solo europe trip | iceland – part 2

So, with part 1 out of the way, I can just take my time to write part 2. ūüôā For those who are waiting to read this post, I hope the information helps.

MONEY
Before heading to Iceland, I asked someone who had been there what tips he would give…he said that there was no need to bring cash. Oh, and to enable the magnetic stripe on your credit card. Before my US trip last year, I was one of those travelers that would bring around a huge stack of cash whenever I travel. But last year’s trip changed my mind about using credit cards overseas – not only did it save me the headache of trying to find places to hide my money, I didn’t have to worry (that much) about being pick-pocketed.
But still, I wanted some Icelandic Krona to bring back to Singapore. So I changed out ¬£ in Singapore and changed my ¬£ to Krona at the Keflavik¬†Airport. I changed ¬£100 which was more than enough for some random spending and hot dogs. I used my credit card to pay the reminder of my hostel stay, most of my meals, my Lopapeysa, and other stuff. The only time my card didn’t work was when I was going for the Glacier Hike and we stopped at some store to buy packed lunch, my card didn’t work and I didn’t have any cash with me. I think it was my magnetic stripe…which I thought I had enabled. Heh. I ended up eating my granola bar for lunch…but a new friend I made shared her sandwich with me later. ūüôā
TIPS TO SAVE MONEY
I have to admit that I did not try very hard to save money when it came to food. But I’m going to repeat what I read on almost every blog that talked about Iceland – food is expensive. Period. If you want a cheap-ish fix, go to¬†B√¶jarins Beztu Pylsur¬†for hot dogs. Order it with ‘everything’. I might or might not have eaten at least 4 of it…all on different¬†occasions, of course. If you stay at Downtown¬†Reykjavik Hostel, this place isn’t too far. It costs about S$4.60.

 

Bring your own food/3-in-1 cereal/drinks. Like I mentioned, my whole packet of 3-in-1 food stuff was stolen…if you stay in a hostel, keep your stuff locked up.

 

Cook your own food. Assuming you can cook, that is. I know, you’re on vacation and cooking might be the¬†furthest thing from your mind. But if saving money is a¬†priority then consider cooking. I spent about 45 minutes just walking around the grocery store…which is located¬†conveniently in the middle of town. Oh, if you stay in¬†Downtown¬†Reykjavik Hostel, their common kitchen has ‘a common food’ area where you can use whatever’s there – pasta, spices, sauces etc. I met some Singaporean boys cooking up a storm in the kitchen…it smelled pretty nice. ūüôā They even offered me some of their food but I¬†politely declined.

Bring proper clothing. I was not as prepared for the cold as I thought I would be. I did not bring any gloves and beanie, and thus, my ears and fingers felt like it was going to drop off. So I popped into Icewear to buy a pair of gloves and beanie. It was not cheap but it kept me nice and warm.

 

Do not buy bottled water. I repeat, do not buy bottled water. Iceland’s tap water is probably on cleanest in the world. I said probably because I’m not too sure where the cleanest drinking water is. ūüėÄ If you’re a kiasi Singaporean who always buy bottled water when you go overseas (like me!), go to Iceland with a open mind. I brought my own waterbottle and filled it up with their COLD tap water every morning. Oh so refreshing. When I was at the airport, leaving Iceland, I bought some cod oil from a store and while queuing up to pay, I saw a couple in front of me buy bottled water. When it was my turn to pay, I asked the cashier if she found it funny that people would buy bottled water…her reply?
“Yes! We don’t understand why tourists would want to pay for water, the bottled and tap water is from the same source.”

I then asked her if there was a place I could fill up my water bottle…she pointed at the sink behind and said, “Go ahead!”Don’t drink.¬†I didn’t drink, but I heard it’s expensive.

Stay in a shared hostel room. If you’re a Singaporean reading this, your first reaction might be, “Ewww, share a room with strangers??” Let me ask you this: how many hours do you stay in your hotel? Before my US trip, I had never stepped foot in a hostel. I would stay at either budget hotels, Airbnb apartments or guesthouses. But coming away impressed with the guesthouses I stayed at made me a convert. I get the, “What?? You stay in a hostel with other people? And share a bathroom with them??? What??” But here’s the thing, you save money. And you’re safe. I think I’ll be more afraid to stay ALONE in a hotel room than to stay in a shared (mixed) hostel room. Yes, there are the one or two messy hostel mates but hey, you’re not living in the room 24/7. And though I picked a 10-bed dorm with one shared bathroom, I didn’t have to wait whenever I needed to use it. Anyway, growing up in a house with 10 people made me accustomed to waiting for the toilet. ūüôā Save your money and stay in a shared hostel room!

The bathroom was huge!

This was early one morning when I was brushing my teeth (and messaging my mom- yes, I multitask) and my mom asked for a photo of the bathroom. Some girl left her toiletries bag on the sink.

Each bed number has a little cubby hole assigned to it store your toiletries etc.

My bed was #8. See how neat I am. <sarcastic>

 

    FOOD
Yay! I love food and was prepared to try anything…well, maybe not anything. But I ate some whale and puffin. And it was nice. I ate at four restaurants. Four very expensive restaurants, I might add. But it was worth it. So, the first place I ate at the¬†Icelandic¬†Fish & Chips place that came recommended online.¬†I found it so-so only.

The next day I met a group of American ¬†ladies + one Singaporean lady during the Glacier Hike. One of the American girl was a solo traveler and the rest (4 of them) were friends from NYC. We all made friends over the van long ride, hike and lunch. At the end of the hike, the group of 4 ladies invited the solo American girl and I to join them for dinner. They had reservations at some fish restaurant. But we all went back to our respective hotels/hostel before meeting again. The fish restaurant was just a 3 minute walk away from my hostel- so convenient. The food there was delicious. We shared 3 starters and each had a main dish before we shared 2 desserts. I had some salmon dish – yums! But the price, oh the price burned a hole in my budget. In Singapore we have a culture of 1. fighting over the bill or 2. one pay bill and the others pay back by either giving cash or transferring money etc. But a culture I noticed when I was in the US is that if the group goes dutch, those paying will pass their cards to the waiter and the waiter will charge accordingly. And since I was with Americans, this was what we did. My portion was about S$100. Yes, definitely more than what I expected. But hey, it’s once in a lifetime and the food (and company) was good. We talked from about 8:30pm to 11pm.

 

This desert was sooooo delicious.

I shall divert here to talk about the friends I made. The other solo girl traveler was, I think, the most interesting person I met. She’s in the military and was stationed in Italy. Her Iceland trip was just a short getaway over the Easter holiday. She’s well traveled and often would travel solo. The other ladies were quite interesting as well. Two of them are married (I’m not too sure about the other two) with young kids and Iceland was an impromptu girls trip. Will I ever do this one day if I have kids? Maybe…I hope so. ūüôā

The next day was my diving day! I saw the time wrongly and thought I had more time to rest before my pick up. But I was¬†still lazing in my bed when the hostel staff came in and called for me…she said my pick up was here. I jumped up, changed and rushed out…without having any breakfast. After my¬†dive, I came¬†back to the hostel and looked for a place to eat.

I¬†found a little cozy restaurant near my hostel named S√¶greifinn. They sold lobster soup (quite okay), fish kababs and get this…whale sample…for those that wanted to just try a little bit of a whale. I liked the whale. ūüôā The fish kabab I had was only so-so. And the bread was free flow. I noticed that every restaurant I went to had ‘free bread’. They will give you the bread before they even serve you anything else. Oh, and free water as well. My lobster soup, fish kabab and tiny whale steak cost about S$30. Not too bad.

 

The next two resturants I ate at was kind of a self indulgence. It was my birthday and I decided to treat myself to a nice meal (or two). But before that, the solo American girl had recommended a restaurant she ate at and I decided to check it out. I made a reservation online the night before.

On to the Blue Lagoon! Soaking in the Blue Lagoon was nice, if a little crowded at times. I had topped up to the premium package at the counter itself and the lady informed me that the premium package included a reservation at the LAVA Restaurant + cup of sparkling wine. Why not? After soaking for some time, I paddled my way to the indoor restaurant. I choose a three course meal…consisting of a rack of lamb and some delicious salmon. I’m sure the waiter thought I wasted money because I didn’t touch the wine. Total birthday lunch damage: S$70+.

Being still full, I decided that my dinner at Sj√°vargrilli√į (the restaurant I made the reservation at) would be a ‘small’ and ‘cheap’ meal. Alas, when I saw that puffin and goose were on the menu as a starter, I couldn’t resist. Then I also ordered a seafood salad (it had lobster tails, prawns etc). Dinner damage: S70+.

Puffin and goose for dinner

I’m sure you’re getting an idea on how expensive the meals in Iceland can be. The rest of the time, I ate ‘cheaply’.

SHOPPING
I didn’t buy much things in Iceland. After all, I was backpacking and had limited amount of space. But I knew I wanted to buy a Lopapeysa and was mentally prepared to spend on that. Unfortunately, the day I went shopping was a day when most of the stores were closed due to Easter. Alafoss was open, though, and I got my Lopapeysa. Thing is, the sweater sheds wool left, right and centre. But it was in a color I quite liked and the design was nice. ūüôā

The only other real ‘shopping’ I did was at Bonus.

Alright, I’ll end here. Perhaps I’ll do a summary of my total Iceland¬†expenditure in my next and final Iceland post.

June 18, 2016
Previous Post Next Post

Leave a Reply

You may also like