Travelogue: Iceland – South Coast, Jokulsarlon

Next stop, a journey to neighbouring Iceland, a place known for its volcanic landscape, glaciers and black sand beach. We flew by Norwegian air and again, by the time we reached our gates 5 minutes past boarding time, we were shocked that there was nobody at the gate. We were like ‘has the plane departed?!’ Lol. Either the airline is too efficient or everyone is just super kanchiong

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Bye Bergen

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Hello Iceland

We board the airport bus, Flybus+ (5000kr, return), that takes us straight to our accommodation. The bus will stop at the bus terminal and then the driver will decide if you stay onboard or change to a smaller bus for your transfer to your accommodation

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First thought on Iceland? This place is abit strange. Ha

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Yups, the bus terminal

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And we have to change to a smaller bus

And it is better if you have the name and address of the hotel on hand so that the driver can easily understand where you are going

We stayed at Guesthouse Heida’s Home located on a quiet main street, Hverfisgata which is just 1 minute walk away from the shopping street, Laugavegur!

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The shared kitchen that is rather equipped

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The shared toilet

Which is really tiny and opening the door needs some tender loving care just cos I was stuck in there and couldn’t get out =.=

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And our small little room

The guesthouse is a cozy place with rooms on the same level sharing the kitchen and toilet. We co-shared with a mother-daughter from England and a pair of friends from China whom were all easy to get along. Our room is a little too small cos we booked the cheapest. Well you get monkeys if you pay peanuts. Heh.

The host suggested that we try out their Icelandic fish & chips for dinner since it is unlike the usual fish & chips we eat, so we made our way there but first, making a stop at the famous hotdog stand in Reykjavik cos the friend really really wanted to try it

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Spotted this view on the way to dinner

Welcome to Reykjavik’s number one attraction!

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No, I’m not kidding

The Baejarins Beztu Pylsur easily makes it to the number one tourist spot in Reykjavik just cos it is really that popular (google it!). It is fairly strange this hotdog stand is a national pride and there is always a line

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Hotdog, with everything 420kr

Verdict: It tastes like one of those after-party 7-11 hot dog

Honestly, this is bizarre. It’s more of a strange phenomenon how is this so widely popular. Granted, there are fried and raw onions topped with special mustard sauce which gave that extra crunch and perhaps made even popular by Bill Clinton. Still after eating this, I just don’t understand. Perhaps this was a case of reality not meeting expectations. But for those of you who are interested to try, here’s the address!

(*This is just a hotdog*)

Baejarins Beztu Pylsur

Tryggvatagata 1, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland

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Main shopping street

Which was fairly quiet

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Moving on, we continued on our way to the dinner place since it was located on the same stretch and wow, it was really crowded. There was quite a fair bit of tourists and so we were trying to distinguish if this is another made-popular-by-tourists place

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Soda made with ginger, lemon & stevia topped with sparkling water 490kr

The drink is a little strange. It tasted like lemon soda but then the flavour just gets bland after awhile. Though I must say it was a great complement to the fish & chips just cos it washed down the fried & oily food and gave a refreshing aftertaste

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Wolffish fried in organic smelt batter with coriander dip 1480kr

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Comes with side of rosemary-garlic potato

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You can choose the fish you want and the fish of the day will be written on the blackboard. I had the wolffish while the friend had cod. The meat was firm, smooth and sweet. What’s different about the fish & chips here is the use of spelt and barley batter to give that wheaty taste. What I didn’t like about the fish & chips was the batter was thicker than usual so it gets gelat. After 3 bites, I’m just peeling the skin away from the fish meat. I do enjoy the coriander dip (surprisingly) cos I don’t like coriander. The dip gave a refreshing taste with a light taste of coriander without being too overpowering

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Creamed skyr with berry coulis & cinnamon-roasted walnuts 690kr

Well given skyr was listed as one of the ‘must-try’, we ordered one to share. I didn’t enjoy the taste for it was too creamy, thick and rich but the friend like it pretty much

Even though the fish & chips were good, they weren’t outstanding in my opinion. Or rather, it was more of a case of different preference and I would have prefer mine light and crispy

Icelandic Fish & Chips

Tryggvagata 11, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

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Went searching for icecream cos I felt like having one. This place was supposed to serve pretty good icecream but it was too sweet and the guy had a ‘why am I working in this weather’ kind of attitude. I think I should have just kept the craving till Denmark =/

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So before we concluded the night, we actually caught sight of the sky lighting up in green no less, so we wanted to find the source. We gave up of course, given we were in the city and there’s too much light population and the greens eventually lightened till it disappeared. Ha

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Rise & shine!

Warm sandwich never tasted this awesome. Even though we got breakfast from the convenience store but eating warm bread is bliss. Lol

We booked a 2D trip to the South Coast which includes an ice caving & northern light tour! The tour was with Extreme Iceland and the guide promptly collected us at 9am. The bus went on to collect some more passengers and soon boarded were a pair of friends of Japan and a couple from China. I was telling the friend it would be very funny if this whole bus is from Asia. And here is the order next – couple from Thailand, friends from Singapore, couple from Kazakhstan, 3 friends from Hong Kong and a family from USA! You can literally hear the giggle whenever the bus picked a new passenger up. And it was so funny when the ang mo family boarded, they went ‘Welcome to Asia!’

