Travel Tips from Locals in Your Fave Cities
Iceland, the land of fire and ice has maintained a long-standing reputation for being one of the most geographically stunning countries in the world! Boasting the most dramatic landscapes, the country is covered with volcanoes, hot springs, waterfalls, geysers, massive glaciers and more. It is home to many legendary sights and is one of the hottest (and coldest) travel destinations for adventurers and thrill seekers alike. From the weather to the landscapes, Iceland is a stark contrast from the rest of the world alone, and getting around requires its fair share of knowledge and tips. Meet Marvi Gil Ablaza, who has been living in the country for quite some time. Here are some tips and insights she’s gathered over the years:
Before you go
Get ready for a cold world! While Iceland may have its seasons, the strange quirks of the country’s weather make it hard to recognize. The rule of thumb is: layers.
Temperatures are similar to Filipino offices in the summer: dry and very cold. Temperatures can swing from 8 to 23 degrees Celsius but can go down to 5 on rainy and windy days. Bring a light down jacket, 1-2 pairs of thick second layer leggings, socks and a warm hoodie,
Winter comes as early as October, but sometimes as late as after Christmas. Wind is more of a concern over snow, so bring thick jackets, wool socks, hiking shoes and crampons for icy sidewalks.
Weather is wet and windy during Spring and Autumn (April-May / September-October). Do NOT bring umbrellas unless you want to get blown away. Bring a raincoat and a light jacket for the occasional cold day.
Must do’s and must see’s
The quintessential Icelandic tour will take you to Gullfoss (Golden Waterfalls), Geysir and the Thingvellier National Park (the site of the first parliament and rift between the North European continent). The Golden Circle bus tour is also cheaper if you travel in a group (check out www.re.is for choices).
West Coast, South Coast and Snæfellsness Peninsula are three of the most beautiful self-drive destinations in the summer.
What to avoid
Avoid long distance and self-driving tours in the winter, as strong winds can often be the cause of accidents (yes, cars can get blown away from the road).
Traveling on a budget
Everything is expensive in Iceland. Make sure to pack your essentials and then some. We have known of Pinoy travelers who bring their instant coffee and noodles. There was even a Pinoy tourist from Germany who brought his own rice cooker (no need to be that extreme)!
Alcohol is also very expensive in this country. Do consider shopping from the duty free as you enter the country. Also, DO NOT buy water, as Iceland’s water supply is clean, plentiful and free. There are water fountains all across the country, so bring a refillable water bottle.
How to get around
Iceland is a nature lover’s paradise, and much of the best attractions are outside the capital city. For maximum fun, we suggest doing a mix between guided and self-driving tours. Plan your trip in advance, as vehicle rent can be cheap, but gas is expensive. Bus tours are also a fun, cost effective alternative.
Best foods and places to eat
For those looking to buy food, the best place would be the budget grocery chain called Bonus. They are all over the country and can be recognized by their pink piggy mascot. Else, Iceland has an amazing food scene! There are plenty of places across the capital city alone to food trip. There are also excellent Asian restos in Laugavegur, the capital’s main shopping strip.
Definitely spend at least two days in Reykjavik in order to get the most out of the capital city! Go for a walk and explore the nightlife and buzzing food scene. Valdis Ice Cream shop has become a hit for its weird and wonderful flavors (like pepper or beer). Ice cream helps a lot on cold days too as it equalizes body temperatures. Do try out Icelandic hotdogs too, made with lamb. They are extremely delicious!
There are no real Filipino restaurants in Reykjavik, but there are Filipinos who sell Filipino food online. Check out Pinoy Taste Reykjavik and Pinoy Kakanin Kopavogur on Facebook. Rice is life for many of us Filipinos, and you can always ask for them in many restaurants. If you are searching for a Filipino restaurant, check out Matstofan, the oldest Filipino restaurant in the country (situated in Borgarnes).
Travel Tips from Locals in Your Fave Cities: Reykjavík, Iceland
On a side note, below are links to Filipino-owned businesses that you might also want to check out to find some Filipino presence:
City Car Rental, one of the bigger rental companies in Iceland, owned by power couple Evelyn and Diddi.
Sjavarbarinn/The Seafood Bar is a no frills restaurant by the harbor owned and jointly run by Analisa and her husband Magnus. You can find Lisa at the restaurant if you wish to drop in for a chat.
Mr. Don Tattoo. In the heart of the Breidholt neighborhood, this tattoo shop is run by Pinoy artist Don Ycot.
Cirila Snyrtistofa. Beauty expert and Pinay transformation artist Cirila holds court at this cozy beauty parlor and spa.
There are less than 2000 Filipinos in Iceland, so everyone knows each other (and we’re great friends too). We always welcome our kababayans here, a country that both perplexes and fascinates. See you soon!
Read the full edition of Illustrado Work & Play 2019 on www.issuu.com
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