Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Norway & Iceland

Norway and IcelandAll the way back in February after weeks of consideration we have booked ourselves a vacation to Norway and Iceland. What makes this one more special than usually is the fact that this is the first European vacation that our kids will come with us on. And it took me all these months to finally write some things down about it — the day before our actual departure.

It all started with us considering what we could do. We considered Moscow and Saint Petersburg. We considered Helsinki and Talin. We considered Poland. But in the end what pushed Oslo and Iceland ahead of the pack was the incredibly low price of the flight. And since at this point we are in four ticket buying business it is an important consideration.

We are flying1 from JFK to Oslo on July 13th. Then on July 20th we fly from Oslo to Reykjavik. And on July 24th we’re flying back home. All that for a price of $399 per person. One heck of a deal. The Iceland stopover is made possible by the fact that Iceland Air allows one to catch a connecting flight through Reykjavik with a layover of up to 7 days.

Also as far as Norway goes it really is just Oslo for us. Since this is the first trip of this kind that we are taking with kids we wanted to limit the number of cities to a minimum. So essentially we are going to have a lot of time to REALLY explore Oslo.

One little hick-up for us was the fact that Oslo doesn’t have any Hilton hotels. Because of that we have acquired Club Carlson golden status through a credit card and booked our stay at Radisson Blu Scandinavia2 hotel in the center of Oslo. We’ll see how it goes. Either way we have a nice king size bed room booked with a fold-out sofa. We do arrive at around 7am and really hope that they will be generous with us and will not make us wait for our room for too long.

In Iceland we went through a special process. We started out with booking a stay at Radisson as well, since Hilton hotels were incredibly expensive. And only a week ago we realized that a room that we booked will actually not fit us all. I mistakenly thought that a twin bed is actually a smaller version of a queen bed, not a single person type of bed.

I realized that only because I decided to move our last night stay from Reykjavik to Keflavik — the place where the actual airport is at in order to not to stress out over a one hour drive before an early flight back home. Finding a hotel in Keflavik3 on such a short notice was also not easy, but we did find a place where we can spend a night.

Reykjavik itself though we have rebooked to Hilton for our 3 night stay4. By now we had enough points to cover a queen size bed room. I also called and confirmed with the hotel that they have no problem with putting a rollaway bed and a crib into our room because of our Diamond VIP status. Phew. Thank god for Hilton.

Now onto the actual plan of our visit. In Oslo we have jotted down the following places to check-out and we’ll expand on this as the times go on when we are actually there — catch a ferry to Bygdøy to visit polar exploration ship Fram, the world-famous balsa log raft Kon-Tiki, the Norwegian Maritime Museum, the Norwegian Folk Museum, and the Viking Ship Museum.

In a close proximity to that there is a Rådhus (town hall) and Aker Brygge — a place to get some dinner. Then there is Akershus Castle & Fortress. Our hotel is also located right next to Slottsparken — a big park surrounding Norway’s royal palace with trees, ponds & statues. And maybe we’ll be able to take some cruise and a side-trip to some nearby cities.

In Iceland we have rented a car5 and plan to do a little bit of exploring. We are going to try to visit world’s oldest continuous serving parliament, founded in 930. See the earth’s mid-Atlantic ridge at Þingvellir National Park, which is splitting apart a few inches a year. Visit waterfall Gulfoss and Haukadalur’s geysers and the city of Geysir itself. We have also booked a visit to Blue Lagoon.

All in all we have a lot of things to do. The research into all is going to be ongoing throughout the trip. We are hoping for another great vacation.

  1. Icelandair from and to JFK through Reykjavík — $399 x 4. []
  2. Radisson Blu Scandinavia — 10,174 NOK for 6 nights or approximately $1,229. []
  3. Start Keflavík Airport — €280 for a family room with private bathroom. []
  4. Hilton Reykjavik Nordica — 60,000 points per night. []
  5. Volkswagen Golf from Holiday Autos for $295. []
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