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Trip report on Iceland, Aug 04

Howdy folks! Here's my trip report from 2 weeks in Iceland in August 2004. Our trip theme was WATERFALLS. First 3 days in Reykjavik, stayed at the City Hotel. Good location, not memorable otherwise. Sightseeing highlights include the big 3-D map of the country in City Hall next to the lake filled with Greylag geese, lotsa art museums and galleries, the BIG church and the view from the bell tower, a hot dog (pylser) with the works down by the harbor. Good lunches were at Sandholt Bakery, Café Paris, The Bagel Factory. Good dinners at Café Victor, Pasta Basta (yes, I had the lobster in cream sauce, mmmm), Perlan, which was spendy but fun, and Tveir Fiskar (also spendy). Our trip involved a lot of dipping in and out of the city and the other place we stayed there was Fosshotel Lind, which was a bit too far away from the action and also unmemorable. Alas, the Icelandic Phallological Museum has moved out to Reykjavik, I think it went to Akureyri.

We went horseback riding with Eldhester in the south and they seem to be a decent outfit. We took a very, very long ride into the mountains and stripped off our rain gear and got into bathing suits to splash in hot springs in the middle of nowhere. They have shorter rides that combine a trip to the Blue Lagoon that I would have preferred (especially after I fell off my horse and got whiplash and had to wear a neck brace and take Percodan for the rest of the trip). We stayed in their very nice hotel, they came and picked us up in Reykjavik.

The next part of our vacation involved driving down south. We did the Golden Circle thing and also the waterfalls (Seljalandfoss and Skogarfoss) on the ring road on the way to Vik. Only the ride up to Droholey was too rough a road for us -- many potholes -- and it was so windy on top, it was frightening. We stayed in Fosshotel Hlid, outside Hveragardi, which was also plain, but in a beautiful spot. It was our only room with a view and the people were very friendly. If I had to do it all over again (my husband booked this trip with a homegrown travel agency) I would look more closely into guest houses or farm stays. We usually stay in B&Bs when we travel and the hotels were a bit boring.

We went to the Blue Lagoon (of course) which we loved. I put the conditioner in my hair and had no bad hair days afterwards. We ate in the nice sit down restaurant, service was very slow but the food was good and of course very expensive. It was so nice to have a salad. I was really suffering from lack of fruits and veggies by the end of the trip. We ate at two great restaurants down south: Blue Sea (Hafid Blaa), on the beach near the causeway between Porlakshofn and Eyrarbakki, and the Red House (Rauda Husid) in Eyrarbakki, which was a really cute little town, until you stumble on the giant prison at the edge of it.

We then went up north and stayed at Fosshotel Bifrost, which I really didn't like. It was in a good location, but the rooms were miniscule dorm rooms, the place was a construction site with condos being built all over, and the place was crawling with little tiny kids; they were the children of the business school students who live there full time. One day we drove to the waterfalls Hraunfoss and Branfoss nearby and the other day we went to the Sneafellsness Peninsula to the little seaside town of Stykkisholmer. My guidebook said it was the cutest town there. We had a nice lunch on the deck of Finn Fiskar (Five Fishes). We took the tunnel on the way up north but drove around Hvalffjordur on the way back and it was gorgeous; mountains and plains and little red and white farms and sheep and no trees.

All in all the trip was a very good one. We were supposed to fly to The Westmann Islands for a day trip, but weather kept us on the ground. This is very common, so if you are intent on going there, ferry might be a better way. Instead we went on a whale watch and puffin tour out of Reykjavik. Later on I found a puffin-only tour that we would've taken instead had we known about it. The whole point of the Westmann Island daytrip was to see puffins. Food was good all over, but be aware that EVERYTHING costs twice what it does in the US; a beer is $10, salmon dinner is $30, lamb is $40. A tank of gas is $65. We also travel light and do laundry when we travel, but Iceland has no self service laundromats. We ended up having our laundry done for us for $60. These laundry places are not open on weekends.

Any questions? I will be happy to try and answer.

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