Sunday, July 13, 2014

Iceland--cold, but no ice!!

We arrived at the Iceland airport, picked up our tiny Mazda rental car and drove the short distance to the Berg Hotel. The hotel was across from a small marina, and had great views of the ocean, at least what we could see through the fog and overcast skies.
The Berg Hotel
Bear and Dog overlooking the Atlantic Ocean!

On the very far right is the fabulous restaurant where we
ate our first night in Iceland.

The hotel room was two floors, with the bedroom up a short flight of stairs in the loft.   We spent little time there as we were focused on the need for food!  On the recommendation of the hotel staff, we walked across the street to a local restaurant and had one of the tastiest meals of our trip!  Since we were in Iceland we both ate seafood dishes and even had a  luscious  dessert.  Suffice to say, we left quite satisfied.  We intended to walk around the town of Keflavik, but found it to be way TOO COLD!  

We returned to our room to plan the next day's adventure.  

On Saturday morning, we arose early for our whale watching adventure.  We arrived and were thankful that the company supplied waterproof, warm jumpsuits for all passengers.  Did I tell you it was COLD in Iceland?

Vince in his Whale watching suit

The ocean was beautiful

We watched for groups of birds, which signified
the presence of whales.

I am studying the ocean!

Our ship's name

There is a group of birds here, but no whales!
The trip out into the Atlantic Ocean was glorious.  The sun started to poke through the clouds and provided more contrast to the dark ocean surface we were watching, looking for whales.  The captain provided us with information on the types of whales we would most likely see (Minkie and humpback), as well as information on the birds ( puffins, seagulls, tenents).  We had a number of whale sightings, mostly dorsal fins.  Some were so fleeting, I missed them.  Pictures were impossible unless I wanted to stare through the camera lens instead of enjoying myself.  So, sorry my friends, no photos for you to enjoy except for the ones from the company website.
After our whale journey, we went in search of Virka, a quilt store.  Virka is supposedly the largest quilt store in Europe and based on my shopping experiences, I believe that claim!  Iceland is not known for their fabric, but for their wool, so I was not able to purchase any fabric made in Iceland.  I decided on some which had puffins, whales and seagulls, as well as a fun batik.

This is what I spent on Fabric.  4,515 Kroner

the owner of the shop makes all of the quilts.

We stopped for lunch at a Metro Burger place, which seemed to have the same menu as McDonalds!

Next stop, Geysir!  There are many geysers in Iceland, and we visited a spot where there are several.

On the way to Geysir, we found another rock tower field! 

Loved the 'at your own risk' sign!

Little Geyser--bubbles continually

On the way to the Strokkur geyser

Strokkur getting ready for its performance

Thar She Blows! 

Strokkur erupts fairly regularly

Another really cool (hot?) pool at the park, the colors are not
really visible in the photo, but the water appears a
beautiful light teal color

Lupines grow wild in Iceland.  They are Beautiful!


Strokkur erupting again

and again!

This is the original Geysir---it does not erupt very often, perhaps
because of the other geysers in the area.

After Geysir, we ventured off to find Gullfoss (which meals Golden Falls).  What a fabulous sight!  The falls are tiered, like Niagra Falls, but much smaller.  However, there is more character there!  The story of the falls is this:  

Sigríður Tómasdóttir, the daughter of Tómas Tómasson who owned the waterfall in the first half of the 20th century, must have felt the same. She lived at a farm nearby and loved Gullfoss as no one else.

At this period of time much speculation about using Gullfoss to harness electricity was going on. Foreign investors who rented Gullfoss indirectly from the owners wanted to build a hydroelectric power plant, which would have changed and destroyed Gullfoss forever.

As the story goes it's thanks to Sigríður Tómasdóttir that we still can uplift ourselves with the beauty of Gullfoss, because she was the one that protested so intensely against these plans by going as far to threat that she would throw herself into Gullfoss and thereby kill herself.

To make her threat believeable she went barefoot on a protest march from Gullfoss to Reykjavik. In those days the roads weren't paved and when she arrived after 120 kilometers her feet were bleeding and she was in very bad shape.
The people believed her and listened and the power plant at Gullfoss was never built.
Today one can see the memorial site of Sigríður that depicts her profile at the top of the falls.

Gullfoss from the upper parking area

Closer view of Gullfoss

Walking on the rocks at the edge of Gullfoss

Close up view of Gullfoss

Distance view of Gullfoss, you can see the walkway and
the rocks at the edge where we stood.

We found a Thai restaurant for dinner and ventured back to the Hotel Berg for our final night's rest in Iceland.  

In the morning, bear, dog and I went Exploring and found the home of the Giantess.

There were these HUGE footprints along the marina below our hotel.

You can see how large the footprints are compared to Dog and Bear.
Upon our arrival at her shack, we hard her snoring!  Bear wanted to go in, but dog was scared.  We took photos and skedaddled out of there! 

Vince was waiting for us to return so that we could take our final ride through the Icelandic countryside.  We were returning to the airport and starting our return journey to the United States. 

In total, we traveled more than 27,900 miles.  We traveled by airplane, train, automobile, boat, cable car, horse drawn carriage, and foot.  We explored mountains, inactive volcanoes, gorges, glaciers, beaches, cities, lakes, and scrub (Australia).  We experienced the culture of a symphony and an orchestra, as well as the majestic beauty that God created in nature.  We met many different people, learned a few words in different languages, ate food we had not eaten before and some we may never eat again!!

We had the time of our lives on this trip of a lifetime and I am thrilled to have experienced it again by sharing it with all of you.  I hope you enjoyed our trip around the world an I hope that it has inspired you to do some traveling of your own.  You do not need to go around the world, just find somewhere you have not been before and go! 

No comments: