We were quite excited to have some exotic trip to somewhere which would not be that far away from Europe, expensive and at the same time super exciting. After having a long discussion with my girlfriend we decided to end up in Iceland! We checked the tickets right away, and yohooo! They are not so expensive! Iceland! We are going to Iceland! We heard so much about this country but never had a chance to go there and suddenly it appeared to be perfect choice for our destinations! I must say that we were right in thinking that it is pretty exotic, not far away, but we were wrong in thinking that it is also not so expensive! It appeared to be preeetty much expensive but about it later.
We bought tickets from WOW Air and started to get ready. Since it was low cost flight provider, we were not allowed to take any cm larger things that were allowed. And I am saying it literally. WOW air has super conservative policy and they will not allow you to take a baggage that doesn’t fit their standards. I had a backpack which was slightly exceeding their measurement borders and they forced me to buy an additional luggage. So I had to pay about 50 euros for that on top.
Some reading for flight
By the way, you can easily buy ISK currency at the airport as well as sim card from local data provider.
The fly from Frankfurt was supposed to be about 3.5 hours long. Not much. We were planning to arrive to Reykjavik and arrived without delays. For our luck, Iceland is shengen area so we didn’t have to get a visa.
Finally we arrived! Airport in Reykjavik was really well developed. We didn’t meet thaaat much tourists as we used to expect. Ah I completely forgot to say that as dates we chose February! When I told it to my friends they said, are you crazy?! Going to Iceland in winter?! Actually I must say that there is misperception of Iceland in my opinion. Winter in Iceland can be cold, but it is not Siberia. It is even plus degrees like +4 +7 some parts of the time. Most of the roads are getting cleared from snow, so you even don’t notice it. And this is mostly because of warm Gulf Stream. Therefore, if you are not planning to drive with F roads which are mostly closed in winter, you don’t need 4x4 car.
One of very few moments when we saw snow in Iceland
Talking about car. We rented one. And rented from Enterprise. In Germany I had quite good experience with this company, and decided to go for this one in Iceland as well. All rental companies are nearby Reykjavik and there is free of charge shuttle bus that you can take to get to them. So don’t worry about that. Rather worry about which car to pick. If you are budget traveler, make sure that you take econom car since petrol in Iceland is pretty expensive and hot spots are far away from each other so you will have to drive a lot. I think I drove about 3000 km within 10 days and that costed me additional 200 euros due to the reason that Enterprise.is gave me upper class car which was more comfortable but at the same time more petrol consumable. At leaaast they gave us free coffee in their office which helped us to warm up a bit..
We decided to stay not in Reykjavik but in Selfoss since we liked the apartment over there in Airbnb more and apparently it appeared to be perfect for it’s location. Afterwards we realized that Selfoss was absolutely great for Golden Circle and for visiting south of Iceland. If you decide to stay in Selfoss this will save you one hour everyday I would say plus petrol costs.
Sweet apartment in Selfoss - Helgis place
We chose apartment of Helgi in Selfoss and that was one of the best parts of our trip to Iceland. We met so many wonderful people over there and got so much help that we felt completely in love with that place. That what I like in Airbnb. This is something that you can’t experience usually in Hotels.
When we arrived it was already late evening and we decided that ok, there is not much to do and to shoot right now, then let’s go probably to restaurant. And here we go. It was first time when we realized that Iceland is actually pretty expensive. One meal for one person in nearby restaurant was about 50 euros. Which means for two people we would have to pay about 100 euros! Holy shit. No way. That rich we are not. So we decided to go low and went to Pizzaria. That was better option but yet expensive for pizza. We paid about 30 euros for one mid size pizza which wasn’t even pizza restaurant but fast food pizza, like for mass production. At that point we realized one thing. Mate, we cannot afford to eat everyday at restaurant so we must buy some food from supermarket and prepare it on our own. However, we were not that much better off since for the products that you would pay 15 euros in Germany we paid about 50-55.
Ostur - means cheese in Icelandic. On average 500 gr. cost 7-8 euros.
