20 October 2008

Chapter 23: Goodbye Iceland

Continued from Chapter 22

This was our last full day in Iceland.

Our shuttle picked us up from Sosa's Apartments in Bolungarvik and transported us to the Ísafjörður Airport for our 9:15am flight back to Reykjavik.

Isafjordur_AirportÍsafjörður Airport

The regional airports in Iceland are very relaxed affairs and it was wonderful to be treated as humans again instead of sheep being screamed at by officious X-Ray Inspection staff, as in other airports around the world. There was no security, and when our aircraft was ready to depart, we walked about 30m from the terminal to the plane which then wasted no time in taking off once we had boarded.

40 mins later, we were back in cloudy and grey Reykjavik. As our Germany flight was early the following morning, we had opted to stay in a hotel in Keflavik for the night as it was closer to the international airport.

The easiest way to get between Reykjavik and Keflavik is on the airport shuttle bus, so we taxiied to the BSI Tourist Bus Terminal, caught the bus to the international airport and then got a taxi from the airport to the hotel in Keflavik township.

We stayed at the Iceland Air Flughotel in Keflavik. Most hotels in Iceland are owned and run by Iceland Air. Thankfully our rooms were ready even though we were checking in before the usual time. For €350 we had 2 connecting rooms. Gulp. The rooms were not huge and we wouldn't have liked to have stayed any longer than a night as there was not much room around the beds or places to store luggage without tripping over it. Plus, the rooms were uncomfortably hot - even with the heating off.

We decided to head to the Blue Lagoon to soak away the afternoon. The bus picked us up outside the hotel and less than 30 minutes later, we were basking in the warm water again, reflecting on our last 2 weeks in Iceland.

Exiting_Blue_LagoonBack for another soak

Boys_at_Blue_LagoonThe boys ham it up

Blue_LagoonMenacing clouds over the Blue Lagoon

Back at the hotel, we quickly assessed that there wasn't much around the vicinity in the way of restaurants, so we raided the closest supermarket for a roasted chicken and bread for dinner, as well as ordering a pizza from the local pizzeria.

The boys were exhausted, so they fell asleep very quickly. J did too, but I couldn't settle easily until falling asleep sometime after midnight.

At 6am, we were in a taxi on the way to the airport which was chaotic at that time of morning. We joined the end of a very long queue at the Iceland Air check-in which, to our delight moved quite quickly. We soon found out why - the check-in staff were extremely competent and efficiently processed our luggage and supplied us with boarding cards.

Up to Security where the first check was for passports and boarding cards and then we were in the queue for X-ray. Again, we moved though without delay aided by the friendly security staff. All too soon, we were in the departure area where we had about an hour to kill before our flight boarded.

Keflavik Airport is as relaxed as an international airport can be. We didn't even have to clear immigration.

Boarding our Iceland Air plane, the kids were delighted to find that we were flying back in an aircraft which had received an upgrade to its entertainment system, and we each had individual screens with movies, music and games. That kept them occupied while J and I managed to sleep most of the way home!

Iceland in Retrospect
It is an expensive country to visit, and I feel that the latest financial problems will not make that any better. Yes, airfares may be reduced and perhaps accommodation rates (hopefully), but food, beverages and transportation prices will remain high because it costs a lot for these items to be exported to Iceland.

Our costs would have been lower if we had avoided the main tourist season of June, July and August, but then we wouldn't been able to go to the north-western Hornstrandir area which is only accessible in these months. If we do go back, we would do so in April/May or September/October when the accommodation and car rental rates are much cheaper.

We would not return with the kids. Even though we had a great time with them at Hesteyri and some tourist amenities in Reykjavik were free for under-12s, it was still an expensive affair to take the boys with us; as well as less flexible. In a land where it remains light all though the night, getting the kids to bed at a reasonable hour was sometimes difficult. In the days where we had the rental car, J and I could have travelled further and for longer if we hadn't the boys' needs to also consider. We could also have chosen cheaper accommodation if we had not been travelling with the children.

We did have an amazing time in Iceland: saw some wonderful sights; met some truly genuine people; experienced some entertaining moments and very much enjoyed ourselves.

I would love to go back and see the eastern part of the island, as well as photograph at a different time of year when there is a different quality of light and some snow, but I think that I would have to do a major persuasion job on J to get her to go back with me!

Final Chapter: The Iceland Sagas - a link list to all our Icelandic posts


meg said...

wow I LOVE that shot menacing clouds over the blue lagoon! and your boards in the post above too. For some reason I can't seem to put your address in google reader, which is a shame as I like to keep up with the m&j adventures... any ideas?

nzm said...

Thanks Meg - it was truly the most moody shot that I got in the whole 2 weeks that we were in Iceland.

I'm working on getting a more up-to-date template for our blog which will have a reader feed. Thing is, at the moment, I can't find one that I like. It's frustrating me no end!