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Iceland Is Expensive (But So Worth It)
Fri June 6
- Steve and Hoa picked us up. Drove to Edmonton (YEG) 'the capital area of Alberta' and after some difficulty, found Econo-park.
Took the van to the airport, and discovered that Edmonton's airport is actually pretty nice inside, compared to Calgary's.
- Bought a $13 1-litre bottle of vodka at the duty free and listened to live music while we ate Wok Box.
- Got on the Icelandair flight to Reyjkavik. Boarded the plane and were handed a bottle of glacier water. Seat back entertainment.
Sat June 7
- When we landed at KEF, we had to wait in a long line to go through security, and had to give up our bottle of water, which we had
taken too long to drink. Hoa pressed the happy button, after connecting with the security girl over the metal plate in her arm.
- Stood in line for passport control, went and got our luggage, went to the duty free store, waited for our rental car guy. He finally
showed up but didn't have enough room for us. So we waited for him to come back, and drive us what turned out to be super close to
the airport. Then we went through the whole rental car process at Sixt.
- 3.5 hours after landing (!) we *finally* had our rental car and were ready to hit the road.
- Drove to Reykjavik to and went for breakfast at Bakari Sandholt. There we had sandwiches, smoked salmon and salami, feta and tomatoes.
- Then we began the long drive to Akureyi, through a lonnnnng tunnel and some really nice scenery. Ate a lot of hi-chews and licorice
on the way.
- Kept driving. Steve managed to stay awake while the rest of us drifted in and out of consciousness. Finally made it to Akureyi.
Stocked up at 'Bonus' on pop, chips and yogurt.
- Made our way to Apartments Gista. Checked in, and had a few snacks. Walked around Akureyi a bit. Picked up pizza from Bryggjan and
brought it back to the apartment. Pizza tasted a little weird, thanks to the cheese.
GET: add ice cube tray
Sun June 8
- Woke up and had breakfast (skyr?) and then went to Arctic Whale Watching in Dalvik. Put on our warm blue onesie jump suits.
Got on to our boat and headed out into the ocean.
- The water was very calm and smooth. It was also quiet. Saw a humpback whale surface several times. Sometimes fairly close
to our boat. Stayed and watched him for a while. Then we headed out further in search of more whales.
- Found a curious, even larger humpback. He surfaced right next our boat at one point. We got a close-up view. At one point he
swam under our boat and then surfaced on the other side.
- Waited for him to surface one more time. He surfaced again just off the front of the boat. He got really, really close this time.
Maybe 8 feet away from our boat.
- On the way back they brought out fishing rods, and Steve caught 2 fish right off the bat, on one cast. `Chris caught zero. Headed back
the dock. They barbequed the fish for us and it was delicious.
- Next we drove back to Akureyi and dropped off Steve and Hoa. Chris and I headed on to Polar Hestar to ride Icelandic Ponies.
I wanted one with a flaxen mane and tail; however, and then was glad they brought up and interesting greyish dun colored one named Molly.
Chris got a bay mare named Eldura. We headed off in our group of seven. Once we got out on the trail.we got to tolt, a gait unique to
the Icelandic Pony. We also got to canter and then gallop. Views were nice of the mountains, snow, flowers and the ocean for a short bit.
Chris's horse tripped at one point and he almost tipped over the front. Back at the stable we had tea and cakes and visited with the cats
- Made our way back to the apartment where we had some drinks and snacks. Then we went for tapas at Goya. It was ok. $20 for a beer each, a
quarter of an omelet, a piece of chicken, and a quarter of a potato and some squid. After we stopped in for a beer and the Backpackers Hostel
where they had chairs that were old airplane seats. Headed back to our apartment for a nightcap.
Mon June 9
- Got in the car and drove toward Lake Myvatn. First stop was Godafoss, our first 'big' waterfall of the trip. Got there just before the
tour buses arrived.
- Drove to Lake Myvatn. First stop was the smelly sulphur mud pots & vents at Hverir. Steve & Hoa turned into our children, coughing
and running around due to the smell. We hiked up the hill to overlook the area. Pinkish salmon color. Steam everywhere. Looked like
a different planet.
- Hiked down and saw some bubbling mud pits. Hoa was hiding behind a bush eating Hi-Chews.
- Went to the hot tub cave 'Grjotagja'. Didn't notice that it was right at the beginning. Walked half a kilometer through a lot of
annoying bugs before realizing we had probably missed it right back at the start. Headed back, and down into the cave, where Game Of
Thrones was shot.
- Drove to Hverfjall, a big crater that formed after the volcano erupted there around 2500 years ago. Hiked to the top of the rim and
had lunch. Walked down through some more bugs and drove home.
- Walked to the botanical gardens and then to the pool. Sat in hot tubs of varying degrees in temperature (37 to 43). Went down a
waterslide that went pitch black the middle. Got our muscles pounded by some hard flowing water. Then we went and got changed
and Chris came outside...without her swimsuit. She claims she didn't 'forget' her swimsuit. Someone stole it! Not sure we'll ever
find out what really happened.
- Came back and tried to figure out what we could have for dinner. Both grocery stores were closed. Wandered around town, but couldn't
find anything. Finally, Steve and I decided to go get burritos. Chris and Hoa went and ate quiche at Blaa. Apparently the quiche took
after the name of the restaurant a bit.
- Walked back to the apartment and watched VH1 music videos. Have seen them all now.
Tue, June 10
- Drove to the Akureyei pool to try and get Chris's bathing suit back. Unfortunately nobody had turned it in!
- Drove to Krafla lava fields, past a geothermal station. Walked up and around a crater (Viti), this one was full of turqoise water which
made it a little more scenic.
- From there it was a short distance to Leirhnjukur, another part of the lava field. Walked to a boardwalk that overlooked a bubbling mud
pit, and then through an area of steam vents and past a large field of lava rocks. Picked one up to take home.
- After that we drove to Dettifoss, the largest waterfall (by volume) in Europe. Pretty impressive. Saw a rainbow. Had lunch.
- Walked over to Selfoss, a set of smaller waterfalls. Pretty cool too.
- Continued driving towards the east coast of Iceland. Stopped in Egilsstadir for groceries. This time we tried a Netto, which was much
better than Bonus for selection. Bought some frozen pizzas and vegetables to go with our spaghetti.
- Drove towards Seydisfjordur. The mountain was steep and it became very foggy and even a little snowy. As we descended though, it turned
into a pretty amazing landscape, with green mountains and waterfalls in every direction. Hoa's statement described it best: 'I didn't know a place like this
existed on earth'.
- Found our cabin. Called the guy. Thought he wanted 30,000 Krona, but I misheard, and it was actually 13,000 - about what we thought.
Really nice cabin, with a hot tub overlooking the bay, and the picteresque town complete with waterfalls thundering down the mountain-side
- Steve's shoe broke so we went into town to find glue. Ended up asking the guy from the cabin if he had any, and Steve managed to
fix his shoe. Also got free ice, in Iceland.
- The girls went into the hot tub and their man servant brought them drinks. Eventually we all ended up in the hot tub and stayed in
it for a good couple of hours. By the time we exited the hot tub, dinner was on the table. Tonight's feast was spaghetti with
spaghetti sauce, which may have been our best meal to date so far on the trip.
Wed, June 11
- Packed up and headed south. Really interesting landscape along the east coast. Dramatic green cliffs and more amazing waterfalls. Hoa
almost blew away trying to take a picture of a waterfall.
- Winding around the coast, we stopped at Stokksnes, which was a set of black sand dunes, with a backdrop of large rock formations.
- Continued on to Jokursarlon Glacial lagoon. Took some pictures. Amazing scenery, but colder weather. Waited for our zodiac
tour to start. Put on our outfits to keep us warm. Hoa gained 100lbs putting on her suit.
- Hopped in the zodiac and zipped over to the face of the glacier, about 7 or 8 km away, dodging icebergs along the way. Learned
that blue ice meant it recently fell off the glacier. Also learned that the glacier used to be a lot bigger, and has been shrinking.
In 50 years it will likly be gone.
- On the way back we navigated slowly between the icebergs. Saw some seals. Took lots of pictures.
- Headed to Skaftafell National Park (part of Vatnajokull) and walked to the glacier and back. Drove up fairly close to Svartifoss
waterfall, and hiked the rest of the way. It was nice, Hoa liked the black basalt columns that surrounded it. Some weird guy
asked for water and pushed between Hoa & Chris.
- The 3 of us walked up to Svartifoss waterfall and back. Then we continued making our way to Vik, stopping at Fjardrargljufur
for a few pics of this 2 million year old canyon.
- Ended up at Like Vic guesthouse. Steve was hungry and tired as today was a big day with a lot of driving.
So we quickly made our way out to dinner after having a shot of black death with our hostess.
We all had burgers and beers at Halldorskafi and then went to bed, after chatting with a guy from Armstrong, BC staying at the
Thu, June 12
- Had a good breakfast at the B&B (homemade jams).
- Went to the Iceland wool store. Tried on some touques. They all looked funny on me.
- Drove over to the Black Sand Beach in Vik. Wrote our names in the black sand and took some pics. Hiked up the cliffs of
Mt. Reynisfjall which overlooked the town. Nice views. Saw a lot of Arctic terns circling and nesting, but no puffins.
Walked around the cliffs some more and then ran down the gravel road to meet Steve & Hoa.
- Continued our puffin quest by searching for them at Dyrholaey. Still no luck. Not a single puffin. Saw the really cool looking
arch rock formations and the lighthouse though. Very windy.
- After that we went to Skógafoss, a waterfall that is 60m high and 25m wide. Chris & Hoa walked up the steps to the top. Steve
and I stayed at the bottom to await the 'worth it' or 'not worth' it signal. But we missed it. It turns out Chris gave the 'not worth it'
signal. Meanwhile Steve and I walked up really close to the waterfall.
- The girls came back down and we drove to the next waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, aka the waterfall you can walk behind. It was pretty cool
because there was a rainbow arching across it right in front, which likely happens a lot.
- Drove to our hotel, Hotel Fljotshlid. The hotel was kind of weird. It was in the middle of nowhere and gave off a horror movie vibe, but
the rooms were pretty decent. Went to Pizza Gallery for dinner in the neighboring town. World Cup 2014 was kicking off.
- After dinner we drove to Iceland's oldest pool, Seljavallalaug, established in 1923. Parked at the end of a dirt road and walked in
about ten minutes. It was bath-tub warmish, but the views were pretty nice, with green mountains around us and a few small waterfalls.
Fri, June 13
- Had breakfast at the hotel which turned out to be quite good. I loaded up on Skyr and meat. Drove back to Skogafoss, which serves
as the starting point for the Fimmvorduhals hike. The hike is 22km, but we only did the first third. On this section there are
many impressive waterfalls meandering through the river canyon between the glaciers of Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. Altogether
we walked across 22 waterfalls.
- We crossed the bridge into the area known as the 'ashtray', approximately the middle third of the hike. This section was a little
more boring. Steve's shoe broke so they turned back, and we continued on for a short while, and took in one nice view before heading
- Drove back to our hotel, and made pasta for dinner. Steve used the giant pot to fill up the hot tub. I sat and made myself a drink.
We had planned to go into the hot tub, but couldn't quite get it warm enough, so we ended up just watching a little tv and hitting
the sack, tired after our day of hiking.
Sat, June 14
- Tried to take the ferry over to Vestmannaeyjar (the Westmann islands) but the ferry was fully booked for the way back. So instead
we did what is known as the 'Golden Circle'.
- First we tried to find a waterfall named Bruarfoss. We ended up on some dirt roads near someone's property, with no waterfall in sight.
So we pushed on to Geysir. The original Geysir geyser is broken, because idiotic tourists threw rocks into it which prevents it from going off.
But Strokkur is still going, so we sat and watched this geyser for a while, exploding every 3-10 minutes.
- Pressed on to Gulfoss, perhaps Iceland's most popular waterfall because of it's proximity to Reyjkavik. Lots of tourists at this one!
Very wide and you couldn't see the bottom of one of the sections. Walked up to the top for a different view. This would be our
last major waterfall of the trip.
- Headed to Þingvellir (Thingvellir), Iceland's first national park and Iceland's first parliament. And where the tectonic plates between North
America and Eurasia meet. An important place to Iceland for many reasons! We walked around this area for a while, and checked out
a small waterfall at the end. Steve did not join us for this one as he was waterfalled out. Hoa took a picture of a woman's head and said
she wanted her own backyard with a similar deck and waterfall.
- Drove to Reyjkavik and checked into our AirBNB house. Relaxed for a bit and then tried to go for dinner, but everything was closed, so
we ended up going to the grocery store to buy our own dinner. One of the things I bought was the local version of Kraft Dinner, which
I ended up turning into some sort of pasta soup, and it tasted pretty bad.
