Friday, September 27, 2013

Iceland: Part I

More often than not, when we mentioned that we were planning a trip to Iceland or had recently returned from Iceland, the response we got was: Why?  I think it is a general unawareness about what Iceland has to offer or perhaps different travelling styles.  Some of our favourite trips are ones where we rent a car, stay in apartment-like accommodations, and travel independently in rustic, picturesque and outdoorsy locations.  Iceland offers all of these things (and much more).  

We started our trip in Reykjavik. Neither of us was looking forward to a long day of travel.  Plus, travelling with a one year old adds a whole other layer of effort. You can't just sit and lose yourself in a movie or a book.  When R asked me what I was looking forward to most and, at the time, I wasn't lying when I said, "arriving at our accommodations in Reykjavik." #firstworldproblems

We spent our first day exploring Reyjkavik.  It was raining off an on, so we quickly grabbed some of the hot dogs that Reykjavik is known for...

 and then headed to the Harpa (concert hall)

The interior is really neat.  It's a large space, but they've done a really good job of carving out more intimate spaces, like the ones you see below.

We were still hungry, so we grabbed some cake and hot chocolate at the restaurant.  

Since it was raining, we looked for other indoor options and decided to visit the National Museum of Iceland.  Here's E looking ditzed out (jet lag?) in an costume top at the museum.

The museum is a mix of exhibits from different eras in Iceland's history.  This picture was taken in an exhibit on silver.  

After the museum, we checked out some shops on the main street and retreated to the apartment.

The next day, we did one of the main tourist attractions, The Blue Lagoon.  It's hard to describe the experience.  But it's a large lagoon, heated geothermally, that you walk around. It was another cool, rainy day, so it was misty and hard to really get a sense of the size of it.  Several football fields in size. We basically walked around the lagoon, gave ourselves mud facials and relaxed.  It's one of those must see things in Iceland.

On our third day, we did another one of the main tourist attractions in Iceland: The Golden Circle.  The Golden Circle takes you to three main sites, Thingvellir National Park, Geysir and Gulfoss, along with multiple areas to stop along the way.  Our first stop was just outside of Thingvellir, where we saw this field of stacked stones.  

We stopped relatively quickly in Thingvellir to see the fissure that has been created between two tectonic plates, the North American plate and the Eurasian plate.

After leaving the national park, we saw an opportunity to stop and take pictures of Icelandic horses.  I saw a field with several horses, along with another car and two women standing in the area.  I figured it was other tourists.  But, when I got out of the car and had a woman yelling at me in Icelandic, I realized that they weren't tourists.

I stood there looking dumb and asked if they spoke English (which the majority of people do in Iceland).  Turns out, they were really glad we were there because they needed help to coral the horses.  It's a three person job and with only two of them, they weren't getting anywhere.  They promised me that I could take as many pictures as I wanted once we got them in a specific area.

Next, we went to Geysir.  Everyone gathers around a hole in the ground, waiting for the geysir to build up and erupt into the air.

The next main stop off point is Gulfoss, Iceland's most famous waterfall.

On the way home, we stopped in Hveragerdi for dinner.  This area is known for its geothermal activity and their uses of it.  For example, earth cooking uses steam from the earth to cook food.  

Although our meals weren't prepared this way, we both enjoyed our dinners.

Thankfully, the days are long during the summer, so we didn't have to drive in the dark. It was a full day, but very enjoyable.

On our last day day in Reykjavik, we stopped for breakfast at Ten Drops.  It has a bit of a "grandmother's basement" feel to it, but it is a laid back place that makes a good breakfast.

We spent time taking in the festivities associated with Culture Night in Reykjavik and the marathon that occurs on the same day. We also walked along the water and visited the church, where we listened to the choir rehearse and went to the tower to look out over the city.  I also fulfilled my goal of purchasing Icelandic wool to bring home with me to make my own Lopapeysa.

I better stop here and continue the rest of the trip in another post or else this will never see the light of day StumbleUpon


Just Crafty Enough said...

Ahhhh, I'm so jealous! I cannot wait to go back & your pictures make it even worse. Next time I'm going to have someone custom make me a Lopi sweater! I bought one on the last trip, but I lost a lot of weight & it is a jacket now.

That Girl said...

Is it strange that Iceland reminds me of New Zealand? (And I haven't been to either)

chicago foodie girl said...

Ooooh, fantastic! Iceland is near the top of my must-visit list. Lucky you! :-)