Day 11 & 12: The Finale

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We woke up with a tinge of sadness knowing we had one final night in a place that unexpectedly brought a deep attachment to our hearts.

Nevertheless, we were looking forward to the day ahead as we had planned to visit the main sights of the Golden Circle and Secret Lagoon before heading back to Reykjavik.

Before the Golden Circle, we made a stop at Hella, a short drive from Hvolsvollur, and discovered an unexpected gem, Bakari Konditiori.

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◄ Bakari Konditori ~ Suðurlandsvegur 1-3850 Hella ►

It’s located next to the Olis gas station and right along the main road, so you shouldn’t have much difficulty spotting it.

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We bought a couple of donuts and eclairs to take along. They do have a range of sandwiches as well so it’s an excellent option for road trips.

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Our first stop was Gullfoss, probably the most famous falls in the Iceland and the most accessible also, less than 2 hours drive away from Reykjavik. As expected, there were large crowds and it would be much worst I think in the peak months of June to August.

Gullfoss certainly warrants its reputation as one of the most beautiful falls in Iceland.

While I usually avoid in-house cafes or souvenir shops due to their heavily marked up prices, the food served at Gullfoss cafe was surprisingly good and reasonable, plus they have a pretty well stocked souvenir shop for you to bring home some memories of Iceland.

The soups at the cafe are refillable, a major plus for hungry travellers like us. We also had an outstanding chocolate cake, moist and full of chocolaty delight.

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Once we were satisfied we moved to Geysir, another popular tourist spot 10km away from Gullfoss.

The main sight here is the spouting geysir, Strokkur.

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You would likely have seen many videos or images before, but nothing beats watching the hot water bubble at the froth before exploding into the sky.

It takes about 10 minutes or so for each cycle, and the size of the explosion varies. You might be able to catch continuous spurts too if you are lucky.

Our final stop for the day was Secret Lagoon, the oldest hot pool in Iceland, located near the Golden Circle, in Fludir,

This was far better than Myvatn Nature Baths since the water was far warmer, the area more scenic and natural (even though it is man-made if I am not mistaken), and they had floats which you could use to just lie back and relax in the hot water. Just lying in the hot waters make you remind yourself that this truly is what living is all about.

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At 2,500ISK per person, it represents pretty good value, cheaper than the much vaunted Blue Lagoon, and probably less crowds as well.

We traveled back to Reykjavik after a good 2 hour soak, and stayed in Castle House Apartments located in Skipholt, a 10 minutes walk to Laugavegur.

The apartment itself was small, but very clean and had the essentials for self catering if you wish.

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Since it was our final night in Iceland, we decided to splurge on a nice dinner and we found a cute little restaurant, Resto, known to serve the best Icelandic Fish Soup in the country.IMG_5487.JPG

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The service was attentive, beautiful atmosphere, and most importantly, excellent food. It was a lovely evening just enjoying the food and wine and recapping our entire trip.

We had a couple of hours before we departed for Keflavik Airport the next morning, so we took a early morning stroll around Reykjavik, instead of visiting the Blue Lagoon which we had originally planned.

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We took the opportunity to eat the hot dogs at Baejarin Beztu one last time, as well as some crepes from Eldur and Is which unfortunately was not great in terms of both taste and price.

I could still remember saying the words “Alright let’s go” in the car with a heavy heart just before we left Reykjavik for the airport. Usually I feel a little down when the holiday is close to an end, but this time was especially sobering.

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Despite it’s relatively small size, there’s actually quite a number of things to buy at Keflavik, at pretty good prices compared to the city. Some last minute shopping are Icelandic chocolate and candy, alcohol, souvenirs, and books just to name a few.

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We departed for Heathrow International Airport around 4pm local time.

12 days, 11 nights, tons of mountains, waterfalls and geothermal wonders, and everlasting memories. Our itinerary worked out pretty well, and we were blessed with great weather throughout the trip, which we were very fortunate and thankful for. We met some wonderful people along the trip as well, from the owners of the guesthouses to the Icelandic people on the street, offering to help whenever we looked lost or in need of some aid.

