iceland for austinites

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O, we get so many requests about Iceland since we’ve been four times reaching back more than 15 years now. We freakin’ love the country after a magical first trip to see our favorite band, gusgus, perform at Iceland Airwaves. Below are our tips and tricks on Iceland.

Here’s a few blog posts about our trips:

1. Reykjavik:
    a. I hope you have at least a Friday or Saturday in Reyk so you can experience the nightlife. Lots of fun!
    b. Go to the top of the main church. The church is gorgeous, and the view is spectacular.
    c. Just strolling about town. Hard to go wrong on food. SNAPS is our favorite foodie restaurant.
    d. Eat an Icelandic hotdog (no, really!)
    e. Two words: Penis Museum (used to be in Husavik, but is now here).
2. Blue Lagoon
    a. A must-visit. Expensive, a little touristy because of all the tourists, but stunningly gorgeous. Flights to Iceland from the US generally land first thing in the morning (like 6am first thing). Spend the morning here until you can check into your hotel.
    b. Get tickets in advance (like now!): We were shut out on our last trip!
    c. Get the special access tickets to avoid the long lines.
3. The Golden Circle
    a. No joke, Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” was written after seeing the golden circle.
    b. Thingvellir
    c. Geysir (the first one seen by westerners hence  all geysers are named after this beauty)
    d. Gullfoss (Iceland is a land of waterfalls; Echo and the Bunnymen shot the cover for Porcupine here)
   e. There’s a place to soak in geothermal waters in a lake near Thingvellir [one of the Golden Circle tours will drop you off here and then pick you up later!]
4. Heading south around the island, there’s a glacier park as well as a glacial lagoon.
5. Eastern:
    a. Myvatn, a large lake. The gnats are off the hook!
    b. Be sure to partake of the poo-smoked lamb and geothermal bread (Vogafjos Cowshed)
    c. Big geothermal area
    d. There is now, I believe, a mini-Blue Lagoon thereabouts
    e. Selfoss  and Dettifoss (and other water falls).
6. Northern
    a. Akureyri: nice little town, nice church, gorgeous botanical gardens (we went in July)
    b. Glaumbaer: collection of old turf buildings
And just driving is delightful: lots of scenic spots, cute little churches and lighthouses, black beaches, hotpots. Let your vision guide you (but stay on the road!).
7. When:
    a. Summer is best: you can rent a car and do things at your leisure; the sun is up most of the day; stay away from August as that’s when Europe is on vacation (we went in July). You don’t need a car (there are tour buses), but we recommend one.
   b. We’ve been twice for Christmas/New Years, and it was magical. Good sleeping weather; the sun is only up for 4 hours; Iceland’s Christmas traditions are kooky (get there several days before the 25th), and their New Year’s is off the hook.
Oh, and read a copy of Halldor Laxness’s book “Independent People” during your trip!
The Grapevine: http://grapevine.is is a great weekly/monthly english-language paper about what’s going on.
A disorganized, but perhaps useful, collection of links I used for our last trip:
And here’s our Iceland playlist:
Gun by gusgus
Midnight In Reykjavik by gusgus
The Moss by Daniel Agust (gusgus)
Northern Lights by gusgus
Hayling by FC Kahuna
Selfoss by gusgus
Góða Tungl by Samaris
Wanted 2 Say by Samaris
Ain’t got nobody (Gluteus Maximus remix) by Sísý Ey
All Is Full of Love by Bjork
Undercover by Worm is Green
Glósóli by Sigur Rós
Hit by The Sugarcubes
Regina by The Sugarcubes
Birthday by The Sugarcubes
Nótt by Samaris
Tomoko by Hafdis Huld
Made for Market by Ampop
Sacred Things by Bang Gang
We Have a Map of the Piano by Múm
Dive In (GusGus Remix) by Quarashi
Remember Me by Steed Lord
Waterfall by Vök
Cold Breath ’79 by gusgus
Glacier by John Grant
Iceland by Marc Romboy
Pedro by Lily the Kid
Iceland by gusgus
In Heaven (live in Iceland with Kim Deal) by The Pixies
Immigrant Song by Karen O, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Snow by gusgus
Svefninn la ar by gusgus
If You Leave Me Now by Daníel Ágúst
No Mercy (feat. Daniel Agust) by Bix
Heyr Himna Smiður by Anneke van Giersbergen & Árstíðir
You’re Too Late Satan by Worm Is Green
Tropical by FM Belfast
Looped by Kiasmos
Reykjavik by Sykur
Loving None by Sykur
gusgus is our favorite band (we’ve seen them three times in Iceland!), hence the heavy inclusion of tracks by them!
Our favorite photos:
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lunch at the Blue Lagoon
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Harpa, the Icelandic performing arts center
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gusgus one night at Harpa
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SNAPS is our favorite restaurant in Reykjavik.
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The gorgeous church in Reykjavik showing geomimicry in its design.
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View from the bell tower of the church, accessable with a small fee.
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So fortunate to have been in Iceland one Christmas to catch this photo. Jawdropping.
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Icelandic horses
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Geysir
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Tour guide for the Golden Circle with beer soda.
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poo-smoked ham (delicious!)
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A traditional Christmas buffet
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In Reykjavik. Yoko Ono’s light on an island in the background.
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At Thingvellir
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Gullfoss (where Echo and the Bunnymen shot the cover for Porcupine)
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Geysir!
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GRU.
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Icelanders love cats.
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At one of the traditional New Year’s Eve bonfires
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Geothermal energy plant.IMG_3768IMG_4040IMG_4353_2IMG_4227_2IMG_4228IMG_4296IMG_4168IMG_3896IMG_4295IMG_3897IMG_3898IMG_3774IMG_4171IMG_3839IMG_4109IMG_4360
A Kleina, the traditional Icelandic pastry.
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A geothermal area
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Boat tour to see whales and puffins out of Husavik. There are tours out of Reyjavik.
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Too afraid to go in there…
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Icelandic lobsters!
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A traditional Icelandic breakfast.
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