Travelzoo just published a pretty great deal good for travel during this upcoming fall/winter. Price includes airfare and hotel. It’s a quick trip, but it’s a good introduction to this strange and beautiful country!
I gotta admit, this is one of the posts about my trip that I’ve been most excited to write, mainly because discovering new music is a passion for me no matter where I am in the world. But it was especially exciting in Iceland, a country that is chock full of so many incredible bands and musicians. Most people are already familiar with Björk, Of Monsters and Men, and Sigur Rós, and although each one of them is fantastic, that’s just scratching the surface of the music coming out of this country.
At the bottom of this post I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite bands and musicians whose work I was introduced to during this trip (and a couple from my last time here in 2013). The list below is not meant to be comprehensive–they are simply the ones who’ve been heavy in my own personal rotation.
If you’re looking for the latest artists who’ve emerged or who are on the cusp of emerging during your stay in Iceland, you don’t have to go further than the local Reykjavík record shops to find out who you should be listening to. From my experience, the shop clerks are incredibly knowledgeable about the latest local music and are happy to share their recommendations with you.
This last time around, I spent a lovely afternoon at 12 Tónar listening to the artists recommended to me by the owner. (I especially enjoyed this experience because they have listening stations set up throughout the store so you can hear the albums before you buy. They even served me some espresso–a clever way to reel me in/make me more motivated to make a purchase there. Spoiler: It worked.). Lucky Records is another great spot with a massive collection–I was lucky enough to be within walking distance of this shop during my first trip here and discovered a lot of great artists during that first short stay.
Keep in mind though, as with just about everything in the country, vinyl can be quite expensive, and new albums can range between $25-$45 USD (or higher, depending on the item). Whenever I go into a shop, I generally ask which albums/artists are hard to find outside of the country and start there (though it doesn’t hurt to do a quick search on your phone to be sure it’s not something you might be able to get for cheaper back home. I was able to find most of the artists on Spotify and SoundCloud, and their records for sale on Amazon). Of course supporting local businesses is always best, but if your bank account can’t afford to take home all the records you love, use these avenues to pare down your selections.
As noted in my previous blog, I decided to write this series of blogs in response to the numerous questions/messages I’ve been getting from friends and friends of friends who are planning to traveling to Iceland soon or are thinking of trying to book a trip after seeing/reading so much about this amazing place. I figured the best time to put this guide together was when I was still in the middle of my trip, so the information is still fresh in my mind. Feel free to leave a comment if there’s a certain aspect of travel you might be curious about. I’m definitely not an expert on Iceland, but hopefully my experiences might help you plan for your trip!
Alright, so the next topic I decided to tackle was “What specific things should I bring on my trip?” Although this might vary a bit, depending on the exact type of travel experience you’re planning, I think this overview should prove helpful to most people. Continue reading
It’s hard to believe that this trip is almost over as much as it’s not hard to believe at all.
This month has been strange–this weird suspension of time where my life equally existed and did not exist. It’s hard to feel completely isolated from Life As You Know It when, in this day and age, you are able to carry practically all elements of your life with you on your phone, in your pocket. But for as comforting as that at-your-fingertips feeling was while I’ve been here, the Looking Glass effect of Social Media and smartphones can also feel tremendously amplified when you’re thousands of miles from home. Continue reading
So, I’ve had a lot of people recently mention they are planning a trip to Iceland soon and are looking for recommendations for when they travel. I figured it might be best to blog about my thoughts/tips instead of writing to each individual person. I was going to try to do one big ol’ blog post, but then I ended up writing nearly 2,000 words on just driving alone, so I figure I’ll split these up and spread them out (making them more digestible AND making me feel more productive on the blog front)!
Hopefully this information will prove useful to people, though definitely keep in mind there is much more to consider beyond my experiences and opinions. Also keep in mind that I am currently traveling during their spring/summer period, so the weather conditions are considerably different than if you are planning to come here in the winter. I’ll try to note some additional considerations you’ll need to make for other times of the year, but since that falls outside of my own experience, you’ll probably want to do some additional research if you’re coming here during the winter months.
For a little background on me for those who might have found this blog through a friend or an independent search: I’m currently in the middle of my 2nd trip to Iceland. The first one was more of a quick, tour-heavy, pre-planned excursion, which was perfect for the 4-day venture me and my travel companions had set out for (we found a pretty reasonably priced deal through Travel Zoo that include airfare, hotel accommodations in Reykjavík, and a Northern lights tour that brought us here in November 2013).
