Can't Wait to Start Our Vacation in Iceland!
Day 1 of our journey really started a day before. We left home around 5am heading to the Tampa airport. We spent that day visiting family in Boston. They took us to lunch and to the aquarium. It was sunny and 50 - a great winter day for any New Englander, but pretty cold for me. I wore Al's jacket, because he wasn't and I was freezing!
We were all supposed to lean forward for this picture, but only Abby and I got the memo:)
We had a terrific time and then they returned us to the airport for our red-eye to Iceland. See you in the summer Boston Fam! - when we won't need our jackets!
Our plane was pretty big. I don't think we've been on an airplane this large since we traveled to China. Since we booked late, they assigned us 3 in the middle. Oh Joy! No sleeping on this flight - coming from someone who can literally fall asleep anywhere, including on my inversion table last week!
HERE WE GO!
This flight already feels like a long one and we're not even half way.
Still tracking. These tiny seats are so uncomfortable and I definitely don't like not having a window!
Tried to take a nap, but somehow I didn't feel tired. How strange. Watched some tv and finally we are here!
And it's COLD! We left Tampa at 80 degrees to tour Boston by foot at 50 degrees and now 30! Need to layer-up!
After an uneventful long flight from Boston, we arrived into KEF at 5:40am. Yes, that's right. We flew overnight and got almost NO sleep. It's going to be a long day! Abby and I watched The Art of Racing in the Rain. What a tear-jerker for dog lovers and especially Golden Retriever lovers. It really makes you think about how your pup really feels.
We miss you already!
Let's Do This!
Better get some spendin' cash.
The airport was larger than we thought and nicer. All of our bags made it and we eventually found our car rental guy....Northern Lights although he could not find our reservation even though we pre-paid and had a confirmation number. He assured us that we would be upgraded to the best car on the lot at no additional charge. Great! The lot wasn't too big and we could see all of it from the window. We spied out what looked like the 'best' car on the lot and it was a large black SUV - maybe a Yukon. That looked good.
We waited for over an hour and missed a beautiful sunrise at the cliffs. We paid for a manual 4 speed (most common in Iceland), 4 wheel drive SUV listed for 5 passengers and 4 large bags. After the upgrade, we got a KIA Sportage (small SUV) automatic, All-wheel drive - not sure we got an upgrade. It's very tight and we barely have room to move around with our winter gear on.
Our home for the next 10 days! I could never do tiny living! Just sayin'.
Licenses plates only have 5 digits. With a population of just about 320,000 people, 5 gets the job done. Iceland (103,000 sq km) is about the size of Ohio (my home state) (106,000 sq km), which has a population of 11.7 million. That's almost 11.5 million more people living in the state of Ohio than in the country of Iceland.
Compared to Florida (my current state) (130,000 sq km) and a population over 21.6 million people, the state of Florida has 21.3 million more people than the country of Iceland.
Let that sink in.
We headed to Reykjanesta first to see the lighthouse, cliffs, big crashing waves, birds, and geothermal area with hotpots. The cliffs were quite scenic and impressive and the waves were huge when we first arrived (about 8 to 10 feet) or bigger. Since we were still wearing our flying clothes, we needed to layer up which meant rummaging through all the bags to gather everything, which we did in the parking lot, cliffside. Luckily, no one was around to whisper 'rednecks' under their breath. We did write a detailed inventory of each bag as we packed them, so that helped. But by the time we had our layers on and the cameras set up, the waves had decreased tremendously.
Al did manage to capture one of the medium sized waves and even a couple of birds.
We each had on....waterproof boots, wool socks, leggings, snow pants, long sleeve shirt, sweatshirt, lined jacket, fleece-lined hat, thick gloves, and we were still cold, not just cold, freezing.
The view was worth it.....I guess......
It was freezing! And windy too! We shot for about 15 minutes and then had to get back in the car to warm up - mostly our hands. Abby took a nap while we shot some more.
LOVE this one.
Telephoto from Al. That's a lot of water.
And he really captured the force of the water crashing into the rocks in this image.
The lighthouse sat high up on a hill and overlooked the steep cliffs. We did not climb up to the lighthouse or down to the water..
The geothermal area was pretty cool and very cold. We got hit with the spray/mist from at least 100 yards away. Our cameras were very speckled. The walk up actually started to get warmer but once we reached the boardwalk, freezing again. After just a few shots, we scurried back to our awesome KIA.
