Road Trip in Iceland in a Renault Duster
We arrived at Keflavik airport at 12:15 am with a stopover in Frankfurt. Near the luggage belt there is a duty free store selling alcoholic beverages, including beers, which has the best prices in Iceland. The Icelanders when they fly load here. After picking up the bags we have to find the car.
Keflavik airport is very small and in a corner are all the car rental companies. We decided to leave the airport. As soon as we leave, it starts to rain that made us retreat and return inside the building. We watch the rain and think about calling the contact number, when a guy introduces himself to us. We almost hugged him. We got into a van and go to the stand, which is about 1.5 km from the airport.
The first question that arises is whether it will be necessary to rent a 4x4. Considering the route we had scheduled, we would only really need to go to Landmannalaugar. The rest of the itinerary, in principle, was accessible by normal car. Was it worth it then to pay the difference between a normal car and a 4x4, just because we were going to need it for one day?
An alternative was to rent a normal car and go to Landmannalaugar by bus. There is a bus with an intermediate stop in Hella. We discarded this option because it forced us to stick to its schedule, which is very scarce, and also the Hella-Landmannalaugar-Hella journey cost reduced somewhat the economic advantage of this alternative.
In addition, taking a 4x4 would give us the freedom to get into anytime by any place that caught our attention. So we finally chose to rent a 4x4. After comparing prices and opinions, we opted for a manual Renault Duster Diesel version with unlimited mileage, an extra driver, and insurance.
Our initial contract includes CDW Collision Insurance and Civil Liability Insurance. The CDW does not cover damage caused to tires, windows, upholstery, locks, keys and remote controls or damage by refueling wrong fuel. They offer us an additional gravel protection insurance that we include.
They deliver the Duster to us with the full gas tank and we have to deliver it full, otherwise they will charge us. When we go outside to pick up the car we see the white Duster and very new, but the front license plate is missing. The agency guy told us that it did not matter, and we can take the car. Only the rear registration plate is mandatory in Iceland.
We do a quick review of the body and the employee notes on a paper that it has scratches on the back. He explains a little about the handling. We ask questions, pay the remaining amount and we sign the papers. The employee gets into the office and we stay there in the rain, trying to put all the luggage in the trunk.
Happy with our acquisition we went towards our accommodation in Reykjavik which is very well located on highway. We arrived easily from the airport to the guesthouse. It is on the third and fourth floors of an ugly gray building. The reception is on the third floor inside the dining room and it was not easy to find it. We were received by a very nice girl.
We have a room with private bathroom and breakfast included. It is without a doubt the worst accommodation we have had, but I do not say it is bad. The room is a bit shabby, but the beds are very comfortable, the duvets gorgeous, the heating great and the bathroom small, but it's worth it. The only downside is the price. With what we paid we expected a little more luxury, although it was the cheapest thing I found with private bathroom.
We got warm and took umbrellas, because it rained a lot and we got out to see the capital of Iceland. We mark the GPS to go to the Hallgrimskirkja, which is the church. Well today everything is cut, and access to cars is not allowed. All cars try to access and none could. There was no way to get close to the center of the city.
And looking for the way to access, we ran into a policeman who noticed that we did not have a front license plate. He pulled us aside. We explained that it was a rental car and that we had been told there was no problem. We showed him the contract. After about ten minutes he told us we could continue and that everything was fine, but that the police were going to stop us all over the country.
During the trip we saw very little police and none stopped us. We have seen many cars without front registration and some without registration. And thanks to this since the cop ordered us to pull down a street, we found parking in a field where we parked free and very close to the center, next to the port.
From the car park we were very close to the famous Hot Dog stand. Located on Tryggvagata Street people say they are the best in the world. We were not hungry with what they had fed us on the two flights, but it was lunchtime and we had to try them. They are very good. The secret is the mustard sauce with honey and the crunchy onion.
Next to the Hot Dog stand begins Laugavegur. It is a pedestrian street that has a lot of charm. It was full of people. There were musical groups singing and many things that caught our attention. We reached Lake Tjornin from which there are beautiful views of the Frikirkjan Church but that it was all cloudy.
From Laugavegur street we walk to the Hallgrimskirkja, Lutheran Church, spectacular on the outside and inside. In front is a statue of Leif Eriksson who is said to have arrived in America 500 years before Christopher Columbus. The Church was full of people singing and playing classical music. They gave us a little book so that we could join the choir, but it was in Icelandic and we did not understand anything.
Our next stop was the most important sculpture in Reykjavik called Solfar, which is the remains of a Viking ship. It is very pretty. Moving on, we come across the Harpa, a modern building that houses the concert hall and conference centre. It was crowded with people. Inside there are restaurants, bars and exhibitions.
In the harbor, very close to the Harpa Building and from where we left the Duster is the famous and picturesque Saegreifinn Tavern. The grandfather was a fisherman who kept his nets in this building that became a tavern. Here the richest and cheapest fish in Reykjavik is served. It was already dinner time and we were very clear that we wanted to have dinner at Saegreifinn. There were many people and we had to wait a while, but it made up for it.
