Iceland is my dream trip ever since I was a college student. The Pixpros members were travelling there in 2012. The photos taken from Iceland were just amazing and it's the first time I knew this amazing country existed. I still remember the determination I had from that day that I must also visit Iceland.
The main problem of travelling to this country, apart from the extreme weather like that of the wind and snow, the extreme of taking leaves and money is another important factor. So this plan has kept there ever since. After working for sometimes, I ask for a long holiday leaves in order to make my 4 years-dream-trip comes true.
Due to the Songkran festival is limited, so I have to take leaves on Chakri day too. Finally, I got 13 days leave in which 9 days will be spent in Iceland, half a day in Oslo and another day in Moscow, including a day and a half of flying. I travel with Russia's Aeroflot airline from Bangkok to Oslo of Norway. After that, I fly to Iceland with Iceland Air and coming back the same route.
Day 1 : Bangkok – Oslo, transit at Moscow and spend a night at Oslo
Day 2 : Oslo – Iceland, arrive at Reykjavik in the late evening
Day 3 : Reykjavik - Vik
Day 4 : Vik - Jokulsarlon
Day 5 : Jokulsarlon - Egilsstaðir
Day 6 : Egilsstaðir - Akureyri
Day 7 : Akureyri - Grundarfjörður (Kirkjufell)
Day 8 : Grundarfjörður - Reykjavik
Day 9 : Reykjavik (Golden Circle)
Day 10 : Reykjavik - Keflavík (Stop by at Blue Lagoon)
Day 11 : Iceland – Oslo, travel half a day at Oslo and take a late night flight to Moscow and spend a night near the airport
Day 12 : Roam around Moscow entire day and fly back at 19.00 p.m.
Day 13 : Arrive Bangkok in the morning
The estimate budget of this trip is 75,000 THB per person for 12 days (Iceland-Oslo-Moscow) in which half of it is a flight ticket. My flight ticket is 36,000 THB. I didn't get a very good price due to too much hesitation of booking the ticket (the best I could find was a promotional ticket of Qatar Air at 26,000 THB). Anyhow, the excellent service from Aeroflot made up that part. The worst of it was the ticket of the Iceland Air was up the day I booked and down about 3,000 THB in the next few days.
The price in this table has been divided by 6 people including the van and the petrol.
The SUV 7 seats equip with GPS for 9 days is 43.152 THB and the petrol is 27,534 THB.
We rent the Dodge Durago, the 4 WD van from Green Motion Company. It is an automatic gear consuming gasoline 95 which consumes gasoline more than usual. You could have saved more money with a smaller car.
Very important note!!!! Daytime and nighttime in Iceland is varied in each month. I visit from 6-18 April 2016 and it's 14 hours daylight so we get to travel until 19.00 or 20.00 p.m. If you are coming here during the winter where the daylight is less than 10 hours, you can't travel and share the same plan with me. It'll be dark before you can go to every place. Also, winter time comes with a rougher road where several route is inaccessible so you must spare sometimes for snow storm or in case the road is closed.
XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
XF10-24mmF4 R OIS
XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS
XF35mmF1.4 R (Got it along the way)
And iPhone 6s for some photos and videos
Iceland is included in a Schengen Visa. The visa can be applied through Denmark Embassy at Phloen Chit. It's fairly easy to apply as there are many reviews available. In addition to visa and passport, Iceland doesn't require further document. When we enter Schengen country, we might be asked what we are doing there. It'd be much more convenient if we have a concrete plan or the hotel reservation when being asked. As for Russia, you probably want to have a paper confirming Thailand doesn't need a visa to enter this country as I heard some immigration officers are not aware of it. Anyhow, from my 2 times experiences, I didn't have to show any further proof.
If you want more information about Russia, I used to write a review about it here: http://pantip.com/topic/33621110
Iceland is considered warmer than the neighboring countries. It has the warm tides running by so the cold is not the main obstacle. What is extreme here is the "wind". The wind in this country can easily blow the doors into half and it thus also goes through our sweater. If you are visiting during the winter (October-April), the weather goes to a single number negative degree. For the clothing, in addition to our normal clothes, we need to add three more layers: base layer, mid layer, and shell layer.
- Base Layer is the most inside layer or Long John. This layer is to keep the warmth with us. The easiest way is to wear heat tech of Uniqlo or you can find it form Platinum Mall. This layer keeps us warm about 1-2 degree.
- Mid Layer is sweater layer. We can wear many sweaters depending on the weather like fleece jackets, or down jackets of duck/goose feather. If the weather gets to a negative degree, down jackets is recommended as it's the warmest. In case you are not used to with the cold, you can also wear the fleece jacket before putting on the down jackets.
- Shell Layer is not necessary for downtown sightseeing, only the base and mid layer is sufficient. However, Iceland is a natural sightseeing place with strong wind and a high chance of rain and snow, so shell layer is recommended. The main use of it is to protect us from the wind and in turn it also protects us from the rain. The good windproof jacket allows us to walk in the rain for hours without the inside of us being wet which I have tried in this trip. The best brand for this kind of clothes, jacket, pants or shoes is Gore Tex. You can be sure to get protected from the wind and rain when using this brand. Even the North Face, Timberland, they also use Gore Tex to make their jackets and shoes.
- Pants. Generally, our legs can endure more cold than our body. If the weather is not in negative degree, only jeans and Long John is sufficient. Anyhow, this also varies from person to person. Probably, the windproof pant is a good solution in case that day has strong wind or rain.
- Gloves, socks and shoes are very important as hands and feet are the most torturing parts from the cold. We should try to find the windproof or a leather glove that is not so big, otherwise, it's inconvenient for us to move around and we might have to take them off at the end. We must endure a bit for the hand as the right size of the gloves can't give us much warmth. But if it's too cold, you can also put your hands into your jacket. What we must take care the most is the feet as we can't put them inside our jacket. It's recommend to find wool socks as they are warm and not absorbing water. We can wear it with waterproof boot. The general leather boot is alright but if you can get the Gore Tex, it'd be excellent. It can prevent the wind, the cold and snow and its rubber base help us not to get slipper while walking on the ice.
- Hats and scarfs. Hats are necessary if our sweater doesn't have hood. The main purpose is to cover our ears as it gets hurt when we stay in the cold weather long. Or, the ears cover works too. Actually, I use scarf to cover my mouth and cheek more, otherwise, it could be blown away. The neck is already quite warm when we wear double jackets.
Here are small tips about down jackets:
We have to look carefully for the genuine duck/goose feather as most brands use the synthetic fur which is not as warm. The lifetime is also less, only about 2-3 years whereas the genuine feather can stay for about 10 years. The genuine feather can also be folded into small pieces.
Meanwhile, down jacket has different level of warmth which is called Fill power/Fill down from 500-1000. The trekking brands like The North Face, Columbia, Patagonia will mark Fill Power in each jacket whereas some brand doesn't have it marked like Uniplo. Somehow, this give us some inconvenience when use it because we don't know how cold it can help.