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It was a day with good weather

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And it marked a long journey down to the south with sights like this

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But when you don’t have wifi onboard, there is only so much you can do

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They dropped us at a comfort stop for us to use the washroom and get snacks

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Here’s a picture of our small bus

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Saw some people horse-riding and they even waved to us as if they were on some pageant walk. Lol

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Hotdog (with bread) 490kr

Bought a hotdog as well just cos it looks some tempting. I have to admit, this somehow, tasted better than than Reykjavik’s one. It was cheese sausage wrapped with crispy bacon and of course you have the fried onions with the mustard sauce (just that I chose to only have the hotdog. Ha)

First sightseeing stop brought some unexpected surprise in the form of Jackie Chan. We were parking to get to Seljalandsfoss waterfall when the bus was informed we have to be quiet because Jackie Chan was filming a Hollywood movie and suddenly everyone was so excited. Ha

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So they actually stopped all the cars to inform them

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And you can see all the crew from the distance

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Well technically you can’t take photos of them but shhh. I mean what are the chances of bumping into a star in Iceland

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Okay, finally our attention turned to the waterfall. Ha

And on the way to another waterfall which was nearby, the Skógafoss waterfall is bigger (18 stories high), grander and even sports a rainbow across!

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We passed by the famed Eyjafjallajökull that erupted 6 years ago

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Skógafoss waterfall

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So pretty!

There was this hill next to the waterfall which you can climb up for a better view of the area so I decided that I shall give it a try even though there were 570 steps

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But I didn’t know the shorter route (on the left) was not only steep, but it was muddy, slippery and there were not many proper steps. So I almost slipped and created a history T.T #soscary #lifeshortenedbyhalf

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View from the top!

Anyway I only managed 3/4 of the way up cos it was almost time to leave

We finally made it to our last attraction before lunch, which is the black sand beach at Vik, Reynisfjara. We were warned repeatedly not to go near the waves and always walk facing them cos the waves here were famed in swallowing people

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Such a majestic view

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The killer waves

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It’s listed as one of the most impressive black sand beach, for its black sand.. duh

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Passed by Vik church, a small little church that looked so lonely in the vast snowy land

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And finally a very late lunch at 3pm! I’m thinking that might be the only decent dining place in the area

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Icelandic Fish Stew with Rye Bread 2500kr

Cos I was in an adventurous mood (and the friend also encouraged me), I decided to order the Icelandic fish stew! It was a mistake. It felt like baby food with mashed potatoes and hidden fish meat. It was honestly strange and I couldn’t get used to it. The rye bread had a strange taste, even though they were thin slices but the texture was hard and unwelcoming

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Chicken burger meal 1495kr

The burger fared much better. It tasted like chicken burger

Restaurant Vikurskali

Skogar, Vik and Myrdalsjokull, Iceland

And the very last attraction before the day ended was a trip to the Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon which I think the guide did show us sights of glaciers along the way, but I was busy sleeping heh. But the sky was a beautiful hue of blue and pink, which makes the scene of the lagoon even prettier

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Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon

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Dusk

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Taking in the pretty sights

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We even spotted some otters having fun

It had been a long day and we finally reached our accommodation for the night, Smyrlabjörg country hotel. Dinner was also settled at the hotel, but not inclusive. Even though we didn’t have much choices as according to the guide cos there were absolutely no other places we can eat nearby (so unless you had packed your own sandwiches or something..)

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And the hotel which is very basic

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All you need is a bed

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And a toilet

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Hotel’s restaurant

So everyone gathered at the restaurant for dinner in which we already had pre-ordered our choices earlier onboard the bus. Well, you can choose between lobster bisque and meat platter for starter and fish of the day or lamb for mains. I decided I shall stick with the familiar ones. And the guide was telling us about some delicacies that Icelandic people eat. The next thing you know, the friends from Singapore ordered them for the table to share. Make a guess, what is it!

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Lobster bisque

The bisque was decent. It had the flavour and the right consistency

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Fish of the day

Dinner 5200kr

Fish of the day was salmon, though everything else was really salty. It felt like they might have poured the whole ladle of salt in. Well for the price we paid for a soup and mains, it was rather expensive and it wasn’t very filling either

And here comes the Icelandic delicacies..

