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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.
  • Day14

    Today we commuted from the 'burbs into downtown Reykjavik. An easy 15 minute drive along an expressway that London(Ont) coulda/shoulda built 40 years ago. We found a place to park....not an easy task....and headed for probably the city's #1 attraction--a church. Not just any church mind you.....this one is recognizable the minute you see a photo of it so rest assured we attached one here for you!!

    We proceeded to wander around the busy streets with their painted walls and found the main shopping street. Plenty of people...no shopping bags. That is a sure sign of trouble. As we have been saying all along, it is pricey to shop here. Regardless of that, the street is bustling with people, cafes, skateboarders and a "bride to be" in a onesie !!

    We needed to return to the car to ante up some more $$ for the parking meter. As we headed back, we stopped at a bakery we had seen within minutes of leaving the church. It was lined up out the door so we promised ourselves we would return. And we did. OMG!! Two cinnamon buns and a coffee later, we make our way to the corner where there are platforms, not benches. We sit and inhale our treats alongside numerous others. When done, we cross the street to take a pic of some very colourful doors. Three fellows walk by and one heads to the backyard of these homes. As he does,his pal makes an aloof comment which in turn draws a response from me. His comeback is "but we're not Americans." That's OK, neither are we." And so the conversation begins. The 3 are here "working" for US....as in, you and I. They are with our Air Force and helping fulfill Canada's obligation to NATO. Seems we send planes and support to Iceland every 3years.We protect Iceland's air space. These fellas are support staff to the pilots and planes. They confirm that the planes we saw several days ago in Akureyri were indeed Canadian fighter jets. Amongst the funny revelations during our chat was that one fella was married (past tense) to a gal from Cath's original neck of the woods. Small world, eh?? Anyways, we gave them some tourist tips which was funny indeed considering these guys had been here a month and had another month to go . They returned the favour by telling us we could park at the church for free. Fair trade.

    A short while later we encounter 2 young gals who are looking for a bank. Turns out they too are from Canada and ,along with about 10 other gals, are here for a bachelorette weekend !!!! From friggin' Nova Scotia to Reykjavik for a girls' weekend?? Kids today,eh!!! Anyways, banks here are closed Saturday and they were having trouble even finding an ATM. Catherine was able to help them solve their problem BUT wasn't invited to tag along for "the party."

    Tonite we attended the comedy "Icelandic Sagas" at The Harpa, Reykjavik's beautiful concert hall at the harbour. Hey Port Stanley, maybe you should build one of these at our harbour!! Anyways, the show was very funny and Cath had a cameo at one point .

    A very productive day. Tomorrow, Laundry and more cinnamon buns.

    Pics...."bride to be", the church, the bakery, 3 painted walls
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  • Day11

    It's Thursday and we awoke to high winds and ,dare I say it.....snow drizzle. Catherine informed me that where we were heading today was going to feel like -2C with the wind chill. As the Brits often say, "oh bloody hell."

    Off we headed....our target area being the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Driving was easy peazy today....Catherine was shocked that I ,at times, was driving 100km/hr (max speed limit is 90). As we sped along, the weatherman paid an IOU and delivered sunny skies.

    First stop was Arnastapi along the SW coast of the peninsula. I think Arnastapi could be Icelandic for Ahhhhhh-Nold "I'll be back" Schwarzenager. This place would take top prize in a body building contest hands down. In the "Most Dramatic" category, it wins by a landslide. You get the picture. We could have returned to our hotel (the farm) right then and there and been very happy campers.....this place blew us away....and almost did literally as the high winds wreaked havoc with some picture taking!! I think Catherine thought we were staying on Hwy 54 and doing an easy lap around the Peninsula. She was very happy we veered off the main road and took a slight detour. Can't tell you how many pics we snapped here but they would fill a book on their own.

    We eventually said goodbye and headed west to loop around the western point of Snaefellsnes. We were bordered by the Arctic Ocean to our left and Snaefelljokull Glacier to our right. Yup....a boring drive indeed !!!

    We round the bend and are now on the northern coast.....brief stop at Hellissandur for gas and a snack then onwards to Olafsvik, another highly touted port to take a whale watching tour. We missed our daily "foss" at the small port of Rif as the waterfall is too far removed from the highway. Oh well, not like we haven't seen any waterfalls since we arrived.

    Next stop....Kirkjufell.....waterfall and the most photographed mountain in Iceland. We were still enjoying the oooohs and ahhhs derived from sites 5 minutes up the road that we almost missed this stop. I actually had to back up on the highway to pull in. That tells you how much traffic we encountered today. (did I mention there are no shoulders on these roads?) If you would like to see this site, apparently Ben Stiller skateboards at it in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." No skateboards today AND we spotted a "No Drone Zone" sign as the land behind the waterfall is private property.

    OK....last stop....Stykkisholmur (stick it homer) a quaint port on a point. Lovely looking town....can catch a ferry to Flatey here but best to wait until June as Flatey is pretty much closed till then. We had hoped to have a bite as it was now 5:00 p.m and we had been on the road all day. No such luck so we headed for " the farm".

    All in all, a great day. The weather co-operated and the sites were as dramatic as we have encountered our entire time here. We chowed on "the farm's" burgers and called it a night. Tomorrow we finally land in Reykjavik for 5 nights. Friday will be an easy day as we are only 70 km away. Hotel staff suggested some sites to see on our way. We booked an apartment for 4 nights followed by a hotel next to the airport for Tues night.

    Photos....other than the glacier, these are all at Arnastapi.....what did we tell you !! Will create a second entry for today just to add more pix.
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  • Day12

    Today we finally departed our home for these past 3 days ..."the farm".Turned out to be a great base for day jaunts and just relaxing at night. The staff were terrific and helpful in guiding us to some sites we may have otherwise missed. In addition....the owner enlightened me about how Icelanders shop.....on-line from China thru Alibaba OR flying to Edmonton with empty suitcases !! I have told you it is pricey here....even for the locals.

    Last night was busy there as 12 ladies were at dinner as part of a tour. During breaks between courses, they introduced themselves to the group and shared their stories as to who initially got them interested in their hobby. They were close by so it was impossible not to hear them. Initially I thought I was at an AA meeting. Turns out ......they all love to knit. Canada,US,Britain and France were accounted for. An annual junket....destination changes. What better place to hold a knitting meeting than Iceland? I did notice that the farm's sheep looked a little nervous this morning !!

    This morning when I returned the room key, all 12 were in a side room of the restaurant.....knitting.

    Farewell to "the farm"....we're headed down the road.....about 10 km to climb a crater before I've had morning coffee. We park,hop out and I ask a fella who just descended the crater if I need gloves ! "It's a bit windy up there but not cold." CRAP?...I need windy like Trump needs more controversy. We set off up the stairs and occasionally I have to stop and catch my breath. Catherine keeps on going like the proverbial Energizer bunny. She is the true trooper in this relationship. She trucks all the way to the top. Me? Nope.....stop 3/4 of the way.....no hand rails....too much wind....ain't happening !! Catherine gets some good pics and eventually returns. We descend and put a check mark beside yet another site. Not in our top 10 though.

    Next up is a photo op that we have been trying to get for 3 days. It's a cute pic but there is no where to pull off easily. We pass the site and it takes me 5 minutes to find a suitable place to turn around. We manage to find a roadway near the site and voila, Catherine gets some pics ....small,painted houses in a hill of lava,grass or straw....not really sure. Oh well, mission accomplished.

    Next stop...Borganes. I know...we've been there, done that. But today the local market is open so we have to pop in. Nothin' to see her so let's go next door to that great coffee house overlooking the bay/fjord/ocean (pick one). Eventually we leave and head for Reykjavik. Crossing the bridge out of Borganes, we get a new view of the town so stop to get some more pics. OK.....off to the big city.

    The drive is more memorable than we expected including the 6 km tunnel that costs 1000 kronor. We have an apartment booked and a Garmin loaded with an address. I get more roundabout practice enroute which will do me in good stead in St Thomas someday. We are in the burbs of Reykjavik...about 15 minutes from the city centre. The building is owned by a corporation....relatively new....we score a studio. BONUS is across the street so we grab a few staples and actually cook dinner.

    Tomorrow...downtown Reykjavik for the day plus we are attending that Icelandic Saga play !! Should be fun trying to keep all of that straight.

    You will notice one pic of our car dash.....it was 15C today(best day yet) BUT Cath had the heat up on her side of the car!!!
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  • Day14

    It is Sunday in Reykjavik and what better way to spend one's vacation than doing laundry? We scoot into the city to the ONLY place that offers public Laundry service...The Laundry Cafe. Less than two hours later--mission accomplished...off to the bakery for warm cinnamon buns as our reward.

    We stroll around the old town area, harbour and bay. The city appears to be undergoing a transformation from old to new. Sleek high rise buildings(likely condos) dot the landscape along the bay and construction cranes are in abundance. Reykjavik is pretty enough but seems too sterile for our liking. It is hard to believe that we are still in Iceland when comparing the city to what we have seen prior to arriving here on Friday. I guess we miss the countryside charms of glaciers, waterfalls ("foss") and perilous roads!!

    I will say this....Reykjavik sure is clean.

    Our suburb is also under the development knife. New buildings all over the place and more on the way. You would think with all this development and tourism boom, someone would think to build a laundromat? We are across the street from a restaurant supply biz that also sells high end appliances. We asked if they could hook up a washer/dryer for us to use after hours? After all, what better way to sell your product than by having people try them out? It was worth a shot!

    One final bit of trivial knowledge for today. We discovered why the Icelandic hot dog is so popular/famous. They are made with lamb. They aren't baaaaaad.

    Tomorrow....The Golden Circle. Can't wait.

    The pics.....The Harpa concert hall, line ups for hot dogs, Viking ship art at the bay, walking trail along bay, more painted walls
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  • Day15

    It's Monday and we have had this day pencilled in for months. It is "Golden Circle" day and we are very excited to return to "the road." The Golden Circle isn't really anything other than a marketing idea to promote several sites. We start our day at Pingvellir National Park. It is jaw droppingly stunning for its harsh beauty and its historical significance. If you follow Game of Thrones, this is where a sword fight between The Hound and that giant,blonde woman was filmed. Upon seeing the scenery here, the episode came flashing back at once. We score a bonus "foss" here....Oxararfoss. It is not the biggest we have seen but would handily win in the category of "Best Mini-foss".

    We then set our sights on Laugarvatn, a mere blip on a road map BUT home to a well respected restaurant, "Lindin." We normally have not stopped for lunch so today is a treat for both of us. Considering it is mid-afternoon, the place is quite busy. Lunch scores thumbs up from us both. Time for a gusher or two.

    Next up....Geysir. THE original. All future geysirs were named after this one. It doesn't really have a name BUT it likely boasts the largest tourist info,gift shop, restaurant,etc building that we have encountered at any site. Cath gets video of the geysir blowing its top a few times and we wander through the shop before leaving empty handed. We agree that because of the large touristy building, Geysir truly is a tourist "trap" but not in a bad way like Lundy's Lane in Niagara Falls.

    OK.....stop number 3 of 3 coming up. It's time for another (and possibly last in Iceland for us) "foss". We make the short trek to Gullfoss. You may recall that I said we visited Dettifoss and that it was possibly the mother of all waterfalls? Well, we have a new #1 folks. Gullfoss wins in a landslide vote as our favourite waterfall.....and believe me, we saw a LOT of them during our travels. It has everything you would want......speed, power,beauty. One of their info boards stated that it moves water faster than The Falls at Niagara Falls. Can't honestly say I would want to know who jumped into the water to test that so I'll take their word as gospel. Again.....white water rafters need not apply at this "foss."

    WHEW. What a day. As Denver sang, "thank God I'm a country boy." We were so happy to hit the road again. We agreed that finishing with 2 days on the road is the perfect ending to our time here in Iceland. Reykjavik versus the entire country is so polar opposite and for us, we came here to see the natural beauty and experience some natural phenomena.

    Oooops, wait a sec......seems I forgot one last thing. Speaking of natural phenomena. We ended our day at "The Secret Lagoon", a hot pot fed by a natural hot spring. It is in Fludir, yet another pimple on the map but oh, so worth finding. We soak our day away chatting with a couple from Seattle. She and Catherine are both enjoying a Somersby Cider which is not available in Seattle so now we have another person to deliver Somersbys to when we visit the gang in Portland !! The Secret Lagoon was our 6th pool/hot pot/hot tub spot during our trip. Heck, we barely dip our toes into the lake at Port Stanley and we live there!

