Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Iceland Day 10 - Reykjavík

Our last full day in the country was bittersweet.  We had waited for this vacation for so long and now it was all coming to a close!

We cleaned up our van and took it back, then headed to our hotel to rest for a bit.  Unfortunately it was cold and raining, but we still wanted to head out and see the city.  It was a sweet, beautiful little city, full of charming shops, cafes, and restaurants, but the rain and cold just made it all icky.  I didn't even bring my camera, which explains the lack of photos.

One of my favorite memories in the city was the Municipal City Pool, Sundhöllin, the oldest still in use. I felt like I stepped into the fifties showering there!

There's not much else to say seeing as this is the only blog post I didn't write ON the trip (instead, more than a month later)...I only wish the weather would have cooperated for us...it seemed like a wonderful city to explore.

The next morning we were off...so sad to go but so excited for the rest of summer ahead!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Iceland Day 9 - Berserkjahraun - Reykjavík

It was a bittersweet day--our last day on the road with more than half of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula still left to explore.  We started by going to our first and only Icelandic museum (although they have them all over, in all the little towns), the Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum.  Here we learned how they make fermented shark meat and even got to try some.  Not too bad but definitely not too good.  

We continued our journey driving around the Peninsula, not really knowing what to do.  Supposedly there is a ton to do, but maybe we were getting lazy... we stopped to climb a small volcano (it took about five minutes which was much nicer than the 4.5 hour hike we took up La Concepción in Nicaragua) then kept going.  There was a glacier there, Snæfellsjökull, which we viewed from afar. 

I was keen on going to Ytri Tunga Beach because I heard there were seals to be seen.  We looked for quite a bit in one area before we noticed some people far away on the other end of the beach.  When we headed over we finally saw two seals but they were content with staying a ways away in the water.  Not quite what I expected but we were so excited to just see two little seal heads in the water.  See if you can see them below it's like I Spy. 

After this we were pretty much done with the area.  Maybe we missed a bunch?  

We headed back to Reykjavík, the capital, so we could be ready to turn in the van around 11 the next morning.  We found ourselves a nice place to park (behind the Icelandic Home Depot) for the last night, next to the Lupine flowers, and once again under the midnight sunset.  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Iceland Day 8 - Látrabjarg - Berserkjahraun

We awoke near a white sand beach to clear skies.  This was probably the second day of pure blue skies and beautiful white clouds.  With this in mind we headed back to the bird cliffs to try and get some more photos of the puffins, but much to our surprise they were very difficult to spot!  We walked a bit but only ended up seeing four total, and other photographers were getting their chance to shoot the birds.  Because of this, I would recommend anyone to visit Látrabjarg as late as possible, I believe we were there around 11:00 pm. We did see one cute guy, no idea what he is.

Today we headed back out the way we came, but were surprised to see much more of the beautiful surroundings in the Westfjords, since the fog lifted from the mountains and cliffs.  I was stunned and thankful to see white sand beaches and turquoise water, something I definitely didn’t expect to see in Iceland! 

It took hours to wind our way back through the bumpy roads, but the scenery was astounding!  We took some time to explore a beach, take photographs, and enjoy our last bit of time in the area. 

Next we were on to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, the last area on our journey.  We started on the north side, stopping in Stykkishólmur for an Icelandic hot dog for dinner, and I must say, the hotdog truck pictured below served the absolute best hot dog I've ever eaten in my life.  It included crunched up Doritos (I don't like Doritos?) garlic cream sauce, paprika spices, a deep fried hot dog and melted cheese.  I start drooling when I think about it hungry.  

Even though the town was picturesque, we didn't stick around for long, and chose to drive on ahead to photograph Kirkjufell Mountain.  I had seen many photographs of this beauty, but had a difficult time capturing anything to be proud of.  Still can't quite figure that one out. 

We backtracked a bit and spent the night in Berserkjahraun, the beautiful moss covered lava fields.  We saw our first Icelandic sunset, maybe around 1:00 am, but I don't know if it truly dipped below the horizon!