Fill Power 500-600 is warm enough in a single layer for the weather not less than 10 degree like the Ultra Light Down Jacket of Uniqlo.
Fill Power 600-700 is warm enough from the single digit to 0 degree and most of The North Face jacket start at this level.
Fill Power 800 and up is warm enough for negative weather. I myself use the Fill 800 of Merrell for this trip.
Many people don't like the down jacket as it's fluffy and made us look like preserved pork in bundles, and this is nothing we can do, haha. But the good quality down jacket wouldn't be as big. The bigger the shirt doesn't always means the warmer. Sometimes, the big down jacket puts too much of the quill which doesn't make it any warmer but just bigger. The good down jacket filled more with the feather. It's less swelling and can be fold into smaller piece. You can also look at the tag of %feather; it's very good to have 90-100%.
The biggest problem for Iceland is food. Apart from there's almost no restaurant out of town, the restaurant here is very expensive. A cheeseburger and a coke is 400-600 THB and we certainly cannot afford it for 12 days. The solution is bringing some ready-to-eat food from Thailand. Mainly, it's rice canned, fish canned and Roza Prompt where you can eat after soaking in the warm water as well as instant noodle for a quick meal. Also, we can buy bread, ham, salami from the market here which is cheaper than eating in the restaurant. Once in a while then we also go to restaurant.
**Important note: The microwave is not widely available, so we must bring instant food that can be heated with warm water.
The currency of Iceland is ISK. The exchange rate when I go is 0.3. Most of places only accept ISK except the big restaurant that they would also take the Euro so we must prepare enough ISK money. We can exchange it at the airport or from Schengen countries (Thailand doesn't have ISK, we must exchange for Euro first). Anyhow, the credit card is acceptable in almost every place.
But we must be cautious at the gas station. Most of the gas station here is a self-service where we can use the credit card but we must know the 4 digit pin which many people might not know. We must apply for these 4 digit pins with the issuing bank. Another paying method is by pre-paid card which can be bought at the mini-mart of the gas station or at the market. It is the cash card that we can fill the petrol and food in the mini-mart. The gas station here has two colors, green and red. If you buy any color card, you can only use at the same color gas station. Since at certain route, very few gas station and mini-mart is there so it's recommend to buy some in advance and fill up the petrol when chances allow. Even the GPS can give us the location of the gas station, we can't be certain of which one is still open.
The main road of Iceland is no.1 road. This road is running around the island and some people call it Ring Road. It's easy to drive and almost the entire road is paved. Most of the road is straight, not so curving but it's quite narrow and the side of the road is deep which gets us a bit nervous when passing or overtaking the other car.
**Important note: The Ring Road at the east is relatively in bad condition. If you want to go around the island, it's recommended to drive on the road no. 96 and 92 instead when you are in the east in order to go to Egilsstaðir. These routes are in good condition and no need to go up the mountains as the tunnel has been drilled along these routes.
Here, the steering wheel is on the left and we cannot go over 90km/h. Many road cameras are there. We must be careful when opening the door as it could be broken if we open it against the wind direction. It's recommended to drive in the middle of the lane and when the other car comes then we can drive to the right as the road is narrow and the side is deep.
The road condition is subject to the weather in Iceland, we can check whether the road is accessible via: http://www.road.is/travel-info/road-conditions-and.... In order to not waste our time, it's recommended to check it prior to every trip.
6. Aurora Tracing Mission
There are three factors affecting the chance of the Aurora to show up: activity (KP), location and weather.
1. Activity or KP- the harder the explosion, the more likely the Aurora to come. It's measurable from 1-9 KP. The more the KP, the more intense the Aurora could get but it also depends on the location.
2. Location - Of course, the closer to the globe's axis, the higher chance to see it. Below photo shows the locations where Aurora can be seen.
Iceland is in the KP3 which means that we can see the Aurora with our eyes at this scale. If we are at the KP 4-9, we can clearly see the Aurora all over the sky. And if we want to see the Aurora at Germany, we must wait on the day the KP 8 is there and we can see it vaguely.
3. Weather - This is the main factor causing us unable to see the Aurora. Since we are very near to the globe's axis and Aurora Activity is usually occurred almost every night, the only factor preventing us from seeing the Aurora is when the sky is closed. I experience myself on the day the KP is 5 and in theory, the Aurora would have been very beautiful dancing except the clouds are all over the sky and it's completely dark, I'm so upset.
We can check the weather forecast of Iceland from http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/. This website tells us the value of KP and the density of the clouds at each location of the island.
From the above photo, the greener the area is, the more the clouds are. The last thing we want is to see the dense green of where we are at with the high KP. We can also check an hourly forecast from below tab. From this photo, it is the Aurora Activity KP 4 but the sky is almost closed in the entire island. There are some clouds on the left side but if we want to have a clear glimpse of it, we must boat to the middle of the sea where it's white.
This map is very beneficial for Aurora hunter. If the KP happens to be high but it is cloudy then we can drive to the place where the clouds are less to increase our chance. I met a guy who drives 2 hours back and forth in order to have a clear sight of Aurora. To trace the Aurora depends on little luck but more on advanced planning and efforts.
▲ Iceland 01 ▲
Our first day is spent on the road. Our route goes pass 3 countries and 3 different time zones. The Aeroflot ticket said BKK - Oslo (Norway) departs at 10.00 a.m. and arrives at 19.00 p.m. It looks like we only fly for 9 hours but in fact, it is 14 hours flight since the Oslo time is 5 hours behind us.
Our first destination is Moscow (4 hours behind). The ticket said 10.00 – 15.00 but the actually time spent is 9 hours and 50 minutes. We fly with the Boeing 730 which offers spacious seat and personal TV screen (the new movie like Star war: Force Awaken is available). The kids' game like the Puzzle is also there. The USB charger for our phone is there as well. Two meals of breakfast and lunch are served (for Moscow). It is the European style bread and cheese, salad and the main dish of either chicken or fish. Since there are not many things to do, I look at the map to learn that we are flying over Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Uzbekistan, and going in Russia.
At Moscow, our flight gets delayed for 30 minutes and the flight to Oslo has also been delayed. When transiting here, we must scan our carry-on bag again. It takes quite sometimes as there're only two scanning machines but we must take off our shoes and belts. Before boarding the flight, the staff comes and carefully check our Schengen visa again (they look at every page of passport and look at Schengen visa page for a long time and touch it as well). We have about 2 hours and 30 minutes for transit. After we go through every procedure, we have time to walk around a bit.
Now, we fly with a smaller aircraft to Oslo. TV screen and USB charger are no longer available. Sandwiches are served. Now we go to another time zone of Olso (1 hour behind Moscow). The actual flight is 3 hours. The weather is nice so we get to see the high angle view of Norway before landed.
