Iceland


This is part duex of the Goecco Adventure tour we took to the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Part one was the last post on this blog. So onward little vikings! The next place we visited was the church where Jonas and his wife got married. It was a very picturesque place with magnificent views of Snaefellsnes and the coast as well as some of the many gorgeous waterfalls dotting the hillsides. We walked around and went into a shop that a locally known witch owns. I’m not into that stuff but she had some cute plants growing out of old boots.

Next up was an area of the coast with cool rock formations—the basalt rocks that form due to the volcanic eruptions could be seen here. After first taking in the Snaefellsness Viking god statue, we walked along the cliff side (not ski-boot friendly terrain) in the rain. It was worth it to see the colors and shapes of the coast line. My patient group of friends waited for me to finally get in the van and we headed on to the black beach.

It was raining super hard when we got to the black beach so my leg and I limped only a little of the way. The rest of the crew went down for awhile to soak up the energy of the black rock beach—supposedley it’s one of those “energy” places around the earth—kind of like Sedona is. I thought is was nice and took a walk around the top area where once again I could see numerous faces and characters in the various rocks and landscape.

The sun came up just in time for us to get a fabulous view of the Snaefellsness glacier. As we drove, the scenery just changed from beautiful to a different kind of beautiful. Our final stop of the day is ahead—at a local farm. We get out to see a yard full of the unique and wonderful Icelandic horses that we’ve seen everywhere on our trip. Amy is going to partake in a trail ride while the rest of us tour the farm and pet the dogs. Yup, they had those friendly dogs we saw previously on our trip. They are super friendly and cute. We walked along the coast—the farm was on the water with the glaciers and mountains on the other side—not a bad way to live if you ask me.

Back in the garage of the barn, Ymir and Villi were cooking up some treats for us on the grill. Jonas offered up something that appeared to be chunks of delicious steak. It was delicious but it turned out to be whale. I know what you’re thinking but it was good and they assured us that the whaling laws in effect prevent the species from being endangered. Give me some more! I have to say that the meal they served us was one of the best I’ve ever had. Juicy lamb and perfectly grilled cod, tasty potato salad from the restaurant Dill, one of Iceland’s top-rated establishments, and salad, veggies, and wine rounded out the mouth-watering experience that was our dinner. Can’t say enough about how fun that was. We met another family from Colorado and Nebraska that were on our tour but traveling in another van. Nice people, just like everyone we met there.

Time to head back home. The tour took longer than anticipated and we hugged Jonas goodbye sometime around midnight or later. What a fabulous day. A great tour, great guides, and yet again, stunning beauty everywhere. Thanks guys!

Beautiful scenery on the Snaefellsnes peninsula.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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July 28, 2011

Just us hippies, outlaws, and snuffleupagas’.

Posted by Grendel's Mother under adventure, Friends, Iceland, travel
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This is Jonas’ Saga. Just kidding—Jonas was our tour guide for tour number three—day four in Iceland. I found Jonas’ group online—the Goecco Outdoor Adventure tours. What got us interested was that their promotional copy said they would take us to “secret places.” Now during the booking process, I noticed that Jonas was a pretty laid back guy and was worried at first that he wouldn’t show up or our tour would be cancelled for some random reason. No worries—although he is a self-described “hippy and conspiracy theorist” he’s also a very responsible businessman who is well attuned to delivering exceptional customer service and protecting his business.  

Jonas picks us up at 8 a.m. in a mini van that we will be sharing with a nice couple from New York. I get to sit in the front for a lot of trip and am entertained with Jonas’ view about the irresponsible spending of the Icelandic people and the lack of attention drawn to the economic disaster that they are in. Between politics and history he slips in the “we didn’t go to the moon” theory, but overall he was a fascinating character and we had a wonderful day.

Our trip was north east to the Snaefellsnes peninsula. At first—and still a bit today—we didn’t know how to pronounce it so we were calling it Snuffleupagus (you know the Sesame Street character). Anyhoo, the volcanic glacier of the same name is where Jules Verne’s characters in the Journey to the Center of the Earth actually enter the path to the center of the earth.

Our first stop was Borgarnes—a town just on the other side of the whale-fjord which we drove underneath saving us hours of time. A bit up the road we stopped off along a beautiful river flowing around a house where a few guys were fishing for our dinner that evening. With the Lupin dotting the foreground and the mountains providing the background, it was a lovely photo op and chance to take in some truly fresh air.

On to the drive through the lava fields toward the fire volcano. This was truly mouth dropping pretty. Despite my ski-boot wrapped ankle, I hiked up this red crater following my friends to get a better, then more better view of the sorrounding countryside. The lava fields had some kind of addicitive power. They were just a bunch of craggly rocks covered with moss but it was ever changing and everywhere. I coudn’t stop clicking away on my camera because each scene changed and presented something unique to look at. While standing on this red fire crater, we could see miles of the lava fields to the green and ice covered volcanoes that once spewed forth the lava before us. After getting our fill, we drove on through the lava field to one of the secret places.

Jonas began by telling us of a story about vikings killing outlaws around the year 1200. This was the place because there have been some ancient artifacts dug up in the area providing credence to the tale. And here, in the middle of nowhere was a nice naturally occuring hot spring. Amy, Jen and I (and the husband of the couple) changed behind the van (not all together at once mind you) and settled into the hot spring for a relaxing dip. Jonas served some rather decent wine (out of a box in plastic cups) and some shark. The shark did not smell good but I tried it anyway and it tasted like crab. Yummy. Some of the others did not think it was good. To each his own I guess. While we bathed, Jonas got out his metal detector to look for any ancient relics that might still be buried in the area.  The bugs were a plenty and Butter was wrapped up like Yenta and taking our pictures for us. So time to get out and head for the beach area where the seals hang out.

