We were up early and out of our room with our bags in the car before the hotel started serving breakfast at 7am. Food is SUPER expensive, so we enjoyed the quick free breakfast before setting off on the Golden Circle drive.
Our first stop was þórufoss, a bit off the beaten path, but an easy addition when you have a rental car. We were the only people there (which we would appreciate later in the day when we caught up to the tour buses) and it was a great way to start our exploration outside of the city.
Next, it was time to scratch that ongoing national park itch at Þingvellir National Park!
We got there right as it was opening and enjoyed a quick walk through the visitor's center, before strolling down through the hiking paths. The site hosted Iceland's parliament from the 10th to 18th centuries and also boasts Þingvellir Church, ruins of old stone
shelters and the Prime Ministers "summer home", which is really just used in the summer to host political gatherings. It was a beautiful and interesting stop! You can read more about some of the activities that took place at the Þingvellir site here. The site also has another great example of the crack forming between the tectonic plates of Europe and North America.
Our next stop was a hopeful one: we had read about an amazing waterfall called Bruarfoss with crystal blue water. However multiple sites said it was difficult to find the right place to park, as well as the trail leading to the waterfall. We allocated an hour in our plan, crossed our fingers and said a prayer. And it worked! Definitely an discrete trail and a very muddy path, but we found our way to the bluest waterfall I've ever seen!
Still on schedule we made our way to the Geysir Geothermal area, which is a lot like a mini-Yellowstone! In fact, "geyser" derived from the Icelandic verb geysa, "to gush", the verb from Old Norse.
Bubbling mud pots, steaming ground and a few geysers make up the small area. The main geyser is larger than Old Faithful, but has been dormant for some time. Strokkur geyser goes off about every five minutes, and we saw it "gush" a number of times while we strolled around.
Just beyond Geysir, was Gullfoss - our final official stop on the Golden Circle drive (there are other sites people include, but these were the ones we prioritized). Another beautiful waterfall - this time a double, that flows directly into a crack in the earth.
At this point we headed south, planning to spend the last hours of the afternoon on a hike to a hot spring located in the mountains. Along the way I received an email from the guides that were supposed to take us on a glacier hike tomorrow saying they had to cancel due to high wind and rain being forecasted. Well, heck. Some quick regrouping and we decided to switch the hike planned for today, with the one we were going to do tomorrow since that one was more on the way to our stop for the night. So we threw the itineraries out the window (figuratively), we made our way to Seljalandsfoss and it's walk-ably close neighbor, Gljúfrabúi.
Gljúfrabúi actually turned out to be one of our favorites in a place where waterfalls start to feel a bit like cathedrals in Europe. ("There's *another* amazing one...") While many people debated whether to wade through the craack into the cave, Scott took off and, of course, I had to follow. Inside, where the water falls, was amazing. Wet, but amazing. The the only source of light came from the hole where the water flowed in, making for a bit of a surreal feeling. After wading back out we decided to try our luck with climbing the rock that blocks the lower section of the waterfall. Suffice it to say some of the climb involves chains that have been added to assist with the climb up the face (or around the side) of the wet rock.
We don't have a lot of pictures because:
A) We were hanging on for our lives
B) We promised my parents we wouldn't die while they were watching the boys and we didn't want proof we had attempted this climb.
For the record, we were successful:)
Still going strong we headed for our last major stop of the day: Seljavallalaug pool
The pool was built in the hills of southern Iceland in 1923 as a place where children could learn to swim. It captures the water from a nearby hot spring, making it possible to use year-around. (Although many people who entered while were there clearly expected it to be much warmer then it was.) A small stream towards the back, in addition to a pipe in the corner from the main spring, turned out to be the places to be. This was definitely one of my top five experiences from the entire trip. I loved this little pool and hated to have to leave just a short hour later.
At 6:30pm we were back in the car and headed to Vik, our stop for the night. We arrived at our Airbnb just after 7pm, checked in and headed out for one final walk to explore the tiny little town, find some dinner and see the famous black sand the southern coast is known for. The sun finally set about 11pm and so did we! Another great day in Iceland!
Pictures from our Golden Circle day are posted here.
Things we've learned so far:
1. foss = waterfall
2. vik = Bay
3. Þ = "th" sound
4. ð = "d" sound
5. æ = "ee" sound
6. We are very grateful for all the sites that recommended waterproof hiking boots. We've passed many people trying to navigate mud and streams that we just trekked right through.
7. The time Scott put into figuring out how to get us a phone was well spent! We've chatted with the boys, texted pictures and actually got the email that canceled our hike tomorrow!
We made it!
We made it!
We made it!
