I finally made it to Iceland. It's a place I've been yearning to visit for many years now. I don't know what the exact lure of it has been. The beautiful photos I've seen. The music that has come out of it. The history and lore. All of it I guess. I had three Icelandic words tattooed on my arms for several years.
The opportunity presented itself. Iceland in winter. A vacation package and airfare for a very reasonable price. And it wasn't even hard to talk my boyfriend into it.
We flew out of Denver shortly after 4pm. Six hours later arriving at Keflavik airport around 7am. It was a bit exhausting. We'd rented a car to get from the airport to our hotel in Reykjavik. It was a pitch black drive and we had a hard time finding out hotel due to strange street names that change after only a few blocks. Getting around Reykjavik proved very difficult indeed. The myriad of one way streets only added to the problem. We finally found our hotel, only to learn that our room was still occupied. We opted for a different room. One the woman at the front desk said would be loud at night because it faced the street. The narrow one way street. We assured her we were used to noise and just needed sleep. It did turn out to be very loud though. Icelanders know how to party on the weekends. Anyhow, we got a couple hours rest that first morning then headed toward the nearest national park: Þingvellir.
|Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland, in Thingvellir.|
Our Northern Lights tour met at the Old Harbour. It was only a 10 minute walk from our hotel. On the way we stopped and bought some hot dogs from a stand that is the most popular restaurant in Iceland. The meal was quite good.
The tour was supposed to be a boat tour, taking us away from the city lights, but the wind was strong and they opted for buses instead so no one would get sick. It was pretty cloudy and the aurora forecast was low, but we did see some wavering strips of green for a few minutes. This night was when I learned that more layers were necessary. It wasn't particularly cold, but the wind was very strong from the ocean and it sliced through everything.
Sleeping as I said was actually a little difficult. I currently live on a very well-used two-lane one way street, but even on a Saturday evening it isn't so populated as the street in Reykjavik. Perhaps if I hadn't been so exhausted I'd have joined the rúntur. Then again, alcohol (and everything else) was far too expensive, so I guess it's good I didn't. We did finally sleep. In fact, we overslept. We'd planned to wake early and head to another national park about 3 hours drive away. Alas, the time change and general darkness confused us and we slept an extra 3 hours.
We headed north anyhow, knowing we wouldn't make it the whole way. We decided to go to Akranes, an hour or so up the coast from Reykjavik. It was a quaint little fishing town on a peninsula. The road getting there went through a tunnel underneath a fjord. The tunnel was several miles long. Akranes had a historic lighthouse and a very nice view of the sun coming up (or was it setting?) over some mountains and the sea.
|lighthouse at Akranes.|
We turned around and went south along the coast to Selfoss and up toward Thingvellir from the other direction.We know that 'foss' denoted a waterfall, and seemed to remember that Selfoss was some famous falls, but we couldn't seem to find a waterfall. Afterward, I learned that the waterfall Selfoss is in the north east of Iceland, rather than the south west like the town. So I guess we didn't miss much.
|Icelandic horses are short and fuzzy.|
We returned the rental car and got a ride back into the city. Here is where I shall describe the street lights. Like ours, they have three colors. Unlike ours, they turn yellow before going green as well as before red. It's a neat idea I think.
Dinner this day was rough. I decided I needed to try traditional Icelandic food. And I knew it was not so good. I had done some research. But I wasn't really ready for it. Everything is pickled or cured in lactic acid. It all has a very strong flavor that stays in ones mouth for far too long and turns the stomach.
The next morning we walked to the sea road to photograph Sólfar. It was a bit too early at the time so we ended up coming back later and I got this photo:
|The Sun Voyager|
The last day was our tour to the Blue Lagoon. It is not something that I'd pay for, but it was nice as an addition. The water is supposed to have some healing properties. It's milky-blue and smells of sulfur and sea water. The water is wonderfully warm, but the weather was nasty that day. Cold and rainy and of course windy. After our dip in the geothermal pool, it was back to the airport and back home.