challenging when travelling down roads that were icy and full of rocks and potholes.
My worst nightmare became a reality. As we were driving back to Reykjavík after seeing Gullfoss, one of the tyres on the rental got punctured. I had to pull up into a small residential area and annoyingly when we found someone to help change the flat tyre, it wasn’t coming off the wheel! We were very far from Reykjavík, so we resorted to contacting the car rental company for assistance.
To cut a long story short, the car rental rep wasn’t helpful but eventually we got a mechanic to help us change the tyre. He advised me to drive very slowly as the weather conditions in the night were very dangerous to drive in and the spare tyre is not ideal for that climate. It took us over 2 hours to get back to the hotel, finally arriving after 2am. Originally, we were supposed to back before 10pm. You can do the math.
We did go back to the car rental company to make lengthy complaints about the service we received and the vehicle given to us. They did apologise for all the inconveniences caused, changed our vehicle and gave us a partial refund for the bad experience we went through.
So to summarise all the spiel, I’m saddened by the fact my long awaited visit to Iceland was marred by the horrible car experience and bad weather during our stay. I have been put off going to Iceland for a long time.
Saying that, an inkling of me is glad that I’ve made the trip to the country and got to see some of its great sites in all their glory. Perhaps Iceland will see me again, but definitely during the summer months. Until then, no more cold country visits for a while!