In most instances especially when traveling in the United States a long layover is not very exciting. However, what may appear sour one place may be an opportunity to make lemonade in another. This is especially true when traveling abroad its like having two trips for the price of one. I wrote about this on our first trip to Israel where we had a 9 hour layover in Paris. On this last trip we had a 19 hour layover in Iceland. I would have planned much more had it not been on a Friday nearing a Shabbat. Of course in Iceland the sun goes down after 9:00pm during the season of Passover so that still gave us quite a bit of time to see some things.
There is lots to do in Iceland and our plan was to catch the Perlan Museum in the city of Reykjavik, Iceland. Unfortunately it was closed due to a fire a couple of days before we got there. It seemed simple enough the cost to get a two way bus pass from the airport to the city was significant, around $127 total on the Flybus. From there you take a transfer to a smaller bus (the total price includes this transfer) to the Harpa station and finally something free. A free shuttle bus will get you from the Harpa station to the Perlan Museum. Once there, plan to spend $29 per person to see this museum. The museum gives you a history of how Iceland’s glaciers were formed and would allow you to experience one the way I would like to experience being in an icebox, virtually.
We were blessed to come in on a beautiful day in Iceland. Iceland has very sporadic weather that can be nice one minute and the next an ice storm can occur. Fortunately this layover was a good one and the weather was cold and crisp, but sunny as well. What it lacks in weather it makes up for in beauty. Breathtaking views and public bathrooms are about the only thing free in Iceland. Iceland is very expensive, to eat a meal even a simple one expect to pay airport prices even at bus stations. Water over $3, meals over $20, I bought some black lava crackers that were $9.99 and the cheapest souvenir that was decent enough to pass for something memorable and useful for a child was a glowing globe pen with Iceland written inside of it, $8.07. My husband bought a book that was a comedy book concerning what Icelanders think about American’s for $36.00. So when you go expect that you will pay a lot for transportation, excursions, and food. Accommodations well we didn’t have to stay over night we chose to stay in the airport. However, I did book a trip for a friend who will be spending a week there, and if you are willing to share a room you can find some accommodations with a central location on Airbnb for $55 a night. Taxes are also expensive so just expect to pay a lot even for something simple. This is when tax free and duty free shopping really comes in handy.
A note about the airport it was beautiful and the craftsmanship in the place was amazing. From the wooden functional chairs with tables and hookups, to the displaying wall decor that included an electronic board inside the window that showed the views of the city. The bathrooms were amazing as they are fully enclosed and completely functional. The sinks were automatic and the hand drying system is a part of the water faucet saving both space and just plane practical. The sort of privacy you want when you are in a bathroom, especially when it is public. One of the things I enjoy about traveling abroad is it gives me ideas about how we as a nation can improve what we have. All it takes to lose our position as the leader of the free world is to get comfortable and from what I have seen we as a nation have truly gotten way more comfortable then we should.
The people and the food was amazing. The airport experience was a breeze I must say I have found the airport experience abroad in most places I have visited to be a lot smoother, efficient, and faster. An airport is basically like a welcome center to tourist and with that perspective I can see the importance of really making it spectacular.
This is a place that takes health seriously from crackers made out of activated charcoal to juice bars sporting chia seeds and fresh squeezed juice. But health comes at a high premium there as it does here. Those who enjoy all sorts of sea foods will definitely find what they are looking for here as that is also available in abundance. However, other cultures from American made burgers to BBQ and Mexican dishes are there in abundance.
As I stated before we couldn’t tour the Perlan museum but as one door closed another door open. We made our way to the Harpa which is a concert hall newly completed in 2014. It was absolutely amazing from the structure to the technology involved, and the views of the area. To go into the place is free, but to get a tour is like the VIP pass into the actual halls and how they work. We really enjoyed the experience and it cost us half the price of the Perlan Museum. While the salesman tried to say it was better, I can’t confirm that since I didn’t get a chance to visit the Perlan but as beautiful as it was I highly doubt it was comparable to virtual glaciers. While music halls are things I have seen a glacier is not, but if you go hopefully you will tell me. Happy traveling and I hope this glimpse of Iceland will spark your interest to travel to the lava land island yourself an dip in the Blue Lagoon and enjoy the natural wonders. Dress warm, travel light, and work overtime this spot will definitely put a dent in your budget but well worth the visit.