Iceland consists of a plateau characterized by sand fields, mountains and glaciers, while many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands, making the landscape a joy to watch while on the road. Weather in March is still pretty cold in Reykjavik. In most days, the weather is cloudy and gloomy with occasional showers. When the sun breaks through the clouds it would just be for a brief moment.
Iceland is one of the most expensive places to visit but since the economic meltdown in 2008, it has become quite affordable. I suggest this would be the best time to go before Iceland gets back to its feet. I stayed at a studio apartment for two with amenities like microwave, electric stove, coffee-maker, and a flat screen television for only $58 a day! The price is unbeatable!
Originally, there were two of us planning to visit the country. But my friend got sick, and his doctor advised him not to fly. I said, "Think of the fresh air, the thermal pool, and the sights of nature. All these could do more good than harm to you." Unfortunately, he was skeptical. We had planned to rent a car to drive through the rugged landscape of Iceland. Now on my own, I have to think of plan B.
Reykjavik is fairly easy to walk around. Drivers are very friendly, and most stop for you even when there is no crossing facility. I stayed just two blocks from Laugavegur, which is Reykjavik's own Fifth Avenue. Shops, restaurants, cafes, and speciality stores are all located here. More than half of Iceland's 320,000 population live in Reykjavik. However, there is never a crowd in the busiest street in the city. Unlike New York, there is never a wait at the busiest restaurant here. The Hallgrímskirkja church overlooks the city on top of a hill. In front is a statue of Leif Ericsson (Leifur Eiríksson in Icelandic), the Norse explorer who sailed to North America in the 10th century. The church is one of the highest buildings in Iceland. At the top, you can enjoy a nice view of the city. It is worth taking a walk around Lake Tjörn anytime of the day. This is the natural breeding habitat for over 40 species of birds. There are seats and walkway around the lake which you can enjoy the splendid views from both sides of the lake. The City Hall is located at the edge of the lake, and it is the venue of free concerts and exhibitions.
Harpa is the new concert hall recently completed. The structure consists of a steel framework clad with irregular-shaped glass panels of different colors. It is located near the Old Harbor of Reykjavik where tours of whale and bird watching are offered by various tour companies. There are also boats where local fishermen sail out daily for their regular catch. You can see most sights in Reykjavik in a day.
The Golden Circle is one of the best tours in Iceland. You can either take a half day or a full day tour. The tour consists of the Pingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall, and the Geysir hot springs. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Pingvellir National Park is located on the Mid-Atlantic ridge, where the continents of Europe and America drift apart, causing earthquakes and volcano activities. The Gullfoss waterfall cascades 32 meters down in two stages. The sight is breathtaking as the fall cascades down surrounding an area in a blanket of white snow with nature at its best. The Geysir is a natural wonder of hot springs and boiling mud pools. The nearby Strokkur sends a column of water and steam up to 30 meters high every few minutes to the delight of onlookers. With the furious wind blowing continuously on a rainy day, it could be very cold. But I just kept clicking my camera until my fingers got numbed.
I went to Hveragerði by bus which is about an hour from Reykjavik.
Hveragerði is view as a vantage point for the Kambar mountain slope but it offers a lot more than that. It is a charming town with greenhouses, which are heated by the hot water from the volcanic hot springs. At night, these greenhouses lit up the town which you can see from afar. Besides the hot springs, berries are abundant for picking in the fall, and the town has some excellent walking routes all year round. Selfoss is about 15 minutes bus ride from Hveragerði. In Selfoss, going to other parts of South Iceland are pretty easy.
I had a very good time in Iceland. Not having my friend and a car, I had to rely on my own two feet which they have never let me down in time of need. The buses in Iceland are on scheduled and they are never late. With these elements on my side, I have come quite close to nature at its finest. I would love to visit Iceland again, but I'm hoping to go there in a different time of the year, and hopefully, I would be able to catch the Northern Lights the next time!