The trip I’m currently on is a month-long tour of the country, though I am primarily based in Southern Iceland, fairly close to Rt. 1, the main road in the country, also known as the Ring Road. Although one of my main intentions while being here is to write, I’m also trying to see as much of the country as possible. And considering that Iceland is about the size of Ohio, there’s plenty of opportunity to achieve this in the time I’m here!
This particular blog deals with getting around in Iceland, specifically with my experience of renting a car. I know many people debate doing this, both because of the fear of driving in a foreign land and because of the price, but based on my experience, I think having your own vehicle is worth the expense. Continue reading
I woke up this morning from a dream where I was talking along the field outside my parents’ house in NJ with my best friend (who actually lives in California). I was annoyed because the neighbor was blaring country music since it was warm enough for them to be lazing about outside, and their giant dog, who was unleashed, came barreling towards my friend and me.
This is the last time I deal with their shit, I thought to myself and began to storm towards their property.
Right about then my alarm went off. I was awake, but not really, and the sounds of the birds outside and the rain on the window were familiar enough to let me believe a little longer I was home. As I re-oriented, I began to remember where I was, which in turn made me realize how far away I was from the things that just felt so close. And suddenly I found myself dealing with the thing I’ve managed to stave off pretty well up until now: homesickness.
I’ve now been in Iceland about 12 days–a little less than halfway through my trip. I won’t say that I haven’t missed home before this point, but I think I was able to suspend the realities of the two enough where I did not allow the feelings about one to affect the experience of the other. It’s essentially the same backwards logic I used the other day when visiting the Víðgelmir Cave during my road trip to West Iceland. One of the other girls from the residency and I decided to go explore the western part of the island, and saw info for this trek into the largest known cave in the country (the guide informed us that because of the porous nature of the lava rock that has formed this place, there are most likely thousands more yet to be discovered). When we agreed we should check it out, I wasn’t really considering the potential triggers for panic that this excursion might cause–being that I am very claustrophobic and not really great with heights, either.
When we got there, I asked the guide if the claustrophobia would be a problem. He assured me that beyond one area where you had to duck your head to get in, it was very open and you could stand with no problem.
“OK, I can do that,” I thought. Continue reading
Day 3 Musings: When I first planned this trip, I didn’t necessarily expect to be taking it alone, even though I didn’t necessarily have anyone particularly in mind to take it with me. Maybe it was the beginning of my shifting mindset–for as long as I could remember, I always had a plus one of some sort to come along for an adventure, whether it be a boyfriend or a best friend. Looking back, it felt like there was never a situation where I couldn’t find someone willing to go along with whatever crazy whim I wanted to follow, but I think the truth is that if I couldn’t find someone, I often just bailed on the plan. Ironically, it took getting married to someone who wasn’t always up for the same adventures as me to realize that I had to get comfortable with doing things on my own or I had to start getting used to missing out on things I wanted to do. Continue reading
It’s hard to believe today was the first day of my residency stay–I feel like I’ve already been here a week. Chalk that up to pretty much hitting the ground running once I got off the plane. Or I guess I should say hitting the ground driving… Continue reading
It’s funny to think that life events aren’t totally official until they’ve been mentioned online in some capacity. Although I’d argue I live a lot of legit, undocumented life offline, there’s something to be said about the things we want recorded as part of our Official Personal History.
I went back and forth on the need for a “public announcement” about this, namely because it feels a little silly and self-important. But here we are, May 1st, and I’m sitting here at 5 a.m. trying to figure out how to craft the proper public statement to commemorate this day that I have been waiting for for the past 18 months.
So here goes–making it official: I’m leaving today to go to Iceland to attend a creative residency program about an hour’s drive outside of the capital city. I’ll be there for a month. Continue reading
Despite a lot of the radio silence on the blog, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time on here discussing the various ways that my life has been shifting/transitioning/changing during the past couple years. And though change and growth are obviously good things, the feeling that I don’t really have any solid ground to stand on has been challenging. There would be these moments of clarity and feelings of progress, but more often than not, they would be fleeting. And for every “step in the right direction” there were countless detours and setbacks and unexpected reroutes. Continue reading