On the way out, we stopped by and got a few shots of the transfer pipes too. The sun was hitting them just right.
On our way to the Blue Lagoon, we stopped by a roadside cemetery. It had a cool stone fence surrounding and sat right next to the ocean. Nice place for your final rest.
The Blue Lagoon is very nice. We only walked the property today and shot a few pics. We have a dip scheduled for later in our trip. I hope the water is warm!
Water.....what am I saying? I hope the air is warm. 30 degrees is a little chilly for a swim suit!
We warmed up for a few minutes inside.
Looking outside at the geothermal pool from inside, where we were warm. That's a lot of W's.
On to Reykjavik, Iceland's capital.
We searched and searched for lunch but had trouble identifying words/names and then all of a sudden it was 2:00 so we settled on SubWay - taste just like home. We always strive to try new foods and not to eat at chains, but we were desperate. Our last meal was oysters and clam chowdah in Boston around 5pm yesterday, so we were running on empty.
We went in search of some groceries and what we found was.....well, let's just say interesting.....very iteresting.
We think the middle package is cow tongue.
This really shocked me....a little lamb head right in the frozen food section!
In 2 languages.
Just thought that one was cute.
We didn't know it at the time, but we would eat a homemade version of this for dinner. It was interesting.
They had lots of varieties of this, all with unpronounceable names, except Cindy.
After lunch, we headed east in search of Thingvellir National Park. After driving east for about 45 minutes, we noticed a very strange and eerie kind of sky off to the north.
Found the park. The restrooms are interesting.....wide open and with a wall of windows behind the sinks.
We viewed a couple of lookout spots and then it started to snow. It was light at first but definitely got heavier as we hiked back. Thingvellir is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland
Way off in the distance.
In all that massive expansiveness of nothing, I spied out a little town or maybe what was once a little village. Hopefully my photographer with the zoom lens has a close up.
And he does....sort of.
Down the trail we go.....to where, we don't know. The park sits on 2 tectonic plates, North American and Eurasian, and is known for rocky cliffs and fissures like the huge Almannagjá fault.
No social distancing here.
And just like that, everyone is gone. Do they know something we don't know?
Less than one week later, we stopped by here again to visit the gift shop and restroom, and this park was closed:(
Iceland's national parliament was established at the site in 930 AD and sessions were held here until 1798. They are now held indoors.
She's either jumping because we're out of the car or because I said we better head back because the snow is really picking up now.
Everybody wants to be a photobomb:)
A better view of the wall.
Let's zoom in.....
Evidence that summer exists here......somewhere.
I found this photo online of what summer looks like in Thingvellir. It looks amazing. There was no credit given for the picture, so I'll just have to borrow it so that you can get an idea of how beautiful and massive this park is. We hiked the cliff area (lower right in the photo). They old village is center right. Silfra, were many snorkel between the tectonic plates is just to the northeast (on this picture) of the village.
As we drove east toward our cabin, the snow really picked up and sometimes was almost a whiteout. The roads were covered, sometimes with snow and sometimes with snow and ice. The wind had gotten pretty strong too.
Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to stop at Strokkur Geysir today, because the drive took us longer than we expected and the roads are already fairly bad. Maybe tomorrow or when we are back this way later in the trip.
This part of the Golden Circle is really remote and we did not have good internet, so how do you get directions? The old fashion way, a paper map. Oh, except that the print is too tiny and lots of details are missing. Next best thing, call your daughter in Ohio! Thanks Steph!
She pulled up Google Maps and read of road names, as best she could, until she was able to locate us on the map. The would then tell us what to look for and where to turn to find our cabin. We were on the path; we just felt so lost.
Made it to the cabin - tiny but cute. The staff is super nice and helpful.
We returned to the restaurant and tried a local favorite, Flatkaka Hangikjot. It was different but edible. Al had another traditional local staple, lamb burger and viking beer. Both were tasty.
By the time we came out of the restaurant, we had at least 6 inches of snow. We haven't seen that much snow in several years - thank goodness, although I have to say......we like snow....just not the COLD!
We've been up and active for over 38 hours. Time to get rested up for tomorrow. Bed Time!
Day 1......Finally Over
KEF to Reykjavík
Reykjavík to Gullfoss