My Winter Iceland Adventure – Day 1, Reykjavik
For a while we have wanted to travel to Iceland to see the northern lights, and finally we had found a reasonably priced trip! Our holiday was booked through Fleetway Travel, who’s Iceland break advertised in April was listed on the Travel Zoo Top 20 Holidays.
As a booking agent I thought that Fleetway were great, I booked with Jordan, who gave us some great advice and went over all my options. After booking, you get your rep’s direct number and email if you have any follow up questions, and Jordan was incredibly helpful, and was happy to help us, even when we decided to change our excursions and he had to amend the whole order for us…..
In the end we booked 3 nights at Hotel Klettur, flying with easyJet, and we booked 3 excursions with Gray Line Excursions Iceland, a Northern Lights Mystery Tour, Whale Watching, and the Golden Circle & Fontana Geothermal Spa, and also return transfers from the airport. The total cost for Hotel, Flights, Transfers and 3 Excursions was £733.00 for 2 people. Travel insurance was £17.14, and airport parking was £16.99. After returning home, my credit bill was £99.51, meaning the total holiday came in at £433.32 per person!
On arriving in Iceland, the first thing I noticed during our journey to Reykjavik was how boring everything looked. The houses all looked the same, were very grey and unimaginative, were obviously built with practicality in mind, and were in stark contrast to the wonderful views of the mountains in the distance. Once in Reykjavik itself the architecture had not much improved, some houses had more character than others, but overall the buildings came across quite drab and bleak. I was glad that we had filled our holiday with excursions and things to do, as the town itself I did not feel had much to offer.
As we couldn’t check in until 2pm, we dropped off our luggage and headed into town for a look around. We checked out the menus of each restaurant we passed, checking out the prices of a meal in the notoriously expensive town centre, but we were lucky enough to find some real gems.
Lunch on day 1 was burgers at the Lebowski Bar, an American Diner themed around (you guessed it) The Big Lebowski. We paid under £20 for two burgers with fries and 2 drinks, which considering they tasted amazing, was really great value.
After this, we headed further into the town centre to find Austurvöllur, where I had found a free walking tour being offered. Not only was our guide Marteinn really helpful and knowledgeable, but he made the tour fun, and even sent everyone a guide to Iceland by email if you passed him your address. I would definitely recommend this tour for a brief history of Iceland and an introduction to the layout of the town.
Once the tour had finished, we headed back through town to go and check in to the hotel. We decided that due to the very early start, we would see if we could grab a few hours sleep before heading out to try and see the Northern Lights, so on the way back we popped into the Bonus supermarket to stock up on drinks and snacks (which worked out dirt cheap) and grabbed a Subway to eat later on for tea.
We checked in at the hotel and headed to our room on the ground floor. We were a bit dubious before we went in as there are major building works going on at the rear of the hotel, but we were never disturbed by the work as it had always stopped by the time we returned to the hotel each night. Although we had booked one of the lesser expensive hotels, I was really impressed with our room. It was a really good size and had a huge shower. If I had to criticise one thing, it would be that we had two single beds which we had to push together to make a double, but at least having our own duvets meant no fighting over the covers, and it was fine for a few nights.
That night we headed out on our first Norther Lights Mystery Tour. All the tours had complimentary pick up from the hotel, and after filling the coach with people, we headed out to the Service Station at Thingvellir, but the sky was quite cloudy, and after an hour we were getting a bit bored and disheartened. We were told on the way out that if there was no sign of the lights we would move on, as this was a ‘hunt’, but that night it didn’t really feel like we did much hunting. After just over an hour we finally moved on to another location. I’m not sure exactly where we ended up, but it was still quite cloudy and by this point I just wanted to go to sleep, so after about 30 minutes we gave up and headed back to Reykjavik. One good thing about this tour however is that if you don’t see the northern lights first time out you can rejoin the tour again for free. In fact, your ticket is valid for TWO YEARS!
Although we had a good day in Iceland on day one, the lack of northern lights was a bit of a disappointing end to the day, but we were still hopeful that we would get to see them before we went home.
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