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Hákarl (fermented shark) and Brennivin, otherwise known as Black Death Drink

It is not just any shark, but shark meat soaked in ammonia. This dish is so memorable that just by looking at the picture, I can still vividly remember the putrid smell. Taste-wise, it felt like eating a rotten fermented shark. It really tastes like shit. Another delicacy, Brennivin, Black Death drink or also known as burning wine (wah so many terms seriously), it is a schnapps made from fermented potatoes and caraway and best recommended to go with the shark meat. Combine these 2 together, you probably had a night to remember. It is not for the faint hearted, but you can always buy them for your beloved enemies to try! Hee, just a suggestion 😉 but please, don’t try this at home

So everyone took a bite each you can see the hilarious expression on their faces. We even offered to the other locals who immediately shook their head to try. LOL

We returned to our room and get prepared to go aurora hunting since there was a fairly good chance of catching the lights that night with a kp activity of 4. It was funny how we were strategising waking up at every hour to look at the sky and banging at everyone’s door if there was really one. But at around 10pm-ish, you could hear people running along the corridor so we grabbed our coats (in our pyjamas) and boots plus cameras and just ran to the field outside. And yayyy, there was aurora! But within 5 minutes, we were crying just cos it was so freaking cold out there. So, we found the best place to aurora-watch..

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At our neighbour’s room

Ha. We went to the SG girls’ room and they had the perfect spot

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So we could capture these beautifully in the comfort of warmth

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TADA!

The aurora was pretty strong and lasted all the way till 2am so yes, everyone was happy they caught it

It’s an early morning the next day with another round of activity and sightseeing that started with ice caving at Vatnajökull glacier cave, which was the highlight of the day. Second day’s itinerary seemed to be pretty relaxed with not that many attractions to cover

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Sunrise at dawn, so beautiful

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The hotel’s breakfast was pretty good. I was happy there’s sunny side-up

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And to get to the caves, we have to be transported in these jeeps and eventually I understood why

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Good morning!

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Cos the snow was so deep, it was easier for jeeps to manoeuvre but even then, it took quite awhile before we finally reached the glaciers

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The journey of driving through a desert, just everything in white

The route to the caves was a bumpy one. It felt like roller coaster but at a much slower speed. Even though the jeeps stopped a short distance away from the entrance, the air was so chilly and snow was flying everywhere, the group was joking they didn’t want to go into the caves but surprisingly, when we went in it was warm inside the caves!

And then the horror came when I realised I forgot to charge my camera batteries =.=

Credits to J

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Here we are, inside the caves

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At the bottom of the glaciers

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Yes, it’s really blue inside and we had to crawl on our knees to get from one point to another just cos certain parts were rather narrow

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And a picture of us

There were only 4 caves being discovered this autumn but only 1 deemed safe enough to be ventured so here we were, at the one and only one. And then cos it was so warm inside, nobody wanted to go out into the cold. lol

Iceland is a place that believes in folklores so here’s one when we were on the way to another attraction

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The guide told us how these 2 trolls were busy dating and they forgot they have to return home cos trolls supposedly were not able to stay out in the cold for long. So here we have, 2 trolls turned frozen kissing into eternity. Apparently this story is quite famous. We have not one but two guides telling us this same story

#seriously

Dropped by another part of the black sand beach before lunch cos some people wanted to go down to the beach. It was pretty interesting to see so many pieces of ice though I wondered where they all come from

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Iceberg?

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Lunch was a quick random stop at one of the comfort stops. I decided to stick with safe Western food this time round, cannot go wrong!

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Fish & chips 2090kr

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Cheeseburger & fries 1650kr

And yes, they tasted like western food

I don’t remember Svínafellsjökull glacier being part of the itinerary but we made a stop there just so we could take a look at the glaciers close-up and this was the day we decided to follow the adventurous people in our group and walked all the way to the top of the glaciers, until the guide literally screamed (from the other side) at us to stop. OOPS

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Following, walking, hopping and praying we don’t slip and fall

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Yes, we were not supposed to cos it’s dangerous. You never know when the glaciers will break and you might just fall inside. Double oops. And we were supposed to walk on the soiled path cos of safety reason too. Well clearly we didn’t. Triple oops

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Well, this is what you called extreme activities in Extreme Iceland

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Group photo time!

Our tour group was really made up of mostly Asian (as you can tell), but they were all a nice and funny bunch of people. We had one guy falling sick and suddenly you hear everyone volunteering their medication

Making a stop at the Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon again, this time for a mid day view before we finally head back to Reykjavik. The view at the lagoon is so pretty it feels unreal. Sunlight and clear skies make everything so different 🙂

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Taken with an iPhone 6

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Though it tends to get slippery cos of the melted ice but thank goodness for those hiking spikes. They were a life saver. I recommend everyone to get a pair if you are going to visit all these places

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Okay one more

Processed with VSCOcam with kk2 preset

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Hello horsieeee

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Our tour ended with a random stop for a picture of the Icelandic horses along the way. The guide was joking we had to speak to them in Icelandic if not they would not respond to us. But the funny part was when the guide spoke to the horses in Icelandic, they actually ignored him. ha. Icelandic horses are different cos of their pony sizes and also once they are exported, they would not be able to return to Iceland. I feel sad for them

And so this wraps up our 2-day trip down to the South Coast. As we dive right into the South Coast without spending much time in the city, I would say this is one beautiful place to visit. The landscapes are an eye-opener and I think it beats staying in a confined city. If you are someone who loves to explore beyond what a city can offer, I think this place is worth visiting for a few days. I mean you sightsee everyday will also sian right 😉

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