We reach Oslo Airport (Oslo Lufthavn) at about 20.00 p.m. It takes less than an hour to go through immigration and collect our luggage. When we are going in groups, only the first few people that the immigration asked many questions and they let us pass quickly afterwards. This airport is in Gardermoen. It is a small airport with wooden and cement theme. The light wooden color reminds me of huge wooden ship. From all the airports I've been to, here is my favorite in term of theme and atmosphere, possibly also due to people are not crowded when we reach here.
We spend a night here at Oslo and fly to Iceland tomorrow noon. The bus sign is there at the luggage belts. The monitor screen clearly tells us the bus route, the platform and timetables. Nearby is the exchange counter where we can exchange Euro for NOK (Norway currency) and ISK (Iceland currency) with a fee of 50 NOK per time. If you want to deposit your luggage, you need to follow the Lost & Found sign to the counter. The fee is 87 NOK for 5 hours.
We book our hotel at Gargermoen Hotel Bed & Breakfast from booking.com. We chose here because we can take the direct bus (885/815) to the airport. The bus fare is 50 NOK and only a stop away from the airport. We can clearly see our hotel from the bus stop. It is a yellow cute building. We book the room with a share bathroom for 300 NOK/person/night. Since there's few guests tonight, the owner upgrade our room to private bathroom (without any notice in advance).
▲ Iceland 02 ▲
The breakfast is free here. It is a European buffet like bread, cheese, ham, salami and many sandwiches. Nearby our hotel is a small village and a vast field, such a nice atmosphere. I get to walk around a bit. It is a single digit degree weather and it's just chill.
The security is strict flying from Oslo to Iceland. I must repeat that we must take out the notebook, iPad and camera out of the carry on; otherwise we'd be called for individual search which consumes much time. The random check for gun powder is there from time to time as well.
This time we are flying with Iceland Air. It is also the Boeing 777 but with personal TV screen and USB charger as well as fun clip for traveling in Iceland. There's no food or earphone for economic class but iPhone's earphone can be used. We are going to another time zone again (1 hour behind Oslo). So it actually takes 3 hours for 14.45-16.45 flight. You can see the endless view of southern Iceland like the Jökulsárlón Lake and Hallgrímskirkja Church if sitting on the right wing.
This airport is called Keflavik, the same name with the city. It is a small airport with restaurants and supermarket. It takes less than 30 minutes from the aircraft landed to collect the luggage and go out of the airport. We don't have to go through immigration again. We can simply collect our luggage and out as now we are in Schengen countries already.
It took us by surprise when coming out and get a welcome by the strong wind. It's like someone is pushing us. We shouldn't carry anything that is light; otherwise it can be blown into the sea in no time. It would be best to have a double set of the handkerchief or the cloth for wiping lens in case it goes to the sea sooner than we expected.
We rent the van with Green Motion. The staff pick us up from the airport in order for us to get the van from downtown Keflavik which is only 15 minutes' drive. Like I mentioned earlier, our van is Dodge Durango which consumes lots of petrol.
After that, we go to Reyjavik which takes about 40 minutes' drive from Keflavik. Soon, we find the gas station and a market. The Bonus and Kronan are two markets here. If you are taking the afternoon flight, I recommend you to buy some food now as the shops here close early. Almost every shop closes at 18.00 p.m. and the 24 hours open shops are very expensive.
Reykjavik is the capital city of Iceland. It is said to be the northern capital city of the world with 2/3 of the country population. In fact, only about 300,000 people are living in Iceland which means only 3 people are living in each kilometer square when calculating by the entire island.
Here is the prosperous center of Iceland. The second largest city at the north called Akureyri but nothing can be compared to Reykjavik like shops and restaurants. This city has lots of tourist attractions like the giant organ designed Hallgrímskirkja Church or Solfar Sculpture near the sea. The bar is also filled with people on the weekends' nights.
We stay at Igdlo Guesthouse tonight. It's like apartment looking from outside. It is a 3 story house with 2 public bathrooms in each floor. The refrigerator and public kitchen is there for cooking. You can also buy a breakfast (7 Euro) which consists of bread, ham, salami, milk and cornflakes.
Most of the guesthouses are self-service, including here. Before checking in, the host emailed us the password to the house. Once we enter the house, the note is there to give us our room. We can pay cash or by credit card when we meet the host or if we didn't meet with the host, the rent will be deducted from the credit card we provided on the website. The room here is 22 Euro/person/night (about 900 THB) and the best thing is it's only 700 meter away from Hallgrímskirkja Church.
Most of the guesthouses are self-service, including here. Before checking in, the host will email us the password to the house. Once we enter the house, there'll be the note telling our room. We can pay cash or by credit card when we meet the host or if we didn't meet with the host, the rent will be cut off from the credit card we provided on the website. The room here is 22 Euro/person/night (about 900 THB) and the best thing is it's only 700 meter away from Hallgrímskirkja Church.
The first night emphasizes the notion of the gloves are mandatory when taking photos at the cold and windy places. Although it's quite inconvenient wearing gloves, our hands get stiff after facing the cold too long and eventually we could drop camera or lens. If we have patience wearing it for a day or two, we will get used to it pretty fast. And before we know it we could chat with the gloves on as well.
▲ Iceland 03 ▲
0. Hallgrímskirkja (Morning)
3. Sólheimajökull Glacier
4. Dyrhólaey (Got cancelled due to heavy rain)
5. Black Sand Beach
After two days on the road, finally it's time to actually start the journey. We start by visiting Hallgrímskirkja Church, the biggest church in Iceland and one of the rare expressionism buildings.
Our first plan is to take the sunrise shots at this church as the lighting comes in good direction. Now the winter is over and the summer is here so daylight is longer. The sun rises early and sets late. While we are here, the sun rises at 06.30 a.m. and sets at 20.30 p.m. But the sun is not going up or down in a straight line but oblique. So the first light shines before 05.00 a.m. and before it's completely dark is already 22.00 p.m.
But the sky is closed. It's completely closed as if to tell us to sleep more but we go anyway, haha. Both wind and rain hit on us. The wind is much stronger than the first day (yet the strongest one in the trip). That the church is located on the hill, it's windier than other area. The wind is so strong that I can't set the tripod stand but must grab to it the entire time. Repeat again, without the windproof jacket, you will get a cramp.
After taking photos for a while, we can't fight with the cold any longer. We go back to have breakfast at the guesthouse. Today we plan to travel along the southern coast of Iceland and stay at Vik.
After leaving Reykjavik, our first stop is Seljalandsfoss. It's quite difficult to pronounce, isn't it? Seljalandsfoss waterfall has the character that we can walk below it which is a cave. If we come on the nice weather day, the photo taken would be very beautiful. The rainbow appears every time the sun shines at the waterfall in this country.
But the sky is closed the day we visited. The rain is there as well as the wind. The camera gets wet as if it's waterproof. The cloth is always at my hands to wipe out the water from the lens. It's such an extreme case that could have ruin the camera (luckily that's not the case, thanks to Fuji XE2).
