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27.07.2009 Recently‧Scandinavian Trip - Iceland

At the beginning I thought I could finish the plan within two weeks easily. However, once I started with it, my first destination, Iceland, I then realized how navie I was (ha ha ha). First, there is no trains at all in Iceland, so the only main transportation is buses and flights, and the latter won't be my option as I am so poor. So I started looking at the bus schedules, and then it turned out to be a mess - First, there is no central bus company and bus routes in different parts of Iceland are run by different companies, and there is no system at all to check out the timetable, and yes, you really need to LOOK AT the bus schedules and the maps, both the Iceland map and the bus route map, to figure out which bus you have to take. Second, although the buses are run by different companies, there is something looks like a central bus company, NSI, which kind of includes all the information of different buses. However, the information provided by the NSI website is not comprehensive and you can find the same bus route but named differently in different bus websites! (introducing confusion, is there something for diffusion, too? *Crytpo thingy*) Even just the Full circle bus pass, it was confusing - there is no valid period mentioned on the one of the website and I almost bought it! (Oh thanks god I didn't..), but very luckly at the last minute I found that on the Trex website there is a valid period for the Full circle pass, and so sent them an email about it to ask them if it is the case.. (Oh yes, it turned out to be the case so I had to change my plan... really annoying..) To sum up, it was so time-consuming, annoying and particularly irritating to check every single bus routes (and also the price as well - you see I have to watch the budget) when the information is not comprehensive, not to mention there is no English in some of the pdf... Third, to my very surprise, the bus is not frequent at all! Especially after 15th Sep - once a day in each direction! Even in July and August it is not much better, and some bus routes are simply closed after 31st Aug or 15th Sep, and so for some tours! I cannot drive. So I have to completely rely on the buses... And therefore, I gave up the plan to visit the West fjord...I really wanna go there but it is impossible for me as there is no buses running between the West and the West fjord after 31st Aug, and even during August, the bus is not running daily... I could go there first and then fly to the North of Iceland, but it is not really worth it - I wanna see more of the area and the flight cannot give me much view of the surroundings, I think. So I give up West fjord, I might go there in next summer if I have the money. (Well, we will see...) The bus system (or should I say the schedule?) and the insuffient of information on the web made the planning become a very difficult task, it was really a pain. I changed the plan four times - my first plan was to go South - East - North - West fjord - West, then I found that there is no daily bus connecting the North and the West fjord, so I was then planning to go back to Reykjavik from the North, then to the West and up to the West fjord. However, I then "noticed" that, it seems that there is no buses connecting the West and the West fjord after 31st August, and after sending several emails to both the tourist board and the bus company (it is all in Icelandic, can't really understand much, and there is not much information on that company's website anyway...alas...), I confirmed that there is indeed no buses connecting the West and the West fjord, so I then have to changed my plan again. I then decided to fly to Iceland eariler (my original plan was to fly to there at the beginning of September), as after 31st August most tours in the West fjord are not running, I then found that the earliest date I can fly to there was 25th August, otherwise the flights would just cost too much. After making such decision, I then re-planned the trip with heading towards the West and West fjord first, not even staying at Reykjavik at the beginning, but the plan still didn't work - I would need more than a week for the West and West fjord, and most of the tours stop after 20th August. So at last I gave up visiting the West fjord, and trying to join more tours around Myvatn (most of then closed after 31st August...oh dear..), and then I came up with the final plan - west - north - east - south - Reykjavik. Yes, I will visit the capital, Reykjavik at the end of the Iceland trip. It is very odd and not really my traveling style, but I have to comprised or I cannot join the waterfall tour in Akureyri... So my advice is, if you cannot drive, go in the summer even you have to pay more on the accommodation! In fact, you better get a driving lisence first before you go there or you will have to stop overnight at each village or small town which you are interested in! If you want to see the West fjord, or other fjords, go in the summer! Otherwise, you can hardly get any buses and ferries into the fjords or there is no tours can lead you there! And all these moaning is just for the transportation.. and now let me tell you about the accommodation... I bought a guide book for Iceland which turns out to be very useful, as it provides a lot of information for accommodation. Still, most of them do not have a website and some of then even don't have an email! Only telephone number! You can imagine for people like me, who cannot drive, have to stay at accommodation in/near the village/town, but not a few km from the bus stop. However, as most of them don't provide any, any information about their location, and I cannot find them on goole map (you can find nothing about Iceland on google map... except those few "big" cities... google you need you improve that...). What's more, they usually don't put the rates on the website, you really have to EMAIL them about it.. Even for some HI hostels, you cannot find their website nor their email... I can't believe that... so what happened was my sister and I had been sending loads of emails to different tourist information center and all the accommodation we are interested in about the location and the rates, it is so inconvinent! For a hostel in Stykkishmulor I even had to ring them because I could not book it via the HI system, nor its email address is working! (The staff is very nice, no offends to them at all) Some website only have Icelandic version and for some guesthouses I found in the guidebook or the tourist information website, I had to google it really hard to find their email or website, and quite often I cannot find anything. However, it doesn't mean that they don't have any information on the web, as it turns out that some of the guesthouse which I tired really hard on googling but got nothing out of it, the owner sent me in email his/her blog which contains the information of the guesthouse... I think somehow google doesn't work very well on Icelandic information... Last but not least, when we send out emails to them, it is very often you will not get the reply on the same day, you might get it one the next day or the day after, or a couple of days later... When all these add up, you can see how I spent almost two whole week for just planning the iceland trip.. Gosh!!!
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