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Volcanoes! Glaciers! Puffins!! - 15 days around the Ring Road of Iceland

Volcanoes! Glaciers! Puffins!! - 15 days around the Ring Road of Iceland

Old Aug 5th, 2015, 04:38 AM
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Volcanoes! Glaciers! Puffins!! - 15 days around the Ring Road of Iceland

The plan: 15 days around the Ring Road. My husband and I, in our mid-40s. Rent a 4X4 so we can go on the F-Roads. 2-3 nights in each area.

Flight: WOW Airlines from BWI to KEF, 7/17-8/2, $630.
Car: Carrenters.is, Toyota Land Cruiser 4X4, and then a Nissan Trail-X 4X4, $1500
Lodging:
The Capital-Inn, Reykjavik (3 nights, total $323)
Skogar Guesthouse, Skogar (2 nights, total $241)
Skyrhusid, Hali (2 nights, total $241)
Langavatn & Klambrasel Farm Stay (3 nights, total $276)
Steinhusid, Holmavik (3 nights, total $310)
Hlid Fisherman's Village, Alftanes (2 nights, total $252)

Daily log to follow. I blogged each night, which you can read (with pics) on www.greendragonartist.net. These are my phone photos only - the 'real' photos I have to go through and choose the good ones. I have 8,989 photos!
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 04:41 AM
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Whoops - already forgot the links for the lodging

The Capital-Inn, Reykjavik (3 nights, total $323)
http://www.capitalinn.is/

Skogar Guesthouse, Skogar (2 nights, total $241)
http://www.skogarguesthouse.is/

Skyrhusid, Hali (2 nights, total $241)
https://www.facebook.com/skyrhusid

Langavatn & Klambrasel Farm Stay (3 nights, total $276)
http://www.langavatn.com/

Steinhusid, Holmavik (3 nights, total $310)
http://www.steinhusid.is/

Hlid Fisherman's Village, Alftanes (2 nights, total $252)
http://fjorukrain.is/fjaran-valholl-vikingana/
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 04:41 AM
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July 17th, Friday:

I was able to get out of work a little earlier than I had planned on Friday, so I rushed home. And a good thing, too, as Jason hadn’t finished his packing. The only thing we ended up forgetting was a pullover jacket for Jason, but we were only a mile from home, so could head back and retrieve it.

The two hour drive to Baltimore was uneventful, not even heavy traffic. We found the long term parking and only had to wait five minutes for the bus to come around and pick us up. Of course, we were the first stop, so the bus went to every other stop in the large lots before taking us to the terminal. We were also the last stop in the terminal, but we had plenty of time. I like to overplan for disasters. Our flight was 7:30pm, we got into the terminal by 5pm.

Only five people at the check-in line for WOW Airlines. I had gotten great fares for the trip - $630 non-stop from Baltimore to Reykjavik in the middle of summer. I watched it go down about $20 more that day, but it’s been up ever since, so I knew I got a good deal. WOW is a low-cost airline, and just started to fly to the US in March, but we knew that going in and were prepared for the add-ons. A little extra for wider seats ($14 each), a little extra for heavier carryon baggage (11 pounds is free – 26 pounds is $28), and a charge for each piece of checked luggage. Food and drink was for purchase on the flight.

TSA only had seven people in line, the shortest I’ve ever seen, except at Gainesville airport. Of course, once we got through all the hurdles that might delay us, and we could relax and have something to eat, there was only one food option – and it was packed. I did stand in line to get some waters and Nutri-grain bars to stave off the hunger, as well as some honey-buns for Jason in case of sugar drops.

As the flight rose, and we ascended into the twilight, the clouds formed surreal shapes in the sunset. Dinner was pizza or roast beef sandwich, both of which were reasonably tasty. We both had plenty of leg room, even Jason (he’s 6’4”) with the bigger seats (we were in row 2). I tried to sleep, but the curtain ahead of us, where the bathroom and a mini-galley was, kept opening as people used the bathroom. They never remembered to close it, and the light shone through bright into my eyes. Jason took the window seat and used my jacket for a pillow.
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 04:44 AM
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Looking forward to this Christy. How was WOW airlines? I saw their BWI flights. I love the pictures so far.
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 05:30 AM
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Posting at same time. WOW does not sound that bad. I know someone sent me a link for 99.00 tickets to Dublin. They were sold out of those tickets fast.
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 05:36 AM
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WOW was fine. They have a sense of humor, clean, new planes, and a small cost for upgrading to larger seats. No business class or first class. My $630 tickets cost a total of $750 each with all the addons for larger seats, checked luggage, and higher weight on carry-on luggage. Still much cheaper than any other airline. I do my research every day for flight prices, so I can say that with confidence. I don't think Icelandair ever got below $950 for similar flights, and was usually around $1200 each.
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 05:38 AM
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Oh, and WOW dedicates each of their planes to a Norse God. Ours was Odinn. It said so right on the plane We were pleased. From what I've read, the dedication ceremony took place in Iceland, with a pagan priest and the president of Iceland!
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 06:04 AM
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July 18th, Saturday.

We emerged, bleary-eyed and excited. Luggage pickup was no hassle, though I lost Jason in the Duty Free shop for a while. He found his favorite whisky, Glenfarclas 105, for 1/3 of the price he pays in the states. He bought two bottles and a lot of Cadbury Dairy Milk (his other addiction).

We had rented our car, a Toyota Land Cruiser 4X4, through Carrenters.is. This is basically a brokerage service that connects renters with rentees, and I don’t know if I’ll use them again. They were much less expensive, and that was very nice as car rental is quite dear in Iceland. But if you have a problem, you are at the mercy of the person you are renting from, as we discovered later on.

The gentleman picking us up was the car’s owner, a very nice young economist named Halldor. He was waiting at arrivals with a sign with my name on it, though I had to squint to see the writing. We dropped him off at his house on the way into Reykjavik
We found our lodging for the night, The Capital-Inn, a hostel outside the city. It wasn’t ready yet for check-in – 2:30, the gruff man at the counter said. No worries, I figured as much. But we knew where it was, so we went into the city to explore for breakfast.

Not a lot is open at 7am on a Saturday morning in Reykjavik. However, I was pre-warned of this (thanks to www.iheartreykjavik.com!) so I didn’t get too frustrated. We did wander around a bit and came across a café that was open. Studio 29 offered us our first taste of Icelandic breakfast. Every breakfast we had was served buffet style. This one was the only that served any type of eggs but hard-boiled. There were three types of eggs, three types of sausage, bacon, potato-fish pancakes of some sort, several cheeses, deli meats, breads, jams, cereal, muffins, Skyr (yogurt) and of course coffee, tea, juice.
We drove along the waterfront to get a basic idea of the layout of the city. We tried to find a place to buy water and snacks, as nothing was yet open. We found a gas station (Olís) that was open. I tried one of the local energy drinks, as I knew I would be drooping. I don’t like energy drinks, as a rule – they taste disgusting to me. This one was no exception, but I drank half of it before giving up.

We drove to Hallgrimmskirkja, the central Lutheran Church in the city, and tried to find parking. That proved to be a bit of a chore. We found one spot, but couldn’t figure out the park-and-pay machine. We found another place, and the machine worked fine – perhaps the first one was malfunctioning? Anyhow, we walked up to the church, but it was too crowded for Jason’s taste. The church itself wasn’t open to visitors, as they were rehearsing for a concert that evening. But I was able to take the tiny elevator up to the top to take in the vista of the city below.

The view was amazing. Reykjavik doesn’t have a lot of tall buildings, so Hallgrimmskirkja showed me the whole tapestry of industry and houses below, all the way to the mountains surrounding the area. The sun was shining through the clouds and it was glorious!

On the way down the elevator, I noticed one of the other tourists had the same camera as me. We laughed, and then a third man lifted his camera – the same one! Small world. As we were exiting, the first tourist said to his friend, “Tall church – check!” I replied, “Look, kids! Big Ben! Parliament!” We all laughed.

Now we needed to get some cash, so we hunted for an ATM. ATMs are not on every corner like they are in the States, so we had to ask directions. We were sent to Café Paris, and got our money, bought an atlas at a gift shop, and walked down to where Harpa Concert Hall was on the wharf.

Let me take a wee minute to speak of the wind in Iceland. The wind can be VERY strong. Today (and for the next couple of days) it was about 15-20 miles an hour, without much relief. It could have been worse – it was at least partly sunny – but the wind did bite and gnaw.

