Iceland-Switzerland-Paris-London Trip

First time to Europe in 2016 travel in winter and decided to catch aurora once in my lifetime. Iceland was shortlisted in the trip. Switzerland is about the alps, Paris over the Eiffel tower while London, the London eye, Big Ben, London bridge. Without further ado, let me share with my days in this trip.

Brief Introduction about Iceland

A beauty of nature place with waterfalls, volcanoes, geysir, glacier and the most iconic the northern lights. Reykjavik the capital and the largest city in Iceland holds almost two third population, while Iceland has a relatively small population against the size of the country. Winter are slightly cheaper than summers and the days are shorter during winters the chance of seeing northern light is higher. Winter period: Nov to Mar average temp at 0 to 3. Sunrises around 10am and set at 4pm for us in November it means shorter time to visit the scenery in the day.

Accommodation: Rey Apartment – $180 sgd for 3 nights per pax
Address: Grettisgata 2A (estimate 45 mins drive from Keflavik Airport via route 41)
Power Plug: 2 round pin
Currency rate: 77 isk : 1 sgd
Check on the Exchange Rates at the Keflavik Airport
What to see the nature of Iceland

Day 2

  • The black sand beach
  • Skogafoss
  • Selandjafoss
  • Wild Icelandic horse, sheep & cows

Day 3

  • The blue lagoon
  • Gullfoss Fall
  • Strokkur Geysir
  • Thingvellir National Park

Coming to Iceland recommended to rent a car and drive, basically other than blue lagoon, by visiting the nature are absolutely free. However, you will need to rent a car to travel otherwise join the tour group.
We took flights from Singapore to London and from London to Iceland.The airport in Iceland is located in Keflavik where it is about 45 mins away from Reykjavik and there are list of car rentals available that you can pick up your car by taking the free shuttle bus provided just outside the airport.

After clearing custom and collected our baggage, on the left side is where the money changer is located we change 150 euros to isk, (1sgd = 77 isk). As you walk out the airport, follow the path along the cover walk way there is a bus stop to wait for the bus to car rental drop off stations refer to the pic below where you can select your preferable car rental. We chose the thrifty car rental overall experience was good though there was an indicating signal flashing during our rides, but it didn’t affect our journey. I took one of the OB discount card for pumping petrol that was available on their desk.

The sky are getting dark at 4pm local time and the wind was very strong in Iceland. Hence, wear sufficient before getting out of the airport.

What I wore in Iceland: Universal Travel inner wear lamb fleece top and bottom + knitted top + North face pants + North Face Jacket with fleece + Thick socks + Furry Boots + Gloves + Knitted Hat/Ear muffler. Bring heat pack along.

A must to visit to bonus supermart as the price are much lower and by the time we arrive at our apartment is already almost 7pm and the nearby bonus has already close hence, we just entered the nearest minimart, the prices are expensive. We went to the bonus supermart along the way back from the Skogafoss back to Reykjavik the price is at least 30% cheaper. Home cook is necessary if you do not wish to spend a bomb outside, it was really more cost savings to cook yourself in the apartment. Simply pack some rice from Singapore, although they do sell rice in the supermart, but you probably couldn’t finish as they sell in one big box (flour size box) which result food wastage. Bring some seasoning such as soy sauce, thai fish sauce, marinating sauce if required. At times, cup noodles are essential. We booked our aurora tour with Gray line, and we borrow the phone at the apartment to book our 9pm slot and the bus came to pick us up. Do print and bring along the confirmation of your booking, otherwise, upon your transfer to the main coach, you will require to cross the road to get to theirs headquarter to get them to print for you before you can hop on the coach. It was about 40mins ride to Thingvellir, and it was way too cold and slight snowing. The index was pretty low that night and we are freezing. Didn’t manage to see aurora and on the way I simply doze off till back to our apartment area.

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On second day we had early breakfast and pack some bread with bacons and egg to put in car, with thermal flask filled with hot milo and hot water.  The sky was still dark at 7am when we set off, it was 3 hours’ drive ride to the black sand beach. Roads are pretty straight and car-lite in Iceland. We manage to see the sun rise along the way. Along the roadside you will see horses, sheep and cows they are lovely. Turn right into the Dyrholaey and walking down to the black sand beach, the wind was strong by the seaside. It was almost 10 plus and we left at 11am

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We stopped by the car at the side ensure we don’t block the road (as Iceland road has only 2 lane on road each for one way) to take photos with the horses. I hop down and start to wave to one of the white horse, it actually understand my hand sign and walk towards me and follow with two of its companion. I was little afraid though but trying to take photos with them and touches their hair really rough.

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We arrived at the Skogafoss after an hour drive the wind is very strong, rainbow across the falls are visible at the right side of the fall there is a long stairs up to the viewing deck. Because we have pretty short day and the coldness, we decided not to climb and just take photos. There is a toilet available though there is a sign that it cost 100kr to visit the toilet, since no one is there to collect from us so we quickly use the toilet for free. Hence, is good to keep some coins with you at all times in case you need to pay to visit the toilet. There is this famous local fish and chip Sveitagrill Miu -Mia’s Country Grill, the fish tastes really good for 2,000 kr and the vegetables soup at 1,000kr. You can have a choice of Tartar, ketchup or thai chili, personally feel thai chili better for my tastebud. The fish itself tastes so smooth and silky fish and nice chips, they are really very fresh fish. The hot soup warm us up we had it in car outside was too cold. They opens at 12pm and closed at 4pm. You will see this red wagon when driving towards the fall.

