Friends for more than 50 years, Peggy and I have gone on several girls trips together — Santa Fe, Sedona, Portland — you know, the easy-to-get-to places. With significant birthdays this year, we gave in to better financial judgment and went to Iceland. We started planning in December 2022 and traveled in June, agonizing over waterproof clothing needs and other everyday life things that we have experienced as native Minnesotans and Scandinavian-Americans. Why worry?
We stayed in an older area of Reykjavik and took excursions every other day. The “off’ days were spent exploring the city. Each morning at the hotel’s delicious breakfast buffet, a snappy and jazzy cover of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” was played as background music among tunes by Motown artists, Norah Jones and others. It was the motivation we needed to grab our favorite Chapstick (in my case O’Keeffe’s lip balm) and make our way on foot to Bus Stop 1 a few blocks away. A Your Day Tours small-group van would whisk us away to the Golden Circle, Snæfellsnes Peninsula or South Coast. Most days were dreary, chilly and windy, but we were ready to make the best of the weather. Drivers Völli, Anastasia and Ævar kept the small-group tours lively with Iceland’s history, folktales, jokes and language lessons interspersed with music by Icelandic artists.
Advice and tips: • Be ready for the weather — cold and windy outdoors; windy indoors. • People will be everywhere. They come from all over the world and some drive on the right, others on the left. They walk that way, too. Walk defensively. • Nobody cares what your footwear looks like. Function over fashion. That goes for hairstyle, too. • Drink the tap water. • Try the licorice. • Tips aren’t expected, but are nice for tour guides. That’s likely the only time you will need cash. • The Settlement Exhibition, conveniently next door to our hotel, is worth visiting, especially for fans of Vikings, archaeology and history. • The Perlan nature museum is where guests can experience the northern lights, earthquakes, life above and below the ocean’s surface, volcanos and other “Wonders of Iceland.” Bring a jacket and don’t miss the ice cave. Keep it handy for a spin around the observation deck. • Learn about Viking life, and definitely the opposite, at the Saga Museum. Being an early Icelander sure was tough. The self-guided audio tour past the dioramas could give the kiddos nightmares. It had musty odor, but just imagine what a Viking smelled like. • Don’t underestimate the time you’ll need at Keflavik International Airport. • Flybus is an easy way to and from KEF. • Iceland is expensive. Budget for a big credit card bill and have fun. • Just roll with it.
Photo above by unknown tourist who returned the favor after I photographed him.