I am back from my quick trip to Iceland. A Bucket List Must for me and happy that I received the opportunity to experience a little part of Iceland with fellow Travel Agents. GOWAY Travel offered the opportunity to experience a land not often traveled, but has quickly become the IT Destination. This is a paradise for the outdoor enthusiast. So much to do and see.
Our first stop upon arriving into Reykjavik was to have breakfast and talk about our itinerary. Afterwards we continue towards the South Coast and make a stop at the lunar landscapes of Kleifarvatn and nearby Krysuvik geothermal hotsprings. We walked the cold trails to see hotsprings and grey mud pits. Next stop is the scenic region towards Vik, a charming village surrounded by beautiful high bird cliffs. A visit to Fakasel Horse Park to see the Icelandic Horses should never be missed. The horses are known for their 5th gait called the Tolt. A small but sturdy stature with a gentle temperment. A production showcasing their 5th gait and then a barn visit for petting and pictures.
Onwards to the gorgeous Seljalandsfoss waterfall, where we were able to walk behind the falls. A clearer day would have been nice to see through the falls. Rain jackets and boots were a must or you got soaked while hiking up and down. An easy walk up using stairs, but going back down was more difficult since you had to climb up and over wet rocks with a camera to get to the stairs to go down. The next waterfalls were the Skogafoss waterfalls with a 60 metre drop. No need to go behind since it was not recommeded to do so. Visiting the Skogar folk museum gave us a chance to see how Icelanders lived in centuries past.
Winter means less sun light, so by 400pm it was dark, but one more stop was a must before heading to our hotel. Though I wish I could have seen this in the light, using phone flashlights helped to see the Reynisdrangar rock formations. Reynisdranger are basalt sea stacks situated under the mountain Reynisfjall near the village Vik i Myrdal, southern Iceland which is framed by a black sand beach. The formations are similiar to Irelands, Giants Causeway.
Accommodations in Iceland are not fancy, but do provide comfortable bedding, a restaurant, bar and sometimes a pool. Not much around most hotels, but the staff at the hotels will wake you up if you want to see the Northern Lights if it becomes available. We had no such luck.
Pools in Iceland are plentiful with all the geothermal activity from volcanoes. Iceland has many active and inactive volcanoes (about 130 all together!) due to it being situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Eyjafjallajokull errupted in 2010 and shutting down most of Europe’s airports for days due to the winds blowing ash all over Europe.
The next morning was leisure since the daylight starts at 1000am. We boarded our spacious bus and headed out to see glaciers. We crossed Eldraun, the largest mass of lava ever to flow on the face of earth, before reaching Skeioararsandur black volcanic sands on our way to Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon. It was raining this day, so rain proof jacket and boots were a must along with some layers to keep warm. Floating icebergs in a lagoon. We were fortunate to see a calving of an iceberg and how it moved upside down as it rolled down towards the small waterfall. I was standing on the beach as it calved and thought I had better get to higher grounds, since the water was like a sunami as the iceberg broke free and the waves came rolling towards us. We walked along the glaciers and had a stunning view of Vatnajokull glacier(largest glacier in Europe). A seal swam with the glaciers. Our walk ended at the black sand beach where large ice chunks lye on the beach. It was fun getting pictures and exploring with the camera these sculptures of ice. It is like diamonds with the way they sparkle.
Our next stop was the Hotel Edda for the night, but not before making stops at gas stations for trinkets and more pictures of glaciers in the distance.
This morning we make our first stop at Frioheimar greenhouse where they grow fruits and vegetables year round utilizing the geothermal heat. A taste of a weird drink concoction and tomato soup and then we were free to roam on our own. Another waterfall visit, Gullfoss Waterfall. No sun again, so pictures are dull. Lunch at the Geysir restaurant, but first a visit to Geysir hot springs to see the geyser Strokkur erupt every few minutes(similiar to Yellowstone’s, Old Faithful) up to 82 feet. Many other eruptions from smaller geysirs also. Great souvenir shop with everything, but beware of the expensive trinkets. Iceland is not cheap, so shop smart.
Onwards to Laugarvatn and Fontana Steam Baths. YES, this is what I have been wanting to do. You must bath first before entering the baths(don’t be shy since there are no stalls to shower naked(yes), just rows of shower heads.). Before entering the baths , we had someone show us how they use the geothermal hotsprings to bake bread in the dirt. She dug up from the ground a pot and placed it in the lake to cool off, then placing another pot to cook in the hot springs. She retrieved the pot once cooled down and opened it up to see if it was completely cooked. This time it was not, but she had dug up bread earlier and that was done, so we tasted the bread. Delicious. Now into the baths we go. Temperatures were as high as 114 degrees. We stayed about an hour and then off to Thingvellir National Park(Unesco World Heritage Site) to learn of the history since the settlement in late 9th century. A key location in Icelandic history as the oldest existing parliament in the world first assembled there in 930AD. Funniest thing I learned was rowing a boat often wore on the men’s hands, so when they made gloves, they had two thumbs on each glove. When the glove wore off on one side, they turned it over to use the next side. A drive back to Reykjavik and checking into Hotel Marina to get ready for our farewell dinner and time to shop in town. It is Christmas so christmas decorations were everywhere including a charming ice skating rink. We ate dinner and then time to roam the festive streets in search for souvenirs. We ended at a bar to taste some Icelandic beer and listen to music. Very relaxing. Hours later a short walk, while taking silly pictures, back to the hotel.
Our last day before heading to the airport for our late afternoon flight was spent visiting a concert hall, church and neighborhoods of Iceland. We did a hotel inspection and then proceeded to the countries most famous landmark- The Blue Lagoon in Grindavik. The lagoon has 9 million liters of water, self cleansing and renews itself every 40 hours. A very busy spa, but only 700 people at a time can go in, so make your reservations in advance. lockers rooms and special packages are available. It is an incredible geothermal spa where lava and thermal water meet and compliment each other. The Blue Lagoons warm water and natural active ingredients: mineral salts, silica and blue green algae, help you relax and unwind while the white silica gently cleanses and exfoliates the skin. I did not feel younger, but do what the Icelanders do, while in Iceland. Afterwards a stroll to the bar while in the water for beer, wine or cider. There is a cave to wonder into or a small waterfall to massage your shoulders.
Our time has come to an end, but there is so much more to explore,