What We Did For 5 Days in Icelandic Quarantine

When we booked our trip to Iceland in November 2019, we had no idea what the world would look like now. We thought it would be a normal getaway, how wrong we were!

5 days in isolation can see a little daunting in a new country so I thought I would share my experience with it, to help you decide if it is worth it.

Quarantine walking in the Reykjavik Suburbs

How Did We Get Here?

We originally had 2 weeks booked for our trip to Iceland. Spanning the end of September and the beginning of October, we were confident that we had it sorted to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, as well as the best of Iceland’s offerings. Then Covid hit and we were unsure if we were even going to go!

Iceland then started letting tourists in from 15th June and our hope increased. However, we had some holiday cancellations between which made everything feel a little less stable. When they changed the rules again on 19th August to require a minimum of 5 days quarantine, we almost cancelled our holiday.

My partner and I decided to look at our options and discuss together. We were looking at if there were any exceptions, where we would quarantine or if 7 days was enough to do what we needed to do. But also, if we could change to go somewhere like Italy or Greece, who had no quarantine requirements at that time. While researching, I found a place that looked nice on the outskirts of Reykjavik with plenty of table space and it occurred to me that we are currently working remotely in London, why not in Iceland during the quarantine? We wouldn’t be allowed to explore the country anyway so why not? We discussed the idea and it seemed like something that was possible. We contacted our bosses to float the idea and got the green light!

So we extended our trip by 1 week, keeping all our previous reservations the same. Because of the flexibility of airline travel right now, Icelandair moved our flight free of charge so the only additional cost was the 6 extra days for quarantine accommodation.

Day 1 – Arrival and Shopping

We touched down in Iceland at 2:45pm, a little nervous about this new experience. We had not been able to find any information other than the official advice from the government. I’m normally one to research every little piece of information and find first hand experiences of this process but I was unable to!

Here is a post I wrote on the full process.

Once we’d been through the testing rigmarole and claimed our baggage, we jumped in a taxi from the airport and headed to our home for the next 5 days.

We’d arranged for the some shopping to be delivered through the service aha.is but that wasn’t until 8pm – we had no idea how long the testing would take! So we settled in and unpacked. We read the information given to us by the host and checked out the tea supply!

Coffee with a view – Reykjavik

After a bit of rest and relaxation, we unpacked our cold weather gear and decided to head outside for a bit of exploration of our area. We hadn’t had our test results back yet so we masked up and just wandered into the back garden/wild land behind the AirBnB. We were overlooking the western coast with the most amazing views of the surrounding hills and mountains! After a bit of an awestruck stare across the bay and a lot of pictures, we headed back inside to wait for our shopping. Once the shopping had come, we had some dinner and settled in for the night.

I have been obsessed with seeing the Northern Lights for a while now and this was a reason to come to Iceland at this time of year. So I spent the evening peeking out to see if we could see them. It was still pretty early and Reykjavik hadn’t had any since the Winter before. I was using an app called Aurora, which tells you what the chance of seeing them is in your area. We were on a cool 19% when I looked outside and saw a moving green light in the sky! We suited and booted and rushed out to the rugged landscape outside and they got brighter and brighter. It was absolutely spectacular and I can’t believe how lucky we were to experience this on the first night!

Picture of Northern Lights taken on an iPhone

Once we had frozen our butts off enough, we rushed back inside and climbed into bed for the night.

Day 2 – Results and Work

First day of work today so we were up at 7am to start work at 8am. The UK is an hour ahead of Iceland and we were keeping to our normal work schedules to make it as smooth as possible for our work colleagues.

We booted the laptops, grabbed a coffee and started working. The internet speed in Reykjavik is actually incredibly good. For a lot of the day we were getting over 170Mbps – which for those not in the know, is pretty quick! We both had no issues with our working environment.

View from my work location

To be totally honest, it felt like a normal day of work, but with the mountains and outdoors feeling like a distraction every so often. When I was taking my short breaks, I was heading outside and sitting on a rock overlooking the sea. It was pretty nice!

Halfway through the day, we received our confirmation that we were covid-free, and a date and time for our second appointment. I must say, waiting for this test result was more stressful than we realised. We were both a little on edge most of the day! Once this came in we were much more relaxed!

After work, it was only 5pm in Icelandic time but to keep to our work schedule, we’re having lunch at UK time so we had an early dinner! Once we’d had dinner, we went out for a longer walk with our camera and drone. While you’re in quarantine, you’re not allowed to drive anywhere, visit any tourist attractions or come within 2 metres of any other person so we picked a good place to be able to explore the area without breaching these rules.

Quarantine walks were beautiful

We came back just after the sun set and spent the evening talking and pressing our face to the window for some Northern Light activity – not that we saw any!

Day 3 – Rainbows and Running

We started the day off pretty much the same as yesterday. I get the feeling a few days are going to seem the same but with this backdrop, who cares! Just before lunch, it started raining a little but not too much, we happened to look out of the window and see a rainbow. So we went out to take a picture and to my surprise, it was an entire rainbow where I could see both ends! I literally RAN up the hill to take a picture of it (picture below!)

Rainbow hunting!

After I finished work, I decided to go for a run instead of a walk today. I put on my UK winter running gear and ended up running out of Reykjavik and out to Mosfellsbaer – the next district over. I didn’t see a single person! After a 3.1 mile run (5KM) I got back in and waited for a second grocery delivery to arrive then settled in for the night.

Day 4 – Rest and Relaxation

Wednesday started off as most days have, with work, coffee and breakfast. We worked through with rain and wind beating against the windows today. We watched as the mountains got absorbed by clouds. Today we decided after work, we would go for a short walk in the rain. Because why not, we’re only here for a few more days, might as well explore the area, rain or shine!

The previous days run

We were planning on a walk after dinner on this day but I was so tired I decided to stay in while my partner went out in the rain. Considering we’re about to spend 11 days in a camper van travelling the ring road, staying in one night is ok :p

After a fairly uneventful evening in, we went to bed ready for our final full day in quarantine!

Day 5 – Taxis and Takeaways

Breakfast was an adventurous vegan sausage sandwich this morning with ketchup. As we started working, we realised our second test was in the morning and we needed to book a taxi to take us to the appointment. We didn’t book one back as we didn’t know how long it will take!

We had our lunch and worked as normal throughout the day. We also spent some time looking at pictures we’ve already taken and marvelled at how nice the weather has been and how many rainbows we have seen! they seem to be everywhere with the weather changing every 5 minutes!

After work, I connected into a zoom call for the beaver colony (Scouts) I run for Bermondsey scouts. Once that was done, I wanted to go for a run so I headed out but I really wasn’t feeling it so came back in after a mile.

Local area for walks

We were feeling like getting a takeaway tonight so we found that Dominos in Iceland has a vegan option! So obvously we had to try that (it was really good)!

We spent the evening watching Netflix and getting our stuff together for the second test tomorrow!

Day 6 – Final Test

Today was testing day. We woke and started working as normal,when our taxi arrived, we headed out to the testing centre. More info about this is in my other blog post.

When we returned from the second test, we cracked on with work and waited for the test results to come in. The negative results came in by 4pm which signalled the end of our quarantine. To celebrate, we went for a walk to the local shop and grabbed ourselves some snacks for the start of our road trip the next day!

Quarantine is over!

I was a little concerned that 5 days quarantine would be boring but we actually enjoyed our time and working really distracted us from what could have been a few boring days away from civilisation.

Let me know in the comments what you would do with your quarantine!

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