Feed on
Posts
Comments

As we finish reliving our amazing trip to Iceland, we hope you have learned a lot about Iceland and enjoyed it has much as we did! We feel very blessed to have been selected to experience the Natural Wonders of Iceland.

We would like to dedicate this blog to our amazing travelmates. Each one shined with the Fruit of the Spirits, especially patience since they had to put with us with taking non-stop photos of Jose! Not only did we get to learn about Iceland, we learned from them about different parts of the US, Canada, and Australia.

We are especially grateful to John, our incredible tour guide. No matter how many times we asked, “Can you spell that?”, “Can you pronounce that again?” and “Can we have a receipt for that?”, he never got tired of us. Magnus was the best driver in Iceland! We believe he really did understand everything we said even though he claimed not to speak English.

We wish all of you the best on future travels & hope our paths cross again someday. Perhaps a Western Fjords tour?!

Bless.
Mrs. Cassette, Mrs. Freyer and Jose

For our final day in Reykjavik, Mrs. Freyer and I went our separate ways. Since Mrs. Freyer loves history she decided to visit as many museums listed on her “Top 10 Museums in Reykjavik” list as she possibly could. I, on the other hand, was looking for a little more adventure. I decided to join our tour guide, John, for lava caving.

Although I was seeking adventure, I became a little nervous when the tour arrived at the lava field. After suiting up in our gear , we headed out into the field and walked for several minutes. Out of nowhere appeared a hole in the grounded. John gave us instructions on where to enter and exit and what to expect while inside. He also told us we would have to crawl on our bellies to get out of the cave. I wasn’t to sure about this, but I knew I couldn’t chicken out.

Named Leidarendi, the cave is about 900 meters long. The entrance is a small pit that leads down into the cave. The cave runs in both directions and connects in two parts so it runs in a circle. The flow lines of the lava can be seen in many places inside the cave and lava formations such as stalagmites can also be seen around. A skeleton of an Icelandic sheep has been discovered deep inside the northernmost part of the lava tube. The most eerie time came when John had us all shut off ur head lamps to experience “total darkness”. You could not see a thing!

Watch my video to see what lava caving is like. Would you want to do it?

Lava Caving Video Clip

Once back in Reykjavik I had a few hours before I had to meet Mrs. Freyer back at the hotel for dinner. I decided to make my way up to Hallgrimskirkja, which is the most prominent building of the Reykjavik skyline. This large concrete church caused a lot of controversy in Reykjavik because it took over 34 years to complete. It took so long that the architect didn’t live long enough to see the final product. There are several reasons why people come to see the church. One is the large, cascading columns representing the volcanic basalt columns commonly seen in Iceland. Another is the 5275-pipe organ housed inside the church. The highlight of the church is the elevator ride up the 75m-tall tower where you can see the most breathtaking view of Reykjavik. Outside the church is a statue of a famous Icelander. Can you figure out who?

Relaxing in Reykjavik

After a long journey, we were all ready for some rest and relaxation. The best place for this was at The Blue Lagoon, a must-see in Iceland. The Blue Lagoon is located in the middle of a lava field and its superheated water is supplied by a nearby geothermal plant. Many people gather here to soak in the milky-blue water that is filled with blue-green algae, mineral salts and fine silica mud. A combination of these ingredients exfoliates your skin leaving it as soft as baby’s skin.

Jose was a little bashful and decided to stay in the locker room. Mrs. Freyer tested the water and the silica mud for a short time. Mrs. Cassette on the other hand really enjoyed the spa-like feeling of the lagoon and lathered her face up with the mud. Would you try it?

After relaxing, we returned to the capital to enjoy dinner and a good night sleep!

Today we got to see a lot of interesting sites. The first was a place called Deildartunguhver Thermal Springs. The name means Gusher Hot-water.  We got to actually touch water that had been heated by underground volcanoes. We stood in the steam and basked in the warmth. The water was extremely hot but beautiful to watch as it gushed into the air.

Thermal Spring Video
 

Next we stopped at a whaling center and looked over the whale bay fjord (Hvalfjodur). We didn’t see any whales but view was incredible.

Our next stop was along the whale fjord at a very special spot called Hernandarumsvif. This part of the fjord played a major role in World War II. The United States had a submarine refueling station here, and the British had a camp and refueling dock for their warships. The best part of this stop was taking a group picture. In the picture you can see all the nice people who were on the tour with us.

Next we stopped at Þingvellir National Park (pronounced Thingvellir). This incredible place is where the American Tectonic plate meets the Eurasia Tectonic Plate. We actually stepped off the American continent to the European continent. Go here to learn more about the continental drift has caused fissures to form across Iceland.

Here is where the oldest parlimentary government in the world met for 500 years. Representatives from all over Iceland would travel for weeks to reach this place and then spend a month meeting with other representatives and finally making and changing laws.  Just think of traveling by horse from Jacksonville to Washington DC once per year to run the government. At Þingvellir, Alþing a general assembly was established around 930 and continued to meet there until 1798. All major events in the history of Iceland have taken place at Þingvellir.