We scuttled into Harpa for some warm coffee at the café. We ordered Macchiato, Swiss Mocha, and a cheese plate. There was a bleu cheese that was very strong, some milder yellow cheeses and some fruit bits and jams. It went together very well, and restored us for exploring the hall.

Harpa has amazing architecture, and the inner artist was busily snapping photographs at every angle and perspective. I had been skeptical at first – usually modern architecture doesn’t thrill me much. I prefer crumbling neo-gothic cathedrals, on the whole. But this was gorgeous, elegant, and offered much variety in design and pattern.

After we were ready to brave the wind again, we went in search of the Hop On, Hop Off bus, to get a good all-around tour of the city. Most of the ones I’ve been on in the past – London, Dublin, Edinburgh, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Belfast – have had live guides. I understand that, since this is not an English-speaking country, it is less practical. Still, I disliked the pre-recorded guides. It takes some of the human warmth from the experience.

After the overview, we took the bus back around to where our car was, and went in search of groceries for the trip. We had seen an area that had a Byko (Home Depot), a Bonus (grocery store) and a Netto (grocery store) in one small area. We headed to that. Found a small plastic cooler in Byko, but no ice or cold packs. Got plastic forks/knives/spoons, some meat slices, cheese, crackers, fig newtons, chips, plums, nectarines, water, and chocolate. Then it was finally time to check into Capital-Inn.

Our room was a decent size, with a television, desk, wardrobe, sink, and two single beds. The window was huge, and faced the highway. It had nice, thick blackout curtains, which made me very happy. We brought in our luggage, and rested for a bit before heading out once again into the fray. By this time it was about 4pm, and we were ready for some more substantial food than a cheese plate.

What do you do for your first dinner in a new country? Look for native cuisine, right? Not for us! We went to the Celtic Cross Pub for dinner. Slumming it Ireland style! I think it was because it was the first decent restaurant we saw after finding a parking place, but whatever the reason, we went in. I was pleased to discover they served cider (Sommersby) while Jason ordered a Guinness. I know, it feels wrong and surreal in Iceland. We ordered a parma-ham pizza – yes, we had an Italian artisan pizza in a Celtic pub in Reykjavik. We are world travelers! We listened to the odd-tempo Celtic music on the speaker. It might have been an Icelandic band covering Celtic songs – I recognized all the songs, but the pronunciation was strange.

We were already noticing some word commonality in street names. Later on, we found lots of them in the names of farms, sites, etc. I’ll list some of the ones we saw a lot here, such as:
• Baugur - ring
• Borgir - towns
• Brekka – escarpment
• Bryggja – pier
• Byggð – settlement
• Bær – farm
• Fell – mount
• Gata - gata
• Garður – garden
• Gerði – hedge
• Gja – canyon
• Heiði – heath
• Hlið – hillside
• Hraun – lava
• Hylur – pool
• Hver – hot spring
• Hús – house
• Skógar – woods
• Foss – waterfall
• Jökul – glacier
• Tunga – tongue of land
• Vík – bay
• Vellir – fields
• Vegur – way/road
• Vatn - water

It helped us coordinate the names of places with their nature.
The best take-away from the meal was talking to our server. He had great tattoos on his arm, and we asked him where he got his work done. He recommended Reykjavik Ink. Jason had been hoping to get his first tattoo while he was on vacation, so we filed the recommendation in the keeper file.

We wandered up and down the main shopping drag, Laugavatn, for a while. There were so many beautiful people in this city! Nordic faces with square jaws, high cheekbones and pale blond, straight hair abounded. Sure, there were tourists as well. We heard lots of languages as we passed through the crowds. American, French, German, Croation, Russian, Japanese – a true hodgepodge.

Only some of the stores were named in Icelandic. Most of them were in English, especially such odd offerings as the Chuck Norris Bar, Dillon’s Whisky Bar, or the Big Lebowski Bar. We saw several Italian restaurants, Chinese, Thai, French, and of course, Icelandic. Lots of very touristy gift stores, one with two giant troll statues outside, and one with stuffed polar bears. A giant puffin stared at me from one plate glass window. As in, a 5 foot tall plushie puffin. Nightmares could be made from this!

