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July 14, 2013 / Jim Fenton

To Iceland

Seatback in-flight map

June 30, 2013

It’s hard to pack for cold weather when it’s really hot outside. But with temperatures in the 90s, that’s what we had to do when packing for our trip this year to Iceland, where it will be in the 40s and 50s.

As I have done in previous years, I will be blogging each day’s activities two weeks after they actually happen. This gives me time to edit, find pictures, and not alert the world’s burglars that we’re away from home (an overblown concern, but a good excuse anyway). The recurring characters in our story are myself (Jim), my wife Kenna, and our 13 year-old daughter Celeste.

Why Iceland? After two years of domestic vacations, we wanted to do an international trip again. We recalled the great experience we had two years ago in Alaska with a self-drive tour: the tour company makes lodging and activity reservations and rents a car for you to drive. Islands have the advantage of limiting how much driving we sign ourselves up for, and we briefly considered New Zealand, another place I really want to visit. But days are short in New Zealand this time of year, so we decided on Iceland, another of my fantasy destinations. Iceland has a reputation for being really expensive, but their economic problems of a couple of years ago have made Iceland merely expensive, and that weighed in their favor as well.

Online research led us to Iceland Unlimited, which booked a 13-day tour featuring a drive on the Ring Road around the perimeter of the island. We have quite a number of activities as well, and were advised to pack warm clothes, even long underwear and waterproof pants, for some of them. But it’s hard to find these things in California in the summer.

The most common way to get to Iceland is to take Icelandair from Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis, or Boston. I like to travel straight from the West Coast to Europe in order to have the best opportunity to sleep. But Hipmunk helped me find the best deal, which turned out to be on Delta, connecting through New York, and my frugal tendencies won out.

The flights were happily uneventful. We landed and departed from a new section of Terminal 4 at JFK airport, which was really quite nice. Our outgoing flight was delayed about 45 minutes, but we made up all of it and more due to strong tailwinds, and landed a bit early at Keflavík International Airport, about 40 miles from downtown Reykjavík.

Watch for daily installments of our trip experiences for the next 13 days.

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