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Iceland

Curious what backpackers do in Iceland? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Today we became Penguins. On our way to Reykjavik, the final destination of our trip, we took time out to visit an ice cave cut into the Langjökull Glacier, the largest man-made ice cave in the world. We arrived at noon to check in and half-an-hour later our waddling group of Penguins boarded a Monster Truck ... no, that's not a typo or reference to a children's play set because it was a huge-wheeled truck/bus for thirty Penguins. The journey to the glacier took around two hours.

    On a good day, Rob was told by the Guide, from the glacier you can see the ice cap on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, where we've been the last couple of days, which must be at least 60 miles away. Sounds fantastic doesn't it, until you know that for us it was a complete whiteout for the drive up the glacier with truly arctic conditions when we arrived. Visibility was about 50 feet.

    We were given an interesting tour which included a small chamber set as a church (photo 5) where our guide sang a beautiful Icelandic lullaby to demonstrate the acoustics.

    It was late in the afternoon when we returned to our car, arriving in Reyjavik about 7pm. We then treated ourselves a lovely meal out which included a bottle of wine. We'll be applying for a mortgage as soon as we arrive home!
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  • After visiting the Whale Museum we had a stroll by the side of the old harbour then spent some time taking photographs of graffiti-covered buildings, of which there are quite a few in Reykjavik. Often these are on the boards surrounding building sites and there appears to be a lot of these at the moment. Things here appear to be developing fast.

    The Sun Voyager is a well known site in the city and we wanted to see if there was an opportunity for a photograph. The lighting could have been better but we think we got something to show for our time there.Read more

  • Next we walked to the church which dominates the city. It is a very tall structure and its tower can be seen from most areas around. Inside it feels a very large space and the first thing you notice, compared to your average British church, is how warm it is inside. Just as we arrived the organist began playing and this added to the general atmosphere while we were there.

    After taking one or two snaps we left to find somewhere for a refreshment break and spent the rest of our time browsing the shops and sights.Read more

  • We awoke to grey skies once more so decided on a more leisurely start in the hope things would brighten up. When we arrived at the small car park it was once again blowing a gale with the now standard fitting of horizontal rain, but at least the view from the car was quite a bit clearer than yesterday. After a while we decided to brave the elements and at least get a photograph rather than leaving with nothing. First Tony, then Rob ventured to the left of the falls to look back towards the mountain which is the classic shot for this location ... except for the grey skies and driving rain, of course.

    We're now back at our accommodation to sort ourselves out for the afternoon and will be exploring the Berserkjahraun lava field.
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  • Our final day in Iceland is spent discovering Reykjavik. The day began with pouring rain so the first stop was a bakery for coffee and breakfast in the hope the rain would stop. It didn't.

    The Whale Museum wasn't too far away so we decided to investigate and were amazed to find life-size models of pretty much every type of whale. Though he shouldn't have, Rob touched one of the whale models to discover it was rather squashy and rubber-like. Perhaps, we wondered, that's how we'd be after a day in that rain!

    After a cup of free coffee we ventured outside to find the rain had stopped ... for a while.
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  • A short interlude to talk about the weather we've been experiencing during our trip. As you've seen, we've pretty much seen the lot from high winds to snow and frost with pretty much everything in between. Perhaps not as much sun as we'd have preferred but it has been with us at times.

    Today was undoubtedly the wettest experience so far. So how have we got on coping with what, at times, has been hours of rain?

    Clothing-wise it's been fine even in low temperatures. One of our followers has referenced the saying that "there is no such thing as the wrong weather, only the wrong clothes" and that has definitely been our experience. When we say we've been getting wet that hasn't been our delicate bodies but our outer layers and equipment. At no point have we really felt the cold nor got truly deep-down soaked. We've really been quite warm and snug at times.

    We have both commented on how well our equipment has survived our adventures and, as you can see in the photo taken today, our cameras have been well and truly soaked at times. The biggest problem has been keeping the lens free of rain droplets and this has been a real nuisance, especially when we're also battered by the wind. We are using cameras with good weather sealing though so in case you're thinking of taking your camera into the shower with you, just check your instruction book first!

    What we can say about photography in the conditions we've experienced at times, is you can only take it for so long. Eventually all your microfibre cloths are wet and you simply crave coffee and cake ... and that's how we finished today.
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  • The weather got worse!

    Undoubtedly, this drive through the lava field would have been stunning at this time of year, bathed in the golden light of the low sun. Our actual experience however was being bathed, pressure washed even, by an infinite tonnage of wet stuff relentlessly travelling horizontally. But if we had been given the golden light the colours in the landscape would have glowed in multi-tones of grey, brown, black and red contrasted against the greens of the moss and a whole range of small plants grasping for life. There were unworldly shapes of twisted and broken rock as we wound our way along the gravel road. Shame we didn't see it all as we describe, but we simply loved all that rain and wind.

    Did we mention the wind?
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  • The first day was a very long one. Our goal was to make up some time at the beginning. We ended up at an awesome campground which was even for free. The landscape is so unique and we are looking forward to the next days.

