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Trip Report Trip Report - 10 "Western Icelanders" Discover Their Roots (Long)

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A group of 10 family members visited Iceland the first two weeks of June. My father's parents immigrated to Canada in the late 1800s, but he and his brother had never been to Iceland. Icelanders call us "Western Icelanders" or in Icelandic (spelled phonetically) "Vestern Eeslangdeurs".

The group consisted of the first generation born in Canada (my father and his brother - ages 91 and 86), my aunt (also 86) and 7 us cousins (45-58) i.e. the daughters of the first generation.

Following is our (long!) trip report. Note regarding prices - where I quote $ they are Canadian (currently 75 cents to the US $). For restaurant meals I'll usually quote lunch or dinner for one with a main course, glass of wine or beer and coffee.

Day 1: We converged on Keflavik Airport from 3 directions and met at 6:00am - our flights all landed within a few minutes of each other and we picked up 3 rental cars - brand new Skoda Octavia's. They were great cars with the most amazing amount of trunk space. The trunk easily took 4 passengers' luggage, plus backpacks, camera bags, lots of duty free liquor (!) and all the odds and sods we bought along the way. Drove from Keflavik to Hveragerdi where we stayed at the Hotel Ork.

Hotel Ork was very nice - spacious rooms and very helpful staff. Also the hotel has a very large hot pool, plus two smaller ones (at varying temperatures).

After our long flights (particularly the group from Vancouver) many went for a nap. I prefer to stay up after flying all night, so walked around the town. (Also, since my luggage was lost - I didn't have to worry about unpacking!).

Had read about a tourist stop called "Eden" - it's basically a garden nursery with some tourist merchandise and a cafeteria - apparently many bus tours stop there but I'm not sure it's worth it. Found a nice bakery and bought sandwiches and pastries for all and by the time I returned to the hotel, most were up and ready for a snack and a soak in the hot tub. The sky cleared and it was actually very warm and sunny. We sat around the pool for several hours - chatting and planning our next two weeks.

Eventually talk turned to dinner - we looked at the menu from the Hotel Ork dining room and had our first collective shock at Icelandic prices. I had done a ton of research before the trip and knew Iceland was expensive, but it was still a shock. $18 for a bowl of clear tomato soup. Gulp. $55 for an entrée. Yikes. You could almost hear everyone's brains trying to calculate how much more money they needed.

I had some restaurant suggestions in surrounding towns, so we set out in our convoy for Selfoss, about 12 km away. Restaurant Menam is a Thai restaurant (yes - it was funny eating at a Thai restaurant as our first meal!) however they have a full menu of other dishes - lamb, shrimp, hamburgers, etc. Dinner (lamb) was $40 - expensive, yes, but cheaper than that $18 bowl of soup.

Note regarding Icelandic prices - I'm going to stop commenting now about how expensive Iceland is. We all decided to just "get over it" otherwise it could become all-consuming. All our hotels included breakfast so even non breakfast eaters (like me) had breakfast, and we economized some days by buying meats/cheese/bread and making our own lunch along the way, and fortunately no one obsessed about it.

Back to the hotel for an early night.

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