Iceland – Europe – 2014 – Day 16 & 17

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We drove back East towards Vik and the area we drove the day before. The fog got really thick that the car behind was tail gating so close and you just couldn’t see in front of you. We were literally driving through the clouds for a bit.

3-4 hour drive from our place to Skaftafell. We arrived at 
Skaftafellsjokull at 1245PM as Ricky sped. Good thing the GPS tells you when a speed trap appears as we were going 140KM in a 90KM highway (so lucky we didn’t get caught). We walked Skaftafell – Vatnajökull National Park Iceland – Skaftafell glacier which in total was a 4KM walk. Ricky climbed on a glacier and got to a point where he had turn back or we might not have seen him again. It’s surreal out there. We drove back to Vik and ate at Halldorskaffi again. I had the 9 inch tramp pizza which was Icelandic cheese, ham and pineapple for 1800kr. The dairy here is so fresh and so good. Ricky continued the drive back which seemed a little gruelling. We went for hot dogs at Bæjarins Beztu and that is a must for anyone who visits. It’s the cheapest food you could purchase in Iceland and is so good and that is probably because unlike the hot dogs back home, these ones are made of lamb making them more flavourful. It’s only 380kr and you need to try it with everything on it. There is one stall open late by the fish market restaurant in downtown Reykjavik.

I enjoyed going to Skaftafell but would it have been worth it to have done geysir, gullfoss and hekla today instead? It was such a drive and I commend Ricky fit driving the whole thing.

NOTE- Better to book multiple locations for accommodation around the island so you don’t waste time back tracking and driving.

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9 degrees celsius out. We booked Blue Lagoon and did the experience premium for 92 Euro that includes visitor entry, blue lagoon entry, slippers, robe, towel, meal at lava restaurant (or other option is a massage) plus a skin care trial pack and algae mask.

We arrived to only two coach buses and a few cars so it actually wasn’t too packed. They give you a wristband that acts as your locker lock, credit and whatnot. It opens and closes your locker with a simple tap. It was raining a bit and was quite windy. The water is heated by the power plant. It’s a milky blue water with steam. We got in and in the far left corner there are bins where you can get the silicone mud masks. You scoop it out and smear it on your face and leave for 10-15 minutes. As part of the package we received, we also grabbed a drink from the water bar and i choose a nice gull lager. We also have as part or package the algae mask which is frozen and you activate in by dunking it in the water then rubbing your face with it. The water is very easy to float in but it’s chilly when you step out. There is also a waterfall as well as a steam and sauna room. They also offered massage service in the water. We stayed in for about two hours before we went for lunch at their restaurant. The restaurant is called Lava and our package included the set menu of two courses or you can opt to add at additional cost. I got the Icelandic menu which had torched salmon with apple, horseradish, smoked onion and watercress. The main, I got was the fried rack of lamb and shoulder with sun artichoke, grapes, almonds, pickled red onion and chives. This meal would have been 5100kr outside of our package deal. This meal was phenomenal.

We showered and drove back to our Airbnb to await our host’s brother again to drop us off at the airport for our flight back home to Toronto.

To end off, Prague was the best city because it was perfect weather, cheap but good quality and quantity for food. I regret not going to La Degustation Boheme for that 6-10 course meal. Zurich was beautiful and I would love to live there. But the best day of the entire trip was probably first full day in Iceland – Driving, waterfall, waterfall, glacier, lamb sandwich and 6 course meal.

Iceland – Europe – 2014 – Day 15

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Woke up at 630AM and made breakfast before heading out. $7 eggs (aiya) but the Skyr was interesting. it’s actually a soft cheese with texture in between yogurt and cream cheese; I got Apple. We hopped into the car and it was still dark out Around 9AM, the sun started to rise and it was magnificent. There is only one highway – Hwy 1 that goes around entire island.

Our first stop off the day was Seljalandsfoss, which is the waterfall you can walk behind. It was an awesome experience and we were midway through before we saw the first signs of tour buses. Next stop was to Eyjafjallajökull volcano which after visiting the centre were told that we can’t access the volcano because there are huge craters. The last time this volcano erupted was 2010. She did say however that when it is around Easter time, when the snow falls then you are most able to access it. Or if we had a really good car and drove the North Eest or North East points, we can access via glaciers.