Jonas offered us some sandwich type snacks as we searched the rocks and saw a couple of seals off in the distance. The beach was interesting, full of colorful kelp like stuff. It was an okay stop and more lovely views to see.

For now that’s it. This was a very long day, so hang in there with me—some great things are coming. I’ll tell the rest of the Goecco day in the next post. Coming up: energy rocks, whale meat, and more.

Amy on our first stop where they were catching our fish for dinner.

 

Walking around the fire crater on the Snaefellsnes tour.

 

Beautiful Iceland

 

 

The secret hot spring in the middle of nowhere.

 

Moss covered lava field on the Snaefellsnes tour.

  

July 26, 2011

Puffins, trolls, and Bob. More adventures in Iceland.

Posted by Grendel's Mother under adventure, Iceland, travel
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Day three of the grand tour of Iceland and Norway. Our third day and second tour was to the south of Iceland. This time our guide was 180 degrees opposite of the first tour guide. This guy talked and talked and talked. And his name was Bob. Bob from America came to Iceland and fell in love with the country and then an Icelandic woman and never left. We got some great background on this tour and met a few really nice couples who shared our bus.

Our first stop was the magnificent waterfall called Seljalandsfoss. The guide told me I would not be able to go on the path behind the waterfall to which I replied, “Huh, we’ll see.” I got up to the path and wondered how anyone—bum leg or not—got up and down the treacherous path. So I went the other way and got a great view on top of a tall platform. I stopped when the mud started but got a good laugh at the two Japanese dudes in suits who navigated the path down—arms flailing to their sides. Hilarious. The entire area was a vision of green carpeted cliffs, wildflowers, and water. While Amy and Jen scoped out behind the falls, Butter and I took photos in front. I scooped out some crystal clear water from the creek that flowed from the waterfall that flowed from the glaciers above. It was drinkable so I had some and then brought it home for a time when we will not have any drinkable water. The last of it will be in my bottle on my shelf.

That was some of the last sun we saw that day. On the way to the next stop Bob pointed out the volcano Eyjafjallajökull and we asked to stop there. We could see the glacier above the volcano in the background of a sprawling farm. It was very cool standing in front of this famous glacier/volcano and Bob gave everyone a lesson in how to pronounce it. I already knew how—you know from those geeky science shows I was watching prior to the trip. No one was impressed. Oh well.

Next up, we were going to the coast to hopefully see some puffins. By now the wind was howling and the rain was pounding. I managed to click a few shots in the vicinity of where the puffins were nesting. The sea was beautiful despite the rain but the van was a welcome refuge. There was a unique rock, Dyrhólaey, standing up and out of the sand. We took some quick photos and made our way to the comfort of a warm lunch.

After lunch I walked to a beach with black sand. The waves were rough and there was a river of water cutting through the black sand that looked stunning with the green background of the hills behind. There were some cool sea stacks in the distance. We moved on to the town of Vik and some of our group ventured out over some tough terrain to sea some caves, trolls, and basalt rocks that form from the volcanic eruptions. If you are interested, they make some beautiful formations—some of which we saw the next day and in other areas of Iceland. (More geeky stuff that looks beautiful.)

Moving on, we stopped at the glacier snout of Sólheimajökull. In our minds we were thinking of bright white snow like expanses. This was more like what D.C. looked like about a week after snowpocalypse in 2010. Mounds of dirt covered ice and snow. Okay, it wasn’t that bad and there were some really cool formations in the ice. But next time I’m going to one of the big glaciers they have there.

The rain lightened up a bit and we finished our day at another gorgeous waterfall called Skógafoss. This one had a path that went way up to the top. I chose to stay below and see how close I could get to the falls. As everywhere, I kept seeing some funny faces in the landscape—this one was a big troll like head. I’ll post photos of all the funny faces in another post so you don’t think I’m completely crazy.

Once again, a big two thumbs up for the natural beauty of Iceland. And this time, our tour—Go Travel Iceland (gti) was very good. I do recommend them!

Back at Inga’s we decide to go out to have a nice meal. On our way to dinner, a nice couple passed by us and gave a hearty hello to Amy. I asked her who they were and she said, “Oh, that’s [Cindy and Dave].” When I asked where she met them she said they got to know each other at the bottom of that volcanic crater the other day [Kerid].” Yes, Amy can make friends in three seconds with anyone, anywhere.

Back to dinner…we ate at a swanky type place called Domo’s. I had a very expensive and delicious meal of lamb and some lobster meat. The lamb was very yummy but I could pass on the lobster stuff they had. The other girl’s liked their meals as well. Then on to home base. Many people have asked me if I could sleep while I was there. My usual reply is I don’t sleep much anyway, but yes, I did have trouble going to bed. I think I just didn’t want to miss anything and it felt like I might since it never quite got dark. But I loved it all the same.

Next time we go exploring with our pals at Goecco!

Seljalandsfoss. A beautiful waterfall on the south coast tour of Iceland

Seljalandsfoss. Amy and Jen behind the falls.

 

Eyjafjallajökull in the background of this farm.

 
 

Skógafoss

Seljalandsfoss. A beautiful waterfall on the south coast tour of Iceland.

 

Our awesome guide, Bob.

 

Dyrhólaey.

 

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