No, not the frozen food shop, the country. Mention Iceland to anyone and I guarantee they will say one of two things, if not both... 'Oooo, Iceland is on my bucket list, I really want to go one day'
'Isn't Iceland really expensive?' To the second one, I can now answer, that yes, it bloody well is, once you get there and I'll explain in a bit just how expensive. To the first, I get it, Iceland does seem to be 'that place' that everyone wants to go to and apparently few ever do. Iceland is stunning, granted we were there in the dead of winter and during one of their worst snowfall periods in years, so everything was white and icy. Even Reykjavik city centre had an unusual amount of snow on the streets, but do they ever manage it well. Yes, yes I know it is called Iceland and we should expect snow and ice, but the majority of the time it is very green, and in contrast Greenland is generally icebound... go figure.
Iceland has a population of less than 400,000 (less than Coventry) and 2/3rds live within the city boundary of Reykjavik. Fun fact of the day. The 'we' of We went to Iceland is me and my younger brother.
Ha Ha, oh reader, did you think for a while I had met a lady, at last, the love of this SLOM's (Sad Lonely Old Man) life?
You've read this right?
https://www.my11yearplan.com/post/dating-apps I am still rocking the single life, nope, I don't know why either.
Back to my brother.
It was the first time, because of Covid and him living in Switzerland, that we had seen each other in the best part of 16 months.
He is the reason, or driving force for me starting this blog https://www.my11yearplan.com/post/what-is-my-11-year-plan
and the financial guru behind https://www.my11yearplan.com/post/the-financials
The second most hit post on my page, you nosey buggers.
He flew into Manchester on the Sunday and I promised myself that I wouldn't cry when I saw him again, but, as the faithful amongst you will know, my emotions around certain scenarios are likely to get the best of me, and they did, and I am not ashamed of that.
He is the person I am closest to in my whole family and it was not too many years ago that I nearly lost him, so my tears of joy at seeing him again are justified, and I am sticking my tongue out at any of you who think I am soft, yah boo sucks! We had a few days in Shrewsbury and then we flew to Iceland on the Thursday. We played the silly game of paying a fortune to have a general Lat' Flow test to gain access to the plane and then away we went. In my military career, in which our main focus of training was for the potential Cold War, I have flown into many cold countries, and I have skied in numerous locations around the world, but I am confident that I have never been to an airport that had snow on the concourses... until Iceland. We had hired a car and the brother doesn't drive, so over to the old man, that's me, in case you hadn't realised or read this post, https://www.my11yearplan.com/post/i-soon-will-be-50-years-old to get a grip with an unknown car and road rules.
I have considerable experience of driving abroad and in left hand drive vehicles so felt confident, even in our little Hyundai i30, which turned out to be bloody brilliant.
In Iceland they drive on roads covered in snow and ice, that here in the UK, we would consider impassable, we spent one afternoon heading to the south of the island driving behind a snowplough clearing our path.
It was their main road to head south, a dual carriageway in places, that gained some serious elevation before leading us down a steep windy hill towards a town, thank you engine braking!
It was relatively easy, winter tyres taking the strain, yet the locals, clearly used to the conditions drive at speeds I daren't, but with no signs of road rage or tailgating.
We set off from the airport, got ourselves to the hotel and sunk into the beers. Checking the forecast it became clear that our best chance of seeing the northern lights was that first night, so asking the receptionist where was ideal to view them they made some recommendations, including a boat trip, departing that very evening. We jumped on to the net, found the tour, booked it and went out to grab some food. Imagine the scene, it is Iceland, in February and we are about to go out to sea on a boat... OK, it had a heated interior and a bar (result), but the viewing was outside, with quite a strong wind, no shelter and temperatures around -12c with the wind chill.
It was so cold, to the point where after 15-20 minutes on the top deck we needed to go back inside to warm up and, in turn, balls up our night vision. It was bloody well worth it! Here is the link to my Instagram post of the images I captured that night, https://www.instagram.com/p/CaYK4Its2gu/
Box well and truly ticked. The next day, the weather in the morning turned so we found a café, where my coffee was served in a thermos https://www.instagram.com/p/CanXFjOsbO6/ and rode out an ice and snow storm before heading to the main museum for a mooch. https://www.perlan.is/en-gb
In the afternoon the weather cleared and we had blue skies and bright sunshine so saw the sights of Reykjavik. I am no travel blogger, lets be honest I am not much of a blogger full stop, so I won't go into great detail of everything we did, if you want to see Iceland, go there!
There are other images and videos on my Instagram https://www.instagram.com/paulg1972/ we drove south to see waterfalls, went to the new thermal pool, Sky Lagoon https://www.skylagoon.com/ and did the Golden Circle Tour, witnessing volcanoes, geysers alright geezer, sorry had to be done, and the tectonic plates of the Americas and Europe. We drank too much and ate too much and had an amazing time, which leads me to the 'Isn't Iceland really expensive?' question everyone asks. Yes, it is. Everything on our trip seemed to be in multiples of £26 and higher.
Oh, you want an open pork sandwich, with fries and a beer? £26 please, each.
Some basic snacks, 3 bags of sweets, 1 fruit drink, 2 tinnies and 3 bars of chocolate, £26.
Two small, 3/4 pint, beers, £18-£22. Until you go to a high end steak restaurant, then they really ramp it up. £33 for a fillet steak, just the steak! We had a steak each, some garlic potatoes each and shared some skewered vegetables and a nice bottle of red wine.
No starter, no dessert. We did have a lovely chat with an elderly couple from California, that were enjoying the Taster Menu. Each course came with a fresh glass of wine and at one point the lady, whilst her husband was in the rest room, knocked her glass over, saved it and then looked around to see if anyone had seen.
Tapping the side of my nose, I promised not to tell her husband and as a result we struck up a conversation. I love those type of meetings, ad hoc and short lived, but so often very rewarding.
Don't let the costs put you off, just be prepared and roll with it and make sure it is covered. Trust me the rest of the experience is worthwhile and I will go back one day in the spring/summer, maybe hire a camper van, fill it with canned beer, pasta and soup, hopefully with someone who has less of a beard than the brother, and tour the rest of the island.
So, what's stopping you? If you are one of those who say 'Oooo, Iceland is on my bucket list, I really want to go one day'. Life is too short for bucket lists that stays exactly that, a list. I know that slightly contravenes this whole blog and the https://www.my11yearplan.com/ but I am still living whilst I plan the latter part of my life and the saving is only a small part of my life, I am still travelling and living.
2021 taught me that.
Now I am reminded of the bloody lovely Pixar film 'Up' and the opening montage where Carl and Ellie keep breaking into the Paradise Falls savings as they need to repair the house, fix the car or pay medical bills etc. and they never get there together.
I am not saying that they didn't have a full life, but they lost sight of their true desire, until it was too late.
My name is Dug. I have just met you, and I love you.
My name is Russell, and I am a Wilderness Explorer in Tribe 54, Sweat Lodge 12. Are you in need of any assistance today, sir?
Sorry, its been a long week and you know by now of my love of going off on tangents...
Yes, life does that, unexpected bills and challenges, but it also needs to be lived.
Buy the fillet steak, call your friends, book that trip to Iceland. To close and to quote Ellie from Up. Adventure is out there...