Iceland personal tips



Iceland personal tips

Iceland is place of great beauty and has been featured in many movies. 

It's not crowded and with a few friends it can be a place to spend a week. 

Most people speak English and are friendly. No French here ;)

My suggestions:

Spend about one week or a minimum of five nights if possible. 

Rent a car for moving around the island. The roads are easy, hardly any cars but get a GPS.  Signs are easy to follow and there's one main highway - Route 1 - that goes round the island (note: official speed limit is 90 km/h on the highway, and between 30-60 km/h when Rte 1 passes through cities and towns). 

For northern lights it's probably better to join a tour as they know where to go. We went with Gray Line which was about SGD 70 per head
Call ahead to ask if they have a tour departing that night, or you can check at the tourist info centre on weather conditions: http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/
You can choose from self drive or guided tours. 

Self drive gives you freedom, so you can go and leave whenever, bring lots of creature comforts and if you already have a car in daytime this works well.

However one needs to be familiar with night driving and navigation. Furthermore you will need to have an idea of where are the places to view the lights. 

It is also tiring especially if one has already driven in the daytime. 

That means probably not planning too much the following day. 

Guided tours can be by bus or in a boat out to the waters outside of Reykjavik. 

In a bus you can try different spots but there is traveling time. It is warmer in a bus though. 
Some companies will offer another ride if you don't see the lights the first time so check first. 

The nice thing about a boat is you can also take pics of the city at night, and if you can see the aurora from water it is amazing

As for driving

Beware of the speed traps - there are cameras every now and then, and if a cop catches you speeding, that's 22000 Kronas....about SGD 220 from current experience :( 

There are many books and sites for suggested sights but here are the ones I think will be good. 

The movie Walter Mitty actually showcased most of the good ones :


Volcanoes :
Bardarbunga 
Eyjafjallajökull 

The big one that blew in 2010. 
There's a burger place there that's not bad (Gamla Fjosid)


Waterfalls

There are three major ones close to the capital Reykjavik 

Gullfoss

Skógafoss


And if you want to go round the island to see the prettiest falls: https://guidetoiceland.is/best-of-iceland/top-10-most-beautiful-waterfalls-in-iceland
Glaciers

Glacier walking is nice. B

Myrdalsjokull is the place for it..

Tour options from different areas in Iceland: http://www.mountainguides.is/day-tours/glacier-tours/ 

Vik

Blue lagoon

Jokulsarlon - floating lagoon of icebergs, setting for at least 4 hollywood movies

The golden circle

This should be on your list but there's more to it than this place. 

Reykjavik 

Reykjavík is a small city so It's easy to get around in, and all the main things are generally within walking distance (1km block)
City Bus
Best to have cash for the bus or buy Bus Pass, 1 fare costs 350 is kr. , 1 day pass 900 is.kr for 1,  
3 days pass 2200 is kr. for 1,  you can find timetable, but there is a timetable on each Bus Stop  http://www.straeto.is/english
Restaurants
This website http://www.restaurants.is   is very good to find Restaurants' you can narrow the search                           
down to location, price and what type of food you like 
The Reykjavík Grapevine is also good http://grapevine.is/Home/
Iceland Guest is another good link to look at http://www.icelandguest.com/travel-guide/dining/
Local Food Guide is a NEW food guide for Iceland  http://icelandlocalfoodguide.is/
Old harbour
Old harbour, if you go down there you will find, great restaurants, and the best Hamburger place in Reykjavík there as well as fine Icelandic dining, very good fish restaurant ( in Tryggvagata ) not so expensive..  And you can't miss our famous Hot Dog stand ( close to nr 5 on the map) , o they are different J it is located inTryggvagata close to the Flea Market were you can buy Iceland food and bread, among quirky goods old and new (there you would need cash but AMT is  there ) http://www.visitreykjavik.is/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-176/392_read-1546
Viking museum
Things you might like to do,,,  a museum about Icelandic Vikings, http://sagamuseum.is/
Short tours
You should take the Blue Lagoon (you could take on your way to the airport, it is 5-10 minutes drive from the airport, and most  of our guests that flight is in the afternoon do that and give them self 2 hours in the Lagoon ) Glacier tours, Golden circle  these are must and Horseback riding tour is great as well, one of the best for that ishttp://www.ishestar.is/    and http://islenskihesturinn.is/?lang=en   they pick you up from the hotel
Reykjavík Excursions tours :   http://www.re.is/DayTours/ 
 AT Iceland Tours specialises in day trips:  Excellent cars, luxury coach and 4x4 super jeep http://daytrips.is/
Iceland Excursions tours:   http://www.grayline.is/
Whales, puffins http://www.specialtours.is/home/  people love it  www.whalewatching.is
Northern light tours:
When you book your transport please put in your apartment number and the same name you booked
the apartment in, the company sometime calls us if there is changes departure times for tours.
Snowmobil tour:
Super Jeep Day Trips
Dog sledding tours
Rent camping equipment
Fjallakofinn Laugarvegur 11  http://www.fjallakofinn.is
For the children
Hop on – Hop
Hop on – Hop off on a double-decker bus is a great way to see Reykjavík, every hour on the hour and its nr 5 on the map I put in the email  http://www.re.is/citysightseeing/ 
Here you can see the route they are taking http://www.re.is/media/PDF/Hop_On_Hop_Off_Flyer_2012_.pdf
Horse riding - depending on how adventurous, multiple options are available but check how long the ride is else you might be on galloping horseback for 2 hours or more!

