Akureyri to Myvatn – April 14th

We had to get right up this morning because though we are returning here after our all day tour, we need to check out. Happily we have our car and can stash our luggage there for the day. We have a quick breakfast of instant grits and instant coffee which we brought with us; load the car and stand in the drizzle waiting for our driver. It’s cold!

We are his first pickup (8:45a.m.) and soon the little van is almost full. Our driver, who’s name is unpronounceable as well spell, tells us just to call him Number 1.  Number 1 is a true Viking and his family has been in Akureyri for hundreds and hundreds (thousands?) of years. He points out the island that his family owns and lives on; the mountain that was left to the family by is maternal grandmother and is very knowledgeable. Turns out he is also an opera singer!

Our opera singing guide

Apparently singing is very important in his family and his grandfather was a noted Icelandic singer in his time.

We mention having had dinner last night at the fish and chips restaurant and he asks how it was. “Delicious” “We’re still full”. He is pleased and then tells us that his family owns that restaurant and if something weren’t right he would tell them.  His brother owns the local flight school.

The ride to Myvatn is about 90 minutes, but we don’t go straight there. In fact, there really isn’t a “there” to Myvatn as there is no town. It is close to Husavik. The point to Myvatn is that it is known as Iceland’s Yellowstone (though on a much smaller scale.)

Our first stop is the dramatic waterfall, Godafoss Waterfall which plays an important part in the Icelandic sagas and in it’s history. In 1,000 A.D. the speaker of the Alpingi (government back then) had to decide whether Iceland should remain pagan or convert to Christianity. He choose Christianity (under duress from Norway) and to show that he was serious about his decision, he became a Christian, went home and got all his carved pagan statues and tossed them into the waterfall; the name of which translates to “Waterfall of the Gods.”

Godafoss isn’t very tall (maybe 40 feet) but it is about 90 feet around and feels huge!

Very beautiful!

We all took many photos, and soon were on our way again. Number 1 asked if any of us were “Game of Throne” fans. No one in the van was, but he stopped at the Grjotagja Thermal Cave. Apparently this is a well known filming location for Game of Thrones.

I took this photo for those of you who would like to see the spot. You can get down into  that crevasse into a steaming pool but it was really uneven footing and no guardrails or barriers, so none of us walked down. This was a short little stop.

I’m excited about our next place. Actually, I’m excited about the whole tour because these are all the things I had hoped to see in Myvatn (well, except for the Grjotagja thermal cave). We arrive at the Skutustadir Pseudocraters, which for some reason, I insist on calling “pseudo cones.” Oh! Pseudocraters are also called “rootless cones” which is probably why I keep confusing the name. Anyway, these aren’t real volcanic craters, but they are what is left of gigantic bubbles of molten lava.

Water under the lava boiled into steam, rose to the surface and then popped! Except for one place in Hawaii, this is the only area in the world where pseudo-craters can be found. There was a nice trail around the area; and there was a second, much longer trail for birdwatchers.


I think they look like little volcanoes. It was a nice half mile walking trail and there were a couple of places with stairs up to the rims of the craters.


When Jeff, Tom and I were in Iceland in November 2016, we visited Pingvellir,  a rift valley where the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart. There was an enormous valley between the two walls.  On this sightseeing trip, we are once again at a rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates! The gape in the Earth’s crust was a bit unsettling and the gaping trench was deep, deep, deep. This rift is tiny compared to Pingvellir, but somehow I found it more powerful.

Tom bravely straddled the rift and while the sides are not far apart it was scarier than it looks!

Number 1 told us that under the rift, there was a thermal cave with a pool and a river. It is unmarked and you aren’t supposed to go into it. So, of course, Jeff and I did. It was a steep climb in near darkness, but worth the trip. I did keep thinking though “if there’s a tremor now, I’m dead.”









I crouched down close enough to get my fingers into the water, and it was very hot. What an amazing place. Getting out of the cave was tricky because of the low rock “ceiling” which you can’t really see here because Jeff is almost out.




Back into our little van… and we are off to the Dimmuborgir lava formations. I’ve never heard of these and I think if the three of us had been on our own, we might have missed them. “Dimmuborgir” translates as “Dark Castles” and it is aptly named.  First of all, it is cold, overcast and a little rainy; second, they are definitely ‘dark’.

According to the sign I read (the signs are all in Icelandic and English) this whole area was underwater. It was a huge lake, and then magma leaked up and solidified forming  spiky, stalagmite columns.

There were a lot of walking and hiking trails here and we opted for a short 15 minute one. It got cut short because the path was covered in snow and ice and was slick. Brrr…

Like I mentioned earlier in this post, the area around Myvatn is very active geothermally. And our next stop was the Namafjall geothermal area. This area doesn’t have a spouting geysir like the one we saw in November 2016 at Geysir, but it pretty much has everything else! You practically have to plug your nose becuase the smell of hydrogen sulfide is so strong.

There was a large bubbling pool (and I’m excited that I figured out how to upload this very short little video for you)

There were fumaroles which look like stacked rocks spitting steam


Here’s a couple closeups of the fumarole and 




a photo of Jeff standing in the warm (but smelly) steam it is putting out.

There were mud pots and because of all the sulfur and chemicals in the soil, the terrain was pretty colorful.

Mud pots
Steaming, unstable ground

What there wasn’t, was no crowds, very little signage and kind of beaten down areas where it was safe to walk. A couple of the very dangerous spots had wooden walkways, but not the over abundance of cautionary signs you’d see in the United States.







The last stop on our tour today is the Myvatn Nature Baths (Jarobooin vio Myvatn). Every town in Iceland has a hot pool, but the Myvatn Nature Baths are said to rival the famous Blue Lagoon. Well, I’ve never been to the Blue Lagoon, but if it’s anything like this…

There are two big pools with rocky walls and a semi-rough pebbly bottom and when you are in it you can see out over the volcanoey countryside. You can see black rock and steaming vents which would make me think twice before taking an unguided walk in the area.(pg 301-311)

Apparently the water here is the naturally heated excess from a nearby geothermal power station. It’s fresh water and relaxing in it was wonderful!! Getting in, was not, however, wonderful.  When we visited Iceland previously, we went to another nature bath and we knew the ‘rules.’ First of all, you take off your shoes in the hallway and put them onto racks,a and hope you can remember where you put them.When you check in you get a tag or something with a locker number on it and that’s where you put all your clothes and stuff.  Everyone has to shower naked, with soap, before entering the baths; so you put your suit on after you shower. There are women in the locker room to be sure everyone does this. The final step, and, this was not fun today, is scurrying from the exit down outside into the bath. BRRRRRR…. It was windy and cold! But we remembered that the last time, we had also had to content with ice on the walkway in and were happy that it wasn’t that cold.  I think we were in the baths about an hour and I could have stayed an hour longer. Tom, Jeff and I walked and floated around, searching out hot spots and made our way to the divider between the two pools. The other pool seemed much cooler than ours, so we stayed put.

When you get out of the pool (reverse freezing run back into the building) you shower to get the sulphury water off you, your suit and out of your hair. Then you have to dry off completely before going to your locker. This keeps the locker room floor nice and dry.

Oh, so relaxing!! Because I knew we’d been hitting some thermal pools, I packed our waterproof beach bag and everyone’s suits, water shoes, shampoo, hairbrushes were in there for easy handling. I let Jeff and Tom take the bag since there were two of them. Jeff said carrying the gaudy striped beach bag didn’t make him feel very manly. LOL

Speaking of bags, between the three of us we have 3 backpacks, a camera bag and a beach bag. Tom bought a few things at this stop and when he added that bag to our stash, which took up all the space between the driver and passenger seat, Number 1 said “More bags?! You have so many bags!?”

As we start our return trip to Akureyri, Number 1 points out our hotel. Super nice of him and know we know we’ll easily find it.  He talks about Myvatn while driving. Myvatn is famous not only for the geothermal aspects of the area, but also for the “midges”.  You know, midges, teeny tiny aquatic flying bugs? Well, in the summer here everyone (locals and tourists) wear nets over their heads to keep the midges out of their ears, mouths and noses. They don’t bite, but apparently there are massive swarms of them that even make driving difficult as they obliterate windshields when you drive into a swarm. Ick.

Soon we’re back in Akureyri and as Number 1 drives away, Jeff and I walk up to the guesthouse. We’re hoping that the front door is still unlocked and we can use the bathroom. It is and we do!  Then, we walk back down the hill a ways to the Vinbuden (liquor store) to stock up before we hit the road.

Jeff is driving, Tom is riding shotgun and I’m in the back and we retrace our steps back to Myvatn and the Foss hotel.

Wow! This hotel is super nice and modern (and expensive).  There is a fancy lobby with a nice restaurant and bar, and elevator and on the second floor where we are, there is a sauna. The door locks are electronic keys which are very common in the US, but not in Iceland. Tom’s room is just down the hall from ours and we all have a very nice view of the pseudo-craters.  The wind has picked up and it is cold out as we lug our stuff in.

As I mentioned earlier, there is not a “town” in Myvatn, so no nearby restaurant except the hotel eatery.  We check the menu, expensive! Always prepared, we regroup in Jeff and my room and enjoy our inexpensive ‘just add water’ dinners.

Tom enjoying his instant dinner!

We don’t have any plans for tomorrow, but please check in to see what we’ve been up to.

Grundarfjordur to Akureyi

We all slept wonderfully. Tom said that was the longest he’s slept in his life. Happily we remembered to set alarms so we would not miss our free breakfast. Our buffet breakfast was yummy with a nice variety – eggs, a waffle iron, yogurt, fresh fruit, baked beans, lunch meats and cheeses, toast – very European.To my surprise there was also a jar of peanut butter. I love peanut butter; in fact, there is a jar of peanut butter in my suitcase!  We sit, enjoying our breakfast and review the day’s itinerary.

We know that in Varmahlid, between here and Akureyi, which is several hours away, is the Glaumbaer Museum (Skagafjorur Heritage Museum) but it is only open from 10a.m. to 4p.m.  Since it’s already 10a.m. we know we’ll have to skip that as much as we’d love to see some traditional turf houses.  But we have some other sightseeing plans in mind (always a backup plan).

We check out, load the car and Tom takes the wheel. The Snaefellsnes Peninsula, where we are now, is the middle of three peninsulas jutting west off the coast of Iceland. The peninsula is known for its beautiful mountain, Kirkjufell and the waterfall next to it, Kirkjufellfoss. I have an Icelandic candy bar with lava salt for the first person who can tell the answer to this question: Kirkjufell (Mountain) is featured prominently in what classic Christmas movie (in looks, not by name.) Here is a photo to help you.

We spent about an hour at Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellfoss wandering around and taking photos. Time to get back in the car as we have a long ride. We stop a couple of times to stretch our legs, gawk at the scenery, and marvel over what looks like hiking cairns that run next to the road for miles and miles and miles. Turns out that they are cairns because we go over Holtavorduheidi or “Hill-Cairn Heath” a pass at almost 1,400 feet.  We can see where the fjord almost meets the road (Ram Fjord  or Hrutafjordur)

Here we stop at Stadarskali, a big rest-stop complex. Kind of like a truck stop – free bathrooms, burgers, etc.  Coffee seems in order since we’re not half way to our destination yet.

Driving on, each of us, pretty much at the same time, sees a wonderful mountain spire. Tom pulls over and we get our photos. Turns out this is a notable area, and the sign along the side of the road tells us that we are in front of Hraundrangi, a national landmark, and Hraun, the birthplace of Iceland’s most beloved poet, Jonas Hallgrimsson. The valley is called Oxnadalur.


It is only about 4:30p.m. or so when we arrive in Akureyri, which bills itself as the “Reykjavik of the North.” We zero in on our guesthouse and walk around and around trying to figure out how to get in. Finally, Jeff opens an unlocked door and we find ourselves in a foyer. There are two antique suitcases open on a shelf and in each there are several binders; one with a sticky note that says Barnes and the other is Delaney. This must be the place!  We have a room on the first floor and a room on the third floor…Jeff and I take the room on the 3rd floor. This place is great!

Here are some shots of our room (Jeff liked the funky shower and bath curtain), and a bird’s eye view of the town.







Notice the pull toilet flush


The check-in binder has information that we need. For example, parking in Akureyri is free, but is timed; so you either use a little paper clock (that you can pick up at tourist info or just about anywhere) or there was a piece of paper in our binder. You write down what time you park and put that paper on your windshield. The paper had several slots, so if you’re shopping or going different places, you just write the times down.

There is a business card in the binder for a couple of local restaurants. The fish restaurant sounds good to all of us, but first we need to go to the grocery store for a few things. We head to Bonus supermarket, only to discover that they closed about 15 minutes ago at 6p.m! There is a Netto grocery store very close by so we go there and just in time! It is 6:20 and they close at 6:30! Just in the knick of time.

We have fish and chips, and Jeff samples a local microbrew, at Akureyri Fish.

Definitely a local place and very good though the servings of chips was massive. One serving would probably have sufficed for all of us.

It has been another long day and we’re stuffed from dinner. I go back to the hotel to write, Tom goes to his room and Jeff decides to go for a walk.  The church in Akureyri is famous because it was designed by Gudjon Samuelson, the same architect who designed the Hallgrimskirkja Lutheran Church in Reykjavik. You have probably seen photos of that church and the church in Akureyri certainly displays the similarities.  Jeff also walked by the public library which was right next to our guesthouse.

Church in Akureyi
Library in Akureyi








I kind of messed up our itinerary for tomorrow but I think it will be okay. We are going on an all day “Myvatn Classic” tour.  Myvatn is an area about an hour from Akureyri – the tour will pick us up here at the guesthouse and at the end of the day return us here. And then because I wasn’t planning very well, we will get in our car and drive back to Myvatn to spend the night. Can never spend too much time traveling, I suppose!

Please join us tomorrow for some really interesting geological and thermal sights. Oh! And here’s a photo of the prize for today’s post!

Yum yum

West Iceland – April 12th

As we begin our Ring Road adventure all three of us laugh at our “little lady” the GPS voice we’ve dubbed Katie. At the first 8 or 9 round-abouts she directs, in her British accent, “Enter the round-about and take the 2nd exit.” Always the 2nd exit.

Jeff, Tom and I have spent a bit of time planning this trip and have designed an itinerary for the first three days. This being day one, the top 2 things on our checklist are 1) get car (check) and 2) get groceries. Spotting a Bonus supermarket, we rudely take the 3rd exit of a round-about. Our detours send Katie into a “recalculating route” chant.

Good grief. It is 8:30a.m. and the grocery store doesn’t open until 10. But, the gas station next door has a Dunkin Donuts sign. We trot over there, it is  too early for donuts, who cares? They have real coffee. Hooray!

Part of our planning was also driving responsibilities and as I am the person most likely to sleep on an airplane, I will drive the first day. This first stretch is 8 hours. Because the 3 of us were in Iceland in November 2016 and did the popular Golden Circle tour then, we are going to skip that area and do the Ring Road (also called simply “Highway 1”). We are going in reverse order heading west today.

And we’re off. The clouds are hanging low giving an overcast and foggy atmosphere. Our first stop today is Borgarnes, about an hour away.

We drive through the 3.5 mile long Hvalfjordur Tunnel which runs beneath the fjord. Although the tunnel area is not actively volcanic, the undersea rock is warm (up around 135 degrees (F) on one end!)

After the tunnel (and paying the  1,000 kroner toll), we pass between Akrafjall and Hafnarfjall Mountains. It is a serious understatement to say the scenery is incredible. Even though it is raining and we cannot see the tops of the mountains, what we can see is breathtaking.

We safely arrive in Borgarnes and set out to find our first attraction, the Settlement Center (Landnámssetur). This is said to be the prime place in Iceland to learn about the Settlement era.

 There are two distinct exhibits: the first discusses why and how the Viking Age settlers came to Iceland, and the second is “Egils Saga” (Skallagrimssonar).

The Settlement Center’s entry fee pays for both exhibits and for each you get an audio narration (required).  The settlement exhibit was very interesting providing much information about the Vikings, where the various original settlers arrived – you push buttons that correspond with the narration, lighting up the locations on a big map. There was a fun prow of a Viking ship to stand on.  (looks like we’re sailing into the sunset.) It rocked as the sounds of waves and seabirds played on the audio. It was a well done exhibit.



The downstairs exhibit, Egil’s Saga, was very different both in information and presentation. It was illustrated by locally carved figures and carvings. That woodwork was amazing.

In short, Egill was a poet-warrior who got in all kinds of trouble in Norway and in Iceland. He wrote his first poem at age 3 and at age 7, after losing a game, “buried an axe down to the brain in the head of his opponent.”

It’s unknown how much of the Icelandic sagas are historically based and how much is fictionalized, but it looks as though Egill would have benefitted from some anger counselling. You can read about Egill’s Saga here.

Viking Jeff

This exhibit also took about 30 minutes – its time for lunch, but first we have to get by this scary Viking.

Our itinerary for the day includes having lunch at the Settlement Center and what a good idea that was! Upstairs in the restaurant there is a huge vegetarian buffet (includes coffee and tea).






and this wonderful gigantic loaf of warm bread. The bread was covered with a heavy tea towel to help keep it warm and for you to hold onto the loaf as you sliced off however much you wanted.

Jeff and I both chose for the buffet,  while Tom opted for a burger of local beef, which he pronounced “delicious.”

Time to drive on. We are now going to the village of Reykholdt where we will leave the Ring Road to visit two waterfalls. As we drive out of Borgarnes, I glance up a hill and catch sight of “Brákin” a big monument that looks like a giant wheel with wings. Because it was raining and “way up there” we decided not to stop. (The story of the monument is very interesting and I do suggest you Google it.)

Along our drive I pull over when I spot a sculpture beside the road. Interesting.  

The drive to the waterfalls is only about 20 minutes (one-way) out of our way and we hope they will be worth the detour.

The Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls are close together and share an easy walking path. The Hvítá (White) River runs through here but it is not the cause of the Hraunfossar (Lava Waterfalls). See, part of the valley above the falls is new lava which is very porous. Groundwater streams have sunk into the lava fields and (across the river) there a rivulets of groundwater coming out from under the lava field and falling into the river. It looks like water on top in the photo, but it is black lava. Like 1,000 bridal veil falls – gorgeous!

About 100 yards upstream, the Hvítá River does create the Barnafoss. Barnafoss translates as “Children’s Waterfall” and there is part of what looks like the remains of a natural bridge over it. The legend is that 2 children were supposed to stay in the house while their parents went to Mass on Christmas Day. Of course, they didn’t. They went out to play, fell off the bridge and drown. So, their mother destroyed the bridge to save other children. A dark story, but a beautiful waterfall.

It is cold and still raining, but we spend quite a bit of time enjoying the falls .


but now its time to get back in the car and drive to Grundarfjördur near the tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The weather is clearing and I’m having a tough time keeping my eyes on the road, not because I’m tired (I am) but because the scenery is seriously spectacular.

Tah-Dah! We have arrived at Hotel Framness. It is 5:30p.m. and we have all been awake 29-30 hours; and I think we’ve held up remarkably well. It has been a wonderful first day, and it has been a LONG first day! We unload the car and lug our suitcases, backpacks and “food bag” up the stairs. Tom’s room is directly across the hall from ours.

Jeff and I resolve to stay awake until 7p.m. at which point we collapse into bed. Dead to the world.

Bye-bye Viking land

Well, it is time to head home…

Tom comes over and confesses that he got up very early, went to Rekjavik Roasters for a final visit and then went back to the art gallery and bought BOTH of the pieces he liked. He just couldn’t decide between the two. The art will be shipped to him – something more to look forward to!

We load up the car and with Jeff at the wheel begin our trek to the rental car return place. And…we get lost. Not a lot lost, and both Jeff and Tom would deny we were ever lost, but from the backseat, I could tell we were lost. I felt like we were sneaking up on the car rental place…circling in…. Remember we left there in the dark and all the street signs look like the spell checker was insane. To my incredible surprise we did arrive in plenty of time, and arrived at the airport just fine.

Our trip is over, and it was a wonderful and memorable trip. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our adventure.

Jane and Jeff

Thanksgiving Day in Iceland

Our last full day in Iceland – wow, the time has gone quickly! We get up and head for Rekjavik Roasters one last time. On the way there we drive along the harbor road and suddenly spot the sculpture that we wanted to be sure to see! We’re lucky to have come this way. The “Viking” style stainless steel sculpture looks really nice against the gray background.

Our breakfast was quick. I had a delicious chocolate croissant, Tom, a croissant with cheese and jam (sounds odd, I know, but apparently it was very tasty.), Jeff settled for just coffee.

Now we are going to return to some of the places we visited briefly during the trip. First stop, Hallgrimskirkja (Church of Hallgrimur). This church sits on the highest point in Rekjavik and its tower reaches 244 feet into the air, making it one of the tallest buildings in Iceland. It is certainly an easy to spot landmark. We are going up the tower for photos. We pay for our elevator tickets and then climb the rest of the way to the top.

Up, Up, Up

It is VERY VERY windy up here, but the views are certainly a nice reward for the discomfort.

Jeff & Tom in the tower
View from the church tower



I’m happy to be wearing my windproof jacket and pants.

We’re quickly frozen and head back down. The sculpture garden we visited during our walking tour the morning we arrived is next to the church and we go there for a longer visit. This time we’re dressed for the weather and spend a lot of time wandering about.

The Pirate Party is a real political party in Iceland!

Now, we decide to do some souvenir shopping. My shop, of course, is the Hand Knitters Association store. Tom and Jeff leave me to drool and look, and look, and look. I find a hand knitted Icelandic design sweater and pick out 8 skeins of good yarn.

My yarn stash

If it won’t fit in my suitcase, I can wear the sweater! I’m super excited with my presents to myself.

Before I had finished, Jeff and Tom, who had gone looking for a souvenir store are back with packages in hand. I make them take me back to their souvenir store so I can get a cute t-shirt. We walk around a bit looking for an art gallery that had caught our eye earlier in the week. This is an art coop and there is a variety of different media – very, very nice stuff. Tom is interested in two painting but we leave without buying anything. We learn that artwork is not taxed in Iceland, the artists keep what money they make.

Going in the shops and restaurants here in Rekjavik is so interesting because they are independently owned…no big box stores and not a lot of chain restaurants, though we have seen many Subway restaurants, but no Starbucks, McDonalds or WalMarts.
Time to move on…

Our big event planned for today is Tom’s idea and he springs for the tickets. He is a big Bjork fan, she is a native Icelander, and at the “Harpa” Rekjavik’s gorgeous concert hall, there is a virtual reality Bjork exhibit. But first we have to figure out how to get into the parking garage, haha! Two attempts later we’re good.

Bjork has a new album and this VR show is based on four songs from that album.

The show is wonderful!! It is in four different rooms on three separate floors of the Harp. There are only a few other people in our group. In the first two rooms we sit on swivel stools, put on the virtual reality headgear and enter the scene. Looking up, down, spinning slowly on our stools, we take in the surroundings. It is like being a vaporous being in a different, but oddly familiar world.
In the third room, we stand with the head gear on. Wow! Here is Bjork coming right at me! I instinctively move aside to let her pass and bump into some of the equipment – yikes! I need to remember that she isn’t real…especially since she just walked through me!
In the final room, again we are standing, and this time we are given hand controls. We are interacting with the VR scene. I lift my hands and draw spiralling circles coming out of Bjork’s mouth…watching the colorful lines float in front of me. Drawing within the unreal reality is very weird.
Neither Tom, Jeff nor I have ever experienced much virtual reality and this is so cool!!
What a great way to end our trip! Thanks, Tom!!

Well, today is Thanksgiving Day in the US, so we decide to go out for a nice dinner. We end up in an Italian restaurant and everything is just delicious.

Back to the hotel, we begin the sad but necessary task of packing (Where AM I going to put all this yarn??)

Iceland’s Southernmost Coast

Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Today is going to be great! We have a plan, and a car, and a thermos of coffee.

Jeff and I didn’t know much of anything about Iceland; we came for the Northern Lights. Tom, however, is quite knowledgeable about the country, the language and the people and today is his plan. We are going to drive down to the Southern coast, near the town of Vik. Because there is only one major road, the Ring Road, which encircles the island, we’re pretty sure we won’t get lost. We start out with Tom at the wheel and Jeff navigating…and within 10 minutes realize we’re going the wrong way. hahaha! Okay, U-turn and here we go.

I find myself wondering… Iceland is 39,768 square miles, about the size of Kentucky, and the main road is a circular route, so, would that make “round” instead of “square” miles the correct measurement? Yes, this is how I amuse myself when travelling!

The scenery is beautiful with many flat fields filled with rolled bales of hay. Most of the bales are wrapped in some sort of protective plastic, probably to protect them from the elements. They are wrapped in white and tan…and pink??

Jeff suddenly tells Tom to pull over – we’ve got to check out the pink hay. Tom slams on the brakes and steers us into some farmer’s driveway where we trot down the drive a little, take photos and hurry back to the car. Typical tourists!

Further down (around) the Ring Road, Tom pulls off at Seljalandsfoss, an incredible waterfall that drops over 197 feet. The water forming this falls originates in the volcanic glacier Eyjafjallajokull. As we got out of the car, bundled up, and reached for cameras, Tom realized that he had left his camera battery charging back in his hotel room in Rekjavik! This is a SERIOUS bummer! Today’s adventure is probably what he’s been looking forward to most. We feel terrible for him and promise to take loads of photos.

You can see the size of Seljalandfoss by looking at the tiny people at the bottom of the photo.


The icy spray from the falls coats everything and we were happy that there was no need to navigate these stairs nearby.

On we go. A while later we arrive at Reynisfjara, the famous black sand beach on Iceland’s southern. It is very windy and cold because we are standing in the icy wind coming right off the North Atlantic ocean. The waves are very rough and crashing to shore.





We see what I’ve taken to calling “baby Stonehenge” and ask Tom who would put all these pillars here. Well, these pillars are naturally occurring! I’m flabbergasted.

These columns were formed by the rapid cooling of basalt lava. The length of time it takes the lava to cool gives them their square and man-made looking shapes. Fascinating.

Tom points to three large towering rocks out in the ocean, “Those are basalt stacks” he tells us and their formation, again, is based on their cooling time. There is no other land mass between this beach and the Antarctic – no wonder it’s cold!

We all walk our separate ways to explore.

Jeff takes photos of the beach and fills up a water bottle with black sand. We’ve been on black sand beaches before but none has ever been like this – this beach is really sand, soft and smooth.

Jane on the hillside
Arctic terns

I walk up a hillside to take photos of arctic terns. This area is known for its large and varied types of birds. In the summer, apparently, this is where the puffins are.


Off in the distance, I see a small country church on a hillside. It looks like a water color.

(Hint: John Smith! A water color rendition of this photo would be a nice gift for your little sister!)

Tom starts walking up a steep hill and as I watch, he disappears! Poof! Gone! I shout to Jeff, “Where did Tom go??” We quickly start heading to the spot where he disappeared, after all, he has the car keys!

Then we see him on his butt, starting to stand. “I’m okay, just slid down a little” he shouts and waves. And except for some dirt and ripping the knee of his jeans, he is indeed all right

We spend a lot of time walking around, but too soon it is time to head back to Rekjavik.
Jeff takes the wheel and we go ‘home.’ Back at the hotel we get cleaned up, Tom goes to put on unripped blue jeans. When he returns, he announces that his camera battery was in his backpack all along!! WHAT a bummer! I told him that we’re going to paint it a bright flourescent color…

For dinner tonight we go to “Glo” a vegan restaurant that we’ve read about and have been hoping to try. Glo is upstairs, tiny little narrow stairs, in a small building. The restaurant is very small. When you go in, there is a little glass counter where you can see the day’s offerings. Unfortunately they were out of butternut soup which would have been very nice after the cold day. They did have a variety of wraps and a delicious vegan lasagne. What a lovely way to end the day.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Iceland, and we have some fun stuff planned!

Around we go!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

This morning we are up early, daypacks filled with sandwiches, cameras, and, of course, lots of extra warm clothing. Today we are going on a bus tour of Iceland’s Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is comprised of three of the country’s most famous natural wonders and you can see them all in a daylong circular (duh!) route. We board our bus, which is NOT a bus with ginormous tires (those are used for glacier tours), but a comfy tour bus and head out.  This is a glacier bus ->

Our tour guide is a woman in probably her late 50’s; she is tiny and I suspect that she is actually an elf. An elf in a huge sweater and ski bib. She is prepared for the weather.

Let’s talk a minute about elves, trolls and the “hidden people.” These are very important beings in Icelandic lore and even today in the 21st century. Our guide, that little wisp of a woman, was filled to the brim with information, geological, historical and folkloric, and she told us a lot about the hidden people. The story goes that Adam and Eve had many children and that God would occasionally stop by to visit. (Maybe drop in for some wine and apple pie, I don’t know.) Anyway, one day Eve was very busy with housework was getting the kids cleaned up when she saw God coming up the walk. Knowing that there was no way she could get all the kids scrubbed up before God arrived, and she would have been so embarassed for him to see the children not perfectly presentable, that she told the unwashed kids to hide. God greeted Adam and Eve and commented on the beautiful children. “But this isn’t all of your children, is it?” “Yes.” Adam and Eve answered. Well, of course, God being God, he knew that wasn’t true and he told them so. As their punishment he told them the children they had hidden from his sight would be hidden forever. They became the hidden people. So, I figure the moral of this story is to have a huge honking tub that you can pitch all the kids into at once. And what kind of idiot lies to GOD to his face?

Our guide today, and our guide, Audher, on Sunday, told us that there had been surveys and such in Iceland to determine the percentage of the population that believes in the elves, trolls and hidden people. The number is HUGE – though Audher did point out that the question was phrased along the lines of “Do you deny the existance of the hidden people?” Not “Do you believe in the hidden people.” Audher said that she would not deny that they might exist…

This mythical culture is so much a part of country’s psyche that there is even a beautiful, jewelled and ornate gown on display in the National Museum. The dress was given to a human woman by an Elfen man in gratitude for her service to his wife as her midwife. I don’t remember all the details of the story, but the fact that the dress is on display in the National Museum is interesting, don’t you think?

So as we rode on the bus, looking out at the landscape, our tour guide (I’m very sorry I didn’t write her name down) regaled us not only with geographical and historical details but also with these wonderful folkloric stories.

Our first stop on the Golden Circle is Thingvellir National Park, which in 2004, was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thingvellir is Iceland’s most important historical site, in fact, this is a very important site for all of the world’s democracy. It was here in 930 AD that the Vikings established Althing the world’s first democratic parliament! There are some ancient ruins marked – a flagpole shows where the Althing’s podium stood; there are a few remains of where those attending the parliament camped.

Thingvellir, once the Christians arrived, was also where men were hung and women drown for adulterous behavior.

But the reason I am so keen to see Thingvellir is that it is one of two places in the world that can be referred to as a “Rift Valley.” The first Rift Valley Jeff and I saw was in Kenya, and I had no idea of its significance. Our traveling companion, Tom, tells us that Thingvellir is where the American and the Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling away from one another.
Yes, it is where these two plates are pulling the continent apart! At a rate of 2 centimeters a year!

Our photos show a big, tall mountain on the left and a much lower wall on the right with a path down the middle. The mountain and the wall were originally one but the plates have pulled the earth apart and created the rift in the middle. To see the evidence of these tectonic plate shifts, to realize that this is how our continents were formed is just mind boggling.

Thingvellir: see the difference in the mountain heights on either side?

We walked down the rift, between what will be ages and ages from now the break between two continents, and took a lot of photos

including these sheep along the trail. These sheep were a lot more sure footed than Jeff. Tom, Jeff and I went up some icy wooden stairs to an overlook. At the top, a woman cautioned us to step to the left to avoid a very icy patch. Tom and I cautiously shuffled to the side; however Jeff moved forward and boom – landed right on his wrist. Ouch!! Sprained wrist…no biggie.

He composed this riddle right away:
Q: When you fall in Iceland, where do you land?
A: You land on the ice because it’s ICE-land!

We return to the bus and travel on. The landscape is interesting – there are deep long ravines through fields. Our guide tells us that the people, and even the animals, in this area know better than to walk through these fields, because sometimes there is a thin layer of soil over these ravines. The land here is very unstable. 

Stop number two: Gullfoss or Golden Falls. This area is a unique and fascinating geological site. Gullfoss is a really dramatic double cascade waterfall that drops about 90 feet. But what is most interesting to me is the route of the water. It comes from an ancient glacier and travels underground, then appears above ground here and goes over the “fall” which is actually an ancient underwater sea cliff! This entire area was all underwater eons ago. Fascinating!

The falls are still flowing though a lot of the area has frozen – gigantic frozen icicles that are really a waterfall. Cool…and very cold!

Frozen Gullfoss

Gullfoss is also our lunch stop; there is a restaurant, gift shop, etc., all ready for the heavy tourist traffic, and we can tell from the parking lot that they do get a lot of visitors. There is a very large glassed off banquet style room overlooking the falls. It is clearly setup for multiple incoming bus tours.






We sit in the smaller restaurant. Tom and Jeff have the organic lamb stew, a local dish. They say it is delicious. I have a homemade tomato soup which is very good and there are free refills on the soups. Despite the signage that stipulates “No outside food or drink.” I pull our sandwiches and my thermos of hot coffee from my backpack. Just let them try to take my pb&j!

Sitting in the warm restaurant we realize how tired we are – our late night watching the Northern Lights is catching up to us.

Back to the bus, we’re heading for stop number three, our final stop: Geysir. According to my guidebook, all spouting hot springs are named after Geysir. At one time, Great Geysir erupted on a semi-predictable schedule until it didn’t. It stopped. In efforts to make it erupt, tourists in the 1950s, threw rocks and trash down it. It would have served them right if it HAD erupted and spewed that trash all back on top of them. But it didn’t.

After two large earthquakes in Iceland in 2000, the Great Geysir roared back to life! It continues to erupt, but infrequently. We didn’t see it go off, but had a wonderful time watching the world’s most reliable geysir, (take that, Old Faithful!), Strokker. Stokker erupts every 3-7 minutes – and the billing was true – it was amazing that this geyser erupted time and again; and not always just one spewing, but we saw double and triple spoutings one right after the other. Imagine the amount of pressure needed to shoot hot water 45-90 feet into the air so constantly! Imagine also the amount if ice that this spewing water, steam and runoff create when they hit this cold air. We were super careful walking around.

Frosty moss and steam

We left the geyser area to walk by bubbling hot pots and steaming holes in the ground….back to the bus.

As we are driving back to Reykjavik, I notice a town sign for Laugarvatn. That’s the town with the Fontana Thermal baths that we enjoyed last night. Boy, that would feel good now…

Soon afterwards our bus pulled into what actually is our last stop on the tour. We are visiting the Fakasel Icelandic horse park.

Note that these are not Icelandic ponies, like I thought, but are really full grown horses. These horses were imported from Mongolia and are the only horses permitted to be imported/owned in Iceland which keeps the breed pure and prevents the importing of diseases to which they have no immunity. Obviously, being from Mongolia, the horses are well suited to the Icelandic climate. These horses are known for their smooth, distinctive gait; and they are way cute!

Icelandic horse

We wandered around the store for a little bit; I thought the bathroom doors were fun.

Bathroom “stalls” (Get it?!)





And then it really was time to head home.

Dinner in our hotel is a typical Jane and Jeff affair…the three of us meet in our room, boil some water in our hotpot and pour it into our cup of pasta (Tom), cup of curry noodles (Jeff) and cup of vegie soup (Jane)

We hang out for a little while talking about our day…and we make sandwiches for tomorrow when we are planning to explore Iceland’s Southern Coast…


In search of aurora

Monday, November 21, 2016

We have all day free until 6pm when we have scheduled a tour for ourselves.

We start our day, after a good night’s sleep, by driving back to old Reykjavic and having breakfast at Reykjavic Roasters. This is the only coffee roasting place in the city and we must give it a try!

Reykjavik Roasters roaster

The cafe is very small and we stand around awkwardly until a table for 2 leaves. We drag over a chair and are good. Jeff and I have coffee americano and porridge (steel cut oatmeal into which we stir homemade raspberry jam) and Tom has the same coffee, but with a croissant with cheese and jam. Ahhh…a nice local place, and coffee is delicious!

Fortified, we retrace part of yesterday’s walking tour. First, the knitting shop, where Jeff and Tom wait very patiently while I look at everything and eventually don’t buy anything! I’ll come back another time. We come upon a typical touristy store. Tom buys little tcotkes for friends, I get a T-shirt and Jeff buys a shot glass. Happily I’m carrying my backpack so we can shove everything in there along with extra scarves, rain pants, windproof jackets, etc. We are prepared today! Of course, as luck would have it, it is not windy at all or remotely as cold as yesterday.
We stop in a small gallery but don’t buy anything. We find a store with reasonably priced postcards (about 70 cents US) but the stamps are over $2 each! Some cards are going to get mailed once we get back to the States!

We know there is a sculpture park down by the harbor, but we aren’t sure exactly where and decide to walk that way, anyway. We walk and walk along the harbor…we are not seeing anything even remotely looking like sculpture so we turn around and headed for the grocery store. Tom is going to get a good dose of travelling frugally. Um, let me also explain that Iceland is VERY, VERY, VERY expensive! At the supermarket I get a small jar of peanut butter, rice cakes and 2 little restaurant sized packets of jam. Jeff picks up a 1/2 loaf of bread, some sliced roast beef, sliced lamb (packaged like lunchmeat), a small package of sliced cantaloupe, and some cheese. We add in 6 yogurts, 3 cup of noodle things, 4 instant oatmeals, and a bag of popcorn (a small bag of Lays potato chips is over $7, hence the popcorn). All totalled to $75! Much cheaper than eating out!!

Back at the hotel we get ready for tomorrow’s all day excursion. We all make sandwiches and get our snacks in one place – easy to grab and go in the morning.

And now,we get ready for our big night out. I put footwarmers in my socks and handwarmers in my gloves, put on my scarf, hat, coat, grab my swimsuit – yes, swimsuit!
Tonight is our big night! Tonight is the “Warm Baths and Cool Lights” tour. The tour bus picks us up at 6pm and we ride to Fontana thermal baths. On the way I look out the window so much I get a crick in my neck, I’m looking for the Aurora Borealis. All I see is grey clouds, or fog, making weird shapes and point that out to Jeff.

When we arrive at Fontana Geothermal Springs we are given very specific instructions about what to do. First, the minute you enter the dressing room you take off your shoes and socks and put them on shelves. Then you strip down to take a shower and wash – use the soap! Then you put on your swimsuit and wash again. Geothermal pools are this nation’s pride and joy. Volcanic heat keeps the temperature around 29 degrees C and most baths, like here at Fontana, have “hot-pots” – pools at 37-42 degrees C.
I did all the necessary abulations. When I walked outside, soaking wet to the pools, there was steam everywhere. Not only was it impossible to see where you were going but the walkway was all icy. “Jeff?” I called. “Over here” he and Tom called back. I slipped in that direction. “Jeff?” “Over here” they chorused back.
I felt like I was in a crazy version of “Marco! Polo!” Eventually we were reunited in the steamy water.

After an hour of soaking up the warm relaxing waters, we had to get out. Yikes! It’s cold out there! I kept as much of myself in the pools as I could. I used my hands to pull me flat through the water, eventually I did have to stand up and scurried for the locker room. The shower water that had been so warm before going into the pool now felt like icy daggers. Jump around, rinse swimsuit, dry off! Get dressed…tank top, long-sleeved t-shirt, sweater, coat, long underwear, cordoruy pants, rain pants, wool socks, hiking boots, hat, undergloves, mittens, scarf. Okay, now I can walk the 10 steps to the buffet. LOL

The buffet was really good! They had ginger carrot soup and vegan lasagne. Tom and Jeff had equally yummy food. There was a very nice selection.  As we were eating, there seemed to be a scrum at the door with people coming and going. People with tripods going and not coming back right away…
Jeff got up to check it out. Remember those weird foggy type clouds I had seen, well THOSE are the start of the Aurora Borealis! Turns out that when it starts the human eye sees only grey, but the digital camers pick up the colors. We didn’t rush out because we knew our tour was going on to someplace with less light pollution.

One young couple did go out and return and the people they were with started clapping and cheering. They had become engaged under the Northern Lights! Obviously this had been planned by the young man as someone in the group started pulling little bottles of champagne out of a backpack. Very cool

We are so lucky because the sky is clear. The possibility scale (I forget the real word for it) is a 3. The scale is 1-9, so I think “3” isn’t great but our guide says its really good.

Pretty soon it’s about 10pm and we all climb back into the bus, drive about 20 minutes and pull off in the middle of nowhere.
Jeff and Tom get their tripods and cameras setup while I walk all around looking for my GoPro camera which, I think, fell out of my pocket when I got out of the bus. Bummer! Luckily I still have my Nikon. (I never did find my GoPro.)

Soon we start to see the misty clouds…electrons from the sun hitting the earth’s atmosphere and the fun begins! Everyone needs dark for the very long shutter times (10-15 seconds) but some folks, including Tom and Jeff, need to turn on their Iphone flashlights quickly, occasionally, to see or adjust settings. I act mostly as flashlight holder and helpful tripod adjuster. I got the ISO on my Nikon set to 3200 but can’t get the shutter to open long enough. My photos are just black backgrounds with weird green dots.

The cool photos you see here are Tom’s.


Notice the bright red street sign

We are FREEZING!!! As bundled up as we are, we are cold, cold, cold. I start to jump around a little and think very longingly of that thermal pool!! Still, it is WAY too soon when the bus driver turns on the headlights. She isn’t very subtle. Haha. But it is an effective way to get everyone back on board because no one can take any photos with all the light. We climb in and about 45 minutes later arrive back at the Hilton.

It is after midnight and as we part, I remind Tom that we have to be in the lobby ready to roll at 9am. It is going to be a short night.

Come along tomorrow as we explore Iceland’s “Golden Circle.”

And we’re walkin’….

Disembarking the plane we cruise through immigration, and, since there isn’t even a Custom’s area, walk through to the airport proper. Easy peasy.
It is 6:30 a.m. here in Kevlavik and dark, dark, dark. We retrieve our luggage; much more luggage than we normally travel with because of our bulky winter clothes. This trip is definitely not a winner in the “light packer” award category!

We have reserved a car from “Nu”, an Iceland car rental place and we figure out where the shuttle guy will pick us up. When he arrives, he tells us that we’re early for our 8am rental. If he takes us to pick up our car now, it will cost us more money! Seriously? We make arrangements for him to come back for us and another couple before 8; Jeff, Tom and I, all in dire need of coffee, see a Dunkin Donuts right in the airport lobby. Too funny! We manhandle our luggage, claim a table and sit for the next hour sipping our very hot coffee.

Finally we get to the car rental place. You can have one driver and need to pay for additional drivers; we agree that Tom should be our second driver as he’s really looking forward to driving in a foreign country, and I make such a good backseat driver!

It is a 40 minute drive to the hotel in Reykjavik and we’re starting to get a little anxious because we have a walking tour of the city scheduled for 10am. Tom drives, in the dark, navigating approximately one million round-abouts and we arrive at the hotel about 9:45. Yikes! Naturally we are too early to check in, but we check our luggage, pull cameras, sweaters, hats and gloves out of backpacks and run back to the car. Thank goodness I printed the directions from the hotel to the tour meeting place before leaving Colorado!

As we drive through old Reykjavik we see the steeple of the gigantic church where we are to meet…but every street seems to be a one-way street in the wrong direction. Jeff is going to sneak up on it, I think.
Success! Jeff finds a parking spot and Tom runs to the little machine to get our permit. He is there several minutes and seems to be challenged. Just as Jeff starts up the hill to see if he can help, a woman passes by and tells him that you don’t have to pay for parking on Sunday. Good thing because the machine was in Icelandic and we never would have figured it out!

WOW! It is cold and windy! We are prepared for the weather, but all our good windproof stuff is still in our suitcases because we had to leave in such a rush. Brrrr…

The walking tour is wonderful! We start in the town’s main square, anchored by Hallgrimskirkja, an immense white concrete church with a 74.5 meter high towering steeple.

The church is visible from up to 20 kilometers away. There is an elevator to the top of the tower and the view is supposed to be spectacular. (We’ll come back later do that.)
In front of the church is a statue of Leifur Eiriksson, the first European to stumble across America.

Next, after a short stroll, we learn about Einar Jonsson, a famous Icelandic sculptor, and walk through his sculpture garden. Jonsson was afraid of the dark, and somewhat surprisingly many of his sculptures are dark themes;






He was also terrified of earthquakes which makes me wonder why he lived on the second floor of his house and why there are only a few tiny windows. He designed the house himself and you’d think that he would have lived on the lower floor and filled the building with windows!

Just so you know, Reykjavik is very hilly! VERY hilly.

There are many colorful houses in Reykjavic.

These bright houses are constructed of corrugated tin over wood. The tin needs to cure for two years before being painted, but once the curing has finished, people paint their houses bright, happy colors which gives the streets a friendly feel. And personally, I think the colors are to offset the gray winters.

Our guide, Audher, is great. A native Icelander she points out tiny figurines, like those little green Army men that kids play with, super hero action figures and even Bart Simpson’s head (!), on top of signposts, walls, and building awnings. She said that the figures simply appear overnight and no one knows who is doing it. Some of the figurines with movable parts have different poses on different days. They are very difficult to spot so we are looking for them the rest of the day.  We stumbled upon this little wooden elf house in someone’s garden.

Funny little figurines are not the only interesting street things in Reykjavik as there is a LOT of street art. Apparently, graffiti was becoming a problem and the city took action by commissioning murals to be painted all over. Gorgeous and diverse, these street murals are very impressive. And some of them are too intricate to be nicely photographed – but that didn’t stop us from trying.

Because neither Audher nor her company, “I ‘heart’ Reykjavik” receives any compensations, free meals or such from any merchants she freely recommends and give her opinions about restaurants, etc. It is very windy and cold so our small group pops into a bookstore/coffeeshop (think Barnes and Noble, but not) to warm up and some folks do get hot drinks. I am hoping that my big toe will thaw….

And, we’re walkin’…
I am thrilled when Audher points out the “Icelandic Hand Knitting Association” store. Here Icelandic wool sweaters, hats, gloves, scarfs, blankets, etc., that are knitted by the locals are sold AND they sell yarn! Jeff, Tom and I make a note of the street corner so I can come back here.

Our tour started in the heart of old Reykjavik and we are heading for the harbor and the oldest part of the city. Audher tells us that before Iceland had a written language, there were “law speakers” or men who had memorized the country’s laws and would recite them for all to hear. As we near the end of our tour we come to the Prime Minister’s office.

We are speechless! It is an unassuming one-story building right off the street. There are no guards, no military presence at all. Audher tells us that there IS a camera. Yup, a single camera!


There is a large construction project going on right by the harbor…turns out that this area is very rich in artifacts and when this construction was started the excavators came upon a nearly intact Viking Long House. Naturally construction was immediately halted and the archeologists went to work. The long house was saved and is now reconstructed in the National Museum. Jeff mentioned how neat it must be to know that under this city is probably evidence of an ancient civilization.

Our tour ends on a hill overlooking the harbor. A 2 hour walking tour on little sleep and clothes that are NOT warm enough, we start walking back and realize that we’re starving. We don’t even get lost as we retract our steps and end up a Babalu, one of the restaurants Audher had mentioned.

The restaurant is small and cozy. Jeff and I have the vegetarian chili and Tom choose an egg and cheese panini. Everything was yummy!

Hot, spicy chili. Perfect for a cold day!



All three of us are surprised that we find our car easily and we head back to the Hilton. I’m not sure I will ever be warm again!



At the hotel we retrieve our luggage and get our rooms. We are so lucky! Our rooms are conveniently right next door to each other. And we have an incredible view! We say a brief goodbye and go into our rooms to unpack.

View from our room

Remember, we got off the plane, waited an hour before getting our rental car, drove 40 minutes to Reykjavik and rushed off to a 2 hour walking tour….we are tired and cold, but mostly tired.
Finally, at 3:30 in the afternoon, I decided to lay down. Jeff and I slept for about 4 hours.

We weren’t up for navigating narrow little streets in the dark and didn’t know where to go for dinner, so the three of us decided to have dinner in the hotel. Our waiter was delightful, and when we asked how he learned to speak English, and he said “from the television!” Turns out he is dyslexic and could only learn English by listening.
(Tidbit: in Iceland school children are required not only to learn icelandic, but also either English or Norse.)

The first thing he brought to our table was bread and butter. “Butter on a rock,” he said, and that’s exactly what it was! 

I asked him what the significance of the butter on the rock was and he said “It’s for the tourists” Hahaha! Our dinners were very good: I had vegan lasagna onto which was sprinkled parmesan cheese (oops) and it was delicious. Tom had fresh fish and chips and Jeff had a salad with smoked salmon.

Finally, it is time for bed (for real!) We have a fun day planned for tomorrow and hope you’ll come along…

Off we go!

You faithful readers of our traveling blogs (you know who you are) know that almost all of our trips start with our good friend Tom Delaney taking us to the airport, and this trip is no exception. But this time there is a big difference, when we got to DIA ((Denver International Airport), Tom parked the car, grabbed his suitcases and joined us!

About six weeks ago when the three of us were out to dinner together Tom was telling us about an Icelandic author he was enjoying reading. “I’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights,” I sighed. “Wanna go to Iceland?” “Yes!” said Jeff. “YES!” said Tom. And there is the start of this adventure.

Naturally, being frugal travelers, we did some Internet researching and found a great deal on Travelzoo…airfare from Denver and their “Hot Springs and Northern Lights” tour. A four night trip (which is really 3 nights because they count the overnight flight as your first night) very reasonably priced. But, hey, if we’re going to Iceland we want to have more time than that, and we’ve added 3 more days to our itinerary.

So, that explains why I am sitting in coach but it does NOT explain why Jeff and Tom are in First class! Here’s the story on that…and you can chalk it up to good intentions gone awry.

Iceland Air invites coach passengers to bid on upgrades to first class. I called Iceland air and knew that four seats remained in “Saga” class. As a surprise for Jeff, Tom and I bid the exact same amount of money and I put in the three bids at the same time. The next day, I was thrilled to see “Upgrade approved” flash into my mailbox…but wait, there were only two! Tom and I had been upgraded, but not Jeff! Crap! This turns into a very long, convoluted tale which I will not relate here. Anyway! I gave my first class seat to Jeff – which was the point of the whole upgrade all along. At least we all enjoyed relaxing in the First Class lounge; something neither Jeff nor Tom had ever experienced. I have been so lucky to have done so several times because of the generosity of my wonderful friends, Eve and Leroy Measner. They are so generous and have shared their frequent flier points with me on several occassions.

Before we boarded and long before anyone else was at the gate, I made friends with the flight crew. They had heard my tale of woe. Right after we took off, and I was scrunched in row 12C, the head stewardess moved me into an exit row – so now, though I am in coach, I have an empty seat next to me and about 3 feet of legroom! (Much more legroom than any first class passenger) and I have a window which neither Tom nor Jeff have!

Apparently the crew has adopted me…they sneak me glass after glass of wine and a dish of caramel corn from the First class section. Jeff came back to give me a gin & tonic, but since by that time I had already had 2 glasses of wine, I drank the tonic and not the gin. After all, I WAS in an exit row! He also wanted to let me know he had had an elk tenderloin appetizer, sea bass entree with cilantro rice and sauteed zucchini and onions for dinner topped off with a wonderful chocolate mousse…. I am thrilled that he is having this experience.

This is about a 7-hour flight…and sleeping is a priority. Now if the crew would just stop waking me up to give me stuff – like this fancy bar of Icelandic chocolate!


After sleeping for a couple of hours, I sneak my way up to First Class. Jeff and Tom traded seats with someone because they are seated together and are both sound asleep. I slip behind the curtain to thank the stewardess and give her a thank you card and bag of Hershey’s kisses I had brought.

She is knitting and we get into a really fascinating discussion about Icelandic wool. The seafaring people in Iceland wear hats, gloves, etc knitted from Icelandic wool, because even if the wool gets wet it maintains its heat preserving properties. It feels very rough which may be how it sloughs off water. She tells me where to buy Icelandic wool yarn in Reykjavik..

We arrived in Reykjavik at 6:30am, which is 11:30 pm in Colorado. We are excited to be here!!

Pokey and Gumby are ready for Iceland!

Since it is officially Sunday now, I’ll stop and continue tomorrow.