Here is a link to website with lots of pictures and information about Þingvellir

After exploring this amazing park we had our last meal as a group then we headed to our hotel in Reykyavik.

Today was one of my favorite days because I got to see how Icelanders lived almost 300 years ago. We visited a sod house farm called Glaumbaer that was built between the 1750’s and 1850’s and remained in use until the early 1900’s.

Link to Glaumbaer

Did you know that everyone who worked at the farm lived in one long sod covered room called a baostofa? The room was not heated and the winters were so cold that they would work right on their beds. The meals were cooked in another room connected by a sod tunnel. Can you imagine spending up to 6 months of the year in a dark room with the same 20 people?

Each person had their own bed where they slept, ate, and stored their tools.  On the self above the bed, the farmers would store their personal askur (wooden bowl). Each person would be in charge of one type of work. Women got to have the beds near the windows because their job was to spin wool and sew. Men would comb the wool and make rope out of horse hair. Some would carve new tools or furniture, and some would repair old farm equipment. The men would go outside to care for the animals and bring in fuel for the fire. The women spent their days caring for the children and preparing food.

During the long winter days, they would take turns reading poetry and sharing stories which were called sagas. These sagas are like our fables and fairy tales. Some were true and others were just exciting stories. Iceland is famous for these long heroic tales. At bedtime, the folk, still wearing their daytime warm clothing would snuggle under wool blankets and warm comforters stuffed with feathers. To keep the warm covers on the bed they used a wood board called a rumfjol to tuck in the covers. This board would be removed during the day. The nightly prayer was carved into the board so that they would never forget to ask God for his blessing. I really liked the prayer, “Watch over me with your eternal blessing. May God’s angels sit in a circle above my covers.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After we left the farm we traveled Southwest along Route 1 towards Borganes. We stopped at Varmahlio for a yummy lunch.

 

 

After lunch we got to see another amazing gorge and waterfall. This gorge was called Koluglijufur. There were no rails so we had to be very careful when we were taking pictures.

Next we got to stop at a small town called Bru for a snack. Here is where I got to try the Icelandic donuts called a love ball. It was made of sweet dough and raisins. I heard that Mrs. Cassette made them for her class. I wonder how the class liked them? I know I loved them.

Next I got to walk around the top of an old volcanic crater! It was amazing to see the view from the top.

Finally we reached our hotel in Borgarnes.

Our night in Akureyri

Our resting place for the night was the town of Akureyri. I found out from John that Akureyri has the worlds most northern 18-hole golf course. I bet Father Britt would love to play golf there! Akyreyi is Iceland’s second largest city with 17,000 inhabitants. It sits on a large harbor with the occasional whale and dolphin visit. We saw a school of dolphins as we drove past the harbor. Do you know which sea flows into Akureyris’ harbor?

We were happy to see that our hotel had a wonderful view of the town shops and the amazing Akureyrarkirkja (Akureyri church).

After dinner Mrs. Cassette, Mrs. Freyer and I went shopping! The shops stayed open until 10:00 at night so we had a lot of time to search for the perfect souvenirs. I even found some friends along the way.

Can you believe how light it still is outside? Even though the sun was still out, we headed off to bed. Goda Nott (Good Night)!

Dettifoss and Mudpots

Next we traveled across the desert to see the amazing waterfall called Dettifoss. Dettifoss is Europe’s most powerful waterfall. It sits between the shattered cliffs of Jökulsá canyon and falls more than 45 meters. Do you know how many feet that is? It was beautiful.

Next we traveled to a very smelly place called Hverir, Námafjall. Here we found mudpots of all shapes and sizes. And boy did it smell! Mudpots form in high-temperature geothermal areas where water is in short supply. The little water that is available rises to the surface at a spot where the soil is rich in volcanic ash, clay and other fine particulates. The mud takes the form of a viscous, often bubbling, slurry. As the boiling mud is often squirted over the brims of the mudpot, a sort of mini-volcano of mud starts to build up, sometimes reaching heights of 3–5 feet.

Mudpot Video

We drove to Lake Mývatn where we finally got to eat lunch. Lake Mývatn is a famous place for bird-watching. Hundreds birds love to next near the lake and eat midges (small pesky flies). Lake Mývatn is spring fed and was formed over 4000 years ago after a volcano erupted. Rock formations stick out of the water that curiously look like frozen trolls! Behind the restaurant were the amazing Dark Castles. Here the hidden people are said to live. They sneak out at night when it is all quiet. Sadly, I didn’t get to see any today. John and I played a trick on Mrs. Cassette and Mrs. Freyer. He sent me and my good friend Vivian to hide in one of the formations. When the group passed by John asked if anyone had seen us. No one knew where we were! Vivian and I popped out of a hole in the rocks.

Many of the rock formations looked curiously like trolls again. Hmmmm…do you think some of them were trolls that got caught in the sunlight?

