16 Hour Layover in Iceland

(3 Minute Read)

It's 4:00am here at KEF as I write this and I have a couple hours until my flight to Brussels. So, I'm starting blog series! I'll probably write as I go and post about my first impressions, things I learned, and a few travel tips. This post will be a bit longer than the others because of the backstory and the travel "plans" I've got.

Here's my rough itinerary so far: 

19th - Hangout in Maastricht with Justin
20th - Day trip to Amsterdam
21st - 22nd Couchsurf in Brussels?
23rd & 24th - Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany
25th - 29th Explore the Netherlands
29th - Fly home 

I might squeeze in a quick trip to Spain, but we'll see if it fits in the budget.

My main intention with this trip was to visit my brother Justin. He's currently studying abroad in Maastricht, so he hooked it up with some floor space for me to sleep on. I also wanted to take advantage of the time I had before I start my first full-time job. So, I booked the flight the day after I accepted their offer.  

Anyway, my first stop was this 16 hour layover in Iceland, so I rented a car to photograph the landscape and do some exploring.

With the five hours of daylight I had, I drove to Thingviller National Park and also checked out a cool waterfall called Seljalandsfoss. After sunset, I drove around Reykjavik to get a feel for the city. I started to get sleepy around 11pm so I dropped the car off at the airport and napped on a bench.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

If I could describe Iceland in three words it'd be: vast, green, and serene. 

Most of the time I drove down a two lane highway. To my left and right were miles of green fields with mountains in the distance. Peppered along green pastures were groups of horses and sheep. It was also nice admiring the quaint, cottage-like homes along the way.

If you want a sense of serenity coupled with an appreciation of vast green landscapes, you won't be disappointed with Iceland. I drove for hours and soaked in the peaceful, yet humbling emotions of being one tiny human in a quiet land. It was dope af. 

TIPS AND TIDBITS

In 2010, a volcano erupted in Iceland and caused a ton of problems with flights over Europe. Tourism took a huge hit. So the country responded by focusing on marketing Iceland. They created a campaign called, "Inspired by Iceland" which had a website where people shared travel stories, pinned spots to visit on a map, and was shareable on social media. 

Since then, tourism has been booming. In 2016, Iceland subsidized flights by making it free to stopover for a short time. 

If you're ever stopping in Iceland, here are some spots that are relatively close to the KEF:

├×ingvellir National Park
Strokkur - a Geysir
Seljalandfoss - waterfall
Glj├║frafoss - waterfall
Skogafoss - waterfall

You can also see the Northern Lights during from September - mid-April. You need to go North enough and they only appear for a couple nights a week if the sky is dark and clear enough. 

Bring a rain jacket!

A QUICK SHOUTOUT

My buddy Henry Chen had his honeymoon in Iceland earlier this year, so I pretty much planned everything according to his advice. Thanks Henry! 

"So there's a whole lot of nothing. Everywhere. Sometimes the nothing is beautiful, other times it's just nothing." - Henry Chen

Now, off to the Netherlands!