Sveitagrill Miu -Mia’s Country Grill
Address: Skogar | Skogar, South Region, Hella 861, Iceland

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We head down to Selandjafoss after finish up the fish and chips in about 30 mins drive, it is a frozen fall with a lot of ice cube on floor. Kind of slippery and is really beautiful as there is an ice stairway at the right corner. Freezing cold, gloves is a must.

Along the way back from Selandjafoss, bonus supermart is just on our left hand side.
Recommend to buy from bonus supermart and either you bring along shopping bag or you pay for their plastic bag.

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It cost us about 70+ sgd for 2 packets of frozen prawn, 1 packet of scallop, 1 pack of crabstick, 1 pack of chicken drumsticks, 1 pack of pork chop, 1 pack of minced meat, 1 pack of spaghetti, 2 x 6 eggs, one can of tomato spaghetti paste, 1 pack of bonus hotdog (20s), 2 pack of hotdog bun (10s), 2 broccoli, 1 pack of carrot, onions, garlic, one salt with grinder, 1 skyr yogurt, 1 mango, 2 avocado, 1 pack of button mushroom, 6xpotatos, 1 bottle of seasoning oil, 1 cabbage, 1 pack of bacon, 1 pack of cheese etc…

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We have to pump petrol to prepare for the next day journey, we actually try out using cash to pump petrol and got eaten 1,000kr since we failed.

Is a little different, to open the cover we need to off the engine and using the car key to open unlike what we usually do in Singapore by simply pressing a button in the car. So what you need is a credit card with 6 pin if you are at self-kiosk station, below are the instruction we learn from the local. 184.6 kr per litre.

  • Select the amount you wish to pump (you can try 2,000 by 2,000 to try out)
  • Select Language
  • Insert your credit card
  • Remove Credit card
  • Enter Pin
  • Take the pump insert into the car and pump harder
  • You will see the number starts to run as you pump, and it will capped at the amount you paid has reached.
  • Return the pump back and closed the cover
  • Start car and you may drive off

Prepare to the blue lagoon – pack swimsuit, towel, and slippers.
Upon check in, they will issue u a blue strap for you to tap in and out and if any purchase made through the strap, and pay the balance upon leaving.

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We need to change in swim suit before enter to shower area, shampoo and conditional provided. Do apply conditioner on hair when leaving the shower.
Jewellery are recommended to be removed and bring along zip lock bag to keep hand phones.
It was cold however the moment you enter the water it feels fine.
Searching for the free silica mask available on the left side after entering the lagoon.
Hair dryers are available.

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Next destination to the golden circle at the gullfoss waterfall, it was a long ride estimate 2.5 hrs and arrive at 1.15pm. The waterfall is magnificent and really huge. The wind is extremely cold as we are at the top viewing the water gushing down, water splash on us and eye lash with ice frozen sticking on it.

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Stokkur Geysir is just 5 mins away and there is a smelly sulphur smell in the air. It boils every 5 mins interval and the size and height varies so we stood there for 15 mins to take photos. If you were to get around it is pretty slippery hence, make sure you are on anti-slip shoes and stay cautious.  There is a café and gift shop and access to toilet I bought my Iceland bookmark and magnet. That cost 10 plus sgd.

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We left the geysir and head back to our apartment. Since the sun hasn’t set, we went to the Hallgrímskirkja Church walkable distance and we took some snapshot just before sun set.

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Hallgrímskirkja Church
Address: Hallgrimskirkja, Hallgrímstorg 101

There is this waffle cart selling waffles which you can try. But we decided to try out the popular hotdog. Hence, we walk down to the Bæjarins Beztu hot dogs, near the gray line headquarter, there was some construction around the area. Price increase, no longer 400 per hotdog is 420 isk. It doesn’t look very appetizing, but it taste good especially the crispy crunch inside which I think is fried onion that making it tastes nice

Bæjarins Beztu hot dogs
Address: Tryggvagata 1, 101 Reykjavik

We booked our tour at 7pm since we didnt catch on the first night no extra charges. They guarantee you 2 years you can book with them again if you didnt manage to catch the aurora.

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The Aurora is really phenomenon! Download the aurora photo taking app. Maintain high exposure and bring tripod.

The dark sky came across the aurora and they are moving and dancing changing of colour. It is so mind blowing and the sky are filled with stars. It is really freezing but what caught in our eyes beats the cold. We try to snap as much as we could and it was really excited how it is to see aurora in my lifetime. I am fortunate enough that the trip is fruitful. The heat pack I brought along doesn’t help to keep me from the cold. The cold up there is extremely freezing. We had a good 1 hour to snap shot and get ready to go back it was rather early where the trip end at 11pm plus when the aurora start to fade and we bid good bye.

We checkout by dropping the keys at the letter box at 4am to depart to return our car, everything was fine and no extra charges included and we waited for the shuttle bus to the airport. Taking Icelandair from Iceland to German, Frankfurt and we changed back the remaining of Isk back to euro and got back 80 euro per pax.

Total spending isk about 70 euro per pax for the past 4 days.

If time permit, suggest to go further to the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon the ice diamond beach and visit Vik the other town.

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