So off to Iceland we went, a straight 7 hour flight from Seattle to http://wikitravel.org/en/Reykjavik. We had planned to go and see the northern lights but that was not to be the case, it was too cold, too much snow, too much rain, wind etc. So we decided not to waste a single second there and did the next best thing: We rented a car and decided to tour on our own, which is what we live for anyway!
Renting a car was easy and Cheap! There was a tour office in our hotel so it was easy to ask questions, get maps, and find out the best places to see on our own.
We stayed at the Hilton http://www1.hilton.com/en_US/hi/hotel/KEFHFHI/index.do and have no real complaints. The rooms were clean, the front desk competent, they gave us a room with single beds but no biggie we just pushed them together and made the best of it. 🙂
So instead of taking a tour bus filled with people and having limited time in places, we had our own car which was fantastic and the rental came with free GPS. The Island is big but its pretty easy to get around. We saw Geysirs and waterfalls that were to die for. BTW the word Geysir actually comes from Iceland, and in America we just use that word to describe the same thing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geysir
The roads in Iceland are very nice so it was easy traveling. We even were traveling right next to the Volcano that just erupted and put ash all over the roads, town, etc. It was pretty cool. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_eruptions_of_Eyjafjallaj%C3%B6kull
I saw some of the best waterfalls while I was there, I love waterfalls. And of course the best part was the Blue Lagoon, you can’t go to Iceland and not swim in the Blue Lagoon. Its the craziest and coolest thing I have ever seen. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Lagoon_(geothermal_spa) Just be advised that the lockers in the shower rooms are large enough for your clothes and belongings. If you have a suitcase there are Large lockers outside the locker rooms that you can store your luggage instead of leaving it on the bus if this makes you more comfortable. If you rent as towel and robe at the front desk just be aware it is very expensive! Everything about the Blue Lagoon is expensive, the food, the travel bus to get there, the rental of towels and robes, etc.
Iceland Air: The flight itself was pretty decent, but the flight crew was the worst I have EVER encountered in the 25 countries I have been too. They were rude, they never smiled or said pleas and thank you, they were inattentive, ignoring all of us for most of the flight. We witnessed this both coming and going to Iceland.
Restaurants: There are plenty of pub’s and pizza joints, Mexican and Italian and nicer restaurants in Iceland. The lobster dishes are to die for. However most restaurants are very formal and want men to wear jackets and woman to be dressed for dinner. They do not tell you this in the guide books, so be prepared. If you show up to a restaurant and you are not dressed they way they feel you should be for dinner they actually put you in a separate room and give you the worst service possible.
Icelanders are not that friendly, they don’t have a sense of humor and they seem put out and off by most foreigners. They are very quiet and keep to themselves. They will engage you in conversation, but mostly for business purposes only. They seem to not really care much about who you are, why you are there, and how long you will stay. They turn their nose at you and shaking hands seems foreign to them. We did not have a bad experience but it was different. It was very hard to strike up a conversation with anyone in restaurants, or the hotel, or on the street etc.
FASHION: Iceland is considered very trendy. They follow all the latest around the world fashion and they dress to the nines most places. You did not see someone in sweat-pants and flip-flops. All the woman were dressed up everywhere we went. The trend at this point was fancy stretch pants, tucked into tall and high fashion boots, longer sweaters and wraps. Most of the woman have long hair, and its usually kind of messy with a messy pony-tail, bun or braid. I was unsure why this was but realized they walk a lot and ride their bikes to their destinations, and always wear a hat. So they probably just figure my hair is going to get messed up anyway… Many of them wear furs, so don’t be put off by this is this offends you. Its cold there and furs are not only fashion but a necessity.
NOTE: Iceland is VERY expensive, be prepared to pay top dollar for most everything. (two sodas and a bag of peanuts cost us 20.00 for i.e) A glass of house wine can be 12.00 and right now gas is at 8.00 a gallon. yikes!
And after thinking it through and yakking about the experience with my husband, I feel confident in saying that Iceland was without a doubt the worst customer supported and customer service experience we have ever encountered. We have been all over the world, and I cannot think of a place that felt more cold, and showed more rudeness than Iceland. But hey that was just our experience….
I will post photos when I have them downloaded. Cheers!!