Iceland

Holiday preparation notes

 

Click here to find out about The Holiday

The dates:

16th..19th March 2001

The Flights:

Friday 16th Heathrow LHR, London 20:50    Keflavik Int'l KEF, Reykjavik 23:50
Check in Terminal 1 18:50
Icelandair FI 0453


Monday 19th Keflavik Int'l KEF, Reykjavik 08:50   Heathrow LHR, London 12:00
Check in Main Terminal 06:50
Icelandair FI 0450

Trains

Railtrack

thetrainline.com

London Transport

I think these directions are clear enough!

Station Duration Action
Euston (City Branch) Wait for VICTORIA LINE train
Euston (City Branch) 5 mins. Board train to:
BRIXTON or
VICTORIA
Green Park 11 mins. Alight and walk to PICCADILLY LINE
Green Park 12 mins. Wait for PICCADILLY LINE train
Green Park 17 mins. Get on train to HEATHROW TERMINALS 123
Heathrow Terminals 123 68 mins. Arrival

For the Cambridge Nutters:

Station Duration Action
Kings Cross St Pancras Wait for PICCADILLY LINE train
Kings Cross St Pancras 5 mins. Get on train to HEATHROW TERMINALS 123
Heathrow Terminals 123 68 mins. Arrival

Travel Insurance

None has been booked.

The hotel "Cabin":

Borartun 32
105 Reykjavik
Iceland

Phone 354 51 16030
Fax 354 51 16031

4 Rooms with continental breakfast

http://www.freeserve.otc-uk.com/holidays/HolidayDetails.asp?HolidayID=901185

http://www.hotelsiceland.com/reykjavik/cabin/

The Hotel is on Borgartun street and is one (parallel) street away from the North harbour - slightly East of central on the E-W plane, but still no more than 1km from the centre.

Car Hire

Bernie has the transport resolved. The damage is £32 each (that includes insurance, tax and airport charges). Although that is really 3 days hire, it's at a mileage rate that we would have not got down to over 2 days (i.e. 600km as opposed to 400).

Any of us can drive (well, not Jack, I suppose) - as long as we all have our respective driving licences.

Another reason for the 3 day hire is that public transport doesn't look to be that regular - buses do not run at the times we need for either airport visits, and we actually use Keflavik, some 30/40km away.

We will have one Nissan Almera and one VW polo. http://www.alp.is

Alternative car hire: www.budget.is

Links

Daily News from Iceland

Icelandic Tourist Board (Complete with a puffin!). The site has a useful page of Travel Facts

Blue Lagoon

South Iceland

Photos - Arno Daalder

Photos - Samer

Photos - Ans & Jerry (Check out their Ijsland 1999 page...)

Iceland Travel Revue 

A fascinating insight to Icelandic Psychology

FAQ on Iceland

Techy Links

www.spaceweather.com

www.sec.noaa.gov

science.nasa.gov

www.aurorawatch.york.ac.uk

Airport Codes

Heathrow LHR, London, United Kingdom
Keflavik Int'l KEF, Reykjavik, Iceland

We'll be flying with icelandair.

Exchange Rate

At 26/2/01 125.8 Icelandic krónur = £1. (1Icelandic krónur  = 8p)

Swimming pools

Almost all swimming pools in Iceland are outdoor pools. Most of them are heated by geothermal water. And almost all have hot tubs that are even more popular than the pools. Admission is 150-300 icelandic krónur(£1.20-£2.40). There are also many natural hot pools where hot springs form pools that are used frequently by the locals as well as tourists. Many of those are in the highlands.

Geothermal sites

Geothermal sites are magnets for tourist such as Geysir that draws many to view the eruptions of its little brother Strokkur. The "Blue Lagoon" at Svartsengi has been developed especially as a spa for the enjoyment of tourists and for those seeking skin cures (www.bluelagoon.is). Rubbing in the silica mud is popular but the main attraction is the pool of natural mineral rich geothermal seawater in the middle of a rugged lava field. There are also some 120 public swimming pools that are popular. These are mostly outdoor pools. The annual use is about 200 m3 of geothermal water for each square metre of pool surface. In the wilderness areas there are several natural pools such as Landmannalaugar and Hveravellir.

Around Geysir

Some links Bernie found:

http://www.south.is/gullfoss.html

http://www.south.is/hekla.html

http://www.south.is/geysir.html

Off Roading...

Thanks Dave Brooke

The two car option is probably most appropriate for our relatively short stay as there appears to be plenty to do and see without going off the major routes.

John Wilson has been there (in summer) and he said that even the major roads were often un-surfaced and rutted. When I mentioned Geysir he didn't think it was a day trip from Reykjavik. They spent 2 weeks going round the coast road.