Even though a month has passed, me and Pari still talk fondly about our trip. Iceland is well and truly a country anyone should visit once in their lives.

We’ll be back again.

Þakka þér fyrir, bless.

 Next ~ What I would have done differently in Iceland

 

 

 

 

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14 thoughts on “Day 11 & 12: The Finale

  1. Anna December 7, 2015 / 2:08 pm

    Awesome photos! The first photo of the waterfall looks like a slice of pizza.
    Keep up the good work! Will be back to read your blog. 🙂

    Like

  2. Steve February 4, 2016 / 2:42 am

    Thank you so much for your thorough and detailed trip report! It contained so many great tips which I added to my notes. It will make my upcoming trip even more enjoyable! Take care 🙂

    Like

    • ◄the honest explorer► February 5, 2016 / 6:51 am

      Thanks for the compliment Steve! I’m glad you found the blog handy.
      You’ll have a wonderful trip I’m sure.
      Let me know how it went!

      Like

  3. Daphne April 20, 2016 / 8:10 am

    Thank you so much for the amazing travel reports on Iceland! I am currently researching for my honeymoon trip to Iceland and I really appreciate all your details on your accommodation and driving routes which would really help a great deal in my planning!

    May I ask, which part of November were you in Iceland? And when did you book the air tickets and accomodations to secure the prices? I’m planning to go in December but am worried about the winter driving and harsh weather conditions as well.

    Thanks in advance! 🙂

    Like

    • ◄the honest explorer► April 21, 2016 / 1:01 pm

      Hi Daphne!
      Thanks for dropping by!
      I went in the first two weeks of November.
      Honestly, I was really nervous having read so many horror stories on tripadvisor.
      Winter driving definitely has its risks, but I did have a friend who drove to Snaefellnes and along the Golden Circle and survived!
      And I do think a lot of people did the Ring Road based on the posts I saw on Instagram.
      At the end of the day, you have to decide for yourself-advice is easily given by so called experts but no one will take any responsibility for their words if they are wrong.
      I think the negative point about winter driving is the short hours of daylight. When I went daylight was typically from 830 – 5pm, so it was still pretty decent in terms of being able to get around.
      I booked my flight to London pretty early (March) and so I got a really good deal, but I pulled the trigger a bit too fast on the Icelandair one so ended up paying a little bit more. The Skyscanner app has a nice little feature to help you monitor the prices of the air tickets.
      Accommodation in winter shouldn’t be too difficult, so you probably don’t need to book too far ahead.
      Let me know how your trip went! I am sure it will be a blast. Just remember to be slow and steady always!

      Like

  4. Lilian June 24, 2016 / 2:35 am

    Hello

    Thanks for all the helpful information! I am also looking at booking Icelandair tickets from London to Reykjavik this November. Are they really cheaper closer to the date? I thought the earlier the cheaper it would be..

    Thanks!

    Like

    • ◄the honest explorer► June 24, 2016 / 5:42 am

      Hi Lilian!
      Thank you for the message.
      I booked pretty early and unfortunately prices rose a couple of months after I did so.
      On the other hand, as far as I recall there are only two flights to Reykjavik from London Heathrow, one arriving in the late afternoon / early evening and the other later at night.
      To be safe I think you might consider booking first, you don’t want to ruin your trip just because of a few bucks!
      I did read somewhere that the best time to book the tickets for most flights is 8 – 10 weeks before departure, but that’s a bit too close to call for me.
      I would advise booking soon so that you don’t have to worry too much!
      Have a wonderful trip! I hope you will be able to share with me once you are back how it went. Iceland is an amazing place. You will enjoy it. Drive safely!!