I wanted to get some photos of the sunship sculpture down by the water, so we braved the stronger winds and collected some. We tried to get to the Grotta lighthouse for photos as well. I’d heard about a hot pool there, and we saw some tourists at their car, evidently dressing after having been in the pool. They were about our age – and looked red from the hot water, yet freezing in the biting evening wind as they changed. We decided to pass on the experience.

The hotel bed may have been hard. I don’t remember. I do remember a deep, exhausted sleep took over me after our first exciting day in Iceland.
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 08:06 AM
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Oh, fun! I love your trip reports and am looking forward to this one.
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 09:24 AM
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*blush* Thank you, LCBoniti!
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 09:45 AM
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Thanks for the trip report. Iceland is unique and you have captured that.
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 09:57 AM
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July 19th, Sunday
Þingvellir National Park
Almannagja continental rift
Öxarárfoss
Peningagja Bruarfoss
Geysir
Gullfoss
Kerid Crater

A note on pronunciation: The Þ is a hard TH sound, the ð is a soft TH sound

I’m on vacation, right? So of course I get to sleep in. If I can. Which I can’t. Up at 5:45am.

Of course, one reason I woke up was that we had pushed the two single beds together to get one ‘king’ bed, and that meant the ‘inside’ person was trapped by the walls, so had to climb out over the ‘outside’ person. Which is exactly what I caught my husband doing. I looked up and he froze in the act of sneaking over me, one foot raised in a comic pose.

I tried to get back to sleep, but it wasn’t happening. We had gone to bed at 9pm, after all – I was well rested and ready to go. Breakfast didn’t start until 7am, but morning showers and other ablutions carried us through.

The breakfast room was downstairs, and had a decent selection. In addition to the ever-present staples of sliced deli meats, sliced cheeses, cereal, hard-boiled eggs, bread, jams, etc., there was also liver pate, pickled herring, fruit, and oatmeal. And of course, the typical coffee and juice. There was a rather watered down apple-ish juice that I couldn’t quite pin down. I didn’t care for it much. They offered Applesin which, despite it’s name, is a carbonated orange soda, less sweet than most American brands. I liked that better.

I don’t drink coffee at home. But Icelandic coffee is strong and tasty, so I got into the habit during this vacation. Just about any place you go, including tiny gas stations, have machines that you can get coffee, espresso, latte, Swiss mocha (half chocolate, half coffee). Swiss mocha was my favorite.

We tried to find a picnic basket of some sort at Byko, but with no luck – they weren’t open. We trolled about a bit and did find Reykjavik Ink, for later use. But today was the day of Þingvellir, Almannagja Canyon, Oxararfoss, Bruarfoss, Geysir and Gullfoss. Or so was the plan.

Þingvellir was easy to find, even without the GPS we brought. (We usually use our phones, but didn’t want to use up our limited international data allowance, so rented a GPS). It was signposted from Reykjavik, just follow the signs! Þingvellir is the site of the first (since ancient Greece) democratic assembly in Europe, from 930 AD. It, along with Almannagja Canyon net to it, is also the place where they filmed some scenes from Game of Thrones, including the entrance to the Eyrie and parts of the Hound and Arya’s journey, and Brienne’s battle with the Hound.

We wandered down the canyon first, enjoying the stark outlines of the rocks on either side, and started heading back up just as a bus disgorged its meal of tourists. We almost had to fight our way out at the top, as they insisted on milling about at the entrance. We were glad to have gotten out when we did. Oxararfoss is just down the road about a mile walking, but you can circle around to drive most of the way. We did the latter, and explored the waterfall. Again, the bus followed us, so we vacated. Onwards!

The next stop on my list was Peningagja, called the coin fissure. People threw coins in there for the old Gods, but I couldn’t find it either on GPS, the atlas, nor was it signposted. Or if it was, I missed it. The same held true for Bruarfoss, which is a shame – that is a major waterfall I would have loved to see. Next time!

The original Geysir, the one all geysers are named for, is no longer as active as it once was. However, it’s right next to Strokkur, a regular chap that spouts off about every 8 minutes, in a spectacular spout of hot, steaming water. Sometimes to the detriment of those standing too close in high winds. Sometimes hilariously so.

