|Icelandair - Flight to Reykjavik :)|
After transiting few hours at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, we finally continued our journey to Reykjavik. It was my first time experiencing Icelandair :)
|Fall for Iceland - Inside Icelandair :)|
Trying different kinds of airlines from all over the world was part of the traveling experiences that I enjoyed most as inside there, we were experiencing different kind of services and food/beverages offered; reading different kind of in-flight magazines; enjoying different type of in-flight entertainments; listening to different language they were using in the announcements or conveying safety procedures; and also observing different nationalities of the air steward/stewardess from each airline.
|Iceland's location from the map (Source: Icelandair)|
If you were wondering where Iceland was located, please look at the above map.
|Iceland overview (Source: Icelandair)|
And from the above picture, you could see where roughly Reykjavik was located and the white area showed the glacier in the country.
|Keflavik International Airport - Iceland|
In around 3-hours time, we finally landed at Keflavik International Airport - the Iceland's largest and main international airport located at 50 km southwest of Reykjavik. The main airlines operated there were Icelandair and WOW Air. WOW Air?? What an interesting name!!! :) The airport was originally built by US military during the World War II and was handed over back to Iceland's control after the war was over. And for the timing, it was 2 hours before Amsterdam's time or 8 hours before Singapore's time.
|Duty free import to Iceland allowance (Source pic: Smyril Line)|
Next to luggage belt area, interestingly, they had the big duty free shop selling any kinds of things included liquor, wines, and beer, which were their biggest attraction!!! Why??? Because they sold it half price cheaper than what outside shop sold. And their alcohol allowance per person was impressive enough!!! P.s. Look at the chart above. Fyi, the most beer allowance that Singapore custom allowed was only 2 liter, and that too, without much price differences with what we bought from outside...
|My lovely nickname who happened to be a vodka brand in Iceland!!! :D|
No wonder the shopping carts were provided just outside the shop and almost every Icelandic would rush into this duty free shop before collecting their luggage :D (Lucky I managed to buy few bottles of mini Reyka Vodka from there! :P)
|Cashless form type of payment - VISA card - Iceland|
Our tour escort asked us to change the money at the currency exchange counter outside the arrival's hall. Interestingly, they offered the cashless payment form - which was VISA card - where we could use this card everywhere in the country. So, it was more like a form of debit card. So, for example, when we exchange USD to ISK (Icelandic Krona), 1 USD = ISK 110.17, we could choose to store the money directly inside the VISA card which they would issue to us on the spot. We then were given website where we could enter our VISA card number to check the balance of money inside. It was interesting, wasn't it??? :) And all that was without any extra cost. How wonderful it was!!! :) Indirectly, it showed how advance the country was in terms of technology applied in their usual daily life, plus productivity and convenience offered :)
|On our way from Keflavik International Airport to Reykjavik|
Once everyone finished changing their money, we were then taking the tour bus into our hotel in Reyjkavik. The journey was about 50 minutes to one hour's time. I sat next to the bus window so that I could see how the Iceland looked like. I was so exciting!!! It reminded me of my first time's visit to Bhutan.
|Good luck omen!!! Half rainbow welcomed us to Iceland!!! :)|
And suddenly I was thinking, "Hmmm..... will I encounter rainbow here too? Just like in Bhutan???" Guess what? Suddenly half rainbow appeared in front of us... Oh no... It was like the Universe could hear what I said inside my heart!!!
|Double rainbow came soon after!!! :)|
And after some time, the double rainbow appeared in front of us!!! Yalama kheno!!! How beautiful nature was!!! And how simple the nature could bring happiness inside all of us by simply appearing like that!!! My lips was curving up all throughout the journey and thanked the Buddha above for protecting us, giving us good health, and now, with beautiful nature in front of us!!! Life was indeed beautiful, if we knew how to appreciate everything surrounding us :)
|How compassionate Icelandic was!!! :D|
Suddenly our bus stopped. Hhmmm... weird. There was no horn sound. So I thought it must be traffic light or any junctions ahead. But I was wrong!!! Instead, there were ducks crossing the road. Hahahaha..... :P Weren't they cute???
|Hotel Reykjavik Centrum - Reykjavik, Iceland :)|
We stayed for a night at a strategically located hotel in city area called Hotel Reykjavik Centrum. We were given a room for three person at level 3 (highest was level 4). It was big enough for 3 of us and looked so cosy and warm despite cold weather outside.
