It's not all about the ice. (Greenland has more ice than Iceland and Iceland is more green than Greenland) Iceland is about beauty, the ice, and the people and the ocean, and green and birds and trolls.
Here is the beginning of my journey to this spellbinding island.
I know, not a glamorous way to start the journey but it is soooo practical. Here's the back story to this ... I do have a thing for remote islands. So, on a previous trek my husband and I went to Rapa Nui. As is common, our bags went on individual journeys and had grand adventures of their own, separately. Mine popped out on the crowded carrousel with a slight glittery glow in parts while the rest was filthy dirty (this was its maiden voyage too). After our walk to the hotel, the first thing I did upon checking in was to view the contents of my bag. (insert super big sad face here) All of the contents were damp with above mentioned glittery glow. Ewwww. I started this journey with washing all of my delicates, then having to dry them. On hindsight I really should have just taken all of my clothes to have them laundered, I did not, so clothes and delicates were hung to dry for the entire time of our trip. Not horrible, but extra work. Glad it was warm so damp clothes were not a major problem.
With this knowledge, I chose to not start our Iceland journey with wet clothes. It was still winter time after all.
Hence, my clothes being put into plastic bags (If used properly they do have some good re uses. Recycle, and Reuse)
Seriously, the best views we got of the Northern Lights were from the plane. We did see them again, but no photos were captured (I'm not that good)
A rare photo of the two of us together.
This is the google translation.
top line Women have not been achieved and various invisible threshold embedded in a male-dominated power system still exists.
middle line The Convention entered into force in 1981 and was an important step towards the recognition of women's rights as human rights.
This is in downtown Reykjavik.
Hallgrimskirkja. Stunning, famous church in downtown Reykjavik. Go, visit, go to the top and enjoy!
In the front of Hallgrimskirkja.
YES, I went there. I'm taking you on a journey from a glorious church to penises. I had to go to the penis museum!! Why? Well, it is super interesting. I think all who visit end up learning something fascinating. I never knew how many animals have bones in their penises, far more than what I thought. And, how big some of them are. I'm short so there are animal penises that are bigger than I am - yikes!!
And, here we go from penises to punk rock!!!!! It is in an old public bathroom which is pretty cool. This bitchin museum is well worth the visit, located on Laugavegur which is the biggest shopping street in Reykjavik. You can't miss the sounds bellowing out from below.
Ahhhh, the views from this rooftop gem. Take the time to enjoy at least one drink from Sky, or lunch and dinner with a glorious view of the bay. This is part of the Center Hotels that are in Reykjavik.
Images in and around town.
Downtown at night.
We went scouting for northern lights viewing. We got a great sunset pic.
And, off to Skaftafell we go. We are the type of travellers that like to spend a few days in a couple of places. So we chose to head east of Reykjavik through Vik (images are coming up) to stay at the hotel Skaftafell. Along the way we enjoyed views of trolls, waterfalls and super cool roadside pullouts. Take the time to stop at the numerous waterfalls along the way, these are clearly marked. Check out the smaller viewing areas too. The views you can catch here are stunning and well worth your time.
Vik. You can see this beauty from either direction.
Those are trolls - they did not make it inside before the sun came up so they were turned into stone.
Views from along the way. I am a car photographer at times.
The images below are not taken from the car. They are of Skogafoss.
Climbing these stairs is worth the view from above.
Even on a slow day there are so many people.
We made it to Skaftafell.
We loved climbing the little hill to view the lights. Visit the web cam and look to the left side of that view, there is a pole (do mind the guy-wires) and part of the little hill. Just climb up there for great viewing!
Well, now on to an absolutely stunning part of our journey. I LOVED seeing the icebergs at Jökulsárlón. They took my breath away, I felt like I was walking in a fairy land of black sands covered in white pieces of crystal. The blue of the icebergs beckons the heart to the depths of ones soul tempting all to wander until creation is found.
The only thing I have a hard time with of this area is that its glory comes from global warming. The lake is becoming larger while the ice is melting into the sea. Frozen pieces of time released back to the shiftable world.
Along the road from Reykjavik and Skaftafell. Just one of the little pull outs with views to thrill your senses.
Thingvelir - Yep, the golden circle was done. And, it was spectacular!
A bit further down the trail but so worth it.
Had we known in advance we would have parked here. Not as many cars so not as crazy. It is the parking lot for the waterfall - you still have the same access to the trails.
This is the geysir along the golden circle. Yes, it's cool and beautiful. However, I live within a days drive from Yellowstone National Park in Idaho/Wyoming, US. So, while it is stunning here, I have seen Old Faithful plenty of times. If you have not seen anything like this, then go, go, go, go!!