Next we took a walk through a field of pseudo craters. These are natural land formations that look like mini volcanoes but aren’t. These pseudo craters were formed from steam blisters popping through hot lava as it flowed over the wet marshland.

After walking through the pseudo craters we traveled to see the beautiful Goðafoss waterfall. The falls plays an important role in Icelandic history. In 999 or 1000 Christianity became Iceland’s official religion. All the statues of the Norse gods were thrown into this waterfall. The waterfall was renamed Goðafoss, which in Icelandic means waterfall of the gods.

Today was an amazing day! Mrs. Cassette, Mrs. Freyer, and I drove through the sand desert of Mödrudal to see where American astronauts practiced identifying rocks before traveling to the moon. We stopped at Möðrudalur for a morning snack and then traveled on to see the most powerful waterfall in Europe called Dettifoss. Next, we visited bubbling sulfer mud pits at Námafjall. Then we continued on to eat lunch near the beautiful Lake Mývatn where we saw hundreds of exotic birds. After lunch, we took a walk through Dimmuborgir, also known as Dark Castles, and pseudo craters. Then we drove to see the amazing Godafoss waterfall. We ended the day with an evening of shopping in the ski resort town called Akureyri. Here is a link to a map of Northern Iceland. Map of NorthIceland Can you find the red road labeled with a 1? That is the road we took from Egilsstaðir to Akureyri. It was a two lane road with many twists and turns.

We left Egilsstadir  right after breakfast. It was a sunny and beautiful day! When we boarded the bus, we found out that our first stop would be at a waterfall, but this time we would have to climb to see the view. It was a little bit steep, but it was worth the hike.  This is the view from the waterfall. What do you think?

Here are pictures of us climbing up then back down the hillside.

Here are pictures of John, Mrs. Cassette, Jose, and Diana at the top of the climb. The view was breathtaking!

H

Next, John told us that we were going to a special place called Dark Castles where I might actually be able to find the hidden people. But to get there, we had to travel through the Mödrudal desert.  The Mödrudal is a volcanic desert about 150 miles long and sits between Egilsstaðir and Lake Mývatn.

Did you know that in July of 1967 Neil Armstrong and a group of American astronauts visited the volcanic desert of Mödrudal? They practiced identifying certain kinds of rocks. They weren’t sure what kind of rocks they would find on the moon, so they had to learn to identify all kinds of rocks. I decided to take a closer look at the rocks. What types of rocks do you think these are?

Next we stopped at a small village called Möðrudalur. Here we had hot chocolate and Icelandic donuts called Kleinur. This popular dessert are made of fried dough and they taste best right after they are cooked. We also got to see how a sod house was built and see the inside of a traditional Icelandic church.

 

 

Icelandic Horses!

Poor Jose decided not to go on this fantastic adventure but Mrs. Cassette and I were very excited and a little nervous about the prospect of riding these special horses. After saying goodbye to Jose at the hotel, Mrs. Cassette and I boarded a small van to travel to a near by farm.

Once at the farm we were given brief instructions on how to stop, steer and start our horses and then we were on our way. My horse had an Icelandic name that I couldn’t pronounce so our guide told me to call her Flower. Here is a picture of me and Flower.

Our guide told us that we would only walk since many of us were new to riding but after a few minutes of getting adjusted to our horses we were suddenly trotting across the tundra. I was amazed at the smoothness of my horse’s trot. I totally expected to be bounced all over the place. Mrs. Cassette’s horse wanted to be first in line the whole way. She had to work hard to keep him behind the leader. We were told not to take cameras on the trail ride because we might lose them but Mrs. Cassette was able to get few shots without dropping her camera.

On the trail ride our guide told us some very interesting things about the Icelandic horse which is also known as the Nordic horse. He first told us that even though the Icelandic horse looks like a pony it is actually a small horse. A horse has to be 14 hands tall and most Icelandic horses are between 13 and 14 hands.He went on to tell us that the Vikings brought this horse to Iceland over a 1000 years ago because they are small and gentle with great stamina, speed and intelligence. The horses had to be small enough to fit on the Viking boats and  be strong enough to handle the very harsh and cold Icelandic winters. These horses are also very sure footed and can run at high speeds over land that is full of holes, rocks and crevaces without getting hurt.

He went on to tell us that the Icelandic horse is very special because it has a 5th gait called a tolt. A gait is a way a horse moves. Most horses can walk, trot, and gallop. An Icelandic horse can also move at a tölt and flying pace. A tölt is a four beat gait with light flowing movement which is easy and comfortable to ride. This is the gait used by Icelanders before roads were built to travel long distances. The flying gait is a smooth very fast run that allows the horses to travel up to 30 miles per hour.

Here is a link to a video blog of Icelandic horseback riding. Hestakaup.com

More information about the Icelandic horse breed can be found on this website.

This one hour ride was one of my favorite parts of our trip. The sky was clear blue, the weather was cool, and the views were breathtaking. Here is a video of the farm yard at the end of our ride.

Horseback Ride in Iceland

Older Posts »