    Tomorrow....pack and go. Small road trip followed by a move closer to the airport and the return of the rental car.

    Pics....Cath at Oxararfoss, us in Pingvellir Park, 2 "Canada" geese in Pingvellir, 2 shots of Gullfoss, Gullfoss info board
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  • Day16

    All good things eventually come to an end and today we ran head on into that cliche. We are relocating from the burbs to a hotel closer to the airport in anticipation of flying to Oslo early Wednesday morning. Of course moving that short a distance is pretty mundane so we plan a lap around a portion of the Reykjanes Peninsula. We pass the airport at Keflavik and keep going west...passing a golf course that actually has players on it despite the wind. This would be a good place to keep the ball low !! We move on to Gardur and eventually the lighthouse point at Gardskagi where it's a day at the beach watching the numerous birds. On to Sangerdi and a stop for lunch. Lonely Planet, our bible for most trips, recommends we try the house soup at Vitinn. All I can say is , "thank you Lonely Planet."

    Somehow we miss spotting the abandoned US Air Force base where our Canadian jets are currently based. Oh well, onward we go. The rain starts and once we reach the bridge between two tectonic plates, it's a deluge. I offer to "suit up" into my rain gear, walk to the bridge and snap some pics. Catherine wisely stays warm back in the car.

    Lastly, we stop at The Blue Lagoon. Yes, we went in. Yes, we wandered around. NO, we didn't stay for a soak in the Lagoon. It was miserable out and at last count, 6 highway busses dotted the parking lot along with many individual vehicles. We had decided quite awhile back that we would skip this place.....too pricey, too packed, wayyyyy too commercial. Last night's dip at The Secret Lagoon was awesome and very pedestrian compared to the behemoth that Big Blue is.

    It is late afternoon, we need to check in and then return the car. We get most of that done rather efficiently except for the "finding the hotel" part. Our Garmin Girl Serena kept telling me to turn down a street that did not seem to exist. As you can now guess, we eventually found our hotel. The car is gone and all is well with the world.

    We have a very early start Wednesday.....shuttle at 5:30 a.m....flight at 7:50. It has been a great 15 days here in Iceland. Stunning scenery.Very friendly people. Felt as safe as we would have at home. Put a big check mark beside "been there...done that."'

    On to Norway. New time zone. New language. New currency. New adventures. Stay tuned.
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  • Day8

    Our day begins with a visit to a bakery in Husavik. All retail appears to be closed here as it is Sunday. No worries. We chat with a local and get some possible intel on spotting whales from the safety of land. We stroll through this picturesque port but no luck seeing any of the big kids. Oh well, we have other places to be but not before we get more FREE stuff in Iceland. We got FREE air for the tires and FREE water with a brush to wash the car. The car wouldn't have needed a wash had I not decided to put my window down to toss some leftover coffee out. YEP?....forgot to check the wind direction.....similar result as peeing into the wind!! Even managed to mess the interior up with that move. Aren't you glad that you're not travelling with ME??!!!

    Before we leave town, I gas the car up and Cath grabs a Coke Zero, the ones with different locales on the label. She was eyeing up the "Miami" bottle but settled for "Phuket." As we were now 7 days into our adventure, she had had enough.....and either said "Phuket" or "F**k It". The jury is still out on the exact wording. Cut us some slack tho as we are having a difficult enough time with Icelandic.

    Our journey today was to pay up the promise of doubling back to Grjotagja to see a cave used for filming in Game of Thrones. It was small but awesome....have attached a pic. Following the cave, we made our way to the Myvatn Nature Baths. OMG......wayyyy better than the Blue Lagoon in man ways. Spent a glorious hour or so soaking in 40C water. Can you say "ahhhhhhhhh"?

    We are heading for Akureyri now....second largest city in Iceland and a university town to boot. But wait....is that another "Foss" ahead?? Why yes it is....we must pull over. It is Godafoss....yet another waterfall with quite a unique tale behind it (Google it and save me telling you). Godafoss is truly awesome and holy moly,what a great spot to be a white water rafter....professionals only....this is NOT for the amateurs.

