I finally did it. I’ve always wanted to visit Iceland. It was always a dream of mine to set my Mexican-American ass foot on a land which once belonged to vikings. A few months ago, that dream became a reality.
Like any good traveler, I did my research before going. I made sure I was prepared for the weather, and I budgeted out my expenses. I was ready.
Iceland has seen an increase in travelers ever since budget airlines like WoW Air and Iceland Air have made it easy to get there. But, as the number of travelers increase, so does the cost of everything. Iceland was shockingly expensive.
How expensive? Well, Let’s say you want to go out and have dinner for two like I did. The average cost of two plates and some wine can easily reach $100 US. If you’re thinking, “Why don’t you just live off of fast food during your trip”, the cost of a hamburger can cost around $23 US.
Like I mentioned, I had done my research beforehand and knew prices would be high, but something happened.
As many of you know, I hate checking bags in when I travel. I am all about traveling light. So light in fact, that I’ll normally just take one backpack where I can fit my laptop, a few changes of clothes and a pair of hiking shoes. I love not having to check bags in. You’d be surprised how much time that saves.
But, this time I was going to Iceland with my partner. And, we were going to be there during the middle of winter. So we were going to be taking big, bulky clothes along. So checking in luggage was necessary. (Which by the way, was way to expensive to do on WoW Air. More on that in a different post)
We arrived in keflavik, Iceland. It was around 5AM local time. We stood by the luggage carousel. We waited as other passengers from our same flight picked up their bags. Then, we waited some more, but our bags never arrived. A voice on a speaker phone asked all passengers from San Francisco who hadn’t received their luggage to approach the help desk.
I approached the desk. I overheard the person in front of me being told her bags hadn’t made it. I stepped up to the desk already knowing the fate of our bags. I was told that our bags were still in San Francisco. I asked when they’d arrive, and I was told maybe 24 hours. (They didn’t get there till 8 days later. We were in Iceland for 9 days total).
Yup, there we were in Iceland with only the clothes we had on our backs and nothing else. Crazy, right? But, we were determined not to let this affect our attitude for this trip. I mean, we were in fucken Iceland!
We went to pick up our rental car, but realized rather quickly that if we didn’t buy some warm clothes soon, we’d probably freeze to death. We drove over to Reykjavik to find a clothing store. Of course being the newbies that we were, we went to the center of the city, which is full of boutique and expensive stores. It was still too early in the morning and the stores weren’t open, but after looking at some prices through the windows, we made the decision that we didn’t want to pay $600 US for a jacket.
I approached a local and asked him for a place where I could get cheap clothes. Luckily he spoke English (Many people in Iceland do). He mentioned the word “mall” and my American side immediately got excited. A mall, now we were talking!
We drove over to the mall, not knowing what to expect. I mean, maybe Icelanders had a different definition of a what a mall is. Luckily, it turned out to be just what you’d expect a mall to be as an American. It was surreal. They had many of the usual stores you’d find in the US, with a heavier emphasis on outdoor and gear stores. The clothes were a bit cheaper here, but not by much. For example, I was able to find a sweater on a clearance rack for about $60 US. (It had a hole in it)
After dropping some significant cash buying clothes we had already bought and packed before our trip, we tried to stay positive, because again, we were in fucken Iceland!
The entire trip turned out to be great. Iceland is as beautiful, if not more than any images you’ve seen. I wouldn’t change one thing about that trip, with the exception of one thing. We really wanted to see the northern lights, but they never showed while we were there. Oh, well. Looks like a return trip will have to happen.
More on what to do in Iceland on a different post.
P.S. If you’re considering going to Iceland and have questions about flights or accommodations, feel free to contact me. There are a lot of details when dealing with accommodations, rental cars and other things that are different in Iceland.