Food – How do vegetarians survive?
We are strict vegetarians. Pushpa, my wife was on a month-long shraavan fast, when she has only one meal a day. Unsure of what we would get for lunch, it would be best to have a heavy breakfast before leaving the hotel. With enough cereal, bread, nuts and/or fruits for breakfast, even a sandwich is usually adequate for lunch. If breakfast and lunch are taken care of, dinner would depend on the vegetarian options we had on the given day.
As soon as we arrived at the airport, we picked up some snacks, bread and juice from a super market located right at the airport and went for replenishment wherever we got an opportunity. Considering vegetarians options would be few, this would be our emergency backup. Water was taken care of since Iceland has the purest possible tap water!
As it turned out on this trip, our attempts at restaurants were not encouraging since they carried a heavy non-vegetarian odour. We ended up back in the hotel’s restaurant or have the packed food we had with us – theplas, fruits, chutney, pickles and yoghurt. Nishi was happy as she would invariably get pasta and ketchup or sauce – very much to her taste. The last day was a feast because we got nice Italian pizza! In any case, it was understood amongst the three of us that the main focus of our trip was to enjoy Iceland. Quality of food was more or less irrelevant.
Cash or Card?
Visa and Master Credit cards were accepted everywhere in Iceland, even in the smallest of shops at the most isolated places. Though I carried some local currency, it was not really necessary
Shopping was in restricted range as everything in Iceland is very expensive. Practically everything is imported.
Iceland’s public transport system, especially the mountain buses, can get you to more or less all the places you would like to visit. But, I wanted to drive myself. Besides, self drive would surely be more convenient and save a lot of time. I hired a car right from Keflavik airport – a 4-wheel drive version of the Nissan CX5.
Iceland is shaped like a human heart! Ring route No.1, a highway, goes around the country’s circumference, along the coast. Most tourists with 8-10 days at hand, take this well-surfaced highway. But, Route 1 misses out on a lot of interesting, though difficult to reach sites located in the interiors.
In August, the day time lasts about 18 hours from 5 AM to 11PM. My average daily plan included a 3-4 hour drive and 5-6 hours of sight-seeing. The plan was to start after breakfast at 8-9 AM, finish by 4-6 PM and then relax the rest of the evening. We had enough cushion for any breakdowns or emergencies.
Since we had a child with us, we restricted the driving time to just 3-4 hours a day. That was a mistake. Nishi enjoyed every moment of the experience, be it food, drive or trek. The so-called child, Nishi, had more energy than both of us and she would be absolutely fresh for nana-masti or a pillow-fight at the end of the day. Had I properly assessed her level of energy earlier, I would have included a few more interesting places in my itinerary!
Written : Badri Baldawa
Edited : Meeta Kabra