Our flight landed around 6am at the overcrowded airport. Since Iceland is, apparently, the place to go these days they don't have gates for all the planes so we "parked" alongside other planes that were arriving, walked down the outside stairs into about three inches of snow that had fallen during the night and took a bus to the main airport. Someone from our rental car place found us outside of immigration and an hour or so later we were set free with our 4x4 to explore Iceland! (With a stern warning that the #1 issue with rental cars in Iceland is doors blowing off in the wind. Yikes!)
We ventured through the snow down to the Bridge Between the Continents
, which spans the crack forming between the European and North American tectonic plates. It was a quick (and WINDY!) stop and only 20 minutes away from the Blue Lagoon
We spent three hours drinking champagne at the swim-up bar, masking our faces with silica and algae and generally enjoying the smooth, 90-100 degree water, while being surrounding by snowy hills (and a few hail storms that blew through). Our first hot spring was incredibly awesome!
All good things must end, and eventually it was time to head into Reykjavik, about 45 minutes from the lagoon.
60% of Iceland's 330,000 people live around the capital city, which makes it just slightly larger than Salem, Oregon. In other words, easy to navigate! (It is also the worlds most northern capital.)
We found our hotel, the Leifur Eiríksson
, quickly and set off on foot for the rest of the day. Reykjavik is very walkable! The main shopping streets are just behind our hotel so we explored our way down to the Kolaportið
"Flea Market", found the Sun Voyager sculpture
and the Icelandic Phallological Museum
before heading to Tapas Barrin
where we had reservations for an Icelandic Feast!
At this point we had basically been up all night (other than a few hours of sleep on the plane) so we returned to our hotel for the first good nights sleep in two days!
More pictures from our first day are posted here.
Two months ago when Scott asked me what I wanted for my 40th birthday I answered, "I want to go somewhere that requires a passport!"
So we're on a plane, passports in-hand, to ICELAND!!
If Scott's current path doesn't work out, his Plan B appears to involve Easter eggs and Sharpies.
Check out this collection he put together for the boys!
Mr. C sported a tie and slacks all day. He looked sharp! (And old...!!)
This was about all we saw of Nolan all day, thanks to he and Sadie's general independence combined with an inability to be contained (or sit still). Ever.
And some unexpected cousins joined our gathering! It's been years since we saw Rebecca and Justin's family! Hooray for reunions!
Adding something new to the garden this year... let's see if we can increase our success by starting a few veggies in a greenhouse.
First mow of the year!
It's been a very wet spring, which means the grass is LONG, but not dry enough to mow.
It let up enough that we can at least attempt to knock the grass down today (even though it's still very wet). Carson was very excited to be driving again!
Sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning, Bella came home with a hole in her side
She was acting strange in the morning, but neither Scott or I noticed it before we went to work. Carson was home with Poppy & Nonna and spotted it later in the day.
We watched her for a bit after I got home in the afternoon and finally decided about 4pm that we should take her to the vet before they closed to see what they thought.
As the vet said, "Most injuries are quite a bit smaller than this when people are 'on the fence' about coming in."
He had to knock her out to the the surgery, which meant she ended up spending the night at the vet. He told us the next day it looks like a puncture wound (like she ran into or fell on something) because it went pretty far back under the skin. Seven stitches and some antibiotics, which means we need to figure out a Plan B for this weekend when she was supposed to be at the kennel.
to Poppy and Nonna for keeping her for a few days!
Maureen, Chris, Jaden and Casey came down for a cousins + projects weekend! (The projects part was a happy side effect of Jaden being completely willing to take on some farm projects.)
We lit the burn pile, cleared blackberries, knocked down bird nests I can't reach and even started the job of moving the barn pasture fences to extend the front yard.
Woo-hoo! There are few things I like better than occupied kids and completed projects
So the rest of our trip went like this:
1. Mom gets very sick after the Knights dinner and spends all day Sunday in bed.
2. Boys decide they aren't thrilled with Las Vegas (we had booked two nights at the Excalibur on the strip) and opt to return to Karen and Jimmy's where they can play more VR games.
3. Mom is finally able to drag herself out of bed Monday morning, for the early flight home with the boys - still not eating, just in case.
4. Scott stays in Las Vegas for his conference.
5. Boys and Mom land in PDX, take the shuttle to long-term parking and discover the battery on the van is dead.
6. Carson kicks van tire until we're sure it's dead as well.
7. Shove all luggage in through the passenger door because it, and the drivers door, are the only ones we can open with the manual key.
8. Turns out PDX has a guy that will jump your car for free! It takes 1.5 hours for him to arrive... time spent in the van with no heat and two tired children. Mom is still sick. Carson needs to pee.
9. Nolan wants McDonalds, Carson wants Subway, pick up the dog.
10. Home sweet home, just six or seven hours after we landed.
More pictures from the trip posted here