Now that I’ve officially returned from the Land of the Nice for more than a month, I think it’s apt to share what I thought I missed out during my 10 days there. Like what I would have done differently if I had an undo button in my life.
1. Stay at off the beaten path places
Much of my itinerary was heavily influenced by the posters on tripadvisor who were warning me against driving the Ring Road in winter without winter driving experience, so I went for places that were more accessible. As a result we missed out on some unique accomodation that were off the beaten path, which could have enhanced our stay in Iceland more.
We missed out on this lovely apartment in Akureyri, and there were a couple more places too that were equally outstanding outside of the Ring Road which would have given us some good memories for sure.
2. Touring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
We had to skip this particular area of Iceland due to time limitation, so if you have more than 10 days I believe this would be a great area to go.
I’ve read that there’s a couple of great hiking trails, beautiful scenery, and some great choices of accommodation in Hotel Budir and Hotel Egilsen.
3. Checking out the seal colonies
Seeing a seal pop its head out of of the cold waters at Jokusarlon was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
If you are there, my advice would be to walk all the way to the end of the beach to see if you can find more of these amazing animals in their natural habitat. It is said that in winter they are often spotted in Jokusarlon hunting for fish.
I believe there are other seal spotting places around Iceland as well, near Osar Hostel (North of Iceland), and the beach near the farm Ytri-Tunga (Snaefellness Peninsula).
It’s not often you can see animals in their natural habitat, undisturbed.
4. Explore the less traveled roads
One of the things in Iceland is that you can almost certainly find some unknown waterfalls, mountains or scenery not mentioned in guidebooks, if you choose to go off the Ring Road. The only questions are whether the roads are closed or if you have the appetite for roads that are narrow and some, dangerously close to the cliff edge.
As always, keep your wits about, be safe and make sure that you do the necessary preparations before wandering off to lesser visited places.
5. Try the Traditional Icelandic Foods
While I did try the Hakarl, which honestly wasn’t as bad as what most people say (or react to, like Gordon Ramsay), we did miss out on a couple of types of Icelandic food.
The Icelandic dried fish would have been our list had it not being hideously expensive for something which we didn’t know how it would taste.
The national liquor, Brennivin, would have made a good souvenir back home, though I suspect I wouldn’t have enjoyed drinking it, since its said to taste like vodka and that’s not really my thing.
Still, the bottle itself is classy it its own right and hey, how many people in Singapore can proudly say they have a bottle of Icelandic liquor back home?
6. Buy a gift for the Icelanders
Well, certainly not a gift for every Icelander I met but more for the Airbnb hosts or guesthouse owners as a token of appreciation for their hospitality during my stay.
I think it would have been nice to have brought a taste of Singapore for these lovely people, like a small bottle of kaya or something along those lines, since it’s likely most Icelandic people wouldn’t visit Singapore that often. The Icelandic people, while known for their apparent coldness towards strangers, are actually friendlier than I expected. You won’t experience any hostility or racism of any sorts in my opinion and every Icelander we met were really warm and helpful whenever we needed any sort of assistance (with the one exception of the receptionist at Fosshotel Nupar, may I add)
It’s a resolution that both me and Pari have made for our next adventures in future, to bring something from home to others.
So these are the couple of things that I would have done had I knew in advance.
Like all trips, there’s always something that you wished you did or didn’t do, but there’s no reason to beat yourself over it. It certainly gives you a good excuse to visit the place again!
Sometimes we all tend to be influenced by what people say, especially over internet forums and stuff but at the end of the day, no one will take any responsibility over the decisions we make except ourselves. Go with your instinct always, and be safe based on your own limits.
Have a enjoyable trip, and explore!