Thursday, February 21, 2013

Iceland Feb 16-20, 2013

Joe & I took a wonderful quick vacation to Reykjavik, Iceland - the furthest most northern capital in the world.  We had a 7 hour direct flight from Seattle to Iceland, and a 8 hour time zone change. Iceland is so new geologically - it has over 900 volcanoes, of which 35 - 55 are active.  You can visualize the glaciers melting, volcanic lava flowing....  With the mountains (volcanoes) everywhere - it reminded me of Alaska; and the lava rock terrain reminded me of The Big Island of Hawaii.  There are only 320,000 inhabitants of Iceland, of which 200,000 live in the capital city of Rehkjavik (prounounced Reekeyveek).  Tourism is great there - it was so easy to get around town, free shuttle services to downtown, a great Tour desk at the Hotel - easy transfers to and from the airport.  I think it was the cleanest and most safe city/country I've ever been to. 

 On Sunday afternoon, we walked to town from our hotel, The Hilton Reykjavik Nordica.  The hotel provided a wonderful daily breakfast buffet and a daily 2 hour happy hour that offered ALL drinks at half price.

The largest church in Iceland:
Instead of saying Take Out, the restaurants use the term "Take Away":
 Our hotel:
 This is the beautiful circular staircase in the Hilton - they have elevators too of course.  They have a wonderful fitness center and Spa.
 We ate well every day and especially enjoyed the monk fish, Icelandic lamb, lamb soup, smoked lamb, Plaice fish, lamb tartar, lox and bagels, licorice covered chocolate, Reyka Vodka, and Brennivin.
 Note the bend in the spoon to rest on the cup:

 We visited a greenhouse that grows tomatoes and cucumbers and had a mug of tomato soup with sweet bread:

 Boxes of bees for cross pollination:

Gullfoss Falls was awesome:

 We visited Geysir Haukadalur, where one of many geysers erupts every 3 minutes.  It smelled of sulfur and reminded us of Old Faithful in Yellowstone, but these were much more active and we could see the warm springs bubbling.  They were @ 180° C.  

Note the cracks - this is like this in most places - Iceland is continually increasing in size.

 Joe said he found a troll in the rocks, but if he had he would've turned to stone:

On Tuesday we had a private tour of the south side with Owen Hunt, retired teacher of geology and geometry for 32 years in England.  He used to bring a group of students to Iceland every year and moved to Iceland once he retired.  We were telling him that the tour guide from yesterday told us about elves living under the rocks and the believe in elves by the Icelanders.  There is a strong belief that if you move one of the boulders left from the glacier melts, your equipment will stop working.  This supposedly happened when they were constructing a road, moved some rocks and the equipment ceased to work.  Once they replaced the rocks to their original location, the equipment worked again.  Owen said he believed - he had just been using a hammer and chisel, all alone, and lost both of them.  He looked for his tools for over and hour - and he had just been using them - to this day he hasn't found them.  He only revealed this to us when I asked him about the elves - also known as trolls.  I guess it's not too far fetched of an idea since there's a belief here in the Northwest about Sasquatches....

This is the Land Rover we rode in - I really got some exercise climbing up into it:

Our tour guide Owen:
 The rock island is the southernmost tip of Iceland:

 View from the Land Rover - Owen brought it from England, so the steering wheel is on the right:
A glacier on the south side:

Proof that the Seafloor was once here:
SKYR - made in Iceland - kind of like yogurt, but it's not:
 Icelandic Horses - they keep the breed pure, by not importing any horses, and if one of their horses leave Iceland, they can never return:
They have 5 gaits, while other horses only walk, trot, canter, and gallop; Icelandic horses also tolt. In tolt, a horse has always either one or two feet on the ground.

Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Center (opened May 2011):
 Our final and only nightcap:
 Until next time!
Also, Iceland is one of six locations where Game of Thrones is filmed.

Favorite Photos