John and Cynthia's Trip to Iceland, Oct 1-16, 2017

Statements before leaving

We are going to escape this mad house country by going to Iceland for a long-planned adventure!

Right off the plane, we will go to the Blue Lagoon for a warm soak at a big pool. We will drive all around the island via the Ring Road (Hwy 1, shown in yellow) on map. We'll spend two days in Akureyri so we can take a three hour ferry trip from Dalvík to Grímsey — the red island and blue arrows up north. Grímsey is on the Arctic Circle.

It may be rainy, but it will be amazing! We just learned that the Ring Road got washed out (bridge damaged) down on the south coast (~5 o'clock position). The bridge might not be repaired before we get there, so we may have to reverse course to return to Reykjavík, or fly or bus from Akureyri to Reykjavík!

We will stay in Reykjavík 2-3 days. One of those days we will drive the smaller Golden Circle east of Reykjavík, shown as a golden oval on the map. We won't go out onto the Northwestern peninsula, but we will go out on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, taking a jag out to the west, above Reykjavík.

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Map showing the Ring Road, Route 1

This page is a work in progress. The text and photos were compiled from daily posts to Facebook during the trip.

Additional topical pages

Food we Had ⤖⥉
Art & Architecture ⤖⥉
Signs I Saw ⤖⥉
Photos of Cynthia ⤖⥉
Personal stories ⤖coming soon⥉.

October 1 - Arrival

Iceland Air direct flight from PDX to KEF. ~8 hours.

FlyBus from KEF to Blue Lagoon. We spent a couple hours there, and had a snack.

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The Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon was made using the ‘waste’ heat from a geothermal plant. The underground (sea) water is in the area naturally, and they have preserved a portion of the landscape in its natural state. The Lagoon is a Money Maker for Iceland. It ain’t cheap, although you can get a standard package without towel, robe, and other goodies. We shared a smoothie. There was a free Mud Bar - so we put mud on our faces like everyone else. Prices in the cafe were our first real shocker — ~$16 for a deli sandwich!

From the Lagoon, we FlyBus-ed on into Reykjavík and strolled to our AirBnB, our place for a couple days.

October 1-3 - Reykjavík

One of the first things we did was to go uphill to the big church. It was closed for a funeral or service of some kind, so we couldn't even peep in. We saved that for later — but on this trip we never managed to go in, or elevate to the open air observation deck.

Many of my photos were of doors, statues, houses, gravestones, wall art, and the church... For those, mixed in with other places, see my Art and Architecture page: ⤖⥉

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Big Church Hallgrímskirkja and statue of Leif Eriksson, in Reykjavík (Please excuse my tilted photo!)

October 4 - Golden Circle

Wednesday. We picked up our rental car and headed out of town. We couldn't quickly find the Laxness Museum, so we soldiered on, to the Golden Circle north and east of Reykjavík and visited several amazing places.

We had a bright blue morning to visit Þingvellir National Park. Þingvellir was a gathering place in the 1000’s — the site of Iceland's first parliament, the Alþingi, (⤖⥉) and where the 'Law Speaker' spoke the Laws of the Land. Snorri Sturluson was Law Speaker at two different times. See Reykholt entry in Ring Road, Day 1 below. Also at Þingvellir - fun, games, and a few executions.

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Þingvellir Booths
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Þingvellir Fissure
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Þingvellir Village, site of first Parliment

October 4 - Afternoon and Evening on the Golden Circle

We visited a giant waterfall (Gullfoss), a geyser (Strokkur), and a redish cinder cone (Kerið). These Þopular Þlaces were mobbed by tourisimos taking selfies at every opportunity. (Same as in Reykjavík).

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Gullfoss
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Geyser Strokkur
Kerid
Crater Kerið, at dusk. Website: ⤖⥉

October 4 - Back to Reykjavík for the night

Our last night for now in Reykjavík. Packed up and started out on the Ring Road in the morning! With more info, we realized that we had another crack at visiting the Laxness Museum, located a few km's off Route 1.


October 5 - Ring Road, Day 1

We started the Ring Road, aka Route 1, which we will be on thru the 15th. You’ll see that on Friday, October 6, we will not be on Route 1. Today, as with other days, we venture a little ways off of '1' to visit a site.

Oct 5 Cover Photo
The Expansive Iceland Landscape

October 5 - Laxness Museum

We started at the Laxness Museum, which was the home of Iceland’s only Nobel Prizing winning author, HALLDÓR LAXNESS. We took a self-guided audio tour, chatted quite a lot with the excellent docent, and toured the grounds. Gljúfrasteinn is a gorgeous home with all the furnishings, art, piano, and their books. His wife and daughters were artistic as well. I could not take enough photos... Photos were permitted for Personal use, but I tried not to go hog wild! I include the library and his dining room corner cigar chair, and grounds. His small office was a visual feast of 1000’s of books and art work. The house is situated on a stream, and the swimming pool is evidently heated naturally. Amazing place, and an amazing family story.

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Laxness Museum/House, path from parking to front door
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Reception area where we watched a short video about Laxness.
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The lesser library. (His office was also lined with bookshelves.)
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Chair in corner of dining room
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Rock where Halldór played as a boy. As an adult, he purchased the property!
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The Kaldakvísl river runs behind Gljúfrasteinn.

See here for more about the author, the museum, and his home Gljufrasteinn: ⤖⥉

Cynthia read Independent People years ago. Laxness wrote sixteen hours a day, so he produced a