The Iceland Chronicles. Searching for aurora borealis.

Working title: Shit Weather!

1. January 2019

Polar lights have been on my list for many years with the good New Year resolutions. Not that I have any influence on whether I see them or not. But the best chance is between October and March. For some reason the activity is then at its highest, but it is also still pitch dark, which again benefits the thing. My birthday is the end of March, so what better excuse is there to say goodbye to nowhere for 2 weeks? Iceland in March… great idea.

Disclaimer: The whole thing was organized and financed by myself. I didn’t receive any material or financial consideration from anyone for a link, a mention or anything else.

What kept me from flying to the far north so far? Probably my empty account. Excursions beyond the northern 60° latitude are usually not possible with a 20 Euro Ryanair flight. And I was simply too lazy to sit down to the topic. Great Britain is easier to realize. I had Iceland in my head for quite a while, but always took turns with Lapland, depending on which region had just advertised on Instagram again.

Altogether it took about 4 weeks until the route stood, accommodations, & car were organized and somehow a list for working off stood.
For me it was clear from the beginning that I would only fly with Carry On. Also in March and for longer than a week. This has been working very well for years. The packing list will come in a later post.

The Carry On - Krux

But your Carry On ruckus is also there when you leave your mobile phone including boarding pass somewhere and have to run through Keflavik airport at 5 o’clock in the morning just before boarding, in the hope that the “Search iPhone” function works and your iPhone is really still at the security. It was. And I demonized this Carry On nonsense for the first time.

Iceland in March - Which car do I need?

#NoAd: Suzuki Jimny – I drove worse than the 18 year old VW Golf where I learned to drive.

Front wheel? All-wheel? Big? Small? Where to rent? Which insurances? The question of all questions. First of all: The earlier you book a car, the cheaper it is. Since the circumnavigation of Iceland was fixed from the beginning and the chance of snow is still quite high in March, only Allrand came into question. Better safe than sorry! I booked via Billiger-Mietwagen.de. And the car was from GreenMotion. I had no problems. After landing one phonecall and I was picked up with a shuttle by GreenMotion. The car pick-up took about 2 hours. People. The drop-off was a matter of 10 minutes. But it was also 4 o’clock in the morning and the pick-up was 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The car was below the chassis in a state 1A. I would probably book there again.

Tips for renting a car

  • In retrospect I read that one should reserve the car online without any insurance and then conclude insurance on the spot with the rental company. The insurances I had in my package were from a Spanish provider (Car Del Mar) and if something had happened I would have had to deal with them. It would have been necessary to do some more research.
  • The deposit is usually several 1000 euros. Make sure that the limit of your credit card is high enough. Otherwise they will talk you into taking out another insurance policy for a few hundred euros to lower the deposit. Or you simply don’t get the car you ordered. 
  • When you pick up the car, take pictures. Of every quirk. Because often the rental companies don’t note already existing quirks correctly and then ask for them at the time of drop-off.
  • Insurance for the underbody and windscreen is essential. On my way from the airport to Reykjavik I caught the first stone fall. A small one, but it was there. In spring, summer and autumn it can happen that the winds are so strong that your car gets sandblasted. There are insurances for that, too.
  • Especially in the south, insurance against storm and paint damage is a good investment. Christine von Lilies-Diary can tell you a thing or two. I spent three days in the south, three days in really bad weather and three days in sweat because I had no insurance. 
  • The roads are cleared relatively quickly if it snows or has snowed. Many in the region around Reykjavik and also in the south were on the way only with small cars. It is feasible. In the end it depends where you want to go and how safe you drive.

Snaefellsness

Off to Reykjavik

The ride from the airport to the first destination was… interesting. On the one hand you try to focus on the road, to get familiar with the car, not to get crazy about the first stone fall you catched. On the other hand, it is simply not possible. To the right and to the left of the motorway is nothing and nevertheless the view wanders from right to left and back again. Unreal. It is flat, stony. No tree, no bush. Another world you have never seen before. One drives towards distant mountains. “Can I still see them up close?” Many of the other tourists in their rental cars turn right. Direction to the 1. Ring Road. They will probably drive counterclockwise. I drive with the clock hand, because I am afraid that I drive down the cliffs, because I have my eyes everywhere, only not on the road. My first destination is IKEA. Where else do you go in Iceland? If you go next door to Bonus you will find oatmeal, rice, tomato sauce, milk alternatives and biscuits. My feast for the next 10 days.