  II W

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Iceland Day 7: Krossneslaug - Látrabjarg

Today was a special day.  June 21, our anniversary!  We started out by the shores of a fjord surrounded by mountains, eating our special, magical meal of beans and eggs.  It brought back memories of our lovely honeymoon in Nicaragua and filled our bellies.  

It was time to continue on discovering the Westfjords.  We could have driven around the entire Peninsula, but were a bit crunched for time, so we decided to head straight to see the Puffins at Látrabjarg, these huge cliffs on the south coast of the Peninsula.  It took the day to get there.  Along the way we were blessed with some blue skies and puffy white clouds.  

Driving along these unpaved, bumpy, long roads seems like driving to the end of the earth.  There were less cars, people, houses, towns and animals than we had seen on our whole trip.  

Before we started on our journey, we took quick stop at Djúpavik to explore the abandoned Herring factory.  We didn’t take the tour, but were so happy to stumble upon an art gallery full of photographer’s works from around Iceland.

It takes longer to drive the fjords than it looks on a map.  We were so thankful to finally arrive at Patreksfjorour, a small town by the cliffs.  We had a lovely dinner of “Fish of the Day” which turned out to be Cod with pistachio crust.  They know me too well!

Then, off to the cliffs!  I was so nervous the weather would be nasty, or we wouldn’t see even one puffin, but I was so thankful that wasn’t the case!  Even though it was foggy and difficult to photograph the cliffs, the little birdies were ready for their head shots.  They were very approachable, we were able to get a few feet away from them! (We don’t have zoom lenses so this was a real treat!)  We didn’t have to travel very far down the 12km track, in fact, all of the Puffins were concentrated right near the entrance.  We spent the evening laying on the ground, getting muddy so we could get close as we could to the sweet birds.  They were quite photogenic and we were both so happy to be able to get some shots. 

After we had our fill, we found our way to a nearby campsite by a white sand beach, with turquoise waters lapping against the shore.  Before we slept we edited our photos because we were so excited about our subjects!  

What a wonderful second anniversary.  This marriage has taken me places I never dreamed of.  (and I'm not just talking Iceland) What a precious gift.  I pray for many many more years together and cherish every day.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Iceland Day 6: Mývatan - Krossneslaug

We woke up in the middle of a dirt field, surrounded by these nasty little bugs called midges.  They don’t bite but are attracted to the carbon dioxide we breathe out, (preferring to hang out in your eyelashes and nostrils) so these (and our desire to get on the road) prevented us from exploring the Mývatan region, which was a shame.  However, we had a long day of driving ahead of us and knew we needed to get going. 

We took a quick stop by the Goðafoss and Geitafoss waterfalls, but even though they are powerful and amazing, there’s only so many massive waterfalls you can photograph and watch in one trip.  Iceland: The Land of Waterfalls. 

We found our way to Glaumbaer church and turf-covered farm, took some pics but didn’t say long.  Not too much to see here, but there were a number of tourists.  

Our day was largely unplanned, with our only goal being reaching Krossneslaug, a geothermal pool on the side of the mountain.  

This began our tour of the Westfjords, the most unpopulated place we’d been thus far.  It was calm and peaceful and exactly what I imagined Iceland would be.  Most of the roads were unpaved, so it made for a long day’s journey. 

Along the way we found the tamest sheep who actually liked being photographed, unlike most who sprint away when they hear our van approach. 

We also found two horses close to the road who looked like they wanted our apples that weren’t being eaten.  It was fun to hop out and spend some time with them, even though I was scared of their teeth they were gentle and lovely.   

After many hours of driving, we finally reached the pool.  It was smaller than I expected but the experience was more fantastic than I expected. It has been there since 1954 and the shower facilities spoke to this.  There was something magical about getting clean there. It was nearing midnight when we arrived but the owner was still awake in a tent.  We asked when she closed and she laughed in our faces and said in her sweet accent “I don’t close!!”

We paid her with a credit card, went back to our camper to whip up some budaechiggae, hoping we’d be the only patrons at such a late hour. 

This didn’t end up being the case, but what  wonderful experience to overlook the dark beach, the clouds overhead, knowing the midnight sun was just behind.  It turned into the next day, our anniversary, here in Krossneslaug.  We ended the evening by taking one of my favorite pictures, together by the sea.