Food
It's not cheap here and you get plenty of western fare but it's not cheap nor is it special. Plan for $20-40 a meal. 

Key food to try are the lobsters either grilled or in a sandwich or in soups, lamb stews, and fish


Hotdogs

There are a few stands in town and you get decent fare.

If you travel afar, there are some nice options:


http://www.lonelyplanet.com/iceland/the-west/snaefellsnes/restaurants/scandinavian/narfeyrarstofa/item-a-1177554-id

If we handed out prizes for the best fish soup and the top lamb stew, this charming restaurant would win both. Run by an award-winning chef (famous in Denmark for his superlative desserts – the caramel ice cream is for fainting), Narfeyrarstofa is the Snæfellsnes' darling dining destination and the undoubted favourite of visiting tour groups. Book a table on the 2nd floor and dine under gentle eaves and the romantic lighting of antique lamps. Don't forget to ask your waiter about the portraits on the wall – the building has quite an interesting history.

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/iceland/the-west/stykkisholmur/restaurants/scandinavian/narfeyrarstofa#ixzz3DtgEMs8I

Location
Stykkishólmur , Iceland
Address
Aðalgata 3
Telephone
+354 438 1119
More information
www.narfeyrarstofa.is
Prices
mains Ikr1990-4250
Opening hours
11.30am-10pm Apr–mid-Oct, 6pm-10pm Sat & Sun mid-Oct–Mar

Lobster:

Fjorubordid Restaurant

http://www.fjorubordid.is/?page_id=340

This upmarket seafood restaurant on the shore has a reputation for serving the best lobster in Iceland. The legendary soup costs Ikr2050 and most people agree that it's worth every penny. Slurp your bisque amid old flagstones, glass fishing buoys and other marine memorabilia. Reservations recommended.


Location
Stokkseyri , Iceland
Address
Eyrabraut 3a
Telephone
+354 483 1550
More information
www.fjorubordid.is
Prices
mains Ikr2050-4850
Opening hours
noon-9pm Jun-mid-Sep, 5-9pm Mon-Fri, noon-9pm Sat-Sun mid-Sep–May

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/iceland/stokkseyri/restaurants/seafood/vid-fjorubordid#ixzz3DtgokFjO



Water is safe to drink from the tap, so no need to buy bottled water

For more info:
www.guidetoiceland.is   Award winning web page for information about Iceland
http://whatson.is/   NEW information page and monthly magazine  What's on in Reykjavik

Currency and Credit Cards
Most companies takes all credit cards, but American express cards are not so popular here, they charge the companies more than other credit cards companies.  If you have a Visa or MasterCard you are fine
At the moment the exchange rate for 1 £ is about 181 Icelandic kr.   There are ATMs all over the city center ( you are less than 5 minutes away from the center )   but I recommend that you change money at the airport.



