There was one thing that really stood out as we ventured across Iceland’s East Coast.
The lack of tourists.
Given that many do one or two day trips from Reykjavik that tend to end at Diamond Beach, this shouldn’t really have been a surprise – but we took in the miles and miles of road with nobody else about with wide eyed glee.
Were we finally able to enjoy Iceland without the crowds of tourists and their tripods?
Or were we about to realise why so few travel up the East Coast, especially in winter?!
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An hour’s drive from Diamond Beach, we stayed in the fishing town of Höfn in a place called Apotek Guesthouse.
The great news is that whilst they’re pretty basic, they’re clean, comfy and have great amenities. For example, this place had its own private bathroom, great wifi, a communal kitchen for cooking in, a decent COFFEE MACHINE (praise the lord) and also came with continental breakfast.
That night, we had promised ourselves a pint out and about, and after several failed attempts, found the downstairs bar at Otto Matur & Drykkur open with pints costing £7.02.
We started the next day with a breakfast FEAST made up of items we’d bought on the first night and the basic items the guesthouse provided.
Then, we headed off and filled the car for the first time and I was horrified to see it total up to £59.61 total.
We were only got a third of the way around!
My initial budget of £50 each for the entire ring road was starting to look a little ropey…
Aside from stopping off on the side of the road to admire the scenery, our first proper stop of the day was the fishing town of Djúpivogur for a spot of lunch (pasta and soup prepared at the guesthouse).
We then walked down to Eggin í Gleðivík which is an artwork by Sigurður Guðmundsson of 34 huge, granite eggs, each representing a bird that nests in the area.
I enjoyed the walk down the the harbour whilst James remained fairly unimpressed 🤣
When we set out on our 6 nights for £600 trip around the ring road of Iceland, I didn’t expect that there would be one day where we’d only spend £3.54!
Who said Iceland had to be pricey, eh?
The great thing about Iceland is the fact that the nature is free.
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First things first, if you’re not sure what this challenge is all about, catch up on all the details and day one here, and days two and three here!
First of all, we visited the incredibly impressive Seljalandsfoss Waterfall where we tried our best to get a shot a little different to the queuing tourists.
Whilst you normally have to pay for parking (700 kroner – around £4.40), some kind soul passed us their ticket. Thanks pal. However, James obviously saw this as a free pass to get a coffee for £3.54.
DOES HE NOT KNOW WE’RE ON A BUDGET?!
On the way to our next stop, we passed the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, famous due to the ash cloud that halted flights all around the world back in 2010.
As we pulled into the car park at Skógafoss Waterfall, we enjoyed the cold pizza I’d cooked up that morning. Knowing that we wouldn’t have a freezer at our next accommodation, I refused to let any of our food shop go to waste – and who doesn’t like cold pizza, eh?!
With the weather being incredibly fickle, we decided to leave the 1 hour 15 minute trek each way – and boy were we glad when we saw the black clouds roll in twenty minutes later!
Instead, we carried on to Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach where we had a lot of fun watching tourists get engulfed by the waves. However, do be careful on this beach! There are deadly sneaker waves that have even been known to claim lives so be careful and stay away from the water.
More than any other place we stopped, this beach was a tourist haven. Whilst looking out to sea you may have a clear view, the sands were littered with people lining up to get a photo. It was one of those moments that made me feel a tad uncomfortable and question why we were all really there.
Was it all just for the gram?
But one photo I didn’t see many people getting was this gorgeous, Wes Anderson like church just minutes from the beach. I fell in love with it!
It was genuinely one of the most incredible scenes I’ve ever witnessed – and with temperatures dipping below zero and the light disappearing into the night, we shared the beach with only around 10 other people.
A definite stop you have to do!
So, at the end of the day, how was our budget looking?
Total daily spends = £3.54 each Money left over = £332.38 each
If you follow me over on YouTube, you may have noticed that I’ve been a little quiet on the whole vlogging front.
The truth is, life and work have just got in the way the past couple of months and since holidays aren’t my full time thing (I squeeze in all of this when I can!), I’m trying to accept that sometimes that’s just the way it is.
However, on the back of a mad work trip that saw me riding a roller coaster with a mic duct taped to my hand (see below), I decided to use my free half day in Helsinki to give you an update, and show you what there is to do if you’ve got a few hours spare in Finland’s capital.
Before we crack on with the beer chat, if cocktails are more your thing, scroll down to the bottom for my list of recommendations that come straight from the locals!
Thanks in large part to the city’s larger than life annual beer festival, Oktoberfest, Munich is the go to destination if you’re looking to sink a few pints.
Oktoberfest serves beer from six breweries, coined ‘the big six’ which each brag lively beerhalls, alive with cantankerous singing and the oom-pah-pah of their raucous bands. Each welcome in rafts of tourists hoping to nail the true Bavarian experience.
And whilst we definitely wanted to do this as well, we were also really keen to find out:
Who serves the cheapest pint in the city?
Are there any microbreweries in the city?
Where can you drink beer whilst also enjoying Munich’s trendy bar scene?
And what historic pub features a ploy to make newbies buy the whole bar a round after one simple mistake?! (Niche? Never!)
