Iceland – Day 1 – Double Rainbows and a Costco!

October 15, 2018

Keflavik (Reykjavik Int’l Airport) to Laugarvatn

Three weeks ago we decided to take our honeymoon in Iceland. We had planned on going to New Zealand in February but things have changed since.

So we bought 2 round trip tickets to Iceland on Wow Air for $500 total(!) flying nonstop from SFO to Reykjavik.

October is the shoulder season for tourism in Iceland, meaning there should be a slight dip in the number of tourists between the busy summer and winter months.

There is potential to see the northern lights and with less visitors ideally less company at many of the country’s many waterfalls.

With likely varied weather conditions (rain, sleet, sun and lots of wind) we didn’t plan much other than our first night’s destination. We wanted to be flexible to adapt to the weather.

This produced some anxiety for Laurie who is used to traveling with a set itinerary. But life is presenting many opportunities to work very hard on letting things unfold rather than trying to control it all.

Our flight was uneventful.

You had to pay for everything on WOW Air – blanket, pillow, water and no movies at all… but the seats were relatively comfy, had a lot of leg room and came with outlets. The 8 hour flight wasn’t horrible, however they never turned off the cabin lights. Next time we would bring face masks to be able to sleep!!

We snoozed and repositioned often – never sleeping more than 30 minutes at a time. We arrived in Iceland at 10:30am puffy eyed and delirious but excited.

We waited about 20 minutes for our shuttle to arrive and take us to our budget rental car off-site lot. We felt a little ashamed to be such typical impatient Americans but Andy had read that some of the local, smaller companies can drop the ball and people have been known to wait for over an hour for a ride. He wasn’t going to let that happen. So he called and they arrived 10 minutes later.

The first stop we made after picking up our Renault Cleo was to Costco.

Yup, Costco has a location in Iceland! Not having our Costco card with us we woke up Laurie’s godmother at 6am west coast time to read the number to us. And like that we were in!

We both like to save money where we can. We don’t eat out much and we don’t stay at fancy hotels, but we are okay spending $7 on blueberries. We stocked up on fresh foods (we had already packed freeze dried dinners, bars and snacks because we had heard that food is incredibly expensive in Iceland) and hit the road.

It was fun shopping at Costco in a foreign country. Some items were familiar (blueberries from Salinas, apples from Chile) but some things were not (peanuts referred to as monkey nuts).

We don’t know if this is what peanuts are called in other parts of the world too but we found it hilarious.

Iceland has a slower pace. Andy enjoys this. Even the automatic doors at gas stations and grocery stores open slowly. We both found ourselves prematurely trying to enter the supermarket “Bonus,” and giggled as we halted to let the doors open at their relaxed speed. The logo for “Bonus” is a pink piggy bank. It’s pretty cute.

We hit the road once more and were set to drive an hour to the small town of Laugarvatn where we had booked a room at a hostel.

But we were so tired. Andy pulled off the highway at a local park and we took 90 minute naps in the car.

Feeling somewhat human again after we woke up, we drove through Bláskógabyggð and Þingvellir National Park, Iceland’s first National Park. The landscape was stunning!

Volcanic, rugged and wild. Green moss covered mounds of dirt and volcanic earth. The clouds obscured the tops of mountains but we could see snow resting in the valleys. We “oohed and aahed” at the rainbows, the most vibrant and complete rainbows we have ever seen. We even saw a full double rainbow. It was incredible.

We stopped every 10 minutes to soak it all in and take pictures.

After driving through the park we made our final stop at a gas station next to our hostel. We needed fuel for our Jetboil and a lighter.

We easily got what we needed, drove to the hostel and checked in. We were both impressed how clean and cute the hostel was.

And we thought we had booked a room with a shared bath but we had a private one. We’ll take it!

We made dinner in the communal kitchen while chatting with a family from Switzerland.

Andy amazed them with tales of great hiking in their backyard that they had no idea was there. He got a kick out of this.

After dinner we joined the family in the dining hall to make a plan for the next two days.

Switzerland was playing Iceland in a soccer match and we enjoyed the distraction of animated kids as the game unfolded.

We are cozy in our twin beds listening to the rain batter the windows. Only one day in and already Iceland has captured our hearts.

Tonight we are grateful for patches of sunshine and double rainbows.

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