The prices are affordable and the fish is so fresh that it does not smell like fish. It has a counter with products and prices. We choose what we want, ask at the bar and we pay. They give us a number and they serve us at the table. The most famous is the lobster soup with pieces of lobster served with plenty of bread. It was what I liked least, but my companions loved it.
There are also skewers of different fish that are delicious and are so fresh that they do not taste like fish. I have the salmon skewer, which is exquisite. We also tried one of a white fish that we did not know and that was delicious.
The whale cap is very typical. There is also a large whale steak. We took the lid, to try and it is not bad, but the other fish were better. The place is a bit seedy, but it has the charm of being a traditional place and the food is to die for. Water, tea and coffee are free and we serve it ourselves.
We also have beer that is very good. After dinner we went to sleep as it had been a long day and tomorrow we had to get up early to start the return to the island.
We got up early and had breakfast in the guesthouse. There is toast, cold meats, cereals, some sweet or muffins, hard-boiled eggs, tomato, cucumber, yogurt or skyr, coffee, infusions, jams and some fruit. We picked up our things and we set off. It was cold, but the sun was shining.
We took the Ring Road that goes around the whole island. We go north, because we are going to turn around following the hands of the clock. Before arriving at Akranes there is an underwater tunnel and is the only toll road in Iceland. When going to Akureyri they charge at the exit of the tunnel.
Before reaching Borgarnes and before crossing the bridge over the lake, we took the Hvanneyri road on the right and continued. We passed through the town of Reykholt, famous because it was the birthplace of Snorri Sturluson, an Icelandic writer. The house can be visited, but we do not stop.
We continued until we saw a sign to the left that indicates Hraunfossar and that leads to a parking lot. All these roads are good and are paved. There are two pedestrian paths from the parking lot. The one on the left leads to the Hraunfossar waterfalls in less than a minute and the one on the right to Barnafoss. Although at the end the two roads meet and form a unique circuit.
Hraunfossar are waterfalls different from all the others. Normally the waterfalls are inside a river. However Hraunfossar is a set of jets that come out as from inside the earth and fall to the river Hvita. It was our first waterfall and we loved it. In the same river Hvita, a little higher, is this waterfall.
It has a macabre story of some children who drowned years ago at Christmas. There is a poster telling it. Apparently there was a natural stone bridge to cross the waterfall and the children fell. The mother destroyed the bridge and now they have made a wooden bridge.
We go back and continue on the north and immediately left a detour to Deildartunguhver. At the end there is a parking lot. It is a thermal area from which water comes out at 90 degrees and which serves as heating to nearby towns. Locals say it's typical to bring sausages and eggs to cook them in the water and eat them right there, but we did not see anyone who did it.
It's small and we see it right away. In the parking lot there was a small booth where they sold small tomatoes. We continue to Akureyri. A few kilometers ahead we saw the sign that announced Glanni on the right. At the entrance the road forks in two. We have to take the one on the left and we reach the parking lot, where there is a cafeteria and a shop.
Next to the store, the pedestrian path goes straight on until we start to hear the noise of the waterfall and a path to the left takes us to the viewpoint. Located on the Nordura River, they say it is the home of Elves and Trolls.
Our next stop was the village of Blonduos, which is crossed by the Ring Road. We wanted to see the church called Blonduoskirkja that has the shape of a volcano crater. It's next to Highway. We take the opportunity to exchange money in a bank and to buy in a supermarket some salads, cold meat, a small bread loaf pack, and water bottle.
We stopped to eat on the road on the way to Akureyri, in a place with wooden tables. On all the roads of Iceland it is common to find places with tables to eat. Sometimes they are located in beautiful places. The problem is that often an icy wind blows and there is no stopping.
Our next stop is Akureyri, which is the second largest city in Iceland, after Reykjavik. We parked next to the Akureyrikirkja, which is the main church. It is up and we have to climb a nice flight of stairs full of flowers. From above the views of the harbor are very beautiful. From Akureyri we continue on highway to Godafoss, where we have our accommodation next to the waterfall.
A few kilometers before arriving we can already see the cloud of water that forms the waterfall. The official entrance is indicated by the road which is where the sign that Godafoss is, but we skip it. We enter which is where was our accommodation for tonight. This Guesthouse is composed of several buildings, all yellow, and has different types of accommodation.
There are rooms with shared bathroom, private bathrooms, and cabins with private bathrooms and camping. We had rented a room with private bathroom and breakfast, without a doubt the most expensive accommodation we had. But they gave us a large cabin with a private bathroom and beautiful. For the price we paid we deserved it and still it still seems expensive.
After settling in, we went to see the falls. From the guest house there is a path and in a matter of 2 minutes we were at the waterfall. I have no words to describe it. We see an immense arc with an impressive torrent of water. On this side we were alone. On the other side there were several cars and some buses.
We had a good time enjoying the views. Then we went to the pedestrian bridge, thinking that the views from there would be wonderful. We can only see the river with a small waterfall after the waterfall. We wear very warm dresses, even with hats and gloves, but still we were frozen.
We went to our cabin that was warm and very nice. We heard the wind blowing outside and we eat bread with the tomatoes we had bought in Deildartunguhver. We went to bed early as next morning we had to get up early to visit Lake Myvatn.