      Like

  5. Lilian June 27, 2016 / 3:51 am

    Thanks for your reply! I will take your advice. Do you reckon I will be able to do most of the main sights in 5 full days? I am not planning to do the full circle, probably golden circle, Jokulsarlon, Secret lagoon etc closer to the Reykjavik area. I am still thinking about whether or not to drive, like you, i have seen advice on Tripadvisor saying not to drive in winter! I will have to think about it…

    Like

    • ◄the honest explorer► June 27, 2016 / 1:28 pm

      Hi Lilian!
      Honestly, I was really worried about driving after reading the comments from TripAdvisor, but at the same time it would have been impossible to do my trip by taking tours alone.
      I guess it depends on your comfort zone. Personally having drove the Ring Road, I actually felt driving was safer than what most people said. I made it a point not to speed and always keep below the speed limits, and to check road and weather conditions before traveling. I Guess I was lucky in that the weather was kind to me.
      I had a Singaporean Friend who drove in end December as well, in snowy conditions, and he made it through. So just go for it if you feel confident enough , just don’t regret your decision after you have made it.
      I think 5 days should be sufficient, Golden Circle shouldn’t take more than 2 days, Jokusarlon should be half a day or more and then the rest of the time can be used to check out other stuff. You can download my itinerary for free and cross reference with Google maps to plan out your 5 day trip accordingly.
      And by the way, why are you going for only 5 days…?? (:

      Like

  6. Shunpeng July 19, 2016 / 12:35 pm

    For your car in iceland, did you use a 4X4 or 2WD? Am going 3rd and 4th week of October so I reckon will be the same weather conditions as you. Am thinking of incorporating your itinerary too. Looks very comprehensive.

    Like

    • ◄the honest explorer► July 22, 2016 / 3:23 pm

      Hi Shun Peng!
      Originally I went for a sedan as I was going by the Ring Road for my trip, but unfortunately (or fortunately) the car I wanted was not available on that day and I received a free upgrade to a SUV (Subaru Forester).
      There are many theories with regards to what kind of car is suitable for Iceland. Personally, I think 2WD is good enough, but the space and comfort of a AWD is a big plus too though the petrol consumption is much more.
      Unless you are going off road, which I doubt you can in October, a 4WD isn’t necessary in my opinion. If just using my itinerary, a normal 2WD would suffice! You will not encounter many unsealed roads.
      Have a safe trip and drive carefully!

      Like

  7. SingaporeanToo November 9, 2016 / 1:55 pm

    Hi I’m so glad to come across your blog! Very informative!

    I know and have read a lot of questions about driving in winter in Iceland, so hope you don’t mind answering more of similar questions. :p

    For us, we will have only 4 days in Iceland, during the last week of November (forecast shows lots of rain, snow, wind).
    We are still contemplating self drive or booking a full tour (expensive and restrictive).

    We are worried because we have no experience in winter driving and left-hand drive, and in Singapore we hardly drive as well.

    Would you still recommend we do self-drive, based on your experience?

    Like

    • ◄the honest explorer► November 9, 2016 / 3:21 pm

      Hi SingaporeanToo!

      Thank you for visiting and finding the blog useful! That was why I started it to hopefully help readers especially fellow Singaporeans feel more at ease before visiting Iceland.
      I’m not an expert so I hope my advice will come in handy.
      Firstly the weather is quite unpredictable and I am quite sure that different parts of Iceland will have different forecast so it really depends which area you are heading up.
      While I would recommend driving usually, if you are not comfortable then I would say don’t try it. Safety is paramount at the end of the day and we want to come back in one piece! The main issue I think is the lack of general driving experience.
      Personally I don’t find left hand driving or driving in Iceland very difficult!
      At the end of the day, the decision is up to you. Driving is definitely the best way to see the country but go for tours, even ones with a personal guide, if you are unsure!
      Money can always be earned back (:
      I hope you have a pleasant and fun trip. Either ways, it will be a blast!
      Let me know how it went once you come back!

      Like

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