A couple weeks ago, I posted the first three of Ten Awesome Things We Learned Visiting Iceland. Well, I’m back this week with Part 2.
Let’s cut the foreplay and get right to the good stuff:
4. Rent a car. Don’t do bus tours.
Okay, this one comes with some caveats, so I’ve broken it down into pros and cons.
Pros – You can go at your own pace. You can set your own schedule. You can stop when you want. Also, they drive on the same side of the road as Americans.
Quick story – Jenn and I wanted to go to Krauma, a spa with natural geothermal baths. We got there about mid-day and saw three tour buses in the parking lot. We look up at the spa (you could see the pools from the parking lot) and every pool was packed, nuts-to-butts. No joke. So, we decided to get back in the car and do some other stuff for a bit. We went back to Krauma later that evening and were two of maybe thirty people in the whole place. We closed the place down that night, hanging out with couples from all over the world.
Krauma is a small place. Those buses carry a lot of people. Honestly, I think that if we were on one of those tour buses, wouldn’t have gotten to actually enjoy the pools.
While hanging out in the pools, we got to chatting with this lovely couple from Houston, TX. They were at the end of their trip, getting ready to head back home, whereas Jenn and I were still at the beginning of our journey. We told them where we were headed the next day, and they said “at some point, you’re going to go around a bend and discover a bunch of cars pulled off to the side of the road. No signs, no nothing. Park your car and hike up the hill. It’s worth it.”
So, the next day, we drove around a bend and discovered a bunch of cars pulled off to the side of the road. We parked and dutifully walked up the hill… towards a giant mountain crevasse. Folks were hiking up to, and then into, the mountain crevasse.
So, we hiked up to, then into, the mountain crevasse and took a bunch of pictures.
It was breathtaking. Totally worth the stop.
It was also an experience that we would not have had at all, had we taken a tour bus package.
Cons – Renting a car is expensive. Car insurance is expensive. Gas is EXPENSIVE. Also, automatic transmissions are tough (but not impossible) to come by.
That freedom comes with a price. Thankfully, our car was included in our travel package (which ran just under $4,500, not including airfare). Just a heads up, we did have to specifically request an automatic transmission.
However, in doing further research, we found out that the basic insurance coverage included in the package was very… basic, and wouldn’t cover things like gravel dings, dents, and paint chips (of which we accumulated several), or doors that were torn off the car by high wind (which apparently happens with startling regularity). So, we dropped an additional $250 on Gold Coverage, which basically meant we didn’t have to worry about that stuff. We’re glad we did because there were some roads the GPS instructed us to take that were literally dirt paths, and we rode on them for miles and miles.
Also, gas. Gas is about $2 a liter in Iceland.
If you think that’s a good deal, go back and read that sentence again.
$2 a liter.
There are 3.7 liters in a gallon.
In other words, gas is about $7.50 per gallon.
I mean, I live in California. I’m used to getting fucked at the gas pump. But dude.
To make a long story short (Too late)…
Again, all-in-all, I would say that in spite of the expense, it’s 100% #WorthIt to have your own car in Iceland. The freedom and flexibility it gives you are unbeatable. Like when the alarm goes off on your Northern Lights app, and you jump in the car to drive 20 minutes outside of Reykjavik so you can catch Nature’s Laser Show in all its glory.
Whew. This post turned out to be a LOT longer than I expected. I’m going to have to continue this in another entry.
So, keep an eye out for More Awesome Things We Learned In Iceland!
Onward and upward.
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