20-02-2007 - 04:58
I know this thread is old...but if you're still thinking about going to Iceland, here's the skinny;
It's terribly expensive. I mean, really f***ing expensive.
A beer in a restaurant/bar/club is around 6-7 euros, a sixpack at the state-run boozeshop (open monday-saturday until around 18:00) is around 14 euros (for 6 x 0,5 l cans, more expensive in bottles).
A loaf of bread is around 2 euros at abakery, sliced bread at a supermarket is slightly less and decidedly lacking in quality.
2 litres of Coke costs around 2-3 euros, depending on the shop. The gas stations and clock-shops (10-11, 11-11) are most expensive, Bónus and Kronan are the cheapest.
A pack of cigarettes is around the same price as a beer.
Bus fares around Reykjavík are ridiculous! They just raised the price again, so for a ticket that's valid for a measly hour, you pay 280 isk, which is about 3 euros. Of course, it takes about an hour to get from one end of the city to the other (and then I mean end to end, go any further and you'll be in the middle of the Atlantic, or on a dull, grey moor).
As for things to see in Iceland...well. We have a few decent museums, art, history, penii (what's the plural of that? D*ck museum, anyway. I'm not kidding.), and such, but nobody visits those except schoolchildren and tourists. Then there's the Blue Lagoon, an overpriced blue puddle, full of white goo that supposedly cures psoriasis. Another tourist destination. Then there's The Golden Circle (tm, c, r, whatever), consisting of a) A waterfall, b) a geyser that never erupts, since it was stuffed full of soap a few decades ago, and c) Thingvellir, the site of the old parliament. It's also located on the border between two geographical thingies. Er, whatchamacallit. Cause earthquakes. Tectonic plates! Right. Anyway, if you're into geography, it's kind of interesting, but not really.
You may think Iceland is a completely worthless place to live in, and...it is. But visiting it seems like a lot of fun, if you try one of the following things:
a) Partying. The nightlife is a bit wild, and if you're a foreigner, well. Let's just say that an accent is a kind of get out of jail free card. Except by jail I mean pants. Icelandic women are sluts. I'm one of them, I should know. As mentioned above, drinks are way too expensive, so getting someone to buy you a drink can be like getting them to donate a kidney, but once they're drunk, it gets a lot easier. The parties start on weekends around ten, and around midnight downtown is flooded with partying Icelanders in various stages of inebriation. Just go with the flow, and never pay a cover charge. The places with cover charges are snobby, crowded and chock-full of cokeheads and techno.
The third saturday in August is the strangley named Culture Night, with cultural activities between 10 am and midnight, and drunken revelling from midnight and well into the next day.
Good places to go:
Bar 11 (Laugavegur 11):
Three floors, but small. Usually crowded, may be a bit of a wait to get in, but worth it. Music is a fair mix of new and old rock, and the DJ is approachable in his small iron cage on the second floor.
Prikið (Bankastræti 12):
Another crowded bar, but the music is closer to modern and the beer is slightly more expensive. Also makes decent food in the daytime.
Celtic Cross (Hverfisgata 26):
A nice Irish/Scottish pub, live music on weekend, often with two different acts, one in the basement and one by the ground-floor bar. Nice, relaxed (or as close as you get, considering the median blood alcohol level) atmosphere, Guinness, and a casket in the back room.
Kaffi Vín (Laugavegur 72, basement):
This is a nice warm-up place, good food, cheaper beer on thursdays. Mostly regulars, despite the central location. Austrian theme, although this is less noticable lately, except maybe on the menu.
Belly's (Hafnarstræti ??)
It's not listed in the phonebook, but this is the best place to go if yo're on a budget. Fairly large, and cheap by Icelandic standards, only about 4 euros for a pint of beer. You can even bring you own food. I recommend the pizza place on the corner, Pizza King, or the nearby Subway or Quiznos.
b) Get out of the city:
The landscape really is extraordinary (did you know that Peter Jackson considered Iceland as a location for Lord of the rings?), and cheap too. If you like walking, that is.
Places to go:
The east fjords: Lovely in the summer, and the warmest, usually. Small villages and farms dot the shores, and have ample camping spots. Just remember that Icelandic rain tends to be closer to horizontal than vertical, and pitch your tent accordingly.
The west fjords: Known for its share in the persecution of witches and wizards, most of the people you meet will tell you exactly how they're related to some renowned wizard of old. Also home of the magnificent Hornstrandir cliffs, a favourite amongst hikers.
The highlands: Basically the large, empty space you see in the middle of the island. No towns, farms, no nothing, just unspoiled nature for miles and miles around. Oh, and a giant dam and arguing point in the east. Ignore it.
Vestmannaeyjar: Known for volcanic activity, puffins and clostridum tetani (now eradicated, but responsible for the deaths of countless infants in the 18th century). You can get to the islands by ferry or plane. Lovely landscape, and spelunking is a national sport there, as well as catching young puffins and releasing them into the wild after they get lost on their way to sea. The first weekend in August sees thousands celebrating in Herjolfsdalur, during the National Festival, started in 1874, when the islanders couldn't go to the mainland to celebrate the 1000 year anniversary of Icelandic settlement and the delivery of the first Icelandic constitution from the hand of Christian IX, then ruler of Denmark and it's colonies (including Iceland and the Faroe Islands).
c) Do I have to think of a third thing? Look, you've got two choices; get wasted or explore the landscapes and such. Or at least visit the Phallic Museum.
That wen't on a bit, didn't it? Well, if you have any additional questions, don't hesitate to ask me.