Skogafoss falls was out next destination. A hike to the top was well worth it but I do recommend proper shoes as it’s muddy. Once you reach the top, climb over the ladder and continue down. If you are adventurous, venture down towards the water. A 10 minute drive East, you can goto Solheimajokull glaciers if you follow an unpaved path in. It’s black sand beaches but there is a sign that said you should not pass… We did. We climbed, jumped and ran through the sand, rocks and glaciers and found a small stream that we all drank from. Too bad we all left our water bottles back the car. As we were leaving around 1PM, the sun was perfect – golden light if i say so myself or at least perfect lighting. NOTE- the sun rises around 930AM and it’s dark by 430PM and rainy/foggy this time year in Iceland. But strange thing is its not pitch black but rather the skies are very dark with an actual sunset. Average temperature is 8 degrees.

We drove towards the town of Vik and had lunch at this little restaurant in a hotel called Halldorskaffi (Víkurbraut, Vík) which has great reviews. They only served everything made from Iceland and it’s land. I got the lamb sandwich 2000isk with fries and it was absolutely delicious and juicy. I also got the homemade ice cream made from a farm in Myrdalur for 1400isk and could definitely taste the freshness of the dairy.

After lunch we drove about 10 minutes away to Reynisfjara beach and cliffs. It’s surreal there. Black sand beach, gnarly waves, caves with rocks that are edged but have corners similar to what people have imagined at the fortress of solitude in Superman or Game of Thrones. There is one side that looks like pillars that can be climbed. If you look up on the mountain, you can see sheep just hanging up there. Across the waters, it’s Iceland’s largest lighthouse but no one is allowed to that island as its a bird sanctuary.

We went to Fish Market – Fiskmarkadurinn (‪Adalstraeti 12, Reykjavik) for dinner and got the tasting menu which was 9900isk – $99CAD. The menu went like this: Tempura Rock shrimp with melon and wakame salad. Whale with horse raddish cream and berries – smoky. Langoustine shrimp with edamame puree and cauliflower. Icelandic mussels in lobster broth with Seward base with seaweed tea. Scallop nigiri and volcano maki with lobster tail. Lightly Salted cod with celery and cranberries with potato puree. Grilled salmon with fennel and Apple chutney with crispy lotus root. Icelandic lamb with beets and mushrooms. Cheesecake, chocolate molten lava with raspberry licorice sauce, passion fruit, strawberry, raspberry, coconut ice cream.

Amsterdam – Iceland – Europe – 2014 – Day 14

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Grabbed a quick breakfast at Caffe Belmondo by Zuid station and hopped on the train to Schiphol airport – 2,60 euro. Very quick subway ride. Icelandair offers 1 free check-in baggage on arrival; two on the departure flight. After we checked in, we had to walk 20-30 minutes to get to our gate. Along the way, they have little area such the forest park where there are charging stations that you physically bike in order to charge your phone as well as a huge comfy communal sofa seating area and an outdoor terrace. The weather was perfect the day we left Amsterdam which sucked but at least we missed the flash floods happening in Italy.

I used the bank machine when we arrived at the airport and got 20000kr which is equivalent to $186CAD. Our Airbnb host’s brother picked us up and brought us to our accommodations. 8000kr each way for all 4. We are renting their Lexus for $55CAD/day. Our Airbnb was about 10-15 minute drive outside of Reykjavik. Ricky is our driver this trip. For dinner we went to Snaps ‪(horsgata 1 | ‪Odinstorg, Reykjavik ‪101) for dinner. I got Kir Royal 1200kr and Baccala Provincial which is salted cod with tomato sauce and fingerling potatoes 4100kr. We then ventured to a nearby grocery store – Hagkaup to grab food for breakfast. The hotdog stand unfortunately was closed by the time we arrived. There aren’t any traffic lights but roundabouts instead.

Netto, Bonus and Hagkaup are the cheap grocery stores, a few stay opened late. Gas is expensive with the lowest being 95 octane at 227.9. No need to tip but if service is good then you can leave a tip of 5-10%. There aren’t many trees here as it’s very windy. The water is so good here that you can drink from the tap BUT if you use hot water, it will smell of sulphur. The staple vegetable here is the potato. After the collapse in 2009 when importing was too expensive and difficult to get, they had to live off the land and cultivate what naturally is provided such of lamb and potatoes which makes for great tasting dairy and lamb (all grass fed).

