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ICELAND 2019

Day 1:
We drove from airport to Vik after taking an overnight flight. Of course that was after Mike was on call for 24 hours the day before so that was even tougher for him. Even so there were great waterfalls to see on the way, skogafoss and seljalandfoss waterfalls being the biggest.

Kathy at Falls Mike at Falls

We stopped at the Eldasto cafe for lunch where we had delicious lamb stew and smoked salmon sandwich. There were lots of farm restaurants along the way that looked good too.

We checked into our hotel in Vik and found a great restaurant right near the hotel called Smidjan Brugghus, with the best burgers and lots of local craft beer to choose from.

After dinner we walked along the black sand beach at midnight!

Mike at Black Sand Beach Kathy at Black Sand Beach

Day 2
Enroute to Hofn we made a quick stop at Mossy Lava Rocks, where the monster volcanic eruption of 1782 occurred, changing global climate for several years, including ice floes in the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi freezing, and brutal winters in Europe, most notably in France causing the famine of 1783 that precipitated the French Revolution.

Mike in Moss Lava

We then drove to Fjadrargljufur Canyon...

Canyon Kathy at Canyon

We went on to Jokulsarlon Lagoon. The lagoon was amazing! Bright blue color with icebergs floating in it. You could take a boat or kayak around the lagoon.

Kathy at Canyon

We chose to hire a guide and walk up the largest glacier, Vatnajökull. The glacier is almost the size of Puerto Rico and is hundreds of feet deep and covered by a fine volcanic ash. It was impossible to maneuver without crampons.

Kathy on Glacier

We saw water falls and rivers that went down hundreds of feet, and crevices that looked bottomless. We climbed on ice ledges with ropes and went through an ice tunnel. Unfortunately the ice caves are only there in the winter.

Kathy on Glacier

Our guide said this was a wormhole.

Kathy in Wormhole Mike in Wormhole

Ice axes for decoration

Kathy on Glacier 2

Slippery Slope

Kathy on Rope

Our French climbing buddies. They spoke about 5 words of English and Mike was doing his best to interpret LOL.

French Couple

After our glacier climb, we headed to Hofn. Along the way, we found a little miniature Niagara Falls

Mini Niagara

We stayed at the hotel Hofn. Excellent hotel right on the water with great views of the mountains and glaciers. We had dinner at a cute little pub, Kaffi Hornid just down the road from the hotel. Excellent food. We ordered fish and chips but the lobster pizza is their signature dish - next time!

Kaffe Hornid

Day 3
In the morning, I went for a bike ride along the coast while Mike slept in. After breakfast we drove for 4 hours almost running out of gas. Lesson learned. We got to Seydisfjordue, a small coastal town with a rainbow road leading to the church.

Rainbow Road

We went to the Joystick building and met our kayaking guide, Leonard, who outfitted us for our kayak trip on the fjord.

Joystick Building Why Not Two Kayakers

The kayaking was easygoing and educational. We learned about a British oil freighter sunk in the middle of the fjord by a Luftwaffe fighter that is still leaking oil into the fjord. Leonard took us to the buoy marking the wreck and you could see (and smell) scummy oil on the surface. The fjord was still beautiful, though.

Kathy Kayaking

Our intrepid guide, Leonard

Leonard

After kayaking, Leonard told us about two great waterfalls on the opposite side of the fjord that few know about. Great find!

Private Falls Kathy Private Falls Mike

We ate at a local restaurant and finally had the lobster pizza, definitely recommend it. We ended the day in Egilsstadir, at a local craft brewery sampling the beers.

At this point, we should introduce our super sweet ride, the legendary Fiat Panda, shown here being dwarfed by a Honda CRV.

Fiat Panda

Day 4:
Stopped to see Dettifoss, the falls with the highest volume of water in all of Europe. BTW foss means falls just in case you have not figured that out yet.


Next on to Namafjall geothermal area and Vita, a geothermal lake. Pictures do not do it justice. It is truly either the beginning or end of the earth.

Namafjall

For those interested in the latest in spa technology...

Or perhaps you prefer a steam sauna.

Lake Viti was formed from the crater of an old blasted out volcano.