Don't sell your friends.
Being hikers, my husband and I wanted to hike, not necessarily on a glacier but up one of the hills in and around the glaciers. We do realize that hiking on glaciers without a guide is dangerous and we were not totally equipped for that type of safety.
The trail, on the lower parts was well paved and used. Once we were up higher there were no people and the trails snow covered.
With the weather turning we opted to turn around at this stage.
A note about safety.
As we were hiking down I took one step and my left leg hit a snow covered hole. Luckily I am very flexible, as my left knee was around my ear, my right leg never hit bottom, happily, as I would have broken bones. I was able to belly flop my way out (probably hilarious to see) so my point with this is ... be careful. And, while I did not see the hole I was able to safely get moving again while keeping my cool. It is easy to see why people get lost in crevasses and are never heard from again.
Imagine waking to this view everyday. Looking out to the sea with mountains and glaciers behind.
I loved this pull out. Maybe it is because of the female ownership of the property, maybe it is the beauty of the place. I just know I loved this spot - enjoy!
Just another roadside pull out.
There are so many lovely places here. Make your own journey, use what I have shared, love your life, be kind to others, respect other cultures, respect yourself. Leave the areas you travel to in the same or better condition than when you arrived.
Thanks for being on this journey and see ya soon.
Now on to the maps we used, how much the trip cost, and a few more tips.
~If you want to go to the Blue Lagoon, book your visit when you book your flight, maybe even before. It gets that busy. It is about 30 minutes outside of Reykjavik toward Keflavik. There are busses that run out and most hotels will have info on this for you.
~When we went in March 2017 gas was about $7.50 USD per gallon. Every station we went to had credit card payments on the pump. They all had english versions, however, if you miss that step then you are pumping your gas in Icelandic.
~$1 USD was about 108.85 ISK
~American? get used to 24 hour time (military time)
~Getting around. We chose to rent our own car from the airport. We went with Blue Car Rental and had amazing service. You can easily walk from the airport to the business or there is a buss.
In Reykjavik we walked everywhere. We did park our car in a metered spot (I did this in Icelandic and totally screwed up. However my screw up ended up being perfect for the 3 days we needed to plug the meter for) It was not very expensive.
~Museums. I LOVE museums!
WE went to all of the ones at Skogar (the same turnoff for Skogafoss) This has the Skogar Folk Museum and the Museum of Transport and Communication (you buy your tickets for all in here.) Churches, turf farms, the first house built all of driftwood, and a schoolhouse all await your visit. If you have change you can even use the public restroom. Another tip mainly for Americans - yes, pay to use a restroom.
THE Icelandic Phallological Museum. Americans you can be quite prudish at times - I suggest to get over it and learn some cool information about penises. It is right downtown at Laugavegur 116 in Reykjavik.
THE National Museum of Iceland Closer to Hallgrimskirja and bags need to be stored in lockers downstairs. The lockers are free.
THE Maritime Museum at Grandagarour 8 in Reykjavik. It is located in the old harbour section which is lovely to walk around.
Here we also went to the Saga Museum
The punk rock museum - yes, it's noisy, crowded and a must see.
Get yourself to the Icelandic Museum or Rock and Roll in Keflavik too.
The maps and books we used.
The books were good for more detailed info on specific areas, however we did not rely on them for much of anything else.
The map on Thingvellir was picked up at the visitors center and was easy to use for walking around there.
This map turned out to be the best buy for navigation.
We did end up downloading google maps for Reykjavik which was helpful too. We used them off line.
Our car had GPS which helped getting out of town, then we used the map.
City maps (picked up at hotels, museums etc) were great for city exploration.
Roughly $700 USD was spent on food, museums, drinks, and gifts (I really don't buy many gifts while abroad)
Car rental for 7 days was $630 with $150 extra for deposit.
RT flights for 2 adults from San Francisco to Keflavik.
NOW being that it was winter time we opted to check bags for both of us so we could have enough warm clothes (makes sense right?)
This brought our total for flights to $1064
Hotel Skaftafell for 2 nights was $366
We stayed in 2 different hotels while in Reykjavik
22 hill hotel 1 night at $138 A bit more of a walk (4-5 blocks) but pleasant rooms.
4th floor hotel 3 nights at $547 Closer to the heart of town, slightly more noisy, clean.
Being that we live in Boise Idaho we had to fly to SF and due to departure times we spent the night there.
Flights, RT for 2 were $507 and hotel was $110
Making our total $4062 for the trip.
We do not expect to stay in super fancy hotels but we want clean and convenient.
WE choose to spend our time and money on good local food and culture.
Have you been to Iceland? What is your favorite place to visit there?
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