  • We left our accommodation this morning in low spirits. The weather was heavily overcast, it was wet - the very wet stuff where you get very wet, wetter than a bank holiday in Blackpool and that's very very wet. Get the idea? There's more - because on the way to the place where unique photographic opportunities await, there was also fog! "Dull" does not describe it.

    So when we arrived at our next photo location we were amazed to see the view emerge before us. It was like the ice had a life of its own, a glow of subtle blues and whites set against a gentle grey toned backdrop. It was wonderful.

    We spent the whole day here in the pouring rain for it never stopped, not for a moment. Everything got soaked - the cameras, the lenses, the both of us. Was it worth it? Oh yes!
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  • Some things worth knowing about Iceland - they are serious about their tunnels. I've gone through two tunnels now, and either one makes the Eisenhower tunnel that goes through the continental divide look childish. The first tunnel, yesterday, was under the water. Under Hvalfjordur to be exact. I didn't even realize where I was going. I was just going down down down to the center of the earth. Jennifer and I only realized what happened when we came out the other side, paid a massive toll, and couldn't figure out where we came from. The second time was today, going through a mountain on the way to Olafsfjordur. The tunnel is crazy long, deep, and most shockingly, one lane. It was like traveling through the belly of a dimly lit snake. It made the Icelandic stories of the hidden people seem feasible. It took a little while to realize there was a system wherein I believe my direction could periodically pull out to the right and let the equally freaked out oncoming traffic creep by. There appear to be even longer ones to traverse tomorrow.

    We began today by miserably failing at getting gas in Hvammstangi. After a lot of staring, a man came outside to ease our distress. He determined the machine needed to be restarted. The woman who came to restart it clarified that it needed to be restarted because we had messed it up so badly. She then walked us through the proceedure culminating in needing to enter our PIN for our c redit card. I said we didn't have one. She explained all Icelandic credit cards have a PIN. I explained no American credit cards had a PIN. So she said we needed a gas card. I really don't know why it still didn't work. The second woman that came out did the exact same thing I just did, but it worked for her. We've decided to always get gas now on the way out of town, to better hide our shame.

    Though not very religious, it turns out Icelanders take a very long Easter vacation. Starting today and lasting through Monday. It's unclear what they do on this vacation, as most everything is closed. We drove up to Saudarkrokur (which I like to pronounce Soda Cracker) to check out the world's only fish leather tannery. Which was closed for the holiday. As was the information center, as was the museum. Turns out the only places open are typically restaurants. Which isn't the worst thing. But food can be pricey here. Don't expect to get a steak of any variety anywhere for under $50. Thank goodness I didn't come here for steak.

    Heading south from Soda Cracker we happened upon some beautiful old turf houses in Glaumbaer. They currently feature in the book I'm reading (Independent People by Halldor Laxness), and are called croft houses. The traditional home of the shepherd, made on all sides by thick cut turf, with tiny windows. The houses themselves were closed, although the tea room stayed open (keeping with the 'everthing closed but food' theme).

    We now circle our way counter clockwise around the Troll Peninsula. Spending quite a long time in the hot tub at the cabin tonight, waiting for the lights to show themselves, we have been stood up again. But the hot water and cosy cabins are never a disappointment.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Iceland, Island, Iceland, Ysland, Aesland, አይስላንድ, Islandia, Īsland, أيسلندا, İslandiya, Ísland, Ісландыя, Исландия, Isilandi, আইসল্যান্ড, ཨ་ཨི་སི་ལནད།, Islàndia, Islandëjô, Исланди, Gwlad yr Iâ, އައިސްލަންޑަން, ཨའིསི་ལེནཌ, Aiseland nutome, Ισλανδία, Islando, ایسلند, Islannda, Islanti, Islande, Yslân, An Íoslainn, Innis Tile, આઇસલેન્ડ, Aisalan, איסלנד, आइसलैण्ड, Islandska, Izland, Իսլանդիա, Islanda, Icelandia, アイスランド共和国, ისლანდია, Aislandi, Islandi, អ៉ីស្លង់, ಐಸ್‌ಲ್ಯಾಂಡ್, 아이슬란드, ئایسلەند, Ayisirandi, Iesland, Islànda, Isilandɛ, ໄອສແລນ, Islandija, Isilande, Īslande, Islandy, Исланд, ഐസ്‌ലാന്റ്, आइसलँड, အိုက်စလန်, आइस्ल्याण्ड, IJsland, Islandii, ଆଇସଲ୍ୟାଣ୍ଡ, آیسلینډ, Islândia, Islandya, Ayisilandi, आइसलैंड, Islánda, Islânde, අයිස්ලන්තය, Iislaand, ஐஸ்லாந்து, ఐస్లాండ్, ไอซ์แลนด์, ʻAisilani, Aislan, İzlanda, ئىسلاندىيە, Ісландія, آئس لینڈ, Ai-xơ-len (Iceland), Lisladeän, איסלאנד, Orílẹ́ède Aṣilandi, 冰岛, i-Iceland