Monday, August 24, 2015

Iceland random thoughts

Some random thoughts on the trip (in no particular order):

  • Driving through the lava fields made it feel like we were on the moon. Rolling lava, fog, mountains and lots of random huge rock structures.
  • The food in Iceland is expensive and overall not that unique. We ate in a lot to save money.
  • We did find lots of unique treats to try and we all enjoyed those.
  • Skyr (a yogurt like food) is really good and full of protein. Apparently they have been making/eating Skyr since the island was inhabited.
  • Wild camping is odd but was very convenient and free.
  • When you see a price for goods or food that is the price you pay. Tax and tip are already included. So at first glance some of the food seems even more expensive than it really is.
  • The warm pools and frequented by Icelanders all year around and we enjoyed them a lot. The facilities were all very nice.
  • In Reykjavik the busses were a good way to get around. They have a nice phone app to help you navigate.
  • It rained every single day we were here. I am not sure how normal this is. Although even with the rain we only felt like it inhibited what we wanted to do one time and that was seeing the glacial lagoon(which we were disappointed with)
  • We had no problems communicating as most people spoke English, but most written things were exclusively in Icelandic. This would include grocery store food, street signs, and bus routes. The biggest exception to this was information for tourists (like museums) and restaurant menus.
  • We saw tourists from all over the world.
  • There are no traffic lights outside of Reykjavic, only roundabouts and yield signs.

Iceland days 10 and 11

On this day our second to the last day we needed to make it almost all the way back to Reykjavik as our flight leaves tomorrow at 3 PM and we need to get into town and return the RV. In the morning we stopped by the Kirkjub├Žjarklaustur pool for a nice swim and shower. Overall today was just driving so I don’t have too much to say. We did stop midway and eat lunch. I had a nice lunch of fresh arctic char. Then we stopped by a gift shop and picked up a few souvenirs.


We decided to spend the night at a campground in selfloss for the night. As we got there at a reasonable time the girls loved running around and exploring the campground and playing at the park.

When we woke up on the last day, we headed back to Reykjavic and did one last swim. This pool was smaller but had a large slide and a wave pool. 

we then returned the RV and headed to the airport for our long day home. the lines at WOW airlines were extremely long and slow and we barely made the flight on time. besides this the travel home was completely uneventful a we arrived home super late and exhausted but happy to be home.

Iceland day 9

This day was for exploring glaciers, glacial lagoon and volcanoes. We started off stopping at the visitor center in Kirkjub├Žjarklaustur (try to say that town name).  Here we learned about volcanoes, and the different types of mosses that grow first on the lava. The mosses grow first allowing other plants to grow. They had a very informative and well put together movie about an eruption in Iceland in 1783.

Here we bought a glass jar with a map in it. It was a treasure hunt. If you found the treasure you got to fill the jar with it as a souvenir to take home. We found it and filled ours with black sand, lava, wool, moss and lichen. It was not much of a challenge but mildly entertaining and will be a fun souvenir.

Our next stop for the day was the glacier. We went to a visitor center where there was a nice hike where you could get pretty close to the glacier. Along the way there was information about the glaciers and how they were receding.







Our last stop was the glacial lagoon. By this point it was raining so hard and was crazy windy again. So we decided to forgo the boat ride onto the lagoon. Instead we just looked on the shore and it was so peaceful and beautiful (well the 1 minute we could stand to be there). Then we were able to cross the street. Over there was the river that the icebergs took to get to the ocean. We saw a few floating down the river, and others laying on the shore. We again braved the downpours and went out so that we could touch the icebergs. The icebergs were all quite unique. Some crackly, some smooth, all bright blue.




Since this was our final destination we decided to turn around and get some miles in on our way back to Reykjavik. We ended up back in Kirkjub├Žjarklaustur for the night. We decided to grab some dinner out tonight and Leah and I both had some interesting lamb dishes. She had lamb nuggets and I had a lamb burger. Both were good. We found an empty parking lot to spend the night. It had a nice view of a pretty waterfall.

Iceland day 8

We decided to have a later start today as we relaxed for a bit when we first got up and wanted to try and clean some clothes.  I had heard that this was a challenge in Iceland. We found out there was a “laundromat” at the end of the street. I put this in quotes because it was a professional laundry facility and for 2,000 Kroner or about $15 they were willing to dry our already clean clothes that we had hand washed in the RV. We had tried to dry them on the line the night before but somehow even though it did not rain they came down after 3-4 hours wetter then they went up.

So we putzed around town for a bit. Grabbed some lunch and finally was on our way. We were heading to a waterfall called skogafoss. We stumbled across a waterfall named seljalandsfoss. It was on some private person’s property that they have opened up to the public for viewing. This might be my favorite waterfall so far as you could hike completely around it, going behind it. We got very wet doing it but it was such an odd experience to be behind a fairly large waterfall. There were 5-10 other waterfalls off the same cliff face as well.






After this we started looking for a place to nap. We pulled off on a little side information point. This was a really beautiful place and we enjoyed looking around before and after our nap. There was huge cliffs behind us, and a cave dwelling of some sort. There was also 3 really friendly horses that ran right up to you if you were anywhere near the fence.





