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Pam on the Map: Iceland Paperback – October 9, 2013
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I'm not big on sentiment and, ahem, deep thoughts, while reading travel guides, but I have to admit that one passage in the book literally brought tears to my eyes (and made me realize that I will want to visit Iceland again to visit the north coast). I'll give you a hint, the passage ends with the statement "This is Iceland."
Another reviewer gave this book a one-star review, explaining that the author is too negative in her descriptions (roads are narrow, few restrooms, etc). I admit that the GPS angst got a little old by the end of the book, but my feeling is that learning the negatives is as important as the positives when getting ready for a trip. Now I know more about how to operate my GPS in Iceland (remember the accents, type "Th" instead of looking for Þ, bring a good map as a backup!), I know to use the restroom when I see one rather than expect them to always be readily available, and more.
I highly recommend this book.
The author includes a section on things she would do differently when she returns - All together a useful and enjoyable read for the armchair traveler or those with the map out beginning to plan their next adventure.
This was okay... not great. More like a blog format. After having been to Iceland I think I could do a better job.
If you're thinking of traveling to Iceland... do it! It was fantastic! The glaciers, the geysirs, the icebergs, the lava fields.... GO!
As for the commentary that Pam provides over Iceland....she gives a remarkable and thoughtful analysis. It is an unusual place to make a trip, and way off the beaten track. There are package tours to the isle, but I would suggest that anyone, with a bit of study and preparation....can make the trip. Pam centers on the various things to think about and the locations to go and see.
Five comments: (1) Iceland is a very safe place to go (even for a woman). That said, I would caution anyone making the route one trip (circle of the isle) by themselves. The drive is long and these occasional back-roads require a lot of concentration. Take a partner along. (2) Doing the route one experience requires a minimum of two weeks, period. I would limit myself to no more than 400 km's per day. You don't necessarily have to do all of route one. You could fly in and just do SW Iceland, in five days, and get a idea of the more civilized side of Iceland. (3) Plan six to eight months out. I would only go in June through August. This however means that once you buy the airline ticket (six months out), you really need to make your plans up and make hotel reservations....the earlier the better. Out past the capital city, there aren't that many B and Bs or hotels, so don't be shocked if you wait till the last minute and find no hotel rooms within a four-hour drive of your daily end-point. (4) It's expensive....everything, from food to water....to fuel. So don't think you can do this on a $100 a day limit. (5) Its a great landscape but they have few parking lots to just pull into and take pictures. Remember this as you drive along.
I would consider Pams book a good starting point if you want to make the trip, and read it a year prior to the trip, and then organize your trip around it. Also, for Reykjavik, you don't need more than a full 12-hour day to explore the city (use the hop-on/hop-off bus), remember that most of the city can be explored on foot. She is correct about the rental car company mentioned....they are the best on the isle, and very reliable. If your think is history and resorts, forget this trip and move on. If you are into landscape, unforgettable views, and stoic people....then this might be the trip of a lifetime.