Date: 2009-01-31 15:30:00
Tags: travel
islands of the world tour 2009

Amy and I haven't been back to North America to see family since we got married in 2007. We've been talking for a while about taking a trip back, and we've finally got everything in place to do that. Not inclined to do anything by half, our itinerary is now roughly:

This is definitely the "Islands of the World Tour 2009". We're going to hit 6 of the top 20 largest islands in the world, plus the slightly smaller Vancouver Island:

We bought the tickets yesterday so we're definitely going. I'm stoked. Questions:

Excellent! (My only nitpick is that there is no stop close enough to Boston for me to swing by :P)

And Iceland!! I have been! And I think it's an excellent place to have a layover!

Iceland is soooo easy to visit. Your hotel or hostel (I stayed at a hostel) should have catalogs from the various tours companies -- basically, you look up a 1-day or half-day tour and call up and reserve a spot and the van or bus comes by to pick you up right from your hotel/hostel and then drops you off right there at the end! Couldn't be easier!

Also, don't miss an opportunity to stop at Blue Lagoon to and from the airport! The airport is Keflavik, so you have to take a bus between the airport and Reykjavik. Many of the busses stop at Blue Lagoon along the way -- it's an outdoor hot mineral spring. For not much more than the cost of the direct bus, you can spend some time relaxing in the hot spring (and rub yourself in mud if you want). I have to say, it's the best way to relax after arriving by plane and the best way to relax right before getting back on the plane. Don't miss it :)

As for the day tours: I took the famous one, and it may have been half-day, which does a small loop outside of Reykjavik to visit Geysir (the hot spring after which all other hot springs are named, which is endlessly amusing to the icelanders), Thingvallir (the site of the viking parliament in 1000 AD and also where the midatlantic trench comes onto land!!!), and Goldfoss (a nice waterwall/rapids). Oh, and I think it also stopped at a horse ranch where we could pet the Icelandic horses -- being descended from the horses that the vikings brought over so long ago, they're still short and stubby.

If you go further into the island, you can visit the glaciers. If you want to be adventurous, I think you can rent your own 4x4 and go driving up on the glaciers. Or there might be some tours which will take you to the glacier and drive you around. But anyway, it's not unheard of to get a vehicle and go out for a couple days, which you should do if you've got 9 days! But the catalog, with the pick-up from your front door, is as easy as it gets.

Oh, also, the MIT Esperanto club had a member who was Icelandic and is now living in Reykjavik. I could let him know you're coming, if you want an easy way to meet a local.

Oh oh oh oh! Dunno if this is your thing but: Reykjavik used to have a penis musuem :) Like, with a collection of penises from tons of animals, I think. I remember seeing it in the guidebook (I have lonely planet's Iceland guide). Except they had just moved to another town when I visited :( But if you're up for that, you could go find it :) Also, there's an ice hotel or ice bar in Reykjavik, if you want to check that out.

Oh oh oh oh: Iceland is apparently famous for the best nightlife in Europe! Apparently, bars/clubs don't close until 7am the next day. I never did any of that, but you might want to check it out. Also, there's a lot of stores that sell local knit goods -- I think you might be into that :)

Wow, thanks for all the info! I think we'll probably rent a car for most of the time we're there and go explore. We picked up a Rough Guide to Iceland the other day at the bookstore and it should prove useful.

We already heard about the Icelandic Phallological Museum which is in Husavik in the north (it moved at some point), and is normally open from late May through September. We might not be able to visit since we'll be there in the beginning of April. (Amuze, ilia retpaĝaro havas Esparantan version!)
What a fun sounding trip! I'm sure nugget will weigh in with more Tokyo details but I found that just walking around randomly was really quite fun and randomly picking a restaurant + randomly picking a menu item was almost always a delicious adventure (discovered gyoza that way... yuuummmy). I did a little self tour of the local shrines (around 10 within a few hours walking distance). I'd suggest checking out these districts: Akihabara (electronics heaven), Ginza (just to see how ridiculously priced things can be) and Shinjuku (little Las Vegas). Maybe go up to the top of Tokyo tower to have a good look around. The subway system is amazingly good/clean/safe there so you should have no trouble getting around.

I'd stay away from Roppongi; it just made me embarrassed to be an American. Maybe pop in for 10 min just to see and be amazed at how badly Americans act in such a generally respectful city. Oh, and look at the beer prices there; pretty crazy!

Yeah, Roppongi doesn't seem too interesting to us. We'll check out those other places too, thanks!
[info]texaspatsfan : That is SOOOOO cool!!
I can't wait to see all the trip reports and pictures (you, too, Amy!!)

You are giving me happy feet with all this talk. I should go start planning my trip...
[info]ghewgill : Re: That is SOOOOO cool!!
I can keep talking about it if you like. :)

I'm going to buy a fresh new camera battery for the trip. And maybe more flash storage (holy cow, 2 GB cards go for NZ$30 now).
Uh, sorry, you can't count the island you live on!
There's that little economic meltdown and rioting thing in Iceland...
Yeah, I was just reading the latest news articles on Iceland to see what's in store for us. Economic meltdown: Not a problem. Dollar goes a long way further, waterfalls look exactly the same no matter what the economy is doing. Rioting: Iceland is a small place, a "riot" consists of eggs and snowballs being thrown at the prime minister's car. The travel advisories just say to stay away from such large gatherings, which shouldn't be a problem since we don't plan to be in Reykjavik much more than a couple of days anyway.
Greg Hewgill <>