Iceland Adventure February 2015

Highlight Snapshots

Susan and I flew to Iceland on Monday 9 Feb. We flew Southwest to Denver and connected to an Iceland Air red-eye which got us to Iceland (very) early on Tuesday the 10th. We took a Gray Line bus from Keflavik to Reykjavic and got an early check-in to our Iceland Air Hotel in the marina. The hotel was swell. Our room had a (snow-covered) balcony that looked out at a shipyard. We were in time for and excllent buffet breakfast. Smoked salmon...

We spent Tuesday walking around Rekjavik, finding the Gadventures meeting point, etc. English was spoken everywhere.

On Wednesday, we signed up for the Golden Circle tour which was fabulous. It was on a large bus with a guy doing narration about the history of Iceland and various points of interest. We visited Thingvellir national park (the only place on land where seafloor spreading can be seen), Gullfoss waterfall and Geysir hot spring area. And, we visited a little church and a geothermal power plant.

After the tour, we had a little adventure finding a swimming pool/spa. But it was magnificent! Indoor and outdoor pools (50 meters!) and outdoor hot tubs (38-44C).

Thursday was spent on walkabout. Of note was a sculpture in the harbor area. It was a straw stupa about 30' high with a path winding around it to the top. We, of course, climbed it (we were later told it was forbidden). It had a traditional fish-drying rack at the top.

On Friday, we met up with Connie and Franz, friends from Germany (the Iceland trip was something about meeting half-way).

Gummi (Gudmundur Ingi Bjornsson) was our CEO (Chief Experience Officer) for the Gadventures part of the trip which was from Friday the 13th thru Monday night the 16th.

Pictures of the Gadventures group compliments of Martin.

Gummi stocked the house where we stayed with ample groceries. And he cooked two dinners. A marvelous fish dinner Friday night and a 3-leg-of-lamb feast on Saturday night.

Gummi's parents registered with the government as atheists. (Iceland has a state religion - Lutherans. The government pays the clergy.) I asked if there were any repercussions for his parents. He said that the government took care to see that his parents taxes didn't go to supporting the state religion...

The population of Iceland is ~300,000 of which ~100,000 live in Reykjavic. Everybody doesn't absolutely know everybody else but they joke that there are only 2 degrees of separation in Iceland.

On Saturday, the group was walking around town, about to go to the flea market. Gummi abruptly left the group and walked into the street to help an elderly woman - his 99-year-old grandmother! She was quite sprightly.

We visited the flea market, and also visited Harpa, the impressive concert hall.

On Sunday, Connie, Franz, Susan and I did a walk in a lava tube. It was very hard on me being crouched down with an icy footing but it was an adventure. The landscape was amazing.

On Monday, Connie, Franz and I walked around town. We visited the Settlement Exhibition, where they have unearthed a long house from ~871AD.

The group had a fine sushi dinner, after which we took a little bus out to look for a hole in the clouds through which we could see the northern lights. Alas, the weather continued to not cooperate and we returned to our house and went to bed disappointed. But Susan was up at 4AM and behold! Northern lights visible from our house in Reykjavik!

Since the major purpose of the trip was to see the northern lights, we present all the pictures I have access to:
Michelle's aurora pictures and enhanced. (The "enhanced" version is what Picasa did with "I'm feeling lucky". Unfortunately, what we saw is more like the unenhanced version.)
Vance's (sorry) aurora pictures.
Susan's aurora pictures (the last three are processed with "I'm feeling lucky" - without that they are blank).
Martin's aurora picture.

That ended the Gadventures part of our trip. On Tuesday, Connie and Franz did the Golden Circle trip while Susan and I went to the Blue Lagoon. We stayed at the Northern Light Inn. The Blue Lagoon was pleasant, but after lunch a bitter wind blew in. We got out and tried to walk back to the Inn but we turned back in a whiteout and caught the shuttle. Connie and Franz (who were supposed to join us at the Blue Lagoon) were in a bus that was blown off the road! (No one was hurt.) By the time they got to the Blue Lagoon, it was closed due to the weather. But we did share a good farewell dinner at the Inn.

Connie and Franz departed early Wednesday morning for Germany. Susan and I took a bus to Keflavik (where the airport is) and spent the night at the Berg Hotel. We walked around the village, saw a fascinating museum (which I can't find on the web) which had, among other things, an amazing collection of fishing boat models. There was a nice cafe which had Indian food in addition to the standard fish and lamb.

On Thursday, Susan and I took a walk along the bluff and caught a plane to Denver.

Odds and ends:
There were about 8 hours of daylight.
The geothermal activity is omnipresent. They have cheap electricity and the water is used for heating everywhere.
We were told that there are ~85 people in prison in Iceland. Including some bankers...

For the masochistic:
All of Vance's snaps.
Selected Susan's snaps.
Most of Susan's snaps.