Icetinerary, like itinerary, but with ice, geddit? (Groan). Unsurprisingly, I’ve already started making puns in preparation for my four day trip to Iceland with one of my best friends, at the end of this week. She might not know what she’s let herself in for…
Joking aside, we’ve had to do a fair bit of planning, as there are so many tours and pre-booked experiences that have caught our attention. Like the rest of the hordes flying into Reykjavik, we want to see it all, from the whales and the puffins to the Golden Circle, but obviously I’ve also added in some geeky points to the itinerary, as I’ve done my research and found some great ideas that were just too tempting to resist.
The Blue Lagoon
There’s a lot of hype around Iceland’s geothermal pool, and a lot of touristy grumbles about the price of entry, towels, locker hire and a drink, not to mention the treatments you might want to buy as extras, but the general consensus seems to be that it’s worth the money to float in 38 degree water that’s full of healthy minerals.
It’s also a common stop-off point on the way to or from the airport, but unfortunately our flight times don’t really tie in with getting much swimming time, so we’re going to play this one by ear and try and pop in if we can. Failing that, there are other pools in the city centre to try out, only with less impressive scenery.
Golden Circle Tour
We’ll be exploring the waterfalls and geysirs of Iceland with Bustravel.is, on the classic Golden Circle Afternoon, which came highly recommended by TripAdvisor. The company is family-run and smaller than its rivals, which – according to the online reviewers – makes for a more personal and friendly experience. I’m looking forward to seeing the lava fields, getting close to a geysir and taking some dramatic photos.
There are plenty of different tour companies lined up at Reykjavik Harbour, offering the chance to see whales in the wild. Puffin tours don’t start for the summer until 15th May, but there’s a chance that we might see the odd puffin or two during the boat ride (fingers crossed). I will probably be humming Enya under my breath and wishing I still had that ‘Save the Whales’ t-shirt from when I was about six years old. It was a bloody good t-shirt.
FUELLING UP FOR ICY ADVENTURES
The Best Hotdog
Yeah, I’ve done the New York street food frankfurter thing and the Currywurst thing in Berlin; I’ve also been to a sausage restaurant in Bristol, which was pretty damn awesome, but even I don’t have as much love for the humble hotdog as Icelanders do.
Their top recommendation is undoubtedly Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, which translates as ‘the best hotdog in town’ (ok, so that name isn’t so humble… more like shameless bragging, but hey ho). It works out at about £3 to try some for yourself, so there’s no excuse not to indulge. Unless you’re a vegetarian or you’re scared of another horsemeat scandal.
Now here’s a foodie challenge: take a bit of shark, bury it for a month until it’s even less appetising, and then serve it up with ridiculously strong vodka. Whaddya get? Hakarl.
I honestly don’t know if I will be able to handle this one, considering my idea of ‘seafood’ involves liberal quantities of Ketchup and batter, not rotting flesh, but I’m willing to give it a go if I come across it in a restaurant. Promise.
The Northernmost Indian Restaurant
Naan can surpass the record of Shalimar, the most northerly Indian restaurant in the world (yep, it was worth another pun. Sorry). There may well be achingly cool sushi bars in Reykjavik, but I’d much rather be checking out the pilau rice and debating which curry to get with it. Phwoar. And Shalimar has the seal of approval from both Bjork and Robert Plant – I kid you not.
Considering the great affection for chicken tikka masala and balti in the UK, it’ll be interesting to see what Icelanders prefer, and how many UK menu choices don’t make the cut here.
ICETINERARY INSIGHT FROM THE LUCKY SODS THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN
I also want to add in some of the most useful posts from influential travel bloggers that have helped me to get a feel of the country before I’ve even got on the flight.
- Find out what Matt at Landlopers wishes he knew before he visited Iceland and learn from his reflections
- Get the lowdown on the Blue Lagoon from Alex in Wanderland and don’t forget to pack a bikini
- Discover Runaway Juno’s first impressions of Iceland (including some awesome stats about Coca Cola)
So, I’m just itching to get there and actually see the sights. Aside from the things I’ve mentioned, I’m also looking to pop into a rock pub, visit loads of the museums, track down some graffiti and climb up to the viewpoint from the Hallgrímskirkja church. Oh, and sleep at some point, presumably.
Have you been already? Let me know your tips.