What can you do in Reykjavik ?

www.guidetoiceland.is   Award winning web page for information about Iceland

http://www.inspiredbyiceland.com/home/?site_locale=en

Here is a new tourist map for Reykjavik, online:
http://www.reykjavikcentermap.com/

For guided tours in and around Reykjavik, click here

The walking guided tour of Reykjavik

http://www.sagamuseum.is/

The national museum is interesting:

The Blue lagoon should not be missed:

You can visit the Blue Lagoon on the way to or from the airport:

The outdoor swimming pools in Reykjavik are very popular:

There are also very good restaurants in the city center, such as Humarhúsið
http://humarhusid.is
and Lækjarbrekka
http://www.laekjarbrekka.is/index-en.php
Fiskifélagið
http://www.fiskfelagid.is 

There is a hot dog stand in the city centre that should be tried:

The burger joint is very popular:

In the next building to the joint there is the Sægreifinn
( fish restaurant )

http://www.gastroshark.com/   
( another fish restaurant and is opposite Sægreifinn )

The Grapevine has interesting articles on Reykjavik:


Renting a car?
There are several possibilities: (This is not a full list)
http://geysir.is
http://holdur.is

Route1 is car rental is pretty decent : good service and compatible prices
http://www.route1carrental.is/

Million dollar arm - movie review


For all mixed culture and Indian movie fans, as well as those who like a good sports yarn I highly recommend this movie.

There's nothing like a sport movie about people winning against the odds and throw in a little fish out of water and cultural pot Porri thing into it and well you have a million dollar plot. And yes, you do get a bit of that million dollar slumdog bit too.

Based on a true story about how a couple of boys from rural Mumbai go for baseball tryouts in USA. It's more than just a basic baseball show and in fact much of the pitching isn't really great.

But it's far more about the human element and our priorities in life that make the difference. There are loads of this in the movie and the cast is certainly up to the task of showcasing this.

The main actor Jon Hamm is well selected as the sports agent and his two Indian protégés are also well cast.

Everyone comes together although Bill Paxton is given too little to do. Subtle performers by Ray the talent scout does very well with limited screen time.

The plot flow isn't terribly original but editing is tight and the cast show excellent chemistry.

Calling all my Indian movie fans, this one is a Keeper.

Hotel Grand Budapest - movie review


Having seen his previous work like the Royal Tennenbuams I wasn't sure about it but I read a raving review of this movie and decided to give it a shot.

First thing is what makes it good. The plot is quite original and the casting is exquisite. Again Wes Anderson uses some of his regulars and they come together well, almost like a family reunion. Their familiarity works in their favor and the tone as well as the editing will be familiar to his fans.

The buts are more personal in nature and I don't feel the F bombs or the sex scenes were necessary.

The hotel used is well chosen and certainly apt, bringing out the full flavor of the movie and period. It reminds me of that used in The Shining.

The show is about an elderly writer recounting his stay at the hotel and listening to the adventures of the owner Zero Mustafa and how he came to own the hotel. Set in the period just before WWII it's a well paced movie with many flashbacks and a wry sense of humor, ala Wes Anderson style.

For Director Wes' fans, this will be another feather in his cap. For those who want a tryout of his style you can go wrong either but you just have to see if the language and sex bothers you.

For me call me a romantic who like a neat happy resolution and the demise of Mr Gustave and Agatha left me a little sad.

3.5/5

How to shop abroad and bring it home...

I will be talking about issues of shopping in USA and other countries, and what items to buy, as well as other such issues.


