August 6, 2014 Reykjavik, Iceland
Partly Cloudy, 54 degrees sunset 9:35 (ha)
We are on an overnight stay in Reykjavik, Iceland. We are on the western shores of Iceland in the capital city and the largest city in Iceland. I booked a private tour with igtours.is. It was an 8 hour tour. It was the Golden Circle tour Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir and Strokkur Hot Springs, Thingvellir National Park, Crater Kerid. Our guide was fantastic. His name was Auphur pronounced Arthur. He is a teacher and was on the 1988 olympic swim team. He was a great speaker and gave us many personal insights. Their tours are conducted on small buses so we had only about 14 on our bus. This is a great company to book with.
We went through Reykjavik first and then headed north. The landscape is amazing. It is all volcanic but has growth. The volcanic steam is still held under the rock. They drill through the rock to let the steam out and use it to heat their houses and for hot water. There are some steam escapes that happen naturally due to the pressure build up. We did see the active volcano that blew in 2011, I believe. They do believe that it will blow again and a major earthquake will happen.
Pictures fro last 3 ports to folllow.
As we headed north, our first stop was an exhibit on the major earthquake plus bathroom and bakari stop. Of course we did the bakari tour first and had apple cake and a chocolate covered cinnamon roll. Just water, not hot chocolates, we are on a bus. I was wonderful. Thank goodness they do not have bakeries like these at home. The Walmart bakery is no comparison!
Our next stop was a waterfall. It was gorgeous. The crisp air and mist along with the sound was a sight. Our weather was pretty nice. I wore capris and a light long sleeved shirt and brought a jacket which I did wear at the waterfalls. Luckily, we missed the rain. Other tours were not that lucky.
We had an impromptu stop next to visit with some Icelandic horses. They are all over the place. They are beautiful creatures. They only breed with other Icelandic horses. Once an Icelandic horse leaves Iceland to go over to Europe (or anywhere) to do a horse show, it must be sold there. You cannot bring the horse back to insure disease is not spread and so the horses do not cross breed. We could feed them and pet them. They were very sweet.
Now we are off to the Geysir in Haukadalur Valley. This is the oldest known geyser. They have 7 or 8 bubbling sulpher springs. They are hot and steamy and small of rotten eggs. The big draw here is the geyser Strokkur that erupts every 10 minutes or so. It starts belching and burping and then goes sky high (about 30 meters) and follows it up with a big steam release. Stay up wind because it is hot water erupting from there and you will get hit. It is just a small rope that keeps you back. Foolish people do cross it.
This was also out lunch stop. They have a small hotel guest house here and a sandwich area in the gift shop. We went the faster route. I got us some fish and chips (the fish looked funny but was hot and good), a toasted ham and cheese sandwich and pecan pie. Dad had a Gull Beer (we passed the brewery) and mom and split an orange soda. The European countries make a great bottled orange soda. They had a good selection of beer and wine. The pecan pie as they call it is actually a croissant with some pecan pie filling in a layer or two and pecans on top. Wish I could make those for the holidays.
Back on the bus and on our way to Gulloss which translates into golden falls. From here you could also look across the street and through the valley and there was a glacier. It is huge. I cannot remember how big and thick Auphur said it was (I think it is was a half mile thick) but they go do three wheeling and big jeeping over it. They put 43 inch tires on land rovers. A side note, in the winter he puts 44 inch tires on his expedition and lets all but 3 pounds of air out of them to get through the snow up in the highlands. Back to the waterfall, it was magnificent. He let those who wanted to walk, off at the top of the fall parking area. They had a nice wooden path which mom and I walked to get up to the top overlook. From there we walked down the stairs to the bottom of the falls. Now, stairs are meant for walking up and down and not as a platform to stop and take pictures. I am proud to say that mom and I are in at least 3 shots of those fools who opted to stop traffic on a stair way to take a picture. We were not the only ones and the picture takers did not understand why we would all not want to stop for them. At least we were headed down and not up. Auphur drove the rest down to the bottom of the falls where we all got more great pictures. It was wet here and you did need a light jacket. There was quite a mist here.
Back on the bus and on our way to our final stop, Pingvellir. This is area where the fissure zone runs. It is believed that one day an earthquake will divide Iceland in two at this area. This is truly a natural wonder. This is where the North American and European tectonic plates are pulling apart. There is a rift area where you can see the divide. Lake Pingvallavatn is forming in this area. It is sprawling but is being divided by rock formations. They do lots of scuba diving trips into this lake due to the formations of the bottom. This is a protected area in Iceland.
We learned that if you are lost in a forest in Iceland, just standup. Most of their natural trees are more like shrubs to us. And tall trees you see are planted there. The sheep and horses run wild up in the highlands. There are no fences and they will be crossing or in the street. In the fall, the farmers all get on their horses and have a huge round up. All the animals are put in pen and are separated by markings. Each farmer finds his and counts them out. If many are still missing, they go out again. But many are left up there every winter and die due to the cold.
Auphur showed up where he and all his family lived in the different towns and also where all of their summer homes are. He filled us in the life of a teacher and all of economics that go along with it. He told us about the pony steaks and puffins they eat. Having lived there all of his life, he had so much info to give.
Back in Reykjavik, he took us in the back way around all of the soccer field, swimming areas, gardens etc. He was nice enough to take us back to the ship and drop the rest off in town for those who wanted to go. He saved them taxi fare.
We got back to the ship about 4:30 and hit happy hour. We did a lot of walking and got a lot of fresh clean air. I do not know what my lungs will do when I go home. Peter took care of us at dinner and got us hamburgers and fries. No dessert, to tired. No casino tonight so we came back and I went through pictures, mom read and dad went to bed and snored like 100 grizzly bears in hibernation. Guess all the exercise and fresh air tired him out. We are in about 23 hours of light right now, no real sunset. So good night from the docked and well lit MS Veendam.