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Iceland & Greenland Adventures - Part II

Author: Linda V. (More Trip Reviews by Linda V.)
Date of Trip: July 2005

We got our things packed up and cleaned up the apartment. We had a ton of garbage to dispose of. The day was the greyest and rainiest so far. Had my toast for breakfast and tried some skyr. Three bites - didn't do it for me. It kind of left a chalky after taste. Of course I don't eat yogurt, so that may be the problem.

We can't fit all of us and our luggage in the rental car, so Renee called to get a reservation on the FlyBus to the airport. They told her she should have had our hotel fax a reservation last night. She pleaded, and they complied saying they would pick her up at Room With a View at 12:30. Cool. I can't believe how much luggage she brought - two large rolling duffels, a large rolling backpack with another backpack inside, and a waist camera bag.

We went and settled our bill with Arni. Ouch. My share was $378 for the 5 nights. This was such a great place to stay. I loved our apartment. The balcony was fabulous, especially on those few sunny mornings and evening sunsets. The windows are thick and block out all that annoying noise from the street. The living room was large with a very comfortable leather couch and chair and dining room area. The furniture looks like it came from Scandinavian Designs or Ikea. Renee called the kitchen home and used the counter as her "nightstand". Arni didn't think the apartment was big enough for us, but it felt palatial after our small cabins on the Explorer.

Arni said we could leave the luggage in the room until noon, but we decided to put it all in the car so we wouldn't have to rush back. The luggage all fit great, but there wasn't any room for a driver or passengers.

We headed back to the Ice Bar. It has to be open for lunch. Nope. They now have a sign outside that says they are open for a fish buffet at 6:00 p.m. What a waste of a great place to try out. They supposedly have a bar consisting of ice. You drink out of ice glasses and they provide parkas for the deep freeze. It would have been cool. Oh well...next time.

We waited with Renee for the FlyBus. They never showed up. Nina went upstairs and asked Arni to call them. They lost the reservation. Boneheads. Arni offered to take Renee in his car to the bus station. What a great guy! Thank goodness for Arni.

Steve came walking up the street, so we all went for lunch at Sandholt (our favorite bakery). I had a ham and cheese croissant, chocolate cake, and coke light. (I ordered a diet coke. They said they didn't have diet coke, but had coke light.) Steve told us that GAP partners with the TV show Survivor. We were supposed to have some "Survivors" on our Antarctica trip, but it was at the same time as the "All Stars" edition of the show so they couldn't go. There also were supposed to be some members on this trip. Bummer - that would have been cool!

We had to feed the meter again all morning and got out of there around 1:45 p.m. We stopped and filled up at the gas station and made it to the airport in Keflavik to drop off the rental car. We had to drag our suitcases through the parking lot to the terminal - not too far - through the rain. I sent Nina and Darlene on line for check-in while I turned in the keys at the Avis counter. I asked for a receipt and discovered they overcharged me 8441 ISK for an extra day. I protested saying the rental was prepaid for 5 days. He disagreed, but called down to the Reykjavik office and then apologized for the mistake. He isn't able to credit my account today, but their accounting department will take care of it. (I got his name and number just in case.)

Got checked in and didn't get an upgrade this time. Bummer. The Digeplayer has the same 8 movies, so I'll save myself $15. I have gassed up my iPod, so I'm all set.

All in all the trip was fantastic. Our time in Iceland was great. There is so much natural beauty, and much of it is so unusual. I'd love to come back again (when the dollar is strong - ha ha). The waterfalls, lava fields, mountains, fjords, horses, geysers - all incredible. Dog sledding was such a treat. We saved $600 by driving ourselves there. A rental car is the way to go when visiting Iceland. I would hate to be at the mercy of a bus schedule/tour group. When you see something interesting - you stop - and stay as long as you want.

It was so weird having light basically 24 hours a day. It got a bit darker in Iceland than it did on the ship. Fortunately on the ship our porthole was closed 9 of the 11 nights so sleeping was not a problem.

Our Arctic cruise was wonderful. I would recommend it to all. We didn't see the wildlife like we did in Antarctica (and according to Steve's GAP friends, we only saw about 15% of the penguins we would have seen if we traveled in February instead of March). Greenland was great. It was so nice to be able to walk on it, view the wildflowers and the amazing surroundings. Being trapped in sea ice was an experience. We wondered if we'd EVER make it out of there. How amazing to look off in the distance and see nothing but ice EVERYWHERE. How the heck will we get out of here?!

The expedition staff made the trip. The waiters and other staff on the ship were so helpful. The Explorer was a great ship - better than the Orlova in most ways. The lounge, lecture hall and dining area were better. However, our triple room was much smaller (but yeah - only two of us in it). The Orlova had a nice large back deck that was perfect for a bbq. We couldn't have done that on the Explorer. Having Frank (from The Time Photography) on the ship was a big plus. Having a professional photographer capture your vacation is the way to go. I'm not sure that anyone at home would be willing to sit through our 45 minute slideshow, but we all loved it.

Here are just a few memorable moments of the vacation:

  • Making it to Scoresbysund and sharing the trip with 3 Inuits and their 2 Greenlandic dogs

  • Amazing sunset in Greenland

  • Polar bear swimming

  • 3 polar bears on the ice - eating their kill

  • Being assaulted by an iceberg

  • Unbelievable miniscule wildflowers on Greenland and the thick cushy carpet of undergrowth/mosses as you walked

  • Being trapped in sea ice

  • The "hidden" waterfall near Seljalandfoss

  • Dog sledding on Langjökull

  • Other worldly lava landscape

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

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