First taste of Reykjavik

After a quarter of a night spent sitting in exactly the same position, the last thing you want to do is sit. Unfortunately, flying into Keflavik airport doesn’t allow you to immediately step onto the streets of Reykjavik. You have to take a bus, like Airport Direct (they have free wifi), take a taxi, or rent a car to get to the city. It’s approximately a 45 minute drive by the coast offering you your first scenic views of Iceland.

While you take the time to soak in the views of the moss growing on the landscape and mountain formations appearing around the coast, you’ll suddenly arrive in Reykjavik… hungry.

After not eating for over 12 hours you’d take just about anything put right in front of you: a burger, pizza, one of those icelandic hot dogs you’ve heard so much about. That was not the case for my wonder Icelandic friend, Anna, and my new WOW! Air row buddy, Adam. Anna took us to íslenzkiljstinn, a traditional Icelandic restaurant and pub. She suggested that Adam and I order the puffin and whale fin. Before we knew it, Puffin breast and whale fin jerky were sitting right infront of us with unexpected sides like: skyr (icelandic yogurt), goat cheese, moldy cheese, pickled onions, berry jam, local honey, lamb bacon, and rare duck breast. Oh, and let’s not forget to wash all that down with some Icelandic beer. With our bellies satisfied with a few of the delicacies of the country, we decided to drop our bags off and regroup later.

Fast forward several hours and the three of us are walking down a spiral staircase into a room where people with no reservations were being asked to leave due to Bingo. Really, bingo? Enter Sizza Kling: a sassy Queen, who you will give your whole table shots if your cheering appeases her, win playing cards with her face on them just for the way you dance, receiving a necklace for just being able to put your leg behind your head, or getting her praise for actually winning bingo. Needless to say, Sunday Night Bingo at Sæta Sviniđ is the thing to do.

If bingo isn’t your thing or you aren’t quite ready to call it a night, just save two Norwegian siblings from several creepy tourists and you can pop into one of the few bars left open until midnight and listen to cover songs from a local Icelandic man and dance along.

Once the bars shut down, walk yourself down to a hot dog stand and get yourself a hot dog or two. OR you can be like Anna and myself and get Domino’s pizza and coke zero and bring it home and watch Netflix. Just make sure you drink a bottle or two of water and close the blinds, the “Northern Lights” are given a whole new meaning in the summer.

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Low-Budget Air

Over the past few years of my travels over the Atlantic (eventually Pacific, too) I have typically flown United Airlines, Austrian Airlines, and British Airways. Both have given me a snack and beverage at the beginning, 3 options of an inflight meal or two (typically depends on length). For flights 6+ hours long they also give you complementary wine or beer of your choice, if you aren’t feeling soda, juice, coffee, or tea. In addition to the meals, inflight entertainment is provided right on the seat infront of you, at no extra charge. They come with current movies (some that still may be in theatres), tv shows, games, and an interactive map so you can check out how close you are to your destination. I might also include, that typically one carry-on, of the appropriate weight and dimensions, is included free with your flight ticket. So how come I didn’t choose to fly my typically trans-Atlantic vessel for this vacation? Money.

When scouring the internet to look for the most ideal and inexpensive routes, my usual airlines were still on the high end and waiting for prices to maybe lower wasn’t worth the risk, especially since Hopper said prices were highly unlikely to lower. When I saw the price for a ticket to Iceland with Wow! Airlines, I jumped at it. It was less than $200 and I was over the moon!

When I went to the site to pay, I was immediately hit with extra fees that I was unfamiliar with. I had to pay another $50 for a carry on, as they only let you bring on a small handbag you can fit under your seat. The next thing was there were no beverages (this includes water) OR inflight meals included with the price of the ticket and ontop of that, there was zero inflight entertainment. BUT WAIT, there’s more! Ontop of paying for my flight and 1 carry-on, I had to pay another fee to choose and reserve a seat (which has varying degrees of leg room and fees) to sit in for my 6 hour flight. This totalled around $260.

Now some people may just look at that and laugh. I took it as an opportunity to figure out what experience I wanted to have: comfortable travel or extra money to spend on experience in a country? I think you know what I opted for.

With all that being said, I saved over $100 going with Wow!. I took the mightnight flight so I could naturally be asleep most of the way before landing in my first destination: Iceland. The experience on Wow! was exactly what I expected because I was prepared for it. They know they offer budget flights and they do not make it a miserable experience for someone having to just sit in a space for 6 hours. The flight attendants were all pleasant. If you wanted food or beverages you could have it at a small fee. The announcements were informative and there was even some humor sprinkled in from the airlines. They included hilarious “vomit-meter” bags, incase your stomach is a nervous flyer. Overall, I was impressed with this low-budget airlines. An added bonus: the 2 passengers in my row were down-to-earth and fun guys, which made this voyage even more enjoyable.

While I cannot speak for every single budget airlines out there, I can say DO YOUR RESEARCH AND BE PREPARED. Had I just purchased the tickets and not looked into what I was about to experience, my 6 hour flight could have felt more like a 10 hour flight. Know what you’re getting into and decide what you can handle.

Now, who’s ready of Viking Nation?

Package

When I was packing my belongings today I was trying to visualize what I would need for this trip: swimsuits, sweaters, light clothing, layers, boots, sandals, rain gear… I mean, it was all over the place. Deciding what I was going to wear for the next month was no easy feat. I packed the most versatile and practical attire I could find that would fit into my carry-on backpack.

Then it hit me, the realization that I’m just going to live out of a backpack is both exciting and nerve wracking. Then again, it’s all part of this adventure. Of course, I could pay more and deal with the hassel of luggage claim every single time, but that’s exactly what I don’t want to do. Also the thoughts of wandering a city with a bunch of luggage seems daunting.

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Where to start

When the opportunity arises to travel around the world, I take it. Whether its just me flying solo or meeting up with friends in far off countries, my experience in these places cannot be compared to a typical tourist.

Planning the adventure begins when I sit at my computer for hours scouring the internet for THE BEST AND CHEAPEST flight options I can find. Ideally, getting a direct flight to whatever destination is preferred, however a long layover warrants more time for adventure and giving yourself a brief snapshot of a city you may have never thought to explore. I usually use the app Hopper to try and pin point a day/week to go and then use jetradar to compare prices of flights. Once you’ve booked your flights go to hostelworld.com and check out what hostels are available. Using an AirBnB is a great resource, too, if you’re not looking to stay in a standard hotel or want a bit of an upgrade from a hostel, (although hostels have come a long way from what they used to be twenty years ago). Of course, if you have a friend or two in the country you’re visiting and they don’t mind you crashing on their couch, take it!

After you’ve booked your flights and a place to stay, let your imagination roll. Don’t overplan or give yourself a big itinerary, have a few ideas of what you want to do and just keep it there. When you finally get to your destination then you can fully immerse yourself in whatever adventures float your boat. Again, DON’T OVER PLAN!

So without further a-do, I present my first ever blog of my travel experiences. Stay tuned for more.