- Walked into downtown Reyjkavik, and hit a few bars. The first one
was Íslenski barinn (the Icelandic Bar). It was pretty good. We noticed the guys were dressed better than the girls, and were all wearing
suits and ties. Had the white beer, it was good.
- Then we went to Cafe Barinn. It was really busy. And hot. Had a drink there and then we went to Bravo Bar. Didn't stay there long
as it had really loud and annoying music. Took our drinks in a to-go cup.
- Walked outside and Chris wanted to go home 1 hour before last call, which is at 5 AM. I pointed out that she was being very weak for doing
so. She did not appreciate this and we all took a taxi home.
Sun, June 15
- Slept in a bit, nursing off our hangover. Went to the grocery store and bought a chicken and deodorant.
- Walked to Hallgrímskirkja, the famous church. Took the elevator up to the top and checked out the views of the city. Not the greatest
observation deck. Kind of felt like looking through prison bars.
- Went for lunch at Icelandic Fish & Chips. I ate my chicken outside. In the restaurant, everyone ordered cod + chips, and mango salads.
- After lunch we went to try and find puffins at the Krýsuvíkurberg bird cliffs. Went the wrong way using the map at first, but the GPS
prevailed. At the cliffs, there were no puffins as promised. Just gulls and terns. A lot of them. Pretty cool dramatic cliffs, and kind
of neat to watch all the birds swooping and diving, but still, the puffins were what we were hoping for. A local guide said he had never
seen them there. Need to write to Lonely Planet and mention that their map is wrong, as well as their puffin info. And it should be
swanky not scanky.
- Next we went to the Blue Lagoon. The most expensive hot pool we'll likely ever set foot in, but we knew about the exorbitant price
going in. We did get some free exfoliant from the friendly Icelandic girl who was dishing it out, and chatted with us for quite a while
about the country. Then we went and put some silica mud on our faces, and left it on for 10 minutes. We all agreed that our faces did
seem to feel softer afterwards.
After exiting the pool I learned that I almost lost all our passports and money because I didn't lock the
RFID-chip locker properly. Luckily the locker room attendant had noticed and stored it safely for me.
- Bought some frozen pizzas for dinner and Hoa made us her specialty, Mama noodles with poached eggs.
Mon, June 16
- Headed out on foot to do some sightseeing in Reykjavik. Our first stop was the Harpa Conference Centre, a building with cool architecture
The outside of the building was made up of glass panels and inside the ceiling was hexagon shaped mirrors. We took some pictures of our
reflections in the ceiling.
- Our next stop was the Sun Voyager and then we headed off to find some lunch. We walked through the downtown and checked out a bunch of shops.
Chris bought a wool touque as a souvenir and it even had puffins on it! We looked at some Icelandic wool sweaters but couldn't justify spending
$300 on one.
- We went to the Bernhofsbakeri for lunch, while eating Chris was leafing throught the newspaper and noticed an article about
Icelandair, unfortunatley we weren't able to read it since it was all in Icelandic.
- We made our way to the old port area and checked in for our puffin sightseeing tour, the "Puffin Express". We took a boat out
to a small island where we could see some puffins sitting on the cliffside as well as swimming in the water and flying past the boat.
Finally we got to see them after 10 days in Iceland!
- Made our way back to our apartment where we googled to see what was going on with Icelandair. Apparently their mechanics went on strike
and a bunch of flights were cancelled. Uh-oh.
- Headed to dinner at Glo. Chris had the chicken curry and I had the raw pasta. It was a good, filling meal. Chris even got his
souvenir beer glass, a Gull goblet for free and they were nice enough to give it to him when he asked.
- Met up with Steve, Hoa and Steve's sister Megan at a pub where we ordered a "tower" of beer. It came in a gigantic dispenser and with
built in ice to keep it nice and cold. We worked out it was the best deal of the trip and one pint was about $7 as opposed to the
$9 or $10 we had been paying. Watched some more World Cup.
Tue, June 17
- Went and picked up the car. Drove to the lighthouse. Saw some ducks. And a lot of bugs.
- Packed up our stuff at the hotel and went to check out the National Day celebrations. It wasn't as exciting as we'd hoped. Went
and bought our final Skyirs.
- Went for lunch at the Noodle Station.
- Off to the airport. Flight was delayed for a long time, as our luggage seemed to be taking forever to load. It also sat in the rain
for 3 hours. Related to the 'mechanic' strike? Not sure.