NOTE:

-To see the aurora borealis – You need it to be really cold and a crisp night where there are no clouds to catch the northern lights.

-When opening a car door; hold the door as the winds will pull it open

-DO NOT SPEED IN ICELAND – IF CAUGHT; WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE SPEEDING TICKET

Itinerary – Europe – 2014

1106-2014 Europe – Milan, Zurich, (enroute via Salzburg & Munich) Prague, Paris, Amsterdam, Iceland

 

My friends (Mimi, Ricky & Aaron) found the crazy one-way flight deal for $177USD (From New York-Milan; a week to get to Prague-Paris-Hong Kong). We did however alter it so we would goto Amsterdam and then a layover in Iceland before returning back to Toronto. In total, we travelled for 2 weeks.

If you haven’t joined and booked with Airbnb yet, follow the link and get credits for your first booking. www.airbnb.ca/c/ruu

Here is the itinerary.

 

11/06 – Toronto – New York – Milan

FLY – YYZ-JFK; JFK-MXP

 

11/07 – Milan

AIRBNB – District 13 – Milan

-Meet Mimi & Aaron at MXP Airport

-Malpensa Express train to Milan Cadorna Station

-Walk around Corso Como

-Dinner – Eataly

 

11/08 – Milan

-Piazza Del Duomo

-Lunch – Osteria al 29 Pizzeria

-Basilica di Sant’ Ambrogio

-San Lorenzo

-Chinatown & Navigli

-Dinner – Gia Como OR Da Oscar OR Osteria Luna Piena

-Chinatown – Massimo del Gelato

 

11/09 – Milan – Zurich – enroute to Prague

TRAIN (Trenitalia)– Milan – Zurich – Prague (Train went on strike) – DETOUR

-walk around Zurich

-Lunch – Brasserie Federal

TRAIN – Zurich – Salzburg – Munich (detour)

 

11/10 – Enroute to Prague

BUS – Munich – Prague (detour)

AIRBNB – Prague 1

-walk old city

-Dinner – V Kolkovne

 

11/11 – Prague

-Charles Bridge

-Kampa Park

-Lunch – Bistro De France

-John Lennon Wall

-Petrin Tower

-Midday snack – Café Savoy

-Dinner – Pho Vietnam

-Dessert – Café Louvre

 

11/12 – Prague

-Lunch – Café Lovre

-Havelske Trzsnice

-Prazska Trzsnice

-Dinner – Kolkovna Salavran

 

11/13 – Prague – Paris

FLY – PRG- CDG

-Breakfast – La Bottega Di Finestra

-walking the Jewish Quarters

TRAIN – RER – Gare Du Nord

HOSTEL – Vintage Hostel

 

11/14 – Paris – Amsterdam

TRAIN – Paris – Amsterdam

-Store luggage at Gare du Nord

-Lunch – Collette

-Sacre Coeur

-Montmartre

-Galleries du Lafayette

 

11/15 – Amsterdam

AIRBNB – Amsterdam Nieuw-West

-Dinner – Hunkar Restaurant

 

11/16 – Amsterdam

-Central Station – Pick up iamsterdam card (2 day pass)

-canal cruise (iamsterdam card)

-Stedelijk Museum

-Lunch/Dinner – Pompa

-iamsterdam sign

-Red Light District

 

11/17 – Amsterdam

HOTEL – Citizen M

-Library

-Lunch – Vapiano

-Science Centre Nemo

-Dinner – Chinatown – A Fusion

-Hartman et Hartman

 

11/18 – Amsterdam – Reykjavik, Iceland

FLY – AMS-KEF

AIRBNB – Reykjavik

-Dinner – Snaps

-grocery shop – Hagkaup

 

11/19 – Iceland

DRIVE

-Seljalandsfoss

-Skogafoss falls

-Solheimajokull glaciers

-Lunch – Halldorskaffi

-Vik

-Reynisfjara Beach

-Dinner – Fish Market – Fiskmarkadurinn

 

11/20 – Iceland

DRIVE

-Skaftafellsjokull – Skaftafell – Vatnajökull National Park Iceland

-Lunch – Halldorskaffi

-Dinner – Bæjarins Beztu

 

11/21 – Iceland – Toronto

FLY – KEF-YYZ

-Blue Lagoon

-HOMETIME

 

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