Amazing Iceland – Part two – Unique Experiences

The scenic drives continued all around Iceland, as did the sunny weather most of the time.  One of our interesting stays was at an organic farm – their cafe was good, the cottage was ‘tiny’, and the farm was interesting as its one of the largest organic farms in Iceland. The farmer planted over one million trees since he got there 38 years ago and he’s the first farmer in Iceland to grow barley for human consumption.  In that area we visited another waterfall, Hengifoss, the third largest in Iceland.  Helen did the 2.5 km hike there.  It was very steep so Dick and I went halfway there as it was a really hot and sunny day.  In exploring that area we drove around Lagarfljot, the largest lake in Iceland, and over various mountains to a sleepy coastal town, Seydisfjordur, the original port for iceland.

Each day seemed to mean another waterfall or lake.  The next day took us to Dettifoss, a 44 m waterfall, on the way to Lake Myvatn where we were staying in a lovely large apartment overlooking the pond. As well as a great view and a good walking track to the pseudo craters (lava formations), the apartment also had an outdoor hot tub which gave us a relaxing finish to the day.

For our whale watching day from Husavik we were blessed with sunny weather and a flat ocean for the 3 hour trip in a small trawler which took us 13 km (8 miles) out from the dock and 50 km (30 miles) from the Arctic Circle.  We saw 3 or 4 different humpback whales and enjoyed the trip.  Then we visited the Nature Baths, the north side of the island’s version of the famous Blue Lagoon, which was warm and pleasant after our boat trip.

Had some rain on our next driving day but that didn’t stop us from visiting yet another waterfall, Godafoss Waterfall, aka ‘The Waterfall of the Gods’. As it was wet and slippery we didn’t get too close. Visited Akureyri, the second largest city in Iceland where we got lunch and a parking ticket, before journeying on to our most impressive Air BNB of the lot – a beautiful duplex that sleeps 10. Our host was a former Icelandic Ambassador to Germany (who attended Helmut Kohl’s funeral), and the apartment was tastefully decorated as one would expect from a well travelled former ambassador.  In addition to the peaceful location on a farm, and the well-equipped kitchen which Helen used masterfully, we all enjoyed the outdoor hot tub between 11pm and midnight.  The next day we toured the Vatnsnes Peninsula – first stop was Borgarvirki, a defensive fortification built around an ancient volcanic plug of columner basalt, 177 m above sea level and dated around 1000 AD.  The fortification features in one of “the sagas” and was granted conservation status in 1817.  The main reason for visiting this area was to see seals and eat in a famous seafood restaurant.  We did both! Had an exquisite seafood soup followed by delicious lobster at Geitafell and saw seals in two places.  Helen got some good seal pics at Illugastadir, the location of the famous murder in the novel, Buriel Rites by Hannah Kent.  One of the more special experiences of the trip was our evening soak in the hot tub, this time under a sky covered with the Northern Lights!  They were magical and lasted for about an hour.

Intermittent rain followed us around on our last touring day, but somehow cleared when we were at a sight to see.  First stop was a series of volcanic craters protected as natural monuments in 1962.  Then we drove to our final waterfall, Hraunfosser, which was one km wide and consisted of countless springs of clear water emeging from under the edge of the lava field.  It was very beautiful, especially with the fall colors everywhere.  An appropriate finale was our visit to the Settlement Center where we learned about early settlement in Iceland and were taken through the Eylot Saga.  The Sagas of Icelanders, aka family sagas, are stories based on historical events that mostly took place in the 9th-11th centuries which reflect the struggle and conflict that arose within the early generations of Icelandic settlers.  They are revered in Iceland as their cultural heritage and literature.  The ones we have heard about are quite brutal and violent by our standards.

Finished our time in Iceland with an overnight in Reykjavit where we had a nice tapas dinner to celebrate our last night together in Iceland.  Was sad to say goodbye to Helen but very happy that she was jetting home to Sydney to resume life there.  We flew to Canada to visit family and friends.  Just recently we got caught in Canada’s first big snowstorm of the year so had an unexpected hotel stay in southern Alberta as the roads were dangerous and impassable.  All part of the travelling experience!  We have been lucky to see and do so much on this trip.  Its not over yet but this wraps up the blog section.

Best wishes to all from Pat and Dick

 

Driving along the coast
Driving over the mountains inland

 

Visiting the horses on the organic farm, notice all the trees in the background
Hengifoss
t t We got half way there, Helen walked all the way to the falls
Lots of black Icelandic sheep in every field of sheep
A beautiful seaside village in the afternoon light
Upper Dettifoss
The main Dettifoss waterfall

 

Looking into the psuedo crater and back at our accommodation in the village
Early evening walk with Lake Myvatn in the background
The view of Lake Myvatn from our accommodation
Whale watching from Husavik harbor
Good views for us
Quite close to the whale (or Helen has a good camera!)

 

A bit cool but happy to be seeing the majestic whales
The Nature Baths – a great way for us to warm up at the end of the day!
Godafoss ‘Valley of the Gods’ waterfall
A little window shopping in Akureyri

 

Helen prepared a feast in our lovely kitchen
Climbing up the Borgaviki fortification
Looking down into the middle of the fortification
Looking at a rock formation on the beach and the great view
Best seafood soup ever!
We finally found some seals
A sign marking the spot where the murder took place in the novel ‘Buriel Rites’
Watching the northern lights from the hot tub
Our last crater walk
Our last of the 10 waterfalls, Hraunfosser, and it was beautiful
Wonderful fall colors as a bonus
A great view to finish the scenic trip around Iceland

 

Friends, family, festivals, farms, food, fun…

Friends, family, festivals, farms, food, fun….

We’ve had a great time in Scotland and England enjoying being with friends and family at the Edinburgh festival, on the farm in Somerset (England), a 2 year old’s birthday party in Aylesford and two full days in London.
Our time with John, Chesca and Tom at the Edinburgh Festivals was an amazing experience, especially as it was so well organized by John, who gave us a taste of a wide variety of shows from Tom’s improvisation shows to stand up comedy to concerts to book festival talks, with the complicated logistics all worked out. Doing 7 shows in one day was quite a feat for us, as we are out of practice at being out in the streets at midnight.  We would highly recommend the Edinburgh Festivals as a unique cultural experience catering for all tastes in a lovely city, and we were very lucky to be there with good friends who knew ‘the ropes’.
With sunny, warm summer weather our time on Pam and Guy’s farm in Somerset, England involved nice drives, good visits with family, pub lunches, an oceanside cliff top walk and for Dick a ‘men’s only’ pub crawl through the countryside, a tour of the farm and a ride in the combine (a large farm machine).  We also enjoyed celebrating Eve’s second birthday at Russell & Mandy’s before heading up to London for two very full days with Cathy which included a trip down the Thames to Greenwich, a visit to the British Museum and seeing a show at the Old Vic, “Girl from the North Country”, featuring Bob Dylan’s music.

Next stop Ireland……

Edinburgh Festival with John & Chesca

 

On the streets of Edinburgh

 

Relaxing in their sunny backyard with Pam & Guy

 

Visiting Stourhead Gardens

 

Walking on the cliffs with cousin Celia & Bob, and Pam & Guy

 

Overlooking Kimmeridge Bay

 

Nephew Tom, Sam & Oliver

 

Nephew Russell, Mandy & Eve
At the Greenwich Observatory with Cathy