Friday, May 17, 2013

The best way to get from Keflavík to Reykjavík???

Yes, you´ve made it. You´ve finally landed on this barren island and can´t wait to explore it. BUT. Wait a moment, your landing town was Keflavík and not Reykjavík. Hm, what to do next? How do you get from Keflavík airport to Reykjavík, that are around 50km away from each other????

Well, there´s no public transport between the two and a few years ago, there used to be one particular company running business on this route. (for more details read here). That´s not the case anymore, as there´re two bus companies you can choose from these days:
FLYBUS and AIRPORT EXPRESS with the following similarities and differences:

FLYBUS

  • operated in connection with all arriving and departing flights at Keflavík airport
  • buses depart 35-40 minutes after each flight arrival
  • one-way to Reykjavík Bus terminal costs 1.950 isk
  • possible drop off at chosen guesthouses and hotels, including domestic Reykjavík airport for an extra charge of 550 isk 
  • your seat is always guaranteed and if you are arriving late at night or your flight is delayed, there will be a Flybus waiting for you
  • free WIFI on all buses.

AIRPORT EXPRESS
  • transfers must be booked in advance for guaranteed departure
  • schedule to be found on their web and adjusted according to the seasons
  • one-way to Reykjavík Bus terminal costs 2.090 isk
  • complimentary pick-up/drop-off service from all major hotels in the capital area, inlcuding the domestic Reykjavík airport
  • schedule is subject to changes.
Choose what fits you best and go ahead and book on their pages directly.

Now, those who would stay in Keflavík after their arrival and consider leaving to Reykjavík from there, you have the following options:
Taking a taxi to your place of stay from the airport (they´re parked outside the terminal building), stay over night  and then take a bus run by a company called SBK from their station located in Keflavík. 
One-way ticket to Reykjavík Bus terminal costs 1.600 isk and both winter and summer schedule is to be found here (look for departures from SBK). There are only 3 connections during weekends, though.

ARE you renting a car in Iceland?
Most of the bigger car rental companies in Iceland offer pick up in Keflavík for some extra fee. It can happen that the fee will be so small that if there’s more than two of you, it will be cheaper to pay the fee, than taking the bus to pick up the car in Reykjavík. So if you are renting a car anyway, you should keep that option in mind and compare the prices.

Last but not least, taxis can take you all the way to Reykjavík, but it´s the most expensive option. The average price for 1-4 people is around 15.000 ISK. But, you don’t have to worry about being ripped off by taxi drivers in Reykjavík. Taxis run by the meter between Reykjavík and Keflavík but sometimes they offer a fixed price which comes to about the same amount as the meter anyway.

This post was inspired also by this article.

Good luck with your journeys between Keflavík and Reykjavík and do post comments about your experience.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Crossing the Arctic Circle II.


Once you come up all the way to Akureyri, then you literally are just a few miles away from the Arctic Circle.

And who would say no to an inviting trip all the way to the northmost inhabited island of Iceland - Grimsey -lying on the Arctic Circle that is a home to a very special community of around 150 people and around 1000 seabirds?

The island (of about 5 square kilometers in area) stands alone far out on the horizon as a blue cliff, sourrounded by the wide Arctic Ocean, about 40 km off the north coast of Iceland.
The islanders live in a small village by the harbour - a prosperous and fertile community with many children. The courages fishermen of Grimsey harvest the rich fishing banks all around the island but often venture bravely in their small motorboats much further north on the Arctic Ocean.

Summer in Grimsey means sun 24 hours until late July, when twilight begins to decsend around midnight. Something very special for all those who are used to stars on the dark summer skies at nights. The birds nesting in 100-metres high cliffs are a paradise not only for birdwatchers and it´s not a surprise that Grimsey belongs to one of the best birdwatching sites in the country.
Are you motivated enough to check this island out, enjoy unique local life and even get a certificate for crossing the Arctic Circle? Here are the possibilities:
You can get to Grimsey either by ferry from Dalvík or by plane from Akureyi.
Taking the ferry
It´s an experience on its own to sail for 3 hours from Dalvík, eventually spotting whales on the way, exploring the island including its 800-year old church and going back the same day.

It´s important, though to bear in mind that boat departs from Dalvík only 3 times a week. It leaves from Dalvík at 09:00 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The ferry comes to Grímsey about 12.00 at noon and departs back to Dalvík again at 16.00, the same day. This goes for the summer schedule (May 16th - August 31st).
In winter time (September 1st - May 15th)the ferry returns as soon as it has loaded the cargo (normally after 1-hour stop) arriving in Dalvík around 16.00.

Bookings are to be made at the following e-mail: samskip@samskip.is

Taking the plane

Norlandair offers scheduled flights and charter flights all year around. Daily during the summer (aprox 10th of June till 20th of August) and three times a week (Sun, Tue, Fri) during the rest of the year. Flying time is 30 minutes.
During the stop in Grímsey one can cross the Arctic Circle, have a guided walking tour and during the bird season also watch rich birdlife.
During high summer the stop is approx. 2 hrs and 15 minutes and during other times of year it is shorter or approx. 20 minutes.  Longer stop is possible during winter upon request.
It is also possible to combine the tour with flight one way and ferry the other. Thus getting a longer stay, especially during summer, where one gets about 6.5 hrs stop in Grímsey. Then take the morning flight to Grímsey at 9.30 and the ferry back to Dalvík at 16.00. 
Detailed flight schedule is to be found here and bookings are to be made via AIR ICELAND.

PS: Although Grímsey lies on the Arctic Circle, the island enjoys mild climate.
We look forward to hearing all your impressions from your local Grímsey experience, in this special and warm community of 100 islanders and thousands of puffins.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Going local through local culture

I´ve just come back from a breathtaking performance that was shown in our local cultural house in Dalvík and thought of all of you hungry for exploring small Icelandic places inside out and decided to post some useful advice.

Dalvík is, among other things, famous for the fact that the tallest man of the world (at his time of living) was born and raised in a nearby valley. If he was still alive he´d be celebrating his 100th birthday anniversary this year. No wonder that a group of locals including the local museum, that is partially dedicated to the life of this unique man, decided to prepare a rich programme to bring back memories and discuss different parts of life, of so called Jóhann Svarfdælingur, as well as opening up the topic of 'being different'.

The programme was built up as a sort of 'forum' with presentations in Icelandic, not so inviting for a foreign tourist who does not speak Icelandic. But! its last line-up was an absolute must for somebody interested in getting to know local culture (no matter what language you speak) through a story of the tallest man of the world.

Imagine a circus like atmosphere with its typical music and costumes - this was a grand opening of the performance, when roughly 30 locals, who all belong to a local choir, were rushing to the stage.
Then we were lead through the life of this unique man from the day he was born, through his ups and downs in growing up and trying to find his place in a society all the way until he died. All done very authentically with different voices reading bits and pieces of his own diary, while scenes would be performed or pictures or video scenes projected on the screen. This all very well spiced up by powerful singing of the local choir colorfully dressed up with songs fittingly chosen to underline the atmosphere of the parts performed.

I must say that I was impressed and truly astonished by the way the director combined all the little details to create this powerful experience for a viewer. I felt as I was living the life of that man throughout the whole performance.

Last but not least, I kept on thinking about the power of these local communities like Dalvík with its surroundings is. A bunch of locals who love singing, besides having their jobs and most likely lots of other activities they do or volunteer for, are still able to put their strengths together and show up for practice so that they can share this beautiful piece with their fellow locals. The age range of the performers was all the way from roughly 6 years old up to 85 or so, is my humble guess and the professions of performance are just as diverse as employees of local fish factory, teachers, pensioners, municipality reps, artists, you name it.

And now, dear reader, the precious advice. The fact is that most of these local cultural events are very poorly advertised in English (if at all). Us locals, we know about them because we get leaflets directly to our post box. And since all these little communities have loads of cultural stuff going on in the summer time, I highly recommend the following:
Once you know the dates of your visit to a certain place in Iceland, do check official town web-pages and write to some municipality representative asking for a list of events for the period you´re there. If you were not getting the answer on time, then feel free to drop me a line and I´ll gladly assist with phoning around and getting you the details you might need.

All the best in your off the beaten track exploring through power of local cultures.