The next stop is Skogafoss, one of the XL size waterfalls of this country. On the sunshine day, we can see the double rainbows on the water, certainly, the day we visited is not the case, haha.
Originally, this cliff is a shore. When the water largely decreases back to the sea, the water of Skoga River that used to run into the sea pours below and thus becomes a giant waterfall. The legend has it that the first Viking who sailed to this island left treasure cases in the cave behind the waterfall. The local people indeed found that case but it's only the ring that they could take out before that treasure case drowns into the water. Nowadays, that ring is showed at the museum of Iceland.
Actually, the tourists can also walk up onto the waterfall and seagulls' nest is there. However, the weather is quite bad that day so we didn't go up.
3. Sólheimajökull Glacier
Sólheimajökull Glacier is a small glacier located not far from Skogafoss and the main road. The glacier walk tour is also available but we must contact the tour in advance. We can also just park at the front and walk in about half an hour. The view is quite beautiful. The coffee shops are also there at the parking, allowing us to have some warmth (in the winter, the glacier is almost near the parking but it's melted some when we visited).
Here is the coldest stop for today. Party, due to the rain starts to pour heavily when we start walking but we are fine since we wear the waterproof and windproof outfit. I also left my Fuji XE2 in the van and take the Xiaomi Yi with water case out, so all the photos come from this camera.
On the way back, that rain turns into freezing rain which increase the cold to another level. We go straight to the coffee shop on the way out. Enjoying a cup of latte in this warm weather under the heater is simply a happy time even though it's more expensive than the Starbucks's latte.
We decided not to visit here because the rain is heavy and Dyrhólaey is a windy cliff so it looks too dangerous to visit while the storm is coming. Finally, we go straight to Black Sand Beach.
Dyrhólaey taken from Black Sand Beach
5. Black Sand Beach
Black Sand Beach is a black beach from the volcanoes' soil and lava rocks that have been eroded by water. It would have been an interesting beach and we could have enjoyed watching different shapes of the rocks the whole day had we come on the nice weather day. But today, more than 2 meter height waves hit the shore and the wind is constantly and strongly hitting us. The wind is so strong that we feel like the rain is like the sand when pouring on us. The strongest wind makes us to firmly stand in order not to fall. When walking against the wind, it's like we are trekking, each step is so heavy and difficult.
Here is our last destination for today. The rain doesn't stop after the glacier so we go straight back to our hostel. Another stop that we skipped in addition to Dyrhólaey is Plane Crash Site where the photographers like to take photos. Later I asked the staff at our guesthouse to learn that the land lord has closed the road so we have to stop on the main road and walk another 4 km.
Now we drive to check in at the hostel in Vik. We wait for the rain to not too heavy and go back to the Black Sand Beach again in the evening. We then experienced what I have described above. That day the storm comes on the south part of Iceland with the speed of 40 km/hr. It's like we are on the running truck. The scarier part is.... this wave could swallow us into the sea within one hit.
If you like the atmosphere like this, there is restaurants on the beach. You can have a chill time and enjoy the food while watching the wave hitting the shore.
Vik is a small town. Its size is similar to a village. There is one N1 gas station with restaurants and sweater shops. We stay at the Guesthouse Carina. It is the public bathroom like usual. The owner is very friendly. The view is great. We can see the beach and the three rocks which is the legend of Vik town and Vik Church right form our bedroom. It is 7500 ISK per person per night which is about 2,200 THB. It's a bit expensive as that day is Saturday.
▲ Iceland 04 ▲
0. Vik Church (Morning)
1. Mossy Lava Rock
2. Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon (Didn't go as the road is closed)
3. Svartifoss waterfall
0. Vik Church
Vik Church is a small church on the hill. It is one of the landmarks of this town. We can see the entire view of Vik from this hill, including Reynisdrangar or the Troll Rocks. According to the legend, these three rocks in the middle of the sea is troll. They are staying outside the cave too long, so they become stones once the sun touches them (it's like what happen in LOTR).
At first, we woke up early in order to wait for the morning light. But actually the mountains cover the sun. That's alright, we get the morning sky instead.
Vik Church can be reached by walking from anywhere in town but if you are lazy, you can also drive up as there's plenty of parking.
1. Mossy Lava Rock
Mossy lava rock is our first stop after leaving Vik town. It's very easy to find. The landscape is covered with panoramic green moss. We can park and walk down there. A rest area is there before leaving this area with a walkway into the moss. But if you want to get closer to the moss, I recommend you to stop earlier before reaching this point because the moss is more while the people is less.
2. Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon (closed)
The day we went, there's a closed sign on the way. I'm not sure whether the construction is undergoing or what, such a pity.
3. Svartifoss waterfall
Svartifoss is a lava rock waterfall inside the Vatnajökull National Park. We need to walk in order to visit this fall. There's several paths to go in but the easiest walk is about an hour round trip walk from the national park office. The walkway is a bit hill but not steep. It's relative easy to walk without having to climb. But it gets a bit slippery near the fall. We must also wear hats as there's almost no tree on the way so it's quite warm when the sun is out. Anyhow, a good thing about the sun is that we can also see beautiful rainbow form the waterfall.
When driving on the road, you need to turn right to the national office. If you follow Google Map / GPS, she will take you to another more slippery and steep route. The easiest sign is there's a big parking space there. Once we go inside the national office, restroom and restaurants are available. We can also go for Glacier Walk tour here. The glacier is visible from the parking.
Jokulsarlon is a huge lake. It's the deepest lake in Iceland. The highlight of this lake is that it's form by the melted glacier. This lakes keeps getting larger as per the amount of the melted glacier (due to the Global Warming).
There're 3 stops for photography at this lake. The first stop is at the middle of the lake and it'd be on your left hand before the bridge when you come from the Vik. The parking is provided and you also have a close up chance to see the seals. The morning is the best time to come. On the opposite side is the beach where the ice is brought up on the beach. Here also offers the most beautiful sunrise spot in this country. And the last stop is the front of the lake. When crossing the bridge, we will turn left to find the parking and small house. This stop is best for sunset and Aurora as the parking faces the lake. We could lay down to chill and see the sky right from the car.
I stop at the middle of the lake stop. The view is not as beautiful as other stops but I didn't know there was a front lake stop back then, haha.
After this stop, we drive a bit to our hotel at Hali Hotel. It is the hotel near the rice field. The view is beautiful and the hotel is also expensive. It is about 8,300 ISK / 2,500 THB per person per night. We decided to stay here so that we can easily drive to the lake in order to see the Aurora as it's only 15 minutes away from Jokulsarlon.
We go back to the lake again to capture the evening light. But we miscalculated the time a bit so we weren't on time for the golden hour. Well, actually, we were in a way on time. The light was so beautiful while we were driving there. We could only enjoy it with our eyes but not the cameras.
Even though the golden hour is gone, some moments of this beautiful light is there for us to capture. This includes large numbers of birds/goose/ducks flying back to their nests and thus create the black line.
