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Iceland is open to U.S. travelers and is not overcrowded – News


It’s one of The place of the end of those earths. Overlooking the frigid Atlantic Ocean, Iceland’s westernmost tip is a pristine world of sharp snow-capped peaks, moon-like landscapes and sparkling fjords. But that wasn’t the main reason we ran the hairpin turn mountain road for three hours each way. Many were unpaved and almost all were a disturbing lack of guardrails. I wanted to see a puffin.

Puffins are adorable, cartoonish black and white seabirds with strange orange and black beaks. They raise their children alongside hundreds of thousands of other roosting birds on a 1,400-foot-high sea cliff on the Westfjords Region of Iceland. My partner Jim is an avid bird photographer and didn’t want to miss this great birdwatching site on his first visit to Iceland last month.

“”
In the breeze, we trekked high along the cliff and inching to the edge of the stomach for a terrifying look down.

I also didn’t want to miss one of the island’s most scenic, secluded, and less populated areas. In planning our overseas trip after our first blockade, we looked for something far from the tourist path.

After a disastrous drive to Birdcliff in Ratrabjarg, northwest of the capital Reykjavik, we began hiking steep trails to the edge. Hundreds of seagulls, king eiders, and other birds nest on the shelves, crouching, and jumping into the water for food at the corner of the path where the sea-facing cliffs were first seen, but no puffins were found. It was. In the breeze, we trekked high along the cliff and inching to the edge of the stomach for a terrifying look down. Still, there are no puffins. Finally, after crossing the rugged terrain for about 30 minutes, we got a reward. Two puffins flocked to a 12-foot cliff-side perch in front of us. Click, click, click to go to our camera.

Iceland has been welcoming Americans for several months, so we chose Iceland for our trip, but we still faced some pandemic frustration. After landing in Reykjavik, exhausted by a night flight from New York, I had to line up for a free Covid swab test, despite being fully vaccinated. Then we had to wait 5 hours for the result in our hotel room before we were allowed to explore the city. (Since our trip in June, Iceland has eliminated the certificate of complete vaccination or the testing requirements for anyone showing a previous Covid-19 infection.)

For the first few days, explore Reykjavik, a compact city known for its towering expressionist Art Deco Hallgrimskirkja, and the modernist Harpa Concert Hall, whose crystal-shaped window walls reflect the sea and sky. did. ..

The Puff Daddy Puffin inhabits the Ratrabyarg Bird Cliff in the western fjords, the best bird-watching spot.

Photo:
Jim Zalori

Then, a 45-minute drive east of Reykjavik, took a so-called Golden Circle tour to visit the most popular attractions. However, at most spots I encountered only a few tourists and a handful of minibuses. The first stop was Thingvellir National Park, where the North American and Eurasian structural plates meet. We walked in the gap between them. Next, I explored the Haukadaruru hot spring area, which has a scent of sulfur. In this hot spring area, the Icelandic name of Geysir, one of the overheated spouts, has become an English geyser. The final destination was Gullfoss Falls, a roaring two-story gasher.

Just over half of the eight-day visit after leaving the hotel in Reykjavik and staying at a guesthouse in the Westfjords, another swab test required by the U.S. government to re-enter the United States had to be done ( Requirements are still standing). The test can be taken up to 3 days before the return flight, but cannot be done within 24 hours to ensure that the results do not come back in time. After finding an Icelandic government clinic (which is not an easy task except in Reykjavik), I paid $ 60 and took the test.

Still, the hassle was worth it. The landscape of the Westfjords is one of the most dramatic we have seen. Mixing the rugged Scottish Highlands with the snow-covered mountains of Alaska with the barren mesas of the western United States, and adding the winding Pacific Highway and the lush seascape of Cape Town, it’s an approximation of northwestern Iceland. It can be obtained.

Following the almost abandoned two-lane road in the Westfjords, blue water shone like an endless cove. A waterfall falls on the hillside, and its exposed sedimentary layer represents a volcanic eruption dating back thousands of years. A miniature Icelandic horse ran through the fields, and a newborn black and white lamb lay alongside the road with his mother.

In the highlands of the Westfjords Peninsula, the landscape is dry, dusty, and rock-studded, reminiscent of NASA’s Martian video, but not so red. Find out why the Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and other movie and TV show scenes were filmed in Iceland’s prehistoric terrain.

During the last two days of our trip, we traveled southwest of Reykjavik to another natural wonder. It is the Fagradalsfjall volcano, where lava oozes out and begins to spit out flames in March. After trekking with other travelers for about 20 minutes from the roadside, I came across something that looked like a party in the farthest part of the lava spread. A group of people stood around their grill and roasted sausages on a pile of lava, but still smoked bright red.

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Soaked in the popular Blue Lagoon Spa nearby. The bluish mineral water of the huge artificial pool comes deep underground. The promoter claims it is good for the skin. Water, a by-product of a nearby geothermal power plant, is as warm as a bath. The air in Iceland did not exceed 50 degrees most of the day, which is a pleasant surprise. Although a tourist, there was a calm of $ 57 per person. The pool has a resort-like atmosphere and is equipped with a swim-up bar. The spa’s elaborate gift shop offers $ 49 mud facial masks and lava body scrubs.

When it comes to costs, Iceland is not a bargain. Restaurant prices can make Manhattan look reasonable. Double that confusing roadside motel costs $ 100 a night in the United States.

But now is a good time to go. Tourists are sparse and summer sunlight is almost endless, more than 20 hours a day. In other words, you can access the site almost until midnight. I did it several times when I wanted to jam in another waterfall before going to bed.

Lowdown

Explore the different world landscape of Iceland

Stay there

Located in Reykjavik, the Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel is headquartered in a 102-year-old former shipping company and offers high-ceilinged rooms within walking distance of museums and the waterfront. (From about $ 190 per night radissonhotels.com).. Located in Drangsnes, Westfjords, Malarhorn Guesthouse offers simple rooms overlooking the fjords and the island. (From about $ 150 per night with private bus malarhorn.is)..

Eat there

Reykjavik’s fish market is a stylishly designed double-decker space serving Asian-influenced seafood. (12 Adalstraeti, fiskmarkadurinn.is).. Located in the small western fjord village of Patrex Fjordsur, the cozy Stukuhusid serves fish, lamb and other local dishes with views of fresh bread, killer desserts and fjords. (50 Adalstraeti, stukuhusid.is).. Located in the western fjords town of Isafjordsur, Tjöruhúsid offers daily fish caught on long wooden tables in a rustic harborside building. (Nedsti kaupstadur; facebook.com/Tjoruhusid)..

Correction and amplification
Harpa is the name of Reykjavik’s main concert hall. In previous versions of this article, the name of the concert hall was mistakenly stated as Harpan. (Corrected on July 17)

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Iceland is open to U.S. travelers and is not overcrowded

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