Winter in Iceland, experiencing the darkness and chasing the Northern Lights felt like an adventure worth having. So, why not pack that adventure into a 48 hour excursion to the middle of the Atlantic in November? No reason not to, really. So a 4 hour and 45 minute red-eye flight later (basically the time it takes to fly across the US) I touched down in Keflavik International Airport.
And as I stepped out of the airport into 50 mph gusts of wind and driving rain, in that moment, I was happy.
There are a few things about Iceland I want to mention. First and foremost, I really like the country. I had been once before in the spring and drove the ring road (Route 1) with my sister. That takes around 8 days and it’s also a grand time. Second and very importantly, you must know what you are getting into. Iceland can be shockingly expensive. And while there are workarounds, just be prepared for some sticker shock (and this is coming from someone who lives in New York.)
Lastly, I went on the trip wanting to see the Northern Lights but due to cloud cover it didn’t happen. But that’s ok because at the end of the day you have to be open to what the adventure brings to you.
Fresh fish, horse, lamb and hotdogs in no particular ranking or order are staples in Iceland. You actually will find a lot of hot dog stands around Reykjavik and it definitely is worth getting one or two. When in Iceland, I will expect you to order at least a couple fish dishes. I still haven’t tried the horse, but it is a local food and something that I do think you should be open to trying.
Around the City
In mid-November, the sun rose at 9:40am and set at 4:30 pm. That isn’t a long day and for the 48 hours I was in Reykjavik it was cloudy (so no sun but that’s kind of why I went.) Iceland’s capital is very walkable with plenty of stores and coffee shops if you want to take a break and warm-up.
For Brooklynites, or those who like to visit Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg on the weekend, Reykjavik will feel a little familiar with all the street art on the sides of the buildings. It’s worth taking an hour to walk around and grab some pics.
Travel and Accommodations
Back to pricing. I am still working on an economic theory about what food items show price differences between countries and for now have decided on using a single shot of espresso.
In New York, a shot of espresso costs about $2.50 (and I recognize we don’t really do shots of espresso in this country but go with me here.) In France, it would be around EUR 1.50 (USD$1.60) and in Portugal EUR 0.65 (USD$0.69)
In Iceland, it’s 450 ISK which is USD$3.98. And that carries through for most other food items, clothes, hotels and anything else you might want to purchase. Note my hotel room below ran $180/night. With the exception of a small bathroom, that was pretty much it.
I will mention I stayed at the CenterHotel Plaza which was right downtown and made everything very accessible. The hotel also had a really solid breakfast that was included, free wifi, nice lobby with a little bar and incredibly friendly and helpful staff. So I would definitely recommend it (and it’s actually more affordable than other hotels in the area.)
Also of note, when you leave Iceland, they stick you on the tarmac in the cold and rain and you climb up that staircase to your plane. And I would have it no other way.
Categories: Escape from New York: Extended Travel