That night we drive back to our hotel before driving back to Jorkulsalon Lake again the third time for the Aurora. We come here to find some other people are already here with the same goal with us. Soon, we see the fade line on the sky and people start shouting to signal that the Aurora is here. It's a pity that the KP is quite weak that day, it's only 2 out of 9. We can only see the fade green line from our eyes and clearer from the camera. We were very lucky that day because there was no place in Foreground offering beautiful scene like here.
*More of it....
Landscape of South Coast
For the southern road of Iceland, I give the road between Vik and Hofn as the most beautiful route in this area. We can see the sea, mountain, snow mountains, and glaciers taking turn to show sup for us in every curve. A plenty of beautiful rest areas is also there.
Waterfall along the way is another gem of this country. We see the waterfall along the way from time to times. They are coming from the melting glaciers flowing down. The point is, everyone of them is beautiful. But since there are too many of them, they are lazy to name them all (some are named but without the sign) or make them a landmark. They just make them "waterfall along the way". If they were here in Thailand, I'm sure they will be well taken care of like the Haew Narok Waterfall.
▲ Iceland 05 ▲
0. Jökulsárlón (Morning)
2. Djúpivogur (Stop by for food)
Today we are going to the east coast of Iceland. Like I mentioned earlier, the Ring Road has a bad conditions in this area so we are going to use the road no. 96 and 92 instead for going to Egilsstaðir. The junction is near Breiðdalsvík.
0. Jökulsárlón for the 4th time
This morning, we come back to the beach on the opposite side to Jorkulsalon Lake. It turns towards the east and makes it a perfect place to shoot the sunrise shots. Some of the ice flowing out of the sea are on the beach due to the wave. Their sizes are varied; some are like the size of shoes and some are like car size, scattering around.
It'd be a great miss if you miss to come for sunrise at this spot that you must come back again. It's the most beautiful spot in Iceland.
For the extreme photographers, I recommend you to bring the rubber boots. In order to capture beautiful ice shots, you must stand there and let the wave hit. I try to run when the waves come which is somewhat ok. But if I miss, my shoes are wet for the entire day. Even with the waterproof shoes can't completely protect me from the waves, haha.
After the sunrise at Jokulsarlon, we are going towards the east coast of Iceland. Our destination is Egilsstaðir town. Our last stop before going to the east area is Vestrahorn mountain and the popular place for photography is Stokknes which is not the stop in the photo as we went to the wrong stop!!! If we come to the right spot, the sand line and yellow grass would be our foreground which is very beautiful. But here, we only see rocks, such a fail feeling.
But the good thing about stopping at Stokksnes is horses.The background is also beautiful with them. Actually, we see the horses so frequently in Iceland, even more often than the dogs as horses are their local animals.
Landscape of East Coast
We start to call it the east coast when we enter the tunnel closed to Stokksnes towards Egilsstaðir. This route is curvy along the coast. It's not a long straight road as in the south but the conditions of the road is the same. It is quite a long drive from Jokulsarlon to Egilsstaðir. There's not many tourist attractions here except small museums on the passing towns.
When visiting in the summer, there's a Puffin Bird watching spot but quite far from the main road. We can meet the white reindeer anywhere in the east coast when visiting in the winter. It can be said that they come out instead of horses. Since this area receives more snow and colder than the south, reindeer is a more popular animal. Oh well, why these reindeer don't like what I have seen in the cartoon. They look more like skinny cow with the X horn.
There're about ten cities, hidden by the fjord and each city has their own small attractions. Some city has rock museum, some has swimming pool and bird watching spot while some city is believed to have monster creature living in the cave out of town. I stop at the town called Djúpivogur for resting, restroom break and lunch. Since it is a fishing city, the bay and the pier is there for us to watch but it's too windy. The weather is also cloder in this area so we can 't walk outside long.
We need to be cautious if we come here on Sunday as almost no one is there in the shops and the gas station. We should prepare the pre-paid card in advance if we don't have the credit card that can give us cash. Even we call it a town here, its size is similar to a village in Thailand.
Egilsstaðir has such a difficult pronunciation. There's one time that I have to let the Icelanders know where I'm at and I couldn't pronounce it correctly! Finally, I have to spell syllable out, one by one, to them.
Egilsstaðir is our last resting stop before entering the north part of Iceland. Before reaching the town, two sides of road are paved with white snow. If you reach quickly, you can also go on to rest at Myvata Lake which you will see a much more beautiful view. Nearby this town doesn't have many attractions to offer. There is a park, a small reindeer museum, and a long monster looking like giant snake in the lake out of town.
We are staying at Guesthouse Olga tonight which is not very far from downtown…… Actually the town is quite small. As long as you are not up on the hill, you are very near to downtown, haha. The host is very friendly. It is a room with a big public bathroom. Each room facilitates with a small refrigerator. There's public kitchen and a breakfast. Each night is 34,000 ISK or about 1,700 THB per person.
You can store up your food from this town as market and gas station and restaurants are there. We can call it the capital of the east.
▲ Iceland 06 ▲
1. Selfoss & Dettifoss (The road is closed.)
1. Selfoss & Dettifoss
Since Thai friends who stay at the same guesthouse saying that the road to Selfoss & Dettifoss is closed, we have to skip it. The road to these two waterfalls is frequently closed. I've already seen two people who traveled to Iceland but could't go to the waterfall. I think as long as it's not summer, it's quite difficult to go there.
Checking weather forecast before departure is very important, especially to the north of the country. You can check the road condition at http://www.road.is/travel-info/road-conditions-and.... You can also watch the webcam from provided stops.
The road out of Egilsstaðir town is all white. Our first destination for today is the Mývatn Lake. The people here said that the lake here in summer is all lush and considered the most beautiful lake in this island (Marimo is also here). There're plenty of travel places near the lake. If you have time, it's recommended to spend a night at the lake. The Aurora on the lake must be very beautiful along with the warm water for us to soak in.
We get the actual touch of winter at Mývatn. Since the weather from Reykjavik on has changed into spring. We only see the snow in a huge chuck as a left over from winter. But when we enter the north, most of the places are still covered by thick snow. In fact, if you come during the winter of the Iceland, certain road of the north is inaccessible.
The travel places nearby the lake is quite a lot where you can ask at the Information and they can help you plan the route for half day, a day or two days. I arrive here at noon so I only get to travel to a few.
2.1 Hverfjall (I really can't pronounce it, you can have a try here >> http://forvo.com/word/hverfjall/ )
This is the once volcano, a famous landmark of Mývatn Lake. Tourists can walk up to the crater but it requires lots of time so we didn't go up. We just look it afar from the car.
2.2 Dimmuborgir Lava Field or Dark Forest (a musical brand too, haha). This lava field offers strange forming rocks. The passage to see this strange forming lava is there for the tourists. Local people believe that the troll is inside each lava rock.
There are several trails for us to choose for walking around Dimmuborgir, ranging from 1 to 5 km. Along that, strange looking lava rocks are there. Another highlight of Dimmuborgir is the hole of the lava rock is looking like the eyes. When I visited, the snow is quick thick making these rocks looking short. Actually, if we were to walk out of the way, we could be drown into the snow, from the knee to our waist.
If you come here at the end of the winter, you must have a good rubber for your shoes and sunglasses. Certain area becomes ice from the melting snow has turned iced, so it's quite slippery. The snow reflects with the sun could hurt our eyes. When looking up is warm and looking down hurt our eyes, this could become a hell experience!!!
2.3 The Skutustadir Pseudo Craters is looking like the mouth of the volcano. In fact, these craters are fake. They come from the Hverfijall volcano let out lava into the lake. Once the lava reach the bottom of the lake, the inside soil push itself up as a hole. When the water dries, it becomes what we see now. A lot of holes are here and we can walk up to their mouths with a fine walkway. Another side of the Skutustadir is a far stretching ice field where we can see houses around from the high angle, such a beautiful scene.
About 40 minutes from Mývatn Lake, we now reach another famous waterfall of Iceland, Goðafoss
Goðafoss has been named the Waterfall of the Gods because this is where the Norsse gods were dump after Iceland accepted the Christian as the main religion.
We can walk to both side of the waterfall. but we need to drive across the bridge for the other side first. Since the waterfall is so huge, the parking lot for tracing the Aurora is there. If you are travelling by camper van, I highly recommend you to park and see the Aurora from here. Minimart and restroom are also here nearby the waterfall.
Finally, we arrive at the main city of northern Iceland, Akureyri, the second largest city in Iceland. Small airport is there. This cute town is quite artistic, observing from street art and strange sculpture in town.
Tonight, we are staying at Pearl of the North Apt. Since there're 6 people of us, we occupy the entire apartment. It is quite luxurious, with the kitchen and a full stream of dining table. There's living room, flat TV screen, a set of tea pot and many kinds of tea. Here is the best accommodation of us. The host is also very friendly. They let us stay for a while before coming to chat with us, they are such a fun people. The price is 3,200 ISK or about 1,500 THB per person per night.
That evening, we go to market to store more food and enjoy the walking street. The car is forbidden here. The restaurants and souvenir shops are there but not so many. Even it is the second largest city from Reykjavik, the size is quite different. Finally, we didn't get anything but just try out the meat soup along the road. It's quite happy to have the hot soup in the cold weather.
Tonight we go out of town to trace for the Aurora. But we didn't go far enough so the lights from the city covering up the sky that we can't see it. Anyhow, we got the town view instead.
▲ Iceland 07 ▲
1. Hvitserkur (Didn't stop by)
Today is the toughest day for the driver as it is a long 5 hours drive without any stops. Actaully, there're plenty of stops if we drive along the fjord to the north where the Hvitserkur dinosaur rock is, but we think it's nothing much so we go straight to Grundarfjörður.
The road from Akureyri is a straight road along the grass field and at certain time, we go along the fjord. If lucky, we can see the seals and Orca, the killer whale, but all I see is duck…..
The name of this town is quite difficult to pronounce, please refer to เมือง Grundarfjörður (http://goo.gl/eaqMF1 After 4 hours' drive, we are now entering the north-east of Iceland. Even this is a small town like other rest area for the tourists where gas station and market are there, it has the important landmark of Iceland as a background, Kirkjufell.
Tonight, we are staying in this town. We unpack our stuff at the apartment first before going out for Kirkjufell.
We stay at Grundarfjodur Apt. It is a big room with 2 small bedrooms. It has a kitchen,a sofa and a TV. More importantly, it has a great view in front of the place. It is nearby the sea with Kirkjufell as a background. Each night is 38 EUR or about 1,500 THB per person.
Kirkjufell is a small trapezoid mountain. People like to take photos at its edge, making it looks like a triangle.
Kirkjufell is the landmark of the Iceland that receive the most photos shooting. If you are searching for Iceland in Google, this mountain usually pops up. Nearby the mountain has a small waterfall as a foreground which has the same name. At night, this area can be a place to wait for the Aurora. It is very convenient as it's only 10 minutes away from the city and the lights can't shine through here. Besides, the Aurora line will come just besides the mountain.
That night the Aurora Activity is quite strong, it is a KP5 and the weather forecast said no clouds are around. I thought we would have seen the beautiful Aurora for sure. But when the time comes, the clouds are floating low and the mist is all over the sky. The sky is completely closed that we could see nothing. We feel so bad that night thinking we can't see the Aurora in this trip as we only have 3 days left now.
▲ Iceland 08 ▲
1. Hraunfossar & Barnafoss
1. Hraunfossar & Barnafoss
Today we are going back to Reykjavik. On the way back we will stop by at two adjacent waterfalls, Hraunfossar & Barnafoss.
Hraunfossar is another beautiful waterfall of Iceland although it's not as grand as Goðafoss. The special thing about this waterfall is several fresh blue waters flowing down in line contrasting with light yellow grass.
Nearby Hraunfossar is Barnafoss Waterfall, it means children's fall. This name comes from the ancient tale saying the kid walking across the rock bridge and drowns into death. The mother of the kid put the spell to everyone passing this bridge must to be drown. Nowadays, the bridge was destroyed by the earthquake.
Actually, I don't think it looks like a waterfall or I have yet reached the main part, haha.
Along the way back from the waterfall, we stop at Deildartunguhver hot spring. It is called the Europe's most powerful hot spring. It can be seen from the lush trees around the hot spring. It is so due to the heat from the hot spring whereas the grass elsewhere has tuned into yellow.
Another special thing about this hot spring is the pipe carrying the water is the longest in Iceland. It's 65 km long. Let's say if we shower within this 65 km, we are showering from this hot spring.
***Important note*** I forgot to mention that we can only drink the cold water from the tap here, not the hot water as it directly comes from the hot spring. We need to open the tab water a while until the sulfur is gone before we can drink.
Today, we have roamed around Iceland that we now back to Reykjavik again. This evening, we stop for a hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (I give up for how to pronounce it). It is named the most famous hot dog in the world.
Actually, it's a normal hot dog where you can buy the bread and hot dog at any market. But the delicious part lies at the sides that come along it. I've never had any chopped onion so crispy and delicious. If you want to know how famous it is, try to search "most famous hot dogs in the world" in the Google. In addition, the Guardian gives the shop as the best hot dog stand in Europe.
P.S. The shop size is as we see with no parking. We'd better park nearby and walk here. We also have to stand to enjoy it.
After that, we stop for a walk at Laugavegur Street where it's full of restaurants and souvenir shops. The end of this street is Hallgrímskirkja.
The souvenir shops here have their own theme. The shop selling bears has bears all over. The above shop sells Puffin and the shop name is the island that the Puffin like to nest.
The buildings are beautifully decorated and very colorful. Many street art can also be found in between.