So here we have it then. Our alternative beer tour of Munich:
Keeping things traditional, we started at Augustiner-Keller which pours the city’s oldest pint (well, not literally). The brew dates back to 1328 when the Augustinian Monks decided to craft a bevvie that was safer to drink that the polluted water at the time. Nice one lads!
Cost = €7,80 for 1 litre
It was a really nice beer – super delicious – and I tell ya, 1 litre at the start sure goes straight to your head!
The crowd was a nice mix of tourists and German families and friends, enjoying lunchtime together. Out of all of the beerhalls, this is thought of as a more ‘local’ experience.
The food was also excellent – proper traditional German fare – and I may or may not have accidentally ordered six sausages… (Back on the quorn when I’m home – honest).
Whilst we visited in Winter, this is a great place to come when the sun is shining as their beer garden has 5,000 seats!
There used to be a load of standing bars across the city but this is the last remaining and it’s exactly what it sounds like. A bar. Where you stand.
This place doesn’t seem to have any place online but we simply searched this and headed to the place marked on Google Maps. Do not get it confused for one of the new standing bar additions, Giesinger Stehausschank.
Now there’s something VERY IMPORTANT you need to know about this particular bar and that’s on approaching the hatch where you order you beer, do NOT ring the bell next to it.
This is because whoever rings the bell is BOUND to buy every single person in the standing bar a beer. It’s written clearly to the side of the bell, but only in German, so I’d love to know the number of tourists who have got this wrong! Hahaha.
Fortunately, we were saved by a wonderful local who basically shouted ‘DO NOT TOUCH THE BELLLLLL’ as my hand wavered up towards it. What a hero.
They serve Giesinger beer which is NOT one of the big six – but we’ll explain a little more about them later.
Cost = €3,20 for 0.5 litres
We particularly liked this place because it was so tiny, you simply had to chat to the other people there! I’d found out about this place on a Time Out list yet one local said she was surprised to see us in there – so perhaps it’s not quite as popular as the other usual haunts?
Remember I mentioned that beer that wasn’t part of the big six? Well this is where it comes from!
Giesinger is a smaller, more modern, brewery which makes a whole host of craft beers. Whilst it may not be an official beverage for the yearly Oktoberfest, it’s a brilliant alternative if you’re hoping to sample the city’s wares.
Cost = €3,50 for 0.5 litres
Having read online that they sometimes turn tourists away over locals, I was a bit nervous on whether we’d get a spot (especially on a Saturday around 6pm) but we got lucky and got the last two seats at the bar. I think the fact that we wanted to eat too, definitely helped.
You can book ahead here, so I’d deffo recommend this as it’s not as central as the other spots (we uber-ed it there in 10 minutes for around 8 euros).
They’ve got a huge choice of craft beers – their own, and many more – so it’s definitely a great spot to check out.
Having necked around 5 pints already, James proclaimed that he was ‘full up’ of beer and so for our next spot, we wanted somewhere that not only served beer, but cocktails too.
Trisoux was recommended by a local via Instagram and it was a really cool bar that was filling up with friends meeting for an early evening beverage or twelve.
Cost = €4 for 0.5 litre
What was great was that the beer on tap was Löwenbräu which, you’ve guessed it, is another big six player so it was a great way to sample that without being squished into a beerhall. It felt quite sophisticated in fact!
James, instead, went for a sherry and soda.
And thus endeth our alternative beer tour!
Alternative local recommendations
Before you go!
As mentioned above, I did reach out to a few Munich based instagrammers to get their insider tips and the three who got back to me were so helpful.
In general, they all said they avoided the ‘beer’ drinking places but they gave me a raft of bars that they’d hang out in instead.
I’ve just realised I never posted the link to my latest video!
What started out as a work trip to Istanbul and LA (I make radio docs for those of you who don’t know!) turned into an amazing getaway to Napa and Yosemite in California.
Now, with work paying for my flights, that was all taken care of but as for the day to day… Jeez. What happened to the days when the US was a cheap destination? It was PRICEY! Yet, we still managed to find a way to do it for less…
This is the second time we’ve used Love Home Swap (remember that insane New York apartment with the Emmy Award? Yeah, that one was one of them too) so to say we’re impressed is a total understatement. I really love how not only the quality of homes on the site are proper BANGIN’, but also that there’s nice ‘community vibes’ – because no one’s there to make money out of you. Everyone’s just after the same thing – somewhere nice to stay.
In this video, I’ll break down how we found this particular apartment and how we used Love Home Swap’s clever ‘points swap’ feature to stay. We also go to our friends’ incredible Barcelona wedding, get a chronic hangover (standard) and properly explore the neighbourhood of Eixample.
Following a rather raucous night at the Park Hyatt Tokyo (you can can immerse yourself in our sozzled experience here), James and I hopped on the bullet train and travelled a casual 504km to Osaka – a city infamous for its food and drink scene.
Which we were finally able to endure after what I would call one of the ‘top 10 hangovers of my life’. Hurrah!
Expect castles, street food and helpful morsels of information including how the bloody hell do you use a Japanese laundry?