Sunday, October 1, 2017

Exploring Iceland

I  waiting for the first flight at the beginning of a trip; it means that I've survived the last few days of preparing and organizing house, humans and animals for our imminent absence and all I have to do now is sit still and wait.

We gave ourselves plenty of time to get to our 9pm, Icelandair flight to Reykjavik, Iceland by leaving our house at 5pm ( rush hour). Fortunately traffic wasn't too bad and we practically flew through security. Now after all the rushing I have a few hours to breath.

The flight is about 5 hours and 20 minutes. Hopefully we'll sleep because we immediately pick up our rental car and explore Iceland upon landing in Reykjavik at 6:20am local time (2:20am Toronto time).

John noticed that when our plane arrived at the gate, both of the pilots exiting were female, blond and extremely attractive.

I must confess, I've been rather sedentary over the summer. I voiced my hopes of losing a few pounds and toning up with all the touring we will do over the next few weeks. With a snort, John replied,  "I'm sure the beer, wine, sausages and plates of pasta will do wonders for your figure."... Hmmm, yea of little faith.

I fell asleep before we took off and woke when we landed. 

We noticed the cold as soon as we left the plane, (7 degrees to be exact).The airport was clean and I loved the humor in some of the advertising and tshirts. A little known fact is that 10% of all Icelanders have written a book. Quotes from Icelandic authors are all over the airport.

Getting our rental car was a long drawn out affair. I worried that it may take longer to get the car than our flight. First we stood in a freezing cold parking lot waiting for the shuttle us to take us to the car rental area, then we took a number and waited to be served.

Numerous people in shorts and tshirts shivered as they walked from the airport to the car rental shuttle. Hello people. They named the country Iceland for a reason!

I hope to see a puffin today but John says it's highly unlikely since we are not going to the coast....I'll have to make due with the one I saw in the airport.

Yep. John was right; no puffins but we saw plenty of the stocky and friendly Icelandic horses as well as lots of bright white (and some dark grey) Icelandic sheep which roam free.

This is a volcanic country and the landscape is a mix of Alberta foothills meets the Hawaiian Volcano National Park. Moss is prevalent on a lot of the old flows. And did I mention cold?

The weather was mercurial today; ranging from cold and drizzly to sunny, cold and windy.

Our first stop was to the city of Reyjkavik. We started at Hallgrimskirkja which is the tallest church in Iceland. The architect designed it to look like a basalt lava flow so it is quite unique.

We stopped in town for a very small, very expensive and not so good coffee. It was $6 Canadian. This was the first of the sticker shocks we encountered in Iceland. Everything is very expensive. $72 basic knitted hats, $20 cup ( not bowl) of soup, expensive get the drift.

After driving around town and passing the music hall we started our Golden Circle Tour of the south west part of the country.

There are a lot of very good looking local people and they are very proud of their Viking heritage.

First we went to Pingvellir National Park which s a UNESCO world Heritage site. Ruggedly beautiful with its lakes, waterfalls, natural formations and large fissure.

We saw many inukshuks but they were different from ours. Where ours are angular, the Icelandic ones seem to be rounded with little round heads on top of them.

Our next stop was the Strokkur Geyser . The name Geyser came from a particular one in Iceland that was named geyser. Steam rose from vents in the earth and every few minutes the Strokkur geyser would explode scalding water a hundred feet into the air.

On we went to the Gullfoss waterfall which was dramatically beautiful with snow capped mountains in the background. We even sighted a rainbow there.

I noticed that the farmers wrapped their big rolls of hay (?) in white plastic making it look like there were fields of giant marshmallows.

We stopped at Skalholt Cathedral on our way to Kerid Crater Lake. The wind from the top of the crater made my hair writhe like Medusa's snakes....not an attractive look.

Our final stop was to the Blue Lagoon. This is a very popular attraction so we bought timed tickets back in Canada. When we got there, people were lined up but not moving because the electricity was out. The staff handled things really well; informing people with humor and giving options. Quicker than expected, they got things up and running and we were in the warm blue lagoon while the cold (often rainy) weather surrounded us. We tried the algae mud masks. Night arrived while we swam and there was hardly any light pollution to cut the darkness when we left. Unfortunately we forgot where we put the car. We eventually found it....thanks to the dummy button on the key fob.

Returning the car to the rental agency was much quicker then getting it.

We are now on the plane, about to depart for Munich. Next time we go to Iceland, I want to do a boat tour and see the puffins.

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