IMG_9775After a busy 10 days on the road, we were ready to return home. Our flights back to the US were uneventful. We broke our travel in Reykjavik where we had a short layover, enough to grab some snacks. Last time to eat Skyr. The 5 hour flight to Boston went too quickly and we landed on US soil just past noon.

Our luggage arrived safely. We had onward flights on Southwest to Dallas, DAL. Since our flight wasn’t slated until almost 5 hours later, we tried to get on earlier flights. Finding seats for eight people turned out to be a mammoth task and the agent told us we would just have to await our scheduled flight.

We walked over to Terminal C to eat a slow lunch. Back at our terminal, we passed security and waited. And waited. Bad weather slowed down the schedules and there were many flights cancelled or delayed, ours fell victim to the confusion. And as the needle on the clock inched past the 5:40 departure and continued past 6 pm and then 7 pm, the restlessness became real. We were so near home and yet so far. The departure hall was filled with passengers going nowhere and the agents were being besieged by questions.

IMG_9766We got dinner and finished it leisurely. Eventually, our flight was announced for departure and we left more than 2 hours past our original time. Dallas Love Field is a smaller airport than DFW and so it was easy to claim our luggage and find our way outside. We said goodbye to our travel partners for the trip and a Uber taxi took us home, much later than imagined, but at least we were heading home.

In retrospect, I found Iceland to be much different from what I imagined. It was too gray, too windy and too desolate initially for me. But the country grew on me and I would definitely visit again to complete the ring road and explore the Northern and Western lands. It couldn’t have been easy to make this land habitable and yet the Icelanders have managed just that and done it well. I loved the ever morphing topography, the abundance of waterfalls, the reverence for the language and its preservation, the midnight and beyond sun. The infrastructure is awesome, a lot of the attractions are free of charge and of people. I’m glad we decided to visit now.

IMG_9396Traveling in Norway was no challenge as everything is well laid out. Doing the Norway in a nutshell was a great idea since it took us away from the cities and laid open the natural beauty of the country. Traveling the Flam Railway makes one wonder about the people behind the engineering marvels of such a construction, their intelligence, their steadfastness, their resourcefulness, their courage and their dedication to such a Herculean task. While the Norwegian fjords couldn’t quite match up to the magnificence of Doubtful Sound, they were an experience in themselves. Oslo was lively, walkable and full of history. Again, well laid out network for transportation, easy to use and very safe.

So here are some tips:

  • Use the stopover if flying Icelandair, there’s no extra cost involved
  • Book early, especially lodging, use hotel points, if available. Also try Hosteling International, we found their accommodations in Vik quite to our liking.
  • Pack food from home. Unlike New Zealand, Iceland is more liberal with what can be carried into the country. It saves a lot of money and time.
  • Rent a car. Sixt car rental service was very good and using the Comprehensive Coverage gave us peace of mind.
  • Renting the Mifi device for the car was very helpful, especially driving long distances
  • Downloading maps and directions for offline use
  • Pack layers of clothes and be prepared for all-weather. Pack a swimsuit as many public pool are available
  • A good camera is a must
  • Make reservations for the Blue Lagoon
  • Credit cards are well accepted in most places, we hardly needed the cash we brought along.
  • In Iceland, N1 gas stations service a good portion of the country, some have food and grill. N1 prepaid cards are worth investing in if traveling to distant locations with unmanned fuel stations.
  • Eat soft serve ice cream at gas stations. Other cheap foods: coffee, hotdogs
  • Drive under the speed limit, speed enforcement appears to be robust.
  • Make use of the long hours of sunlight, if visiting in summer. But keep track of time as well. Carry sleep masks in case the room isn’t dark enough
  • Take refillable bottles for water
  • Get VAT documents while shopping
  • In Iceland, make use of the duty-free stores both on entering and before exiting the country
  • Food is expensive, more so in Iceland
  • Get VAT refunds at the airport
  • Driving can take a while, as the maximum speed is 90 km/ hour, so even short distances can seem long. Plan accordingly
  • Most Icelanders speak very good English
  • The Reykjavik City Card offers free admissions to many museums and discounts at attractions and restaurants
  • Look into the Norway in a Nutshell tour, it’s totally customizable
  • The Comfort Hotel Grand Central in Oslo offers a free wi-fi router for four hours
  • Oslo City Pass is worth looking into

So long until the next trip! Safe and happy travels!