    OK, onward we go. The drive to Akureyri is bedazzling but sends us up a mountain pass. Which means we have to come down a mountain pass. This is not good on my psyche. I sit on the brake the entire trip down. At different points we exit a curve and enter Shangri La.....spellbinding views of mountains and lakes. Cath doesn't have the camera on her lap so ,sorry, no pics to prove how stunning it was. AND no pics to show how scared I was !!

    Akureyri is beautiful. Haven't been to Switzerland but I am guessing there is a similarity here. 18000 population. Located in a valley with a lake and surrounded by snow capped mountains. It could easily be a Christmas ball....shake and watch.

    We scored a spot in the middle of town and finally have our own bathroom....not an easy thing to come by unless you spend big bucks. Luckily we still had some big bucks as we needed them to cover dinner. Two orders of fish n chips with one beer...over $50 Cdn. We were stuffed which was a good thing as the ice cream parlour was on our way back to the hotel......perhaps tomorrow !!

    Tomorrow, stroll around Akureyri for awhile and then head north to Dalvik and points along the coast of what I call "the thumb". We are guessing the scenery might blow us away. We are booked into a little spot called Hofsos. As long as I don't have to go UP a mountain, we should be good to go.

    FYI.....photo in Husavik acknowledging NASA training, photo of dock in Husavik, Cath at Godafoss, "GOT" cave, scenery along Ring Road(always a snow capped mountain nearby)
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  • Day1

    We have been up for over 36 hrs and the start of our adventure wouldn't be an adventure if we didn't get lost at least twice! First stop Crater Lake...on a sunny day this lake would be a beautiful blue, but not today. Even without the sun the lake is a beautiful green and crystal clear. This crater was formed approximately 6,500 years ago. Next stop Keldur Hall which has existed for almost 1,000 years. this estate has a number of sod homes and it is one of the few preserved turf houses in Iceland.. The turf houses don't open until June, so Paul and I along with a gentlemen from Washington, were the only ones there.

    We ended the day with three spectacular waterfalls ...absolutely breath taking....check out the rainbow!
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  • Day5

    For some of you, you will remember the Canadian ski team that had a wee bit of a kamikaze mindset. We are pleased to announce that we joined them today. Not only that, but we had visions of a Prince tune playing in the background.....you know the one...."Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate this thing called LIFE."

    Along with our B&B hosts in "save this four door", we kept a close watch on the weather and road reports. We agreed to hang in till noon and that both the weather and roads would be OK by then. We set off in slushy snow which is no biggie for us Canucks. However, as every Science student knows, the higher the elevation, the colder it gets. Guess who failed Science in HS???? ME !!!!

    Eventually we hit Dorothy/Wiz of Oz-like winds coupled with snow. Scotty was nowhere to be found to beem us up. We were too far from the B&B to turn around and not far enough yet to be in the clear. Keep on truckin'.

    SPOILER ALERT.........obviously we are alive cuz nobody else could possibly make this stuff up!!

    We rolled the dice and came up CRAPS. Total whiteout.....whoosh....into a snow bank.....at least we think it was a snow bank. Thankfully the guy two vehicles behind was a tow operator.

    "What are you doing on this road?" followed by " I usually charge $X to pull you out but I was already on the road so I will only charge you half of X". At that point, negotiating isn't really an option is it?

    He had us out in no time although it was so windy, he was barely able to just stand up. Turns out we were within 400 metres of reaching clear road. Once sprung, we bee lined to the bottom and waited for him so as to pay. We passed 3 other vehicles each up in the snow banks and the tow operator flagged down a car of Asians and told them to turn back. Within minutes of us paying, a road crew fellow came along and officially CLOSED the road.

    So we arrived back in Egg Salad Store......25 km from where we left....and called it a day. Found a guesthouse for the night and will live to drive another day.

    Feel free to live your life vicariously through our trials and errors folks. Who better equipped than ME to screw up? I can take the heat.....and I know you are laughing out loud at me now too!!! Don't apologize for the laughing.

    We contacted our B&B hosts to let them know what had happened. They felt terrible but we still shared some laughs. I am now debating what rating on Airbnb to give them!!! Just kidding.

    Things happen for a reason. No doubt we will answer that one later. Been quite a day.....just too short.

    BTW.....Vinbuden is their version of the LCBO.....3 guesses now as to why Cath is headed inside!!!!
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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

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