I quickly stop for a photography at Hallgrímskirkja and buy something nearby. That night, we stay at Igdlo Guesthouse, like our first night. We got the same room and the same price but we will stay 2 days this time because tomorrow we are going for a one day trip at Golden Circle line.
▲ Iceland 09 ▲
1. Þingvellir National Park
2. Bruarfoss Waterfall (Cannot find the entrance)
3. Strokkur Geyser
5. Faxi Waterfall
6. Kerid Crater
After roaming around the island, I plan to have 2 more days traveling around Reykjavik. Our destinations are Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon. We start off by traveling around the Golden Circle which takes the entire day to roam around.
If you look at my plan carefully, you will see that my schedule is not too tight and I choose to travel within Reykjavik on the later days. I do so because in case some unexpected incidents happen. For instance, the snow storm or broken cars may cause me 2 days behind the schedule, yet, I can catch my flight on time.
1. Þingvellir National Park
It is the national park with the highlight at looking the view of Þingvellir Lake. We can also walk down to the lake following the walkway or drive along the road down there. The water here is as clear as the mirror.
Here, we see ducks and goose more than dogs, especially along the lake. Sometimes, we also find them sunbathing at the rice fields.
2. Bruarfoss Waterfall
We didn't get to go in. We follow the Google Map but we still couldn't actually find the way in as we must go into small alley. We drive here and there before deciding to give up. I saw it's so beautiful in the photo, I feel bit regret didn't see it with my own eyes.
3. Strokkur Geyser
Then, we drive to Strokkur Geyser. It looks like the Old Faithful at Yellow Stone but Strokkur Geyser claims that their hot spring can go up as high as 40 m. Each shooting up has different strength and each eruption stays for about 5-10 minutes. Sometimes, two eruptions come up by one after the other and this is what makes it different from the Old Faithful which always erupt on time and thus originated the name.
This is the strongest rapids in the Europe. The water is so strong that some foreign investors asked to build the power plant here but t5he project got rejected due to it could destroy the scenery of this waterfall.
Gullfoss means golden fall. On the sunshine day, the sun shines to the water and make it golden glittering and it originates the name of the waterfall. But I didn't see it like that on my visit, haha. We could walk down near the waterfall or walk up to view from above. If you walk down, please be careful about the water's spray. And if you walk up, it's very windy so you'd better wear the windproof jacket, otherwise, it's very cold.
5. Faxi Waterfall
Up until now, I think you must be tired of seeing the waterfall. Faxi becomes the waterfall along the way for some tourists. But it's quite spectacular when we take a close up look. The width of the waterfall is as wide as the river's. Usually, the tourists didn't care to walk down.
The special thing about this waterfall is a salmon staircase. It's built to help salmon swimming up the tide to lay eggs. Since this waterfall comes from the entire river flowing down, it's difficult for the fish to swim upstream. This is my first time seeing something like this too.
6. Kerid Crater
Kerid is another mouth of volcano located on the way back to Reykjavik. We can walk around the mouth and go to the lake inside. We should wear good rubber shoes as the way down is slippery with the rocks and sand. The water is emerald blue, it's so beautiful. It's the last short stop for the Golden Circle.
After getting back from the Golden Circle, we go for the local food after having so many meals with instant noodle, Rosa and sandwiches.
Loke Café is located in front of that rocket church. It's recommended by a friend who used to visit here. That recommended dish is Icelandic Braveheart which consists of…..
- Dried Fish which is an authentic local food here.
- Brennivín is the Iceland liquid which is known as Black Death.
- Raw shark meat. Usually shark meat is toxic so they must dry the toxic out and chop it for us.
- Bread is also there as a minor ingredient.
It's very difficult to eat dried fish. If your teeth are not strong enough, you might be unable to bite it. Let's think of it as chewing the dry and sticky bread with a touch of salty fish. We must also put on butter when eating it. The shark meat is salty and fishy, but after a bite or two, it's quite well mixed with Brennivín.
Other set of food also have fish as a main ingredient. It is a mashed fish and mashed potato and mixed with bread, making it looks like a cake. This dish is 2,500 ISK or about 750 THB.
After dinner, we stop by for photography at the church again. Today the sky is so clear.
At night, we go back to Þingvellir again and tonight should be our last chance of this trip to see the Aurora. Þingvellir is a perfect place as it's not so far from the city with a complete darkness. It also has the lake and mountains as a foreground. Even though it's not that beautiful, it's worth considering given the convenience forparking, restroom and safety.
And this time we see the full Aurora with KP4 which has dyed the entire sky green. It's so strong that we start seeing it even before it's completely dark.
If you look carefully in the photo, you will see the sunlight is still there. And on the bright left side is the moon. This is only KP4 out of KP9 but it's already this strong. Now I understand why people said when the KP9 comes, it goes to France.
The Aurora keeps changing its shape. Sometimes, it's like spiral. Sometimes is a straight line and sometimes is spreading all over the sky. The lake below turns into green due to the Aurora light.
That night, we stay out very long, from about midnight to 03.00 a.m. at the negative degree weather. The windproof glove can't help much. Our hand soon hurt after taking out of the pocket so we must switch hands taking photos. Some people take the warm gloves from Japan and it's quite helpful.
When we go back, the Aurora is still there. We see it running paralleling with our car as if to say farewell to us since it will be a long time before we meet again. The Aurora keeps us company until our apartment. Even in the light downtown, we can see it running across the sky lightly. Today is my happiest day. The feeling of seeing the Aurora is unexplainable. Although looking from our eyes is not as green as looking from the camera, seeing it dancing here and there is just incredibly amazing. It's so worth the flight from the other side of the globe, the darkness and the cold we endure when seeing it with our eyes. The YouTube clip or the Planetarium is just a totally different story when we see it in real.
While taking photos, I heard the tourists keep crying "Oh my god!" from time to time, haha.
▲ Iceland 10 ▲
1. Blue Lagoon
2. Seltún Geothermal Area
1. Blue Lagoon
Today is our last day in Iceland. Actually we plan today as a buffer day in case some unexpected incidents happen so we still have a day to catch our flight. Our first destination is Blue Lagoon, the famous mineral spring of Iceland. It's the spring building up from the water drawing up to produce the electricity.
Overall it's a resort and spa where you can enjoy the hot spring while doing face mask. It's such a happy feeling soaking in hot spring among the cold weather. It's like our exhaustion has all gone.
It's recommended to book online in advance as the walk-in guests are put in different lines. I'm not sure if it's also more expensive but it's definitely a longer queue. We are given a watch while walking in for scanning stuff inside like to lock the locker and to buy things. Here is quite simple. We go in to change our clothes, take a shower and we can soak in the hot pool. Mud is available in the middle of the pool for us to mask our faces. While walking to the pool, we are shivering as the weather is a one digit degree and windy. We almost run to the pool.
You are welcome to take photos around the well but the shoes are prohibited so you have to endure the cold at your feet a bit.
We can also walk outside. It's the place to dump the inside water. It's not as beautiful with some moss lava fields.
2. Seltún Geothermal Area
We still have about half a day left after the Blue Lagoon, so we stop by at the nearby tourist attraction, Seltún Geothermal Area. It's the area where the hot springs are erupting. But what make it special is the rocks near the well have different colors and shapes. Here has nothing much but just for a chill walk. If you like climbing, you can also climb up to see the wells. I think it's not so far but I still didn't reach after a long walk so I gave up.
Keflavík is a city next to the airport. I choose to stay here because I have a 7 a.m. flight tomorrow to Oslo. Sleeping here helps us not to have to get up early but we must clear all the petrol and the amount in pre-paid card. Finally, we have lots of snacks in our car, haha.
We stay at Kef Guesthouse tonight. It is the guesthouse that has the most fun and hilarious host in Iceland. They fool me to eat Liquorice and laughed at me. Each night here is 3,000 ISK or about 900 THB. It's just newly built, two years ago. The room is very new like the one in the hotel except with no private bathroom but the public bathroom is great. More importantly, the kitchen is fully packed with fruit juices, milk, cookies, beer which the host allow us to have anything we want. Also, it's very close to the airport. People who are about to go back loves this place and they also left something behind. Cornflakes, canned food and instant noodle are stored in the refrigerator as well.
▲ Iceland 11 ▲
We wake up early to catch our flight. We asked to return our van at the airport. The airport told us to park in the paid zone and left the key and parking card inside the van and they will come take it later. On the way back, we also take a quick stop at Oslo like our way here, haha.
We arrive at Oslo at noon and have time until 19.00 p.m. in order to come back and take the flight back so we come out to sightseeing Oslo half a day. Warning, if you think Iceland is expensive, Oslo is much more expensive!!! It costs almost a hundred baht for a bottle of drinking water.
It's fairly easy to go downtown. We start by depositing our luggage at the airport and take the train to downtown. It's the NSB train, costs 96 NOK each. About an hour later, we arrive at Oslo Sentral Station which is the downtown of Oslo.
After that, we just wander around the town. Today the sky is open. We see many Norwegians on the street as well as stalls and shops. This city relies on trams for commuting so there're a lot of wires on top. In addition, the bicycles are as many as the cars, making it quite a chaos city.
Oslo Opera House is not so far from Oslo Sentral Station. It is the glass building near the river. After getting out from the station, we just need to head towards the river and we will find it in no time, haha.
The front of the Opera House is an open space where you see local people come out walking, cycling, skateboarding, and feeding the birds. If we go up on the hill, we will see an open deck where we can clearly view the entire city of Oslo.
After wandering around until the evening, it's time to go back to the airport to catch our flight. But it's not yet the end of our trip as we will stop a day at Moscow for transit. Now, allow me to quickly warp to Moscow.
▲ Iceland 12 ▲
We take the flight from Oslo to Moscow again, the same route as when we came. But this time, we arrive at Moscow Sheremetyevo at midnight and take the flight back to Thailand at 19.00 p.m. This allows us the entire day to roam around and it's enough for us to go to the highlights of Moscow.
We each only have a backpack when coming out as our luggage go straight to Bangkok. The immigration didn't ask anything much but the queue is quite long. The airport system in Russia is not as good as the one in Schengen countries.
We book the hostel near the airport with a 24 hours pick up van service. It's called Sky Hostel Sheremetyevo. Do not confuse it with Sky Hotel as it's a different place. Anyhow, we take the van of Sky Hotel there or we can take the Sheraton's as well. We need to walk across the parking to the opposite building which looks like a small condominium once we reach. We hand our booking to the security guard when we enter and he let us to go up to the top floor by the elevator. Then, we need to walk up the staircase to another level.
This hostel is very cheap. The Iceland each night is about 1,000 THB but here is only 200 THB but the quality also comes along the price. We face a problem about the room. We booked to sleep together but we were separated here. The bed is hard, the room is narrow and the bathroom is inadequate. The host cannot speak English that we must ask a friend to help translate. Oh well, we won't stay here long. Before we finish checking in is already 1 a.m. and we plan to go out at 6 a.m. so it's endurable. The only good thing about this place is it's very close to the airport with a pickup service.
The next morning, we take the pickup van of the hotel (nearby) back to the airport in order to take the AeroExpress train to downtown Moscow. Online booking of AeroExpress train is cheaper than buying at the counter. We simply print out our ticket and scan the QR Code to get in. The end of our destination connects to the famous metro system of Moscow which is known to cover the entire town and with many beautiful decorated stations.
We get off at the terminal station at Belorussky Rail Terminal (Белорусская) which connects to the metro station with the same name. We stop for a breakfast at the small shop near the station. The hot baked bread in the cold day is just perfect.
Our first stop is Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. If you have read the review about Russia, you will understand the greatness of this church. It is the tallest Orthodox Church in the world. We come here first because the Kremlin opens late so no place is open early. Besides, the highlight of this church lies at the bridge behind it which leads our eyes line to this church.
After that, we take the metro back to the Red Square for St. Basil's Cathedral. Here is the most beautiful church in Russia. It's so beautiful that the eyes of the creator got taken out by the king so that he couldn't build any more beautiful church than this one in the world. That king is the infamous King Ivan the Terrible.
After that, we split into two teams. One team with 5 people go to the Kremlin Palace where I already went during my last visit and the ticket is quite expensive, it's 1,000 RUB or 600 THB. Other team or just me go to the Gum (rym), the big and old shopping mall of Moscow that I didn't go during my last visit.
The highlight here is ice cream where its stands are in every entrance. When walking in, you see everyone is holding an ice cream. People are also lined up at the ice cream stand. So I can't resist but also have one. It's such a scary assumption.
After wandering around the mall, I go to walk around the Red Square. The weather is very nice.
We are together again after the other team finishes the Kremlin Palace tour. Then, we take the metro to look at the greatness of each station a bit before finally taking the train back to the airport in order to take the flight back to Thailand.
For those who want more review on Russia, I might not write a details review about it as I used to do once. That time was also a one day visit and you can check it out here >>> http://pantip.com/topic/33632855
We arrive at Thailand the next morning at 8 a.m. with the warm weather. Now, it marks the end of our 12 days trip. This trip we enjoy both the nature and architecture. It's the longest but also the most impressive trip in my life.
Iceland teaches us about the greatness and the power of the nature. It is the extreme island in its own way. We must endure the strong wind that we almost cannot move, the cold weather that hurt our hands and ears along with the rain and snow that take turn pouring on us. At the same time, this island also gives us the incredibly spectacular nature that we cannot find elsewhere. It's so beautiful that I want to throw away my camera because it's unable to capture the greatness of the nature into frames. It is such an aggressive beauty that is difficult to destroy. It makes us realize how small are we when comparing to this world.
If chances allow, please also try it out yourself. It's the country where people are friendly and kind, easy to roam around and breathtakingly beautiful.