A Travellerspoint blog

Day 3 - Travel through West Iceland

overcast 4 °C

Today was a day of travel through West Iceland. I was picked up promptly at 9:30 am. Already in the van was one couple who was on the Golden Circle tour with me yesterday. We picked up another couple and then a single woman. For a total of 6 people in the group.

Our first stop was in Borgarnes at the Settlement Center. Here we took two historic tours guided with headsets. The first told of the settlement of Iceland while the second told the story of Egill Skallagrimsson, a farmer, poet and feisty Viking. The second tour was pretty macabre.

After lunch, we traveled to Deildartunguhver which was a quick stop to see Europe's largest hot springs. From here we headed to Reykholt to see two waterfalls, Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. They were quite spectacular! Hraunfossar reminded me a little of Victoria Falls.

After we left the waterfalls, we had a very long drive to get where we were staying. Along the way, our driver was kind enough to make an extra stop at Eldborg Crater. We were able to walk up and around the crater. It was a beautiful site! There were smaller craters around it (similar to the crater in Sicily). And the view of the country side was spectacular! We then continued our drive.

After a long while we stopped at a gas station and took a break. They had every type of candy you could imagine at the gas station and all sorts of licorice. We then headed off again. At one point we ended up driving on a dirt road over the mountain. A shortcut over the mountain to make up time from the stop at the crater.

Eventually we made it to our hotel, Heydalur Guesthouse. It was after 7 pm when we arrived so it was dark. We were taken to our rooms before dinner. My room was very large! I think the bathroom is bigger than my whole room at the last place. Shortly after I got to the room they came by to say dinner was served. The starter was a dried lamb and blueberries, yum! The main course was fresh trout prepared 3 ways, salt & pepper, blue cheese, mango chutney. They were all very tasty. Next was dessert, I had rhubarb, crumble with ice cream. As expected it was also very good.

The group stayed and talked awhile then headed to see the pool and hot tub. Then we all headed back to our respective rooms. They were saying the northern lights might be out tomorrow night. Let's hope so!

Posted by dtbradley 02:58 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

Day 2 - The Golden Circle

rain 7 °C

Today's adventures took me to The Golden Circle.

First stop was at pingvellir National Park which is the site of Iceland's first parliament established in 930. It is also the site of a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid Atlantic Ridge and is the east side of the North American plate. The west side is the San Andreas fault in California. We also saw the Oxarafoss waterfall.

Next stop was to see Geysir which is of course a geyser, however, Geysir no longer erupts, its nearby cousin, Strokkur, spouted every few minutes and if you were standing on the wrong side of the geyser you would get wet. I knew that because as we drove up, Stokkur erupted and we saw a whole bunch of people running away.

From here we went to Gullfoss which is a two-tiered waterfall. It was magnificent! The tour guide warned us that the rocks close up to the falls were slippery and we may not want to walk up there. However when I got to the falls and saw all the people I had to get a closer look. I am so glad I did, it was spectacular that close up. Away from the falls you could see some mountains and a glacier in the distance. On the way out we even got to see a rainbow.

On the way back to the city, we drove through Hveragerdi which Icelanders call Capital of Hot Springs. There are many greenhouses here which are heated by the geothermal area. They can grow anything here including bananas. We also stopped at another waterfall, but I don't know the name of it.

Once back in town the sun started to come out so I headed up to the top of Hallgrimskirkja church to take in the view of the city. From there I stopped in some shops (didn't buy anything) and then down to the harbor. I then walked through the Harpa Concert Hall. I am so glad I did this with the sun out. The reflection on the glass was amazing! Next I walked to see Solfario - The Sun Voyager which is a statue along the seaside of Reykjavik. The statue was unveiled to mark the 200th birthday of Reykjavik and was to give the city something that inspired dreams and imagination and symbolizes light and hope

Posted by dtbradley 14:06 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

Day 1 - Reykjavik

rain 8 °C

I made it! Slept about 2 1/2 hours on the plane (less than 5 hours in the air). Had no issues getting my bag or finding the driver. The airport is very easy to get around. It was rainy, windy and in the mid 40's when I got in.

Decided to rest a bit before going out on the town. Once I went out, the first thing I did was head across the street to a church called Hallgrimdkirkja. It is a huge church. After the church, decided to walk around awhile, before my walking tour. It took me almost the whole time to figure out where I needed to be for the walking tour so glad I headed out early. Overall the tour was good. Our guide joked around a lot, but we weren't a very lively group. Some interesting info. There are 340,000 people in Iceland and this year they are targeting 1.8 million visitors. Walking around town you could definitely see a lot of tourists. Iceland was formed in 930. They became part of Denmark for a time, the parliament building was built in 1881. They gained there independence in 1944. Iceland suffered in the 2098 economic crisis as their 3 major banks went under. Thirty bankers ended up being jailed. They have 650 police officers in total and 5 jails. At the end of the tour, we stopped at City Hall which was more like an art museum. After the walking tour, I went to a place called The Settlement which is an excavation of the oldest relics of human habitation in Reykjavik. A wall fragment from around 871 and a hall from the tenth century. They also have historical texts referencing the first farmstead in Reykjavik.

Posted by dtbradley 12:38 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

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