Here are a few pointers:

- know what you want, and check the prices.
Is it worth the trouble to lug them back?
Will it run locally - 110 or 220V or universal
- understand the risks of internet shopping, and that you may not be able to claim warranty
- weight limits
check with your airlines for the baggage allowances - most major airlines allow 2 bags weight 22.5 or 23 kg each - that means a total of up to 46 kilos of goodies!
- Tax and GST
- fragility
can you check the item in? IF you remove the boxes, it can be less bulky but you may end up damaging the items
- how long are you in USA
shipping can take a while and it is best to give some allowance
- do you have an address
 most hotels will keep an item for you before you arrive, but check first
- begin shopping early
there is no reason to wait til you are in USA, start placing items in the shopping cart first, and monitor the prices. Often they will go up and down.
Then check the stock, if the item is out of stock, you may miss your shipment or hold up the rest of the items and end up missing them at your hotel
- when you are all set, choose the shipping method that suits you
check the estimated shipping time, and make sure you have enough allowance - don't get it too tight, or a slight delay will mean you miss the items
if you want to be sure avoid the free shipping which can be fast, but there are no guarantees and you can end up missing the item. Choose option this if you have lots of time.
You can choose standard shipping and it should come to you within a week.
Remember to account for weekends and the time difference. For example, the 3-5 day shipping time is for working days, so if you order on the weekend, it could be delayed.

- keep all receipts and invoices in case you need to claim or return an item.

- find out the local price
that saving you see in USA may melt away with tax, baggage overweight costs, warranty issues

- warranty
see point 1, I can stomach the risks, can you. Even so, consider trying the equipment out in your hotel room

- bargaining
actually you can bargain, and do a "Price Match" and many of the brick and mortar shops will do so, although you can't use online prices. Bring a slip or ask them to check.

Haggling is best done at the end of the month when they need to meet quotas. A little less profit is acceptable for them

- open box items

these are returned items not because they are spoilt, but usually because of external defects or simply because the owner didn't like it, you can save up to 50% on them

- manager specials
these are items which they want to get rid of, some are open but many are new and are unique to the shop you go to, the prices can be phenomenal

- don't fall for the "would you like some Monster cables to go with your new amp" line :)
they make a lot from the peripherals... give the $$ to me,



-  you can also order to your hotel from Amazon, but check that your hotel accepts them...



- actually USA offers lots of bargains, but check your prices first

- shipping
most airlines have cut their baggage allowance from 32kg to 23 kg, 2 bags, so you still have 46kg of load you can use esp if you have no clothes.... you can try and hand carry some of the items eg DVD players.


Some items worth considering - certain brands of amps which are popular will have slashed prices as the competition is high, eg run outs on the Onkyos etc

- transformers
note the power requirements and most are NOT universal so be careful

Best Buys, Circuit city and even Target offers deals to be had, so enjoy.

Finally, do consider that it may only be slightly more expensive to get them to ship it home directly, and save the hassle of carrying big packages home.
Also Amazon USA also offers free shipping on many items now, so do your homework first and happy shopping!

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I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

4k, or ultra High Definition Anyway? - where's the material?

Whilst those videophiles who may read my website are trying to push the frontiers of mega/ultra/super Hi Def.. the irony is that the rest of the world are still stuck on SD...
A point observed by another today... that we have diminishing number of BR rental shops, and the idea of Hi Def for many others is watching free to air programs in HD...

So whilst TV sales of HD, 4k etc have been pretty healthy, there is a real dearth of material to watch and the HDMI 2 / HDCP 2.2 problem may not exist since there is scant amount of material on the ground to watch anyway...



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 I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

Estimating cable runs when building your home theatre system





The key is planning ahead. If it's rear cables, avoid buying separate runs and making your contractor work with them. Buy a large roll instead, or let your contractor sort it out.

The amount of cable depends on how many speakers you place, the size of your room, and also whether you build in any redundancy..

Eg, one may measure from point to point, that the distance from the front feature wall to the speaker, and determine that it's 5m. But your electrician may run things differently and have to go to the side wall, then upwards and down.

You will also need to have spare amounts at each end to allow for flexibility for placement.

Also is Atmos the last word? Certainly not, there can be new formats, eg Auro is just round the corner, so if you are building something plan for more if you can. Just run the cable and place it into the false ceiling, and cut it out later..

As to what cables one should use, a rule of thumb is to use larger gauge cables. Eg, I used In-wall specced 12 AWG cables, with a thick jacket. For shorter runs you can also use 16 AWG cables, which I am using for a different build.

Remember if you skimp on the cables now, you won't get a chance to change them later.



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 I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

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