Today was indeed a day of high winds and high tourists. This was a major tourist spot. There was a huge gift shop, two cafés, and hundreds of visitors, even this early. We did get to see Strokkur explode several times and look at some of the other geysers, before we retreated from both the wind and the people. We considered sitting down for coffee, but the crowds had increased in just the 20 minutes we had been there. Time to get out now.

We did purchase some warmer wool hats and some gloves to help us battle the wind. They all got good use on our trip.

Gullfoss was another major stop, a double waterfall with several vantage points for viewing. Lots of people – Jason felt more comfortable staying in the car. I went up the high road first, looking down at the falls, and taking plenty of pictures. Then I took the low road. Just a note of caution – the high road is definitely the drier option! I had to keep wiping off my camera lens (yes, I always keep a UV filter over it for protection) from the mist and spray from the incredibly powerful falls. Dozens of people scampered among the rocks, and I explored a bit. The sun came out, and I hung about, hoping for a bit of rainbow, but was sadly disappointed in my goal.

Around Reykholt, we stopped and had a picnic lunch. We broke out the smoked lamb slices, some spiced cheeses, and the crusty baguettes and plums. It was delicious! The wind tried to hamper our progress, but we persevered and won out in the end.

The last stop for the day was Kerid Crater. This is a dormant volcano with a lake inside the crater that you can climb down to, or walk around the edge. We did both. Well, when I say we, I’m exaggerating. I have trouble sometimes going downhill, especially on loose scree, and that’s what this was. So, we both walked around the edge, but I only went part of the way into the volcano itself, resting on a promontory while Jason walked down to the water. It was a lovely, brilliant blue color, while the sides of the volcano was black/dark grey with tufts of greenery holding on for dear life.

We drove home through moonscape lava fields, and saw a mountain that we thought might have been used in Game of Thrones, which looks like Ben Bulben in Ireland. Of course, after that, I must have seen twenty mountains that looked similar. Jason witnessed some rocks falling down a slope at one point, but I was driving, so didn’t see them.

Once back at the hostel, we decided on dinner in Reykjavik. We went to the grocery store first, to laugh at some of the strange foods, a time-honored tradition on our journeys. We found green marshmallows covered in chocolate, with frogs on the package – frog poop! Yum!

Trir Frakkar (three coats) was the restaurant we chose for dinner. Jason and I had both seen recommendations for it, and we got in early, which was lucky as the place was booked later. I got to try my first puffin, and it was delicious. The puffin meat with sweet mustard appetizer was tasty - almost like beef, with a slight sweetness to the meat. For our meals, we had the seafood au gratin, well cooked and tasty, except for a bit of shrimp shell in Jason’s. They had no mead or cider, which, alas, I was to find in most places we ate, Celtic pubs notwithstanding.

We went back to the hostel, as we were a bit tired from today’s trekking into volcanoes and down waterfalls, so we watched some television. There weren’t many channels available, but BBC had Joanna Lumsley (from Absolutely Fabulous) doing a travel show in Siberia. That was a bit surreal. The other two channels were also British stations, subtitled in Icelandic.

When it was time to go to sleep, we shut the windows. That was the downside of this room – the windows shut made it hot, as there was no air circulation, but the noise from the traffic outside made it too loud to leave them open.
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 10:06 AM
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Gullfoss was the largest waterfall I'd ever seen. The sheer power of it was energizing and incredibly beautiful. There was so much to see - the splashing of tiny side-waterfalls, the rising mists, forming shapes in the air, the moss and fern-covered rocks around it. Amazing.
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 11:07 AM
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However, it’s right next to Strokkur, a regular chap that spouts off about every 8 minutes, in a spectacular spout of hot, steaming water. Sometimes to the detriment of those standing too close in high winds. Sometimes hilariously so.>>

our DS was one of the idiots getting soaked by Strokkur - at regular intervals during the rest of the day, someone would come up to us and ask if he was ok.

isn't Gulfoss wonderful? we loved all the waterfalls but especially that one.
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 11:20 AM
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You ate a puffin?????!!!!

I was hoping for some live ones, based on the title.

Just kidding (sort of).
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 11:39 AM
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I do see live ones, later on. I've seen them in Scotland and Ireland, too - but they are tasty!

annhig, I remember reading that in your report, I think We made sure to stay upwind! 20mph can move a lot of hot water spray.
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 01:04 PM
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we ate guillemot, but I'm not sure I could have brought myself to eat a puffin.

Stupid I know.
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 01:08 PM
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GreenDragon, I'm enjoying your report!

I was only In Reykjavik for 2 days but also loved Gullfoss!! Looking forward to the continuation of your report - maybe you went on the puffin tour?
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 01:26 PM
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I do go on a puffin tour later - stay tuned! Also, ate some guillemot. I didn't like it nearly as much as the puffin. Here's the next day's installment. More tomorrow!



July 20th, Monday

Fossatun waterfall
Deildartunguhver hot springs (most powerful in Europe)
Snorrastofa (Snorri Sturluson’s home)
Hraunfossar
Barnafoss
Glymur Waterall (tallest in Iceland)

I did a little better this morning than yesterday. Up at 6:45am. It’s already light out, so my body says, time to wake up, sleepy head!

We woke and had the same yummy breakfast. Today was Water Day. Other than one stop, every site we had on the list had waterfalls or hot springs.

The first stop was north to Fossatun. We wove between the stunning mountains north of Reykjavik, going in and out of inlets, looking at the side of the still volcanic-looking hills. Jason watched a rockslide along one as we drove by (not underneath, luckily!) and we went through a tunnel under the fjord.

Fossatun is a lovely stepped waterfall on a Troll Trail. Yes, you read that right. This area is evidently host to many stories about trolls, and there were signs posted on the trail that gave some of the details of these stories, as well as several large statues of trolls to help with the verisimilitude of the tales. I climbed up and got a breathtaking view of the area, and some nosy sheep. They were kind enough to pose for me a bit while I took pictures, but the winds kicked up again and I decided I didn’t wish to become the subject of the next troll tale by being blown off the mountain and into the waterfalls.

Deildartunguhver are the most powerful hot springs in Europe. The steam cloud from it was most impressive, but I expected the sulfur smell to be stronger or more disgusting. I discovered I rather liked the earthy sulfur odor from hot springs. Other people were not so inclined, from the comments. Once again, we arrived about 20 minutes before a small bus of tourists. The timing was doing well this day.

Snorri Sturluson was a saga writer in the 12th century, one of Iceland’s foremost historians, poets and politicians. He wrote the Prose Edda (which I’d heard of long before I looked into visiting Iceland, but I’m a history nerd). He lived in this area, which housed a hot spring he used, and a modern church, as well as information about his life and the farmstead. It was interesting, but the main information center was filled with a small tour bus’ worth of people, and dark and claustrophobic, so we passed. We did wander around the grounds and look at the church, which was quite pretty. Nothing on the scale of gothic cathedrals, of course, but simple and elegant. Lutheran churches don’t do gothic so much.

Across the country we went, east towards the interior of the island. We trucked along a mountain road, stopped for gas and Swiss mocha, ate some picnic lunch, and went towards the twin bastions of Hraunafossar and Barnafoss. Hraunafossar was beautiful. I know I keep using that word, and it runs out of meaning after a while, but truly, this is a special place, even in a land of waterfalls. The water fell in hundreds of mare-tail falls, stretched out across a long space, into aqua blue waters below. Simply magical.

Barnafoss, also called the Children’s Falls, was more like a powerful canyon falls, but had a tragic, poignant tale of two children who were supposed to stay home while the parents went to church for Christmas Mass. You can figure out what happened, of course. The children’s tracks disappeared at the natural stone bridge over the falls, and the mother, in her grief, destroyed the arch.

There were lots of places to walk and climb around both falls, for different perspectives. I kept climbing around Barnafoss, looking for a ‘payoff’ view of the falls, but I must not have climbed far enough. There were also lots of people taking advantage of the places, so we explored a bit and then went home.

We stopped for another snack, a meal of bread, cheese, smoked lamb, remoulade sauce (in a squeeze bottle!), and nectarines. The place we stopped was under a coastal mountain, and had a fantastic view.

Botnsvogur – we stopped before we got to Glymur at this place, and walked down the hill to the beach to do some beachcombing. We found lots of jellyfish, just sitting in the sun. Three sheep played hide and seek with us for a while, and when the sun came out, the whole place sparkled in low tide glitter. With reluctance, we climbed back up to our car.

And then there was Glymur. Glymur is the tallest waterfall in Iceland. I was determined to see it. Even when I looked at the sign, and it said the trip was 5.5 kilometers, round trip, I was determined. I took the cane, put on my boots, and went. Jason stayed in the car and rested.

There were a couple small streams, which I forded without issue. Sometimes the path was steep and rocky, other times smooth and flat. I saw many other people on path, many older than me. None were as fat as me, though. That gave me pause for thought, but determination was stronger than sense. My camera battery chose this time to die, and I almost turned back then, but I had my phone with me, and plenty of memory on that, so I continued.

The path led into a cave. Not just into a cave, but down steps in a dark cave. I could tell that the cave had a hole on the bottom, but it was very dark inside. I thought about turning back, but quelled my indecision and marshalled on. With the help of the cane, I got down the rocks in the cave.

Only to come across the river.

This wasn’t a stream. It was a river at least fifteen to twenty feet across, and swift. There were rocks to ford it about a third of the way across, and then a log. Yes, a log. Mind you, the log was bolted down to the rocks on either end, and there was a tight metal corded wire across, to help you keep balance. But I have to tell you, it took me a while to get up my courage to cross the bloody thing. Especially as the way the wire was placed, you have to sort of switch sides halfway through to hold on properly. But I did it!

Now, up to the trail. Which led up a mountain. I mean, right up the side of a flat canyon. There were steps for about half of it. No problem, I can do steps. Then… then came the evil part. The stone wasn’t cut into steps at this part. It was flat and diagonal. There was a rope, but it wasn’t very tight. I couldn’t rely on it to pull myself up if I slipped. And the rocks were wet from waterfall spray. I was close. I could hear the falls. I could see the spray over the upper edge above me. Teenagers were scampering (yes, scampering!) up the bloody thing. But, while I might be able to muscle myself up this thing, I was damned certain I would not be able to get myself down. I’ve become quite good at judging how I get back from something. And this was beyond my powers.

Failure. I got 9/10s of the way to the tallest waterfall in Iceland, and had to turn back. Back across the log I went, up through the cave, and back the 2 kilometers to the parking lot. Sigh. The whole adventure took about an hour and a half.

We stopped to explore another river bank before heading back to Reykjavik. There were Arctic Geese hanging about, and I tried to get some good shots of them.

A bit of a rest before we went into Reykjavik for dinner. We went to Reykjavik Ink to make reservations for Jason’s tattoo – they couldn’t get us in until we were back in town on 8/1, so we made that and wandered down Laugavegur. We looked for the English pub we had seen before, but couldn’t find it. We considered Indian food, but Jason’s stomach wasn’t feeling up for that. We considered Vietnamese, a place that served goose, a noodle shop, and a sushi place.

In the end, we ended up at what was simply called the Scandinavian Restaurant. It was crowded, but the staff were very friendly. I ordered a drink called the Midnight Sun with apple sec, vodka, apple schnapps and grenadine. Jason had a Lava beer, which was something like 9.8% alcohol, a smoked stout beer with (according to him) the taste of bitter hops, chocolate, iodine, earth, and Moxie.

I ordered the smoked salmon open sandwich, Jason the lamb dinner. We got reindeer pate for an appetizer, and it was delicious. Fatty, savory, and smoky. I wanted to save room for the Skyr bomb with blueberries for dessert, but I feared that would be in vain. When Jason’s food came out, the server apologized profusely – the salmon order hadn’t been entered. They offered me a second drink on the house. No problem, we were having fun people watching outside. ‘Try to guess the nationality’ was our favorite game in Reykjavik. A gentleman came in that looked like Alan Rickman and Dustin Hoffman had a love child. We dubbed him Rainman Snape. When the salmon did come, it was the baked salmon. I felt terrible telling them I had ordered the smoked salmon sandwich, but they were fine with it (or said so). I’m glad I did – it was delicious! Huge portion of salmon with dill and capers. The waitress was so friendly and sweet. It was a great experience despite the service snafu.

We went home and zonked out. It had been a very full day.
GreenDragon is offline  
Old Aug 5th, 2015, 05:45 PM
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@GreenDragon - Looks like we had similar trips! Great accounts. Isn't Iceland AMAZING!?!?!
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