For me to get to the start of our hike, it took a day of travel. Sounds tough, but it’s become really easy over the years as airlines and airports have improved, along with my patience.
One of the things I generally do on longer flights is to opt for the more generous leg room seats. These are not only more comfortable, but they are often closer to the front of the plane, making it easier and quicker to get on and off.
I also try to fly with only carry-on bags, as this makes checking in and getting out of the airport so much simpler. As I’ve become a better traveler, I’ve learned that there is very little that needs to be packed, as long as you’re willing to do a little dirtbagging. (On this trip, I still packed too much, but I’m learning.)
My Icelandair flight to Reykjavik was late, but we more than made up time in the air, arriving a bit early. Reykjavik Airport is a tough airport to wait around in, though, as the arrivals area stores and restaurants only sell to those who are leaving (you have to show your boarding pass). Bizarre. Duty free I get, a cup of coffee I don’t.
With 4 hours to wait, I tried napping, walked around the terminals for a while, and then got the itch to get outside. On the way out I grabbed a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, the only option after getting out through customs, an easy process as you just walk out if you have nothing to declare.
Outside the air was cold but the sun was shining, so I passed the time taking photos of the public art and moving to areas where the smokers weren’t. On a whim, I checked my geocaching app and discovered I could grab an Icelandic geocache simply by walking across the longterm parking lot and checking out a large freestanding sculpture. Score!
Once Jeff landed (also early), it was simply a matter of waiting for our ride into Reykjavik. They dropped us at the Town Hall, where we took some photos and grabbed a quick lunch.
The TREX bus to Landmannalaugar arrived, we sat in the back like the bad boys we are, and we were off. Note to other travelers: don’t sit in the back of a bus that will be going off-road – the bumping can get quite severe, haha.
The 4 hours went by quickly, as the scenery in Iceland is not only drop dead gorgeous, but also varied by the mile. Everywhere we looked was yet another beautiful or unique but of geography. Crazy colors, moon-like rocks, water in every direction – Iceland never bores.
After hiking the Laugavegur – 55 kilometers (about 34 miles), I decided not to hike our last planned section, over the Fimmvörðuháls Pass, as it entailed twice the distance and twice the elevation gain and loss of our Day 1 of hiking.
As the day was at the limits of my enjoyment due to its toughness, I just didn’t feel like suffering even more on Day 4. Instead, I decided to take a bus to Skógar instead. Add in iffy weather and it just seemed safer.
Getting to Skógar entailed taking an Reykjavik Excursions bus to a small village, then waiting a bit at a N1 gas station in order to catch a Strætó public bus. We spent the time eating and drinking (great grilled chicken thighs!), so it was a pleasant way to bide the time. We ultimately saved a matter of hours over hiking the pass, but it certainly was a more pleasant way to travel.
My last day in Reykjavik consisted of walking around the harbor and beautiful historic downtown for many hours, pausing for coffee and eating some hot dogs, Iceland’s unofficial food.
Many of the expedition companies run buses to the airport, so I opted to go with Gray Line, who picked me up in a shuttle a few blocks from my hotel, and then transferred me to a tour bus that took me to the airport.
The flight home was similar to the flight that got me to Iceland, though I had one trick up my sleeve. I had purchased an extra leg room seat for each leg of my trip, but I noticed a benefit to certain seats that I made use of on the way home.
If you are flying a Boeing 757-300, shell out the additional moolah to sit in one of the exit rows (but don’t opt for 9A or 9F, as their extended leg room is minimized by the intrusion of the doors into the cabin).
Having extra leg room makes it a breeze to stretch out and, in some cases (row 9!), easily stand as needed, something that feels wonderful, even on a flight that only lasts 6 hours.
New gear used: Eagle Creek National Geographic Utility Backpack 40L, The North Face Mountain Sneakers, Big Agnes Farrington PrimaLoft Sleeping Bag Liner, Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles.