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Iceland & Greenland Adventures - Part IIAuthor: Linda V. (More Trip Reviews by Linda V.)
Date of Trip: July 2005
The Avis guy showed up with a tiny blue Volkswagon Polo. We were unable to fit all of our luggage and passengers in the car, so Renee and I went with most of the luggage and the Avis representative to their office. We signed some paperwork and took off in the car in search of Room With A View to drop off our bags. It took us awhile, but we finally did it. Found a parking spot right in front of the building and took our suitcases upstairs. We called Arni, and he met us there. He asked how many of us there would be in the room. When I told him 4, he kind of freaked out. Oh - that apartment is much too small for 4 adults. (We had exchanged several e-mails, and he said we could add a cot.) He was going to go back and check his e-mails. He thought we should be in the 2 bedroom apartment - but it's $395 per night - very steep.
Anyway...Renee and I hit the road. We found our way back to the pier pretty easily. Picked up Nina and Darlene at 11:00 and told them we couldn't get into our apartment so we would go ahead and begin our Golden Circle tour. Arni had given us some directions and suggestions on our itinerary, and we headed off in search of Highway 36. Darlene was extremely disappointed she couldn't sleep at the room all day. She looked like she would barf at any time.
It took us awhile to get out of town, but we found a local mall and stopped to go potty. What the heck, they've got a food court. So we stayed and had lunch. I had a 749 ISK Big Mac value meal ($12). It hit the spot. We took our food to the crepe restaurant to eat with Nina, but the cigarette smoke was horrible and I had to leave.
After much searching, we were finally on the road to Pingvellir. We passed the Laxnes horse farm on the way. The drive was beautiful. Iceland is a breathtaking country. We traveled over lava formation areas covered in moss and fields full of horses. Pingvellir was great. This is the site that the Icelanders chose for their parliament in 930 AD. It is kind of a natural amphitheater made of lava rock. There was a lovely waterfall tucked in one area. We hiked to it and along the river. We walked around the whole area and even visited the little church. I got up on the pulpit and began preaching, "and lo, the angel of the lord came upon them, and the glory of the lord shown round about them, and they were sore afraid..." Darlene stayed in the car.
We hit the road and drove to Geyser. As we were crossing the street, we ran into Sandy and John from Edmonton. They were on a bus tour. This area was steamy. It didn't smell nearly as bad as Rotorua in New Zealand and wasn't as active. We watched Strokkur ("the churn") do its thing and spit the water up about 60 feet every 5 minutes.
Onward to Gulfoss ("golden falls"). It was really cold, but we hiked to 2 of the view areas. What a fabulous and powerful waterfall. If it had been hot out, I might have been tempted to hike all the way to the drop of the falls. A few people did, and they were quite wet. We could see the Langjökull glacier off in the mountains from the parking lot. That's where we are supposed to go dog sledding.
We continued driving in search of Kerid, the collapsed crater, recommended by Arni. After back tracking, we found it. This was a beautiful blue water-filled crater with lots of vegetation growing inside.
We pushed our way on back to Reykjavik and the Perlan restaurant. Darlene and I ate in the café. Nina and Renee ate in the nice restaurant. I had my yummy vanilla ice cream cone and a ham & cheese sandwich (460 ISK). Nina had whale carpaccio, some sort of fish, and our friend, the guillemot for dinner (5900 ISK). She thoroughly enjoyed hers. The Perlan is set up on a hill and has an observation platform with great views. If only the sky were blue instead of gray! At least Nina finally got to sample some local cuisine. She has been hoping for putrid shark, puffin, whale, and ram's testicles. She likes to experience the true local scene. I much prefer to find the best French fries and chocolate cake in whatever country I visit.
We made it back to Room with a View at 11:30 p.m. without too much trouble. I found a parking spot 1½ blocks away. We just have to remember to feed the meter if we're there between 10:00 a.m. and 6 p.m. Arni gave us the keys. What a great apartment. We have a large living room with a comfortable leather couch and chair along with a huge wall of windows. The bedroom has 2 twin beds. In addition, we have a thin mattress to put on the leather couch and a folding cot. We have a dining room and kitchen with all that we need. Very cool. We've even got a huge balcony with a great view of the harbor. I'm not sure why Arni thought the room would be too small for us. It's palatial compared to the ship! Tomorrow it's off to Vik.
Wednesday; July 13, 2005 Vacation - Day 15 Reykjavik to Vik
"It is what it is." -- Alix MacGregor
Today was a big driving and waterfall day. We intended to be on the road at 9:30, but it was more like 11:15. Oh well...we're on vacation! Had breakfast at the bagel shop and stopped at Sandholt bakery, where Nina and Darlene got coffee and pastries.
We had to feed the meter beginning at 10:00 (parking is metered from 10 - 6:00). The day was gray again. We all packed a bag with our wellies and bathing suits (just in case). We found our way to Highway 1 - the Ring Road - and headed toward Vik (pronounced veek), which was nearly 190 km away. The drive was fun. We made so many stops along the way. I really love the area that's sprinkled with lava rocks. They are covered with moss and there are large mountains in the distance.
Our first stop was Seljalandfoss, the waterfall that you can walk behind. It was so beautiful. Being smart girls, we put on our wellies. The waterfall had a lot of spray, so the area was muddy. I managed to drop my camera twice in the mud. Bummer! We scrambled over the rocks and made our way behind the waterfall. It was so cool to be able to look out from there. We kept seeing tour buses pull in. They only stayed a short time for quick photo ops. I'm so glad we have our own car. It's so great to be able to set our own schedule and spend as much time as we want to each stop.
We wandered down the path where there were two more smaller waterfalls. All pretty. Nina and I climbed across the stream and then hiked up to a little cave. This was an opening in the mountain's rock wall, just above the stream. It was overgrown with plants and wildflowers and was gorgeous. There was a little turf house down below. We then climbed up to the waterfall adjacent to the cave. I managed to get all muddy from this area and had to crab crawl down the hill on my butt.
We traveled another ½ mile down the road and stopped to check out another waterfall. Nina read in the guidebook that there was a hidden waterfall. This was located near Hamragarder farm which has an area for camping. Nina and I had our wellies on and headed across the meadow toward the mountain where we could see a waterfall above the rocks. Oh my gosh! We climbed into the stream and what incredible views we had. You could see the waterfall between the rocks. We continued wading through the water and came to this circular opening with the waterfall pouring down from above. What a sight! You would never know how beautiful it is unless you went all the way back through that canyon. Wow.
Nina and I gave our wellies to Darlene and Renee and insisted they go see the waterfall, too. They loved it. Unfortunately Renee fell and got my boots wet inside. Poor thing.
We drove a little further up the road and saw a sign that seemed like it was marking a good place to visit. Big mistake. We headed up the hills on a dirt/rock path that was rutted. Yikes! Get me out of here. I was afraid I'd scrape the muffler and gas tank off the bottom of the car. I was finally able to turn around after doing a 12-point turn (on a cliff).
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