We did finally make it to skogafoss and this was a very pretty waterfall as well. We were able to get some neat pictures here as we were only a few people there and we got pictures of us alone at the waterfall. This waterfall was 65 Meters tall which is taller than Niagara Falls but much thinner. So way less water flow overall.



We then headed to dyrholaey. There was come beautiful black sand beaches and rock formations here. It was raining and blowing extremely hard while we were here and Bill was the only one who ventured out of the RV to go get pictures. If the weather is better we may stop on the way back through because we could spend more time exploring here.







We ended up in Vik for the night, at a little monument overlooking the ocean. It was blowing and raining pretty well. Luckily the girls are not scared of a little bad weather



Iceland Day 7

In the morning we woke up and went and toured gullfoss. This was a very neat and large waterfall. You were allowed to get fairly close to it. It is a 2 tiered waterfall and the total drop was about 35 meters. All the literature compares this to Niagara Falls. I say not even close. The experience overall was very neat as you could get so close and it was not thronged with people.



Next we headed to geysir, to see well geysirs. This is where the word geyser comes from.  They had a geyser (strokkur) that went off every 6-8 minutes. It was pretty big and again you could get close enough to feel the hot water spray when it went off. In the park they also had a very interactive visitor center that had lots of information on geologic activities such as volcanoes, geysirs, and earthquakes. Besides the gesysir they also had lots of steam vents and mud pots.­­­­­­




After this we drove a while into the town of selfloss. We found a parking lot to take a short nap. Then we headed into the pool to let the girls have some free time and bill and I hung out in a wonderful hot tub. The water was warmer and deeper than the kid’s pool so nice for relaxing­­­­. After the swim we used the showers there to get cleaned up and headed on our way.


We decided to drive a little further this night and headed to Hella to spend the night. We checked into a camp ground there. It was simple but allowed us to plug in for the night, refill water and empty the toilet. There was a pretty river that ran through the campground. This ended up being a completely uneventful night and the girls enjoyed being able to run around the campground. Unfortunately there were no other kids to play with.

iceland Day 6

Day 6 started in Reykjavik. We went to the maritime museum, old harbor and ate some British style fish and chips. It was a neat area, lots of interesting old ships. The Museum told the history of fishing in Iceland and had a really nice exhibit on women fisherman. It was surprising how many museums there are in Reykjavik considering only 100,000 people live there.








As I had mentioned in an earlier post we bought the Reykjavik city card. This gave us entry into all 4 museums we went to, all bus rides, and entry into the hot pools in Reykjavik. We bought this for bill and I.  The girls were free at all museums and on the busses so it was cheaper to just purchase their pool entries when we went. Usually I do not think these cards are a good value but in this case they were. It saved us 20-30 dollars on what we did.

After the museum we wanted to try the fish and chips food truck so we got a small amount for us all to share. They were ok but nothing special, and as usual it was raining so not the nicest way to eat.
After this it was time to go pick up the RV. This was not drama free as we missed our bus stop. Had to walk back about a mile up a huge hill and then walked around in circles unable to find the rental office. We survived got the RV and was on our way.



Our first stop was about 40 minutes away, it was thingvellir. This stop had tons of history, the bridge between the North American and Europe tectonic plates, and a pretty nice waterfall. We spent a few hours hiking around. The canyon between the plates was pretty amazing. The girls had never seen a natural waterfall and were excited to see this one. It did not disappoint.







By this time it was getting late so we decided to drive to our next location and spent the night there. Next stop was gulfoss waterfall. We arrived about 8:30 Pm and ran into the center to grab a bite to eat before we went to bed. Everyone had raved about the Icelandic meat soup. It was full of lamb, potatoes, carrots and onions and was very good.


After this we settled into the camper to go to sleep. We had decided to sleep right there in the parking lot and this was alright, had some beautiful mountain views. It was a little hairy trying to sleep though as there were crazy winds and it was shaking the RV around. Nothing unsafe but not the greatest feeling. It also seemed wrong to be in the parking lot, unusual for us. We all survived our first night in the RV

Monday, August 17, 2015

Iceland day 5

Today we checked out the Arbaer open air museum. This museum is a collection of buildings you can tour, it reminded me of a small Greenfield village. There were people walking around in period costumes. The building were all open for exploration although you are asked not to touch stuff inside the buildings. There were a few buildings that reminded us of hobbit houses





There were also many animals. The girls made friends with a goat we named Casper (Casper the friendly goat). He followed us around for 20-30 minutes trying to get the girls to pet him more.  When you were not petting him he would whine until you did.


We also found some Icelandic horses and were able to pet them as well. One of these was only 2 weeks old. Of course being typical Days, all the animals was the girl’s favorite part of this museum.



After our nap (oh yes another nap) we headed back to the thermal pool.  These pools have quite the setup. Really nice locker rooms for changing, showers (required before you can swim) and toys in the pool. Showering is a bit awkward for timid Americans as you are required to shower naked before putting on your suit.




They have these pools all over the country and we plan on visiting many as we travel around in the RV because they the girls love their swimming, they are relaxing after a day touring and it will be an easy way to get showers while in the RV.

a few more random pictures as we wandered around