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Trip Report Iceland, August 2009

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My recent trip to Iceland was a great experience. It is an interesting country, not only for the landscape but the history of its people who are descendents of the original Vikings.

My flight was on Icelandair out of JFK. This is the only airline that flies from the US to Iceland. I had upgraded from Economy Class to Comfort Economy and it was a terrible service, the food was inedible and the seats varied according to how many people were in First Class.

The entire week I stayed at the Hilton Reykjavik Nordica, which was about a 30 minute walk from the Old Town. One reason I picked it was because it was a stop on the Hop-on Hop-off Bus line. I would definitely recommend this hotel. The staff was outstanding; I had a beautiful view and the buffet breakfast quite bountiful.

In Reykjavik, among other things, I strolled around the Old Town, saw the Pearl (a large space with restaurants and deck on top of 5 water tanks) and visited two museums. The National Museum which is filled with archaeological finds from all over the country. It condenses Iceland’s history in a manageable way and with high-tech exhibits.
The Settlement Exhibition in the 871+or-2 Settlement Museum was excellent. In 2001 workers excavating for an underground parking garage stumbled upon the remains of a Viking Longhouse. The ruin was kept in place and excavated for exhibition. Around it are high-tech displays which give a lot of information about the Vikings and the Long House. It is the oldest known evidence of human habitation in Reykjavik.

Many tour companies offer day trips. I chose to go on the ever popular Golden Circle Tour with Horizon which visits the spectacular site at Thingvellir where the Iceland National Parliament began in 930 and the North American Tectonic plate is drifting away from the Eurasian Plate, Gullfoss ( a massive waterfall) and Haukadalur which is a geothermally active area and has a geyser,Strokkur, which conveniently erupts every 5 minutes or so.

I took two tours with Reykjavik Excursions. The one to the South Shore was through the spectacular southern plain along side green-covered volcanic mountains. We stopped at two waterfalls. Skogarfoss which is large and misty and then Seljalandfoss. At Seljalandfoss I walked behind it for a very unique experience. The Skogar Folk Museum had an interesting collection and old buildings. The weather was quite rainy and windy so our stop in Vik, the most southern town in Iceland, and a walk on the beautiful black beach of Reynisfjar was restricted.

The third day trip I went on was to the Snaefellsnes Pennisula. Again we saw spectacular scenery. We circled the peninsula through crater filled plains, small fishing villages, along dramatic cliffs, past escarpments of hexagonal basalt columns, and through lava covered with moss. Again the weather prevented some of the activites, but we were able to stroll Djupalonssandur, a beach with black sand, black pebbles and eroded clumps of lava. The famous icecap on Snefellsjokull which dominates the countryside was covered with clouds the entire time.

This is short version of my experience, so please ask questions if interested in more info.

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