In Iceland people say, if you don’t like weather wait 5 minutes. They mean that it is changing pretty often. Unfortunately it wasn’t the case during our stay and weather stayed to be awful during whole time. Nevertheless we tried to get most out of it. What can you do? The weather is bad, then still try to get the best out of it. Don’t get upset!
But this weather condition destroyed our dream of seeing Northern Lights. Although we chose February since everywhere it was written that it is easier to see northern lights and sky is clear usually, that was not the case. But nevermind, Iceland has moooore to offer that only Northern Lights!
We decided to start from Gulfoss waterfall, which was close to us. It was super windy and when we reached waterfall there was almost no one. It is therefore good to start in the morning since it starts lightning around 10 A.M. and until then you can wake up, pack your staff and be at your point which you wanna shoot.
Heavy wind in Gullfoss
We were almost about to leave when we saw that one bus came with tourists. We were happy that we came before them because it would be then difficult to shoot in a crowded place.
Youtube link: Storm in Gulfoss
From Gulfoss, we decided to move towards to Geysir since it was also pretty close. Due to weather conditions, we also didn’t meet thaaat many tourists over there. But disadvantage of this was that wind was not letting Strokkur to erupt at it’s most therefore it was also hard to capture right moment. By the way, it is actually only Strokkur now which is erupting whilst Geysir stopped to erupt after earthquake. In any case, to see how Strokkur erupts was really great.
Youtube link: Strokkur Eruption Iceland
If you decided to go to Iceland for photoshooting, make sure that you have perfect cover for your camera. Even if the is no rain, water drops from waterfall will make you to struggle. We also invested quite a lot into our clothes and that was a goooood decision. If it is raining the whole day, you cannot walk all day with umbrella and shoot photos, but you need proper water repellent, resistant or proof clothes. The best part of this kind of cloth is that it also usually gets dry much faster than usual ones.
Our next destination was national park of Iceland. This is usual points which are in golden circle. Þingvellir or Thingvellir. Difficult to pronounce. But that won’t be the only name that will make you to struggle = )
Youtube link: Thingvellir park in rainy day
The magic of Thingvellir is that the park lies in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the boundary between the North American tectonic plate and the Eurasian. To its south lies Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland. Saying literally, there you can be on the border of two giant tectonic plates. There is also possibility to dive there. And some people do.
in the middle of the North American tectonic plate and the Eurasian
It was getting darker, therefore we decided to head home. By the way it’s also getting darker earlier than usual in winter time in Iceland around 5-6 p.m. which is also a limitation.
Our next destination was Skalholt. It is church which has beautiful architecture. What I liked the most over there that it was very simple. No gold or any other expensive stuff.
On our way there was also Faxi waterfall. It is not that famous as other ones but was pretty much beautiful as well. By tomorrow, wind started to slow down, and our neighbors in Airbnb told us that some parts of western side of county was closed due to storm and they were stuck in one place and could not go anywhere. So we were relatively lucky.
What Iceland would it be without hot springs?! I have to say that we didn't go to Blue Lagoon but went to SECRET Lagoon. That was much cheaper, more natural and less crouded. We even got 50% discount for Aysel being student. Though they even didn't ask for her student ID. We had a luck because we forgot it at home.
Youtube link: Secret Lagoon Iceland
The tour to glacier lagoon was on our list and it was coming in 2 days. Glacier Lagoon tour was guided tour for which we paid about 600 euros overall and was supposed to be a day tour in Vatnajoekull glacier. During our stay in Airbnb house our neighbors told us that their tour was cancelled due to heavy non-stop rains. Their tour was also supposed to be in Vatnajokull so I started to worry a bit. Nevertheless, we still had a hope since we haven’t received any cancellation emails etc. yet. Therefore, our plan was following: To drive to the hotel nearby of vatnajokull glacier, stay there overnight, and go to the tour in the morning.
In a city we found public kitchen which is heated by hot springs
How it looks when you drive in daylight
How it looks after 6 p.m.
