HallgrímskirkjaWhat kind of souvenirs do you bring home from your trips?

We found Iceland quite hard on souvenir shopping. Not only is everything rather expensive, but we don’t want (most of) it:

  • There’s tons of generic stuff probably all made in China: fridge magnets, beer bottle openers, glasses, cups, golf balls, key chains. Since we got the all-blacks-magnetic-beer-bottle-opener we had to get an Icelandic one, too, but less cool since Icelander’s don’t play rugby at least not that we know of.
  • T-shirts. there is one great one … “Eyjafjallajökull – It’s soooo easy to pronounce“, the color of the T-Shirt is ash-grey.
  • Horse figures of all shapes and sizes
  • Anything that you can print an Icelandic flag on
  • Stuffed animals: puffins, baby seals, sheep and horses. I still want a puffin!
  • Then there’s little troll and Yule lads. Some made from stone, those are cute. All of them would have to be dusted off regularly. Fail.
  • Vulcanic ash. They really are selling ash from the eruption between 1500 ISK and 2200 ISK. That’s between 10 and 15 Euro or so, we could just wipe our car for some of it …
  • Wool: Wool sweaters, caps, socks, gloves, shawls and just wool. These are great but awfully expensive and while you may buy a sweater for yourself, you will probably not buy one to bring for friends and family and what would they do with a single sweater anyway? Share it? I don’t give them socks for xmas so I won’t buy any now: I bought a sweater and a cap … I was freezing it was absolutely necessary 😉
  • Felted stuff – xmas decorations, bags, caps … I was tempted to buy some of the xmas decorations but we only got a small wooden one for our collection
  • Books about Iceland: one called “Lost in Island” seems to be rather popular, there are even T-Shirts with that slogan. I got 2 cook-books – one of them not Iceland specific and a book about sagas the rest is in my amazon shopping cart for easier transport home
  • Candleholders made from lava – we have a sufficient amount of unused candle holders and need to reserve candle holder presents for when we are totally out of ideas.
  • Reproductions of ancient viking jewelery – sometimes nice but always expensive
  • Aurora Borealis DVDs: we were here in Summer …. not even sunsets for us!
  • Blue Lagoon Cosmetics: not only expensive but who would we give those to?
  • At the Saga Museum I was really tempted to buy a couple of dice made from bone but then …. 800 ISK for a tiny die?
  • And we really did not want to go shopping here.

So one could decide to bring home some foodie specialties right? Let’s see:

  • Beer – cannot transport sufficient amount by plane
  • Licorice – oh right we hate that stuff and wouldn’t want to bring it down on anyone else
  • Brennivin – not for the faint of heart. We have a bottle and will surely share it out amongst those willing to try …
  • Dried fish – we haven’t tried it and most people we know don’t really like fish that much, all other kinds of fish are not designed for taking home by plane
  • Dried algae – see above
  • Icelandic moss or herbal teas: we did buy a herbal tea!
  • Hot dogs – don’t keep so well
  • Ice cream – melts.
  • Lava candy: we will try to buy as much as we can carry home

So despite our best intentions we didn’t buy a lot of souvenirs. We have instead lots of photos, our travel diary and stories to tell 🙂

PS: we got some nice lava rocks from Snæfellsnes peninsula

Packing right

Always taking picturesI always think that I don’t pack right. I forget things, I take too many things or stuff I don’t use (this time I did use the gorilla pod!) … so here are a couple of lists of mispacked things:

Here’s my Top 5 “Forgotten Things”

  1. Lonely Planet Guide. We only had a single small “outdoor” guide for the ring road. It was okay but we missed the wealth of information provided by the Lonely Planet guides.
  2. Music. Of course we brought mp3 players but the car radio only took CDs. We got pretty sick of listening over and over to “Best of Björk” which I had bought at the beginning of the vacation. Radio wasn’t so good either. We had long stretches of road with lots of noise and Island radio seemed to have a lot of talking – in Islandic! – and little music. Strangely it got better when we got closer to Reykjavik again.
  3. Hiking Boots. Actually I don’t even own any. For most hikes it wasn’t that relevant but on our hike to Glymur I would have felt much better (and safer) wearing other shoes …
  4. Thermos Flask. It is not quite so warm over here, temperature was often around 4°C, and I should have brought more warm clothing (again), maybe some Whisky and of course most importantly a way to keep hot drinks with us.
  5. Knife or peeler. How dumb is it to not even have a knife with us?

Honorable Mention:  Car charger for the N810. Since we use the Nokia to create GPS tracks from our driving and it sucks the battery empty in no time it would have been a good idea to have the car charger with us. Maybe a card game would have been nice as well we usually bring at least one small 2 player game.

And the Top 5 “Things that could have stayed at home

  1. Skirt. I really did not need it. 90% of the time the temperature was too low and the rest of the time I still did not need it.
  2. The second, third and fourth T-Shirt. See #1.
  3. The 50mm lense. I only used it once I think and that wasn’t necessary
  4. Makeup. *oops* so yeah that was simply in the bag with the shampoo etc. Still …
  5. Additional SD and Compact Flash cards for the cameras, I downloaded all the pictures to the laptop every night anyway

I am getting better at not packing too much. And I really needed all 3 pairs of shoes that I had with me.

On the Ring Road: Iceland

We’ve been driving around Iceland for 10 days now. You can see our route (rough version so far) here:


I’ve also been uploading pictures to my Iceland Album on Flickr, since we have had wireless access in all the places we stayed at.

Esja Massiv

I’ve also been writing a travel diary which has 16 pages so far. I’ll publish that when we get home.

Ice Reflection

So far we’ve enjoyed our trip. We had fun adventures, saw beautiful places, wild & not-so-wild animals and tried interesting food. We saw several glaciers, more than a dozen vulcanoes and countless waterfalls …