A Travellerspoint blog

Day 3: Glacier Lagoon

Carol on the Rocks

overcast 57 °F

Jet lag is a bitch, I tell ya. You can hardly keep your eyes open through dinner and then you can’t sleep more than a couple of hours over night. Sheesh.

We’re staying in a charming country inn in Hella. It is almost the only thing in Hella, or within 50 miles, so it’s a good thing that it has its own highly rated restaurant. We are eating very well here. A lot of fish, some lamb and chicken all very fresh and expertly prepared and presented. But they don’t give this stuff away. Food is expensive here – we were warned it would be so. However, since Iceland and Scandinavia are almost cashless societies, I am paying by card and am remaining oblivious to the amount I am spending on food and wine. Don’t want to tarnish the experience, after all.

Today was a travel day – we bused around the southern part of the island to visit a national park at the foot of the Vatnajolull glacier. It was really beautiful, but it was a long ride for a short viewing. I think that was just a time fill until we were scheduled to board one of those amphibious open-air truck things that drive right into the water. And the water it drove into was an iceberg filled lagoon at the foot of a glacier! Now THAT was an amazing experience! There were about 25 tourists onboard and when the vehicle hit the water we were all able to stand up and mill around taking pictures of the strange shapes and beautiful blue colors of the icebergs floating all around us. Iceland is a bit overwhelming. The word “surreal” keeps coming to mind.
Boating around Glacier Lagoon

Boating around Glacier Lagoon

Icebergs in Glacier Lagoon

Icebergs in Glacier Lagoon

You might be noticing that I am naming very few of the names of the places we’ve visited. It is not because I don’t want any more people to come here and spoil the pristine beauty (although that is a thought), it is because Icelandic is impossible to pronounce or spell. I think nouns are required to have sixteen letters and at least six syllables. For instance, remember that Icelandic volcano that disrupted air travel in 2011? That was the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano. It is not pronounceable, but they tell me it sounds like “I think I lost my yogurt”.

It’s kind of a long ride back to the hotel. I hate to complain, but you know me. . . .as I am sitting here on the bus, Rosemary is basically interviewing the driver (I can’t bring myself to call him a guide). I think she is trying desperately to provide her troop with a bit of an education on the country. Understand, Rosemary’s ladies tend to be very curious about politics, economics, culture, finance, etc and we expect an education while we travel. But this is getting ridiculous, it’s like trying to pull teeth to get him to elaborate on a subject. He mostly answers yes or no. Plus we drive by wonderful scenery and outrageous natural geological phenomena and he says nothing. OK, I’m done. I’m lucky to be here at all.

Off to bed – I may give up and take drugs to get seven hours. Right now I’m drinking wine. “Alcohol may intensify the effect”. Yahoo!

Posted by Follow Carol 15:52 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

Day 2: The Road to Hella is Paved with Deep Indentions

Glaciers, Black Sand, Small Horses

57 °F

Did you know that Reykjavic is renowned for its weekend all night party scene during the summer months? I was completely unaware of that. . . until last night, that is. Since there are many cafes and pubs surrounding the town square, guess where the festivities’ epicenter is? Yep – you guessed it. The fun went on all night. Thankfully the hotel is old and the walls are thick so the decibel level wasn’t too bad.

Reykjavic is a one night stand on each end of our Iceland adventure. In between, we are spending three nights in Hella. On the road, we all marveled at the picturesque views, complete with steam escaping from the ground through little natural vents scattered all over the landscape. One thing about Iceland, they have plenty of hot water! In fact, the boiling geo thermal water is piped to homes for heat. There is no drought here, so hour long steaming showers are not a luxury.

It has become quite evident that our guide. . . . doesn’t. I guess he thinks that driving us from stop to stop is guiding. Unfortunately, he had a load of intelligent and curious women onboard. One good thing is that he has wi-fi on the bus. I guess that’s so we can wiki the answers to our questions ourselves.

After a light lunch on the road, we arrived at the appointed time at a base camp for all-terrain vehicles that take tourists up to a second basecamp on a nearby glacier. We were escorted up to and on the glacier by our guide, Bjorn. Have I talked about how physically beautiful Icelandic people are? Well, you shoulda met Bjorn. Whew. Anyway, we four-wheel-drove up the mountain and careened around the ice until we came to a crevasse that he wanted to show us. A pretty impressive deep crack in the ice. But even neater was a sink hole in the ice. You can see 40 feet down and then it bends and turns into a stream under the ice. “What happens if someone falls in?” I asked. “We’ll find him downriver”. He replied. “Pretty much dead?” He nodded, pretty much dead. Yikes! So several of us asked him to help us get closer to look down into the sink hole. To be honest, I think at the time we thought it was a fear of falling that caused this sudden fear of peering down deep holes, but it could easily have been a really good excuse to have Bjorn hold our hands.
peering into glacier

peering into glacier

Stuck on an Iceland Glacier

Stuck on an Iceland Glacier

The best is yet to come! On the way back down the mountain, we get stuck in the snow. As it turns out, we’re actually stuck where the back right tire has broken through the icepack and is sitting in an underground stream. He wouldn’t let us out because we’d get wet in the stream, so he tried and tried and eventually got enough traction to get us up and out of the water. . . . .until we broke through again and were then dangling in the water. By this time there were at least a couple of us who were getting nervous and afraid. For the life of me, I cannot understand why. Even if the truck rolled, it could only go so far over without butting up against a frozen snowdrift, so it ain’t goin’ anywhere. And the base camp with twenty able-bodied, well trained mountaineers is a whopping one mile away, and we have radio contact. (God forbid anything serious ever happens on one of these trips.) Anyway, we get out and Bjorn starts collecting huge rocks to throw into the stream in front of the back tire and in time he is able to gain purchase and roll the truck out of the stream again. It was a wonderful one-hour ordeal that will always be one of those fun memories of Iceland.

We did some other neat stuff today too, like stop at a black sand beach, and a waterfall, and visit some of the little shaggy horses that Iceland is famous for. I don’t think I did a very good job of capturing the beautiful scenery in photos as we drove along. It’s massive and changeable. Sometimes tranquil pasture and sometimes craggy lava fields. Tomorrow we’ll probably have rain, so I’m not sure what the pictures will reveal.

Posted by Follow Carol 15:14 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

Day 1: Travelling to Reykjavic

to take a soak

all seasons in one day

This morning, from an airplane, I saw the sunrise over the coast of Greenland, where the North Atlantic Ocean meets the rugged, rugged shore. That and the fact that there was only forty minutes left of the flight made me happy. I do not sleep on airlines, so I got to “enjoy” every moment of the seven hour flight from Seattle.

On the way to Seattle I sat next to a very nice woman who travels quite a bit. She explained to me that she only travels with United States airlines because if there is ever any trouble in a country you’re visiting, they’ll let the American airplanes out first because we’re so powerful. Huh? I cocked my head to the side, gave a tiny nod and said, “hmmm, that thought has never crossed my mind”. Because, after all, why in the hell would it? I’m thinkin’ anyone that paranoid is probably a Trump supporter.

I suppose it wouldn’t surprise anyone to find out that “as I write this I am sitting in the hotel bar” – very common phrase in my blogs. It’s been a long day, I’ve been up almost 30 hours and I have decided that a dinner out with ten other tired women is a recipe for disaster. So I don’t know what I am doing this evening but it ain’t that.

Let me tell you about Iceland instead. I haven’t seen much of it yet but I like it! One of the most unusual things I have ever done is wade out neck deep into a geo-thermal lake with about 100 other people, some of us sipping Prosecco from plastic glasses. Yep, that happened today, at the Blue Lagoon. This is an unusual natural occurrence involving hot volcanic water finding the upward path of least resistance and creating a huge tourist attraction. It was really fun.

From there we made our way to the hotel, stopping at a viewpoint, event venue and café rolled into one. It was cool, but even cooler was the new opera house. I cannot even begin to describe it, so I won’t try. But for me, it is a piece of art that I wish I could see again and would even endure opera to do it.

The last stop was a silly Viking museum. I am well aware that I can whip through a museum faster than the wind, but this one just begged to be curtailed. It was one of those “wax figures portraying moments in history” exhibits where you wear earphones to hear the applicable lecture. I tried really hard, but finally I quit listening and walked out. My roomie was of the same mind and followed me to the exit. (One of the many reasons I like her.)

So finally we arrive at our hotel, which is a very nice older building on town square. Reykjavic is charming. I could do a lot of shopping here, but I am not going to have time. If I had more energy, I’d go out and wander around. Instead, I think I’ll sleep.

Posted by Follow Carol 12:07 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)


or: "so many destinations, so few shoes"

Today is my birthday, the last day that I will ever be able to sing "When I'm 64". . . . .because that age is no longer in my future. That's more than OK because life just keeps getting funner and funner and my birthday celebrations just keep getting longer and longer. This year I have given myself a three week trip to Iceland and Scandinavia. . . .hence this blog.

Some may be aware that for the past few years I have been striving to be more like Rosemary , the slender, Italian travel guru, extrordinaire. I know I will never be slender, I'm still waiting to wake up and find that I am Italian, but until that morning, I'll work on becoming a master of travel. One of the requirements is to lug all of your stuff around with you and never check a bag. (There are other requirements, like knowledge and patience for instance, but I can only work on one thing at a time.)

This trip is particularly challenging because of the changeableness of the weather up there. Siri tells me that it's 55 and raining in Reykjavic, 74 and raining in Copenhagen, 68 and sunny in Stockholm. . . .etc. . . .etc. Since I am someone who gets cold easily, the requisite layers, an umbrella, sweaters, and a jacket take up a lot of space. Somehow you have to get underwear in there! (There are some advantages to being slender, like smaller clothes. . . .perhaps I should work on that. . . . .nah. . . .I'd have to give up drinking.) I am happy to announce that I have managed to figure it out. So, for the next three weeks my fingers will be crossed that the zipper on my luggage doesn't break.

FYI, here is a very basic "sketch" of my itinerary: (the details will be revealed as they happen)
Aug 11. Depart Sacramento
Aug 12. Arrive Iceland
Aug 17. Arrive Denmark
Aug 20. Arrive Norway
Aug 25. Arrive Sweden
Aug 28. Arrive Finland
Aug 30. Arrive home

Time to go tackle that damn "To Do" list again. The next time I post, I'll be in Iceland. (And my luggage will be lighter because I'll be wearing some of the layers and the jacket and carrying my umbrella.)

Posted by Follow Carol 13:47 Comments (0)

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