Lake Vita

We also made a stop at the geothermal power plant to learn how they are harnessing this energy to create electricity. Mike was fascinated by this process. We learned that 30% of all power in Iceland comes from geothermal sources the other 70% comes from hydroelectric power. Iceland is very green.

These geodesic domes were scattered around the hillsides. The super-pressurized steam is contained here and sent on via pipe to the power station.

Geodesic

After checking into the hotel in Myvatn, we relaxed at the geothermal natural spa. We both reached a point where we couldn’t take the sulfuric smell any longer. Wimpy Mike was nauseated for a day. Give us our hot tub back home any day.

Hot Bath

We treated ourselves to an anniversary dinner at a local farm-to-table dinner at a farm house, vogafjos farm, where literally everything in the menu was either grown or raised on the farm. By far the best meal we have had in Iceland.

vogafios

Mike is away from the table preparing to go harvest our food. They didn't tell us this was self-serve farm to table! Hot Bath

Because of the lingering effects of the sulfuric chemical warfare, Mike opted out of the whale watching trip on this boat.

Whale Watch Boat

Intrepid Kathy was all in!

Whale Watch

Kathy saw at least a dozen humpback whales and hundreds of puffins on Puffin Island.

Whale Tail puffins

Kathy learned that puffins are not only cute and cuddly, but they are edible!

menu

We stayed at nice cottage in Hvammstangi. We went to a cozy farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, for dinner, famous for their fish soup which I had. There was only 3 items on the menu. Mike had the fried trout and the other choice was lobster but not from Maine.

Kathy at Castle

Day 6:
We made a wise decision in the morning not to go any deeper into the west fjords due to the long drive - 5 hours. Instead we hung around Hvammstangi and toured the Vatnsnesvegur peninsula in search of seals. We found one at the first stop and 5 or 6 at the second stop.

Kathy with Seal

But at the 3rd stop, we hit the jackpot, seeing at least 50-75 seals sun bathing on the beach conveniently located across from a coffee shop.

Mike with Seals

After our triumphant day of seal hunting, we headed on to our next stop, a horse farm! On the way we checked out the site of 3 volcanoes that had erupted and left pretty cool craters.

Mike and Kathy at Crater Sign

We checked into our horse farm, then went into Borgarnes for pizza at La Cocota, owned by a man who moved to Iceland 30 years ago from Columbia and never left. Our waiter was from Poland. Apparently there is a big population from Poland here.

After eating we went to the car to find a flat tire. That added an unexpected challenge to our trip but we got it fixed.

Day 7:
The horse farm is located just outside Borgarnes. It is one of the nicest and least expensive hotels that we stayed in. Everyone was very friendly. It was on a horse farm with horses right outside our room.

Hestaland

Kathy talked Mike into horseback riding. Mike got Singur, a feisty gelding and Kathy got Coki, a sweet mare. The Icelandic ponies are very sweet. The experience confirmed that Mike truly is allergic to horses.

Mike and Kathy on Horses

Mike was not thrilled to find out that our next stop was a dairy and horse farm.

But Kathy was. The best part of the dairy farm was the homemade ice cream served in the Ice Cream Barn. We had another farm-to-table dinner, this time decadent burgers with cheese, bacon and egg. We had this lovely view from our table of the cows eating their meals. There is something not quite right about that.

cows

After dinner we went to Geysir to see the hot Springs and the great Geysers. The Strokkur erupts every ten minutes or so. It took us 3 tries to get the perfect video.

Day 8
We took a roundabout way to get to Thingfellir National Park. We walked along the "rift" which is where the North American tectonic plate abuts the Euro-Asian plate. It is the only place on earth where the two plates meet above sea level. It is definitely an area of seismic and volcanic activity as the plates shift.

rift

After the park, it was time to head back into the big city - Reykyavik, population 125,000. It really is a beautiful city with a vibrant downtown and waterfront. One place of interest was the Chuck Norris Grill. We didn't go in.

chuck

We did decide to go into Magic Ice, where all the furniture and interior decor is made of ice. Had a few drinks, but it was too cold to stay long.

Magic Ice Kathy in Bottle

Day 9
Well, it was our last day. We decided to ease ourselves back into an American lifestyle by going to a very hipster place and ordering a breakfast Burrito, an omelette and Cafe Americano. Delicious. Time to head to the airport.

Breakfast