It was autumn season. Leaves were turning yellow and started to fall. The weather was very nice at average temperature of 7 to 8 degree Celsius when there was no rain or with little rain. The above were the surrounding area of where we stayed.
|Welcome Seafood buffet dinner at Restaurant Reykjavik :)|
At 7 pm we were heading to Restaurant Reykjavik, which was only five-minute walk distance from where we stayed, to have our welcome seafood buffet dinner given by the tour. Fyi, our package tour price was not include lunch and dinner except for our first day's welcome dinner and last day's farewell dinner. Because the food cost was very expensive there!!!
The dinner consisted mostly of fish and seafood products. The mushroom soup with bread and butter were perfect to start my meal with. It warmed my stomach right away. Later on, various and funnily taste cold dish or appetizers were following in and continued with hot dishes and desserts. Among their dishes, there was the famous local Icelandic dish called cured whale or Graffin Hvalur in Icelandic words. In the picture above, it was at the top right (blackish in color).
Still remember the first few book I read after starting my reading habit back into my life - "The Geography of Bliss" by Eric Weiner - it inspired me to visit this country as Iceland was one of the happiest countries in the world!!! In 2016, it ranked third after Denmark and Switzerland (Source: World Happiness report). In the book, the author mentioned of rotten shark (another type of must try local dish for the adventurer!!!). Therefore, no matter how awful or weird it tasted, I did not want to miss the opportunity to try!!! :) There we also tried the first local brew Icelandic draft beer - Gull - one of the most popular beer brand in Iceland. It tasted great!!! Perfect to have it with the roasted lamb :)
|Northern Light Tour Ticket by Gray Line - Iceland|
Our night was not ended there. At 9 pm, we continued hunting for the northern light (Aurora) by joining additional tour by Gray Line. Although we were all exhausted from our journey, we did not want to miss any chance if there was any light appeared. We paid additional ISK 6,400 (USD $58/pax) for this tour. Someone from the tour told me that the chance of seeing the northern light was very high that night. There was a website to check on that but I was not aware of it in the first few days of the tour. But we followed the majority to join the tour anyway.
|Bright full moon with many clouds hovering the sky|
The bus brought us to somewhere dark after forty-minutes drive. I could not recognize the place but the next day it was somewhere on our way to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. There was a cafe selling hot drinks for those who were waiting and they accommodated toilets for guests. But there was a bright full moon and many clouds surrounding it high up in the sky. Oh no!!! In order to see the northern light, the sky must be dark and clear, away from cloud. So after a while, the bus driver announced us to go back to the bus and we were brought to another location.
|Strandarkirkja Church - Selvogur, Iceland|
This time, we were brought to Standarkirkja Church, located at southern coast of Iceland. It was a Lutheran parish church in Selvogur. It rose from the coast and pointed its tower towards the heaven, had more supporters all over the world than any other church in Iceland. It was often referred as 'miracle church' with the locals 'longstanding beliefs that it had profound, divine powers,' originally built in 12th century. Nearby, there was a statue of Norwegian granite called Landsyn or 'land in sight' to commemorate the story of the church's founding. The carver - Gunnfríður Jónsdóttir - herself was buried in Standarkirkja cemetery. (Source: Wikipedia.org).
It looked grand and beautiful, but also a bit eerie at night as there were tombs (cemetery) at the front and back part of the church. If the northern lights were to appear there, how nice it would be!!! Too bad, the clouds were again blocked the lights. Soon after we were brought to another place, but again, no luck this time. We were then brought back to the nearest area from our hotel and reached our room at 2 am. What a long day!!! We were tired but happy!! :) Exciting too for more things to come!!! :)