I received the appended useful message from another Nick who lives over there. Geysir is almost twice as far as Selfoss from Reykjavik according to this map: http://www.south.is/images/sudurland.gif Of course, being nutters, we shouldn't be deterred too easily!

BTW, stay away from farms! Iceland's never had Foot and Mouth and I expect immigration will ask questions. No sheep for Nick! Listening to the Archers is probably safe for those who really must.

--------Message from Nick--------

I have an excellent road-travel information page for Iceland. There is an English option, available from the front page. Click on this link: http://vegagerdin.is/   You will find a map showing the roads, and the condition of the surface, with regard to the weather.

It is a little tricky to give more advice without more information, but there are one or two points that come immediately to mind:

I suspect (from my own experience!) that you have looked at the map, measured some road distances and estimated how far you can travel. You will have almost certainly have over estimated the distances that are possible to cover. It takes an awfully long time to get anywhere in this country, and even longer at this time of year. If your trip is less than a week long, I would not recommend travelling further than to Selfoss in the south, and Akranes in the west. Although you can travel further, there is so much to explore, within those ´boundaries´ without even leaving the road in an ordinary car. 

    Only travel further if you are more interested in driving, than exploring the countryside. If you are dead keen on exploring some un-surfaced tracks, then it might be possible for you to get in to Thorsmork, which is a very nice area, down a 40km track with some very rapidly changing rivers, which can be a small trickle one minute and then a raging torrent after a few hours. 

    But, there doesn't seem much point in hiring a 110 just for that trip. I would perhaps recommend a glacier trip, on a so called ´Jeep Safari´. It is the only way that you will be able to get on the glaciers, in a 4x4. Whether or not you could get a short test drive once up there, I am not sure, you would have to talk to the company or the driver... This should be more appealing, because is is the one thing you cannot do in the U.K. since we don't have any glaciers.

    Now that I have thought about you trip for a while, the best itinerary I can suggest is to hire the two cars, as you plan to, and get a good long list of all the points to visit, from the info centre called BSI. At the same time you could book a trip on the glacier (Lanjökull is the closest, and is nice, too) and then get a feel for the place. There are many things in Reykjavik to be explored, and a sometimes wild nightlife, too. You should plan at least one day there, usually the first and last days are in Reykjavik. Then set of on your sight seeing trip. The length of your drives depends of course on the accommodation booked.

    I will stop writing now, because I am so unsure as to your actual plans, and length of stay. If you want, please do be in touch when you have read this, and let me know the missing details and I will try to be a bit more help then...

    If not then I wish you a very pleasant stay here.

    Should you get into difficulties whilst here, and I will try my best to sort them for you.

Nick.

--------Message 2 from Nick--------

    To drive non stop to the geysir area, would take around an couple of hours. However, you should take the whole day for that trip, which is know as the Golden Circle. Take a clockwise trip stopping first at Thingvellir, then
Geysir, Gullfoss, then down to Selfoss, and back via Hveragerdi to Rvk. You will find interesting things in Hveragerdi too. You should avoid buying food at the cafe in Geysir, because it is very very expensive, rather take lunch with you, and perhaps eat something in Selfoss for evening meal, pizza for example, getting back to Rvk late Saturday evening, ready to explore a little of the town...

     This tour is also possible to do by coach, with guide, but whether or not it would be cheaper than two cars or not, I can't say - could find out for you if you think that is an option.

Nick.

Notes On Driving

from the Icelandic Traffic Council

Radios

National Association of Radio Amateurs in Iceland

Aurora

We want to see an aurora! A couple of days before we fly out things look promising:

Aurora
Click on the image to go the NOAA site

Check out www.aurorawatch.york.ac.uk . Americans launch satellites to get the above image: we English have a more satisfactory method of detecting aurora using plastic bottles!

From image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry/ask/a10356.html we have good news:

"Observations from Yerkes Observatory during a 55 year period spanning 5 sunspot cycles did confirm that September and March are the most frequent months for auroras and January and July the least likely. This correlation was also apparently described by Mairan in 1733. Most of the solar activity comes from regions of the sun outside the solar equatorial band +/- 10 degrees to either side of the solar equator. The Earth in its orbit is inside this equatorial band during January and July, and when it is at it maximum heliographic latitudes in September and March, the Earth is in the zone of solar activity."

Photography Notes

Rule of thumb for photographing the event:

30-50s f3.5 on ISO 400 film

going down 3 stops  that's 3 sec f1.2 -

1 sec looks underexposed.

Armed with Superia print film 800 what exposure should I aim for?

17 mm 1:2.8 lens  10s

50 mm 1:1.8 lens  3.5s

28-105mm 1:3.5  15s

The f11 rule for the moon means 1/50000 s at f1.4 using ISO 800. So let's hope the moon's not about.

http://www.netreal.co.uk/aurora/gallery5.htm

Don't use filters! and other useful tips.