Iceland - loved it
Iceland Travel Blog› entry 1 of 23 › view all entries
** Edit - one of the earliest TB Blogs I ever did, so not the best, all crammed on the one entry. Have been adding a whole series of reviews though, which are half blog/half review to fill in details of the places we went **
Just somewhere I always had a notion to go and see, and I was not disappointed. Took a bit of planning, and we realised it would be impossible to do it all in 10 days. Decided on hiring car and to travel round south to east to north, and to dump the car in Akureyri and to fly back down to Reykjavik.
Started off badly. Flight out of Glasgow was due to leave at 9-35pm and we were delayed until 4-20am.
Finding our barings at the airport and went outside and the first thing that struck us was the smell of sulphur. Not drastic to the point that you would be gagging, but a definate whiff in the air, though you soon become used to it and don't notice it anymore.
Had originally booked hotel in Keflavik but wasn't worth it so we just went to pick up the car. Got the keys and direction to where it was parked and then when I got to it found they had given us an automatic.
Still early and the road into Reykjavik was pretty quiet. It was a beautiful morning and we were struck at once with the views and managed to pull over and get a few pictures. Missed our route at one of the roundabouts, going off one exit early, but managed to find our way into the centre of Reykjavik and find where we were on the map and work out how to get to the hotel.
Kids had fallen asleep in the back of the car and when we got to the hotel my wife went in and explained we had been delayed and hadn't got any sleep. Hotel were brilliant and said to give them half an hour and they would get our room ready and let us check in. All of us went for a couple of hours kip and then we got up and decided to explore downtown Reykjavik.
Relatively realaxing day, after journey, and headed back to the hotel and then went out for something to eat. Went to a pub that sold food and had 4 pints, 4 cokes, 3 burgers and a kebab and it came to Â£80. Had been expecting things to be expensive and this was just an indication of what to we would be spending each night. Think it turned out to be the cheapest meal we had.
Got up early next day and had breakfast in the hotel before juming in the car and heading out north of the city to go to the National Park at Ãï¿½ingvellir where the tectonic plates are moving apart and where the old parliament used to meet .
Headed off then to Geysir where the main one Stokkur goes off regularly every 8 minutes. Lots of little pools of bubbling water that you have to put your hand in just to see if it really is that hot. Went to the visitor centre here and then set off again to the waterfall at Gullfoss. Certainly impressive and the noise was immense and the spray came up and soaked you.
Son had wanted to go to the Blue Lagoon the night before, but we thought it to much, but we had taken our swimming gear today and drove to Selfoss to get onto the main road.
Got to the Blue Lagoon about 7pm and it wasn't very busy. Never having been in anything like this I loved it being out in the open air in a big warm bath. Spent over an hour in it splashing about and the kids loved it.
Next day it was time to head out into the countryside. Drove along the south road and stopped at Seljalandsfoss, where you can walk round and in behind the waterfall. Had to get some distance in and carried on driving to the museum at Skogar.
Found the bottom of Mýrdalsjökull glacier and went for a walk on a bit of it.Made it to Vik, and onto the black volcanic beach, and where you can see the Reyninsdrangar (Troll Rocks). Got something to eat before finding the farmstead we had booked into for the night.
Next morning we headed up one of the roads you're not meant to go on, and up to the glacier proper where we were going to go dog sledding. Guy came down to meet us and he was a student from Copenhagen working here for the summer. Given snow suits to put on before being driven further up in a big monster truck. Were given a bit of information about the dogs,Greenland Sled Dogs, then set off onto the glacier. Brilliant fun and when we got to the furthest point stopped for pictures of 'Ice Castle' and to give the dogs a pat. Sat and looked down the glacier and out to see where we could see Much faster sprint heading back as dogs know they will get fed when they get home. Found out that the glacier sits on top of a volcano,Mount Katla and when it erupts the main damage is cause by the melted ice water flooding the plains below called a jokulhlaup.
On next to Dyrholaey on the coast to see the rock arches and lighthouse. Loads of puffins nesting on the cliffs. Drove on for a bit and came to a field of cairns called Laufskalavartha. Meant to have been where a house was destroyed by volcano and travellers passing leave a stone for luck and you now have a field just off the road with loads of little piles of stones. Scenery continued to be awsome and we stopped on the main road to take pictures.Wife commented on the road that it was like driving along a runway. Dead straight, could see for miles in both directions and hardly any traffic on it, so you could stop stand on the main road ,take all your pictures and get back in the car without anything passing you. Hard to stick to 90kmph speed limit, but every so often you would hit a single track bridge so had to pay attention to the road signs.
Backon the road and we headed for Skatafell National Park where we walked up to Svartifoss waterfall,with its strange hexagonal pillars. I managed to clamber over the rocks and get in behind it, but it was a bit tricky and my boy was a bit peeved I wouldn't let him come with me. Time was getting on and we had to make it to Hofn where we were booked into the Youth Hostel for a couple of nights. Drove past Jokulsarlon and got out to see it. We were intending coming back the next day anyway, but still couldn't resist a look.
Youth Hostel was welcoming and a good mix of people. Hofn was more of a village than a town,to me, but walked along the front and found a hotel to have dinner in.
Went back along to Jokulsarlon the next morning and bought tickets for the amphibious truck thing that took you out to the lagoon. The wind had picked up and the weather was taking a turn for the worse, but luckily we managed to get back ashore before it got bad. It's only a very short distance from the lagoon to the sea and we went down to see where the bits of glacier that get out to sea are washed back up on the beach. By the time we had driven across the main road and down to the sea my daughter and I refused point blank to get out of the car as the wind was blowing a gale and the rain was teaming down.
Drove back to Hofn and came up behind 4 motorcyclists who were having real problems keeping their bikes straight and on the road.
It was now time to head up the Eastern Fjords, but unfortunately the weather was still horrendous and the visibility was poor. The road gradually deteriorated and the main road became gravel.
Roads were getting worse and for the first time ever driving I had to pay attention to the 'Falling Rocks' road signs as you would drive round and find big boulders in the middle of the road. Road round the fjords went down to rough gravel in bits and had small waterfalls cascading across the road. Decided to make for Seydisfjordur where we were stopping that night. Stopped off at a petrol station come diner for lunch and then got to Egilsstadir where we cut off up and over the mountain.
The mist started to clear as we went down the other side of the mountain and we stopped at Gufufoss for a while. We were booked in to stay in the Youth Hostel here as well, but there are 2 . Went to the main one and checked in but were allocated rooms in the one in town.
Set off early next morning and drove west. The landscapes were dramatic and we stopped a few times to take some pictures. Went off road to go to Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
Headed back to the Myvatn Nature Baths. These were far more natural than the Blue Lagoon and we spent a good bit of time in the water. It's a really brilliant feeling, and despite the water inlets having the warning signs of 100 C water tempersture it was tempting to see how close you could manage to get.
Time was getting on and we set off for the hotel. We had booked into the EDDA Hotel at Husivik, but in reallity it turned out to be half way between Husivik and Akureyri. By the time we found it the restaurant was closed and we had to make do with whatever snacks we could get from the shop. EDDA hotels are school accomodation that they open up for the summer and it was fairly comfortable. Had an early night as we were going whle watching the next morning.
Drove the road back to Husivik and bought tickets for boat trip. Sailed out into the bay and were soon seeing lots of dolphins, but disappointingly despite sailing for about 3 hours never came across any whales. Husivik advertises itself as the Whale Watching capital of Iceland,but not that day and was damned cold as well stuck out on the boat for that long. Back onshore we visited the Whale Museum which was OK . A lot of stuff to read rather than spectacular exhibits. After lunch in one of the restaurants down by the harbour we went to Godafoss, where we did get pestered by the bugs. Having missed dinner the previous night made sure we were back at the hotel in plenty of time.
We were getting towards the end of our trip and the following day went to Akureyri, Icelands second largets town. wandered about for a while and then drove out to the airport and dumped the car there. we were booked on a flight to Reykjavik at about 4pm, but the check in people asked us if we just wanted to get on the earlier flight, so we did. It was a bit cloudy but still got some great views flying overland. Arriving back in Reykjavik we got a taxi to a flat that we had rented for the night. Following the disappointment in Husivik, I had seen tours advertised from Reykjavik harbour to go whale watching and we went down to the harbour to check them out to see if we could fit one in for the morning,as our flight home was at 5pm.
Up sharp in the morning and went down to the boats. It was busy but not overcrowded and had a cafe on board for tea and coffee. Sailed first to island that was full of puffins and then set off to look for whales. Wasn't long before they found a couple of Minke Whale and then even better a Humpback. It was fantastic to see them, if really tricky to try and get a picture of them as there was no telling where it would pop up on the surface. Amazing the excitement generated on board just seeing them.
Back on dry land there was just time to go back to the flat and pick up our bags and head down to the bus station to get to the airport.
As you could guess from the title and the summary I thouroughly enjoyed the whole time I spent in Iceland, and bore people to death about it and feel it is somewhere everybody should go and see. It was just amazing and I will definately go back, albeit maybe later in the year so that i can see the Northern Lights this time, but there was nothing wrong in going at that time of year.