We started to drive early in the morning towards eastern Iceland where glacier is. Basically, there is only one highway road in Iceland which is Ring Road. If you drive from West to East, you will have to take this Ring Road which is passing also through South. Consequently, our way was going to pass near two giant waterfalls as well as through Reynisfjara beach! Yohoo! We were super excited! And also we hoped to see abandoned U.S. army airplane.
Youtube link: Crashed / Lost airplane Iceland
Our first destination was Seljalandsfoss. By the time we arrived, there were already some tourist buses. But this is what you going to see nearly in all hot spots. The waterfall itself drops 60 m (197 ft) and takes its origin from Seljalands River while the last one takes its origin in the volcano glacier Eyjafjallajökull. Visitors can walk behind the falls into a small cave and take some nice pictures. The best is when Sun starts to set and you can see rays through waterfall. But be careful, you will be completely wet! Therefore, make sure to take cover for your camera. If you have time, you can also walk nearby and will see some other but relatively smaller waterfalls.
Youtube link: Seljalandsfoss Iceland
The next waterfall was going to be Skogafoss. With this one I felt completely in love. It is really gigantic and you feel so small when you stand nearby. It was absolutely stunning view. I would explain all my feeling with one photo:
Afterwards we moved towards Reynisfjara. It is also called black beach in Southern Iceland. The name takes its origin from black sand near the beach. Yet again, we were completely charmed by rocks, cliffs, and blue ocean which was making the atmosphere much more mystic. Here, you have to keep one thing in mind. Don’t go too close to the waves! That can be super dangerous and can kill you if you don’t manage to get yourself out. The ocean may look calm but suddenly a strong wave may come with a lot of ocean water and take you away. Many tourists lost their lives there so this is not a simply recommendation.
Youtube link: Reynisfjara beach Iceland
We also stopped many times in different areas to witness the beauty of nature.
It was a small lake but we felt like in the sky
Kerið - a volcanic crater lake located in the Grímsnes area in south Iceland, along the Golden Circle
Icelandic off-road, they are getting imported into country without tunning
Near huge glacier - somewhere..
It was getting darker and after 2 hours of driving we arrived to Vatnajokull. In the morning we supposed to go to the tour but our hope was completely destroyed by an email we received, saying our tour will be postponed to another days. But we didn’t get disappointed since we would love to visit Vatnajokull in any case so our drive wasn’t useless. I wrote to our tour provider and they refunded the amount back within couple of days. In the morning we started to drive to Vatnajokull glacier which is one of the largest in Europe and covers up to 10 percent of Iceland. This is completely different experience. You will definitely spend couple of hours there if you wanna make some shoots.
trying to fly the drone
Youtube link: Vatnajökull Iceland
We started to drive back. During the way back we saw some wild horses chilling out in the nature. By the way, if I am not wrong, you can buy horse meat in Iceland. They sell it.
Another point in our to see list was of course Reykjavik. But I won’t say much about it because it’s just a city and has the same characteristics that all other cities have. Except buildings! They are really different and you can feel architecture style. Climate of Iceland has affected their building styles very much. In the past they used to use natural grass to cover the buildings. Now they don’t use it of course anymore.
We also visited very fascinating canyon of Iceland which is called Fjaðrárgljúfur. Believe me, we had the same problem when we read it..
By the way, on our way from Selfoss to Reykjavik we also visited Hveragerdi. There you can find Thermal Park where a lot of thermal springs take their origin. There is also a like to which you can hike about two hours and take a bath where temperature is about 40 degrees. All thermal waters smell like eggs but Icelandic people are completely used to it already. It may feel weird to you if you have arrived first time there and wanna take a bath and the water will smell eggy. Consequently, almost all their heating seems to be for free since they are getting it from thermal resources. Therefore, all houses are usually very warm inside.
I tried to cover our trip to Iceland pretty much but it is the country which must be visited several times during different periods. Only by this you can really explore the whole beauty of Iceland.
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