Iceland

Trying to take advantage of every opportunity possible (and a cheaper airline ticket), we schedule a 3 day layover in Iceland before we touchdown in North America. We really didn’t know what to expect of this country, little research was done, as usual.  A very pleasant surprise!!!  Maybe one of my favorites?!  The view before landing gave me my first clue that it might be a tad chilly here….yep, that’s a massive Glacier 🙂

We stayed in the town of Reykjavik.  It’s very similar to a mountain town.  Everyone dressed in their rain coats and backpacks, where Beanie’s and boots were the dress code 🙂  Note the sun is setting and its about 22:00…we forgot about the whole 20 some hours of daylight situation.  Thank goodness summer was nearly over by the time we arrived 🙂

Paul Allen’s small boat was out and about.  I’d like to see the big boat!  This one had 2 helicopters on the back that appeared as micro-machines!

Due to our limited time, we decided to be seasoned speedy tourists.  Starting with the most popular tour, The Golden Circle. The circle route taken was the first road built in Iceland, hitting the 3 main attractions. (And of course a few extras on the tour).

This is the main power plant on Iceland and provides almost all the electricity and heat for the entire country!  It was built to be self-sufficient with 3 workers, there are only 12 employees!!! It’s very interesting how they use the natural hot springs for so many things.  Utility bills are an all-in-one package running a total of about $75 a month!!! So frickin cheap!  On the downside, all the hot water smells TERRIBLE…. sulfur 😦  If you are unfamiliar, rotten eggs!  Needless to say, it made for really quick showers in the morning.  What they have done that is quite cool though, the town of Reykjavik has heated pavement so the snow never sticks to the roads 🙂

First stop, a “small waterfall”… 🙂

A long day of driving but the views were spectacular!

About 2/3 of the land looks similar to this, Lava Highlands.  Note that moss is growing on the old lava, apparently in 500-3,000 years, it will be soil.  I’m not waiting around for that to happen…

First official part of the circle, Gulfoss Waterfall.  It was quite massive!

This is a small volcano crater with a diameter about 200 m (656 ft).  Normally they can range up to 300 km (186 miles)!!!  However, this one is cool because Bjork had a floating stage built for the first concert to take place.  I so wish I could partake in a concert in a crater, siting around the edges, lying in the grass with a bottle of wine…. I would have even settled for Bjork 🙂

Next stop, the Geysers.  This is the largest most active geyser, shoots water 35-40 m (115-130 ft), similar to Old Faithful, 40 m, in Yellow Stone Park.

It blows every 3-5 minutes. Badass!  They do have a geyser that shoots water up to 90 m, however it is not nearly as often and is usually after an earthquake.  Last blew about 4 months ago.  I’m totally ok that I didn’t see that one 🙂

As suggested from our tour guide, we ate at a small restaurant called the Sea Barron.  You order your kabob of choice choosing from a variety of fresh seafood and veg (Including Mink Whale, I couldn’t convince H to try it) and then the famous Lobster Soup. OMG!!!! Delicious 🙂  And so cheap compared to everything else!  To touch on food prices a minute, yes it is very expensive to eat in Iceland.  Our guide explained it as if we ate all our meals prepared with food purchased from your local organic food store (Whole Foods, PCC etc).  Hormones are extremely illegal in Iceland, so everything is 100% Organic!  All the animals are pure breds because other animals are not allowed to be imported and of course, not many are willing to swim here 🙂  The animals actually look as if they are ancient.  This is also the only country where McDonald’s actually went bankrupt!  There is no longer any McDonald’s in the country 🙂

Saegreifinn (Sea Baron)

Now onto a part of their land that holds quite a bit of history, Þingvellir National Park. It was very interesting to learn but have been unable to retain all that information.  However, what I do know is that the wall you see is the edge of the North American Tectonic plate! Also the land in front of the wall is where many meetings of bill writing etc was held umpteen years ago.

This is the area between the 2 tectonic plates.  They described the plates as acting like the white part in a hard-boiled egg. Normal land is 20km thick whereas in this valley, it’s only 3km. Don’t worry, we all walked very gently 🙂

Heather was trying to push her way into our country 🙂

The water between is CRYSTAL clear.  I could basically read the years on the coins that people dropped down, amazing!  I would have liked to scuba but VERY cold. Hypothermia sets in about 12 minutes later, no thanks.

Day 2….Glacier Lagoon tour (+extras).  This was a very loooooonnnngggg day. 12 hour tour 😦  But the scenery was again, breathtaking. Along the way we passed by so many waterfalls, this is one that we got a closer look at 🙂

We even got to walk behind it 🙂

Brrr….

More scenery…

Puffins! Note they are birds, not like penguins which we originally thought 😦  However, a girl we were on this tour with is a marine biologist who studies penguins in Antarctica 🙂  She told us they can get up to 5 ft tall !!!!!!  That’s worth a trip to Antarctica for 🙂

I see a Glacier!

And we finally arrive at our destination!

We take a land-boat for a closer look 🙂

Seals!

This Iceberg has literally just flipped over, hence the bright blue color!

Warming up with a cup of Rum Hot Chocolate…Mmmmmmm

Last day, we decide to head to the famous Blue Lagoon, the largest natural hot spring (and most resort like).  A little relaxation before our 8 hour flight…

Look at the walls.  Nasty buildup of bacteria and whatever…so grossed out…we have to keep moving along….

We were told about the Silica Mud masks.  It is apparently amazing anti-aging and all sorts of other natural minerals etc. The mud is kept out in boxes to use at your leisure.  I didn’t read the sign because I felt like I was pre-warned.  The lady in the line told us to make sure we put conditioner in our hair and leave it in when we go out because it helps get the mud out later.  So Heather I did as we were told.  And smeared as much mud as possible 🙂

It’s starting to dry and get a little crusty…but I was told 15 minutes!  We have to wait!  Who cares that the sign says 5-10 minutes, the lady in line said 15 minutes 🙂  And Heather worried that “No one else is putting it in their hair?”…I kept with, “Well, we pre-conditioned for a purpose right?!”

We finally rinsed off in the waterfall nearby.  And let me say, the driest hair either of us have EVER encountered!!!  I was just going off the lady in line, I didn’t care that no one else was putting their hair.  Now I know why!  It worked as great volume though for a week or so 🙂  So those of you who ever decide to go, do NOT put the mud in your hair!  Even if you do the pre-condition…  That silica mud is bad news!

Homeward bound…Our adventure has come to a close.

We lucked out in our economy class seats though…massive leg room!  Enough to make us much less anxious, no sleep though…Hunger Games it was!

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