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One sound dominates Reykjavik. Flat tyres and these small spikes in the tyres when they hit asphalt. The noise already drove me crazy in Tallinn. It sounds like the flat tire you used to have when you had a fat nail in it.

Arriving in Reykjavik I fell after more than 16 hours on my feet into a sleep of the century, which I apparently needed bitterly.

Good morning!

"Reykjavik Hostel Village"

The hostel was sufficient. Since I arrived quite late there was no one left. In this case you get the code for the entrance door, where you find an envelope with a key and a description in which house and room you live. I paid at the checkout. The hostel is a bit used but relatively clean and the bed so comfortable that I could sleep for 11 hours straight. As I spent the whole trip exclusively sleeping in accommodations, I only had one claim on my four walls: “I wantm it to be quiet at night.” That also worked excellently except for one accommodation. The hostel was quite central. There were plenty of parking places in the neighbourhood. The Hallgrimskirkja as well as the city centre could be reached in a short walk.

Summary

  • Position: 5/5
  • Cost/benefit: 3/5
  • Equipment: 2/5
  • Cleanliness: 3/5
  • Other: 3/5
  • Total: 16/25
  • Ø 3,2

Day 2: Þingvellir National Park

As a geography student, Iceland is the land of milk and honey. Much of what the professor used to torture us in the introductory session on physical geography can be seen on the living object. What got stuck in the lecture? Not much, but a deeper interest in volcanoes and plate tectonics.

The first morning was called “Þingvellir Nationalpark”. From Reykjavik you drive about an hour to the park. Many make a day trip out of it and drive the “Golden Circle”. National park, geyser, crater and some waterfall are still on the route. On my agenda was the geyser after the park. The parking places are not free. With a credit card you can get a parking ticket at the machine. In general the credit card is your best friend in Iceland. If you are there early enough, you can choose a parking space. From noon onwards you have to be lucky or you’re stuck in the mud.

Not only is the park a wonder of nature, it also has a special meaning for Icelanders, as the Icelandic Parliament and thus the nation Iceland was founded there more than 1000 years ago. Read more about it here.

What fascinates me? The national park is located between the Eurasian and North American plate. These drift approx. 2 cm apart per year, so that the area in between lowers. Some years ago one discovered a small hole in the footpath and after digging a little further a 10m deep crevice was discovered.

The park is huge, there are infinitely long ways, the water comes from a glacier, is filtered by a dozen layers of lava and is crystal clear. Those who like, or can, have the possibility to dive into one of these crevasses. I wasn’t diving, I got wet anyway. Three hours later down to my last layer. My jacket was not waterproof, on the contrary. And even my little umbrella couldn’t do much more. I think this day was the first and only one in the 10 days that I used this umbrella, wore my jeans, wore my thick scarf, had no braids and was wearing makeup. In general, where I didn’t look like the cliché tourist!

Then what?

The geyser fell into the water. In the truest sense of the word. What did I underestimate? Everything. The ways. The weather. I had planned to spend the afternoon in Reykjavik. Nope. The shopping centre Kringlan is near the hostel. There it`s warm and dry and there are some shops where you can get rid of your money. For example for waterproof clothes, the right shoes or postcards, which you throw in just before departure.

And tomorrow? There we go to Snaefellness…

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1 Comment

  • Reply The Iceland Chronicles. Snaefellsness back and forth. Working title: The butt of the world. | ISABELLA BLUME 16. March 2019 at 22:09

    […] So what better excuse to say goodbye go to Iceland in March to start looking for Northern Lights? Here you get to part 1 of the series.But first… Before the three-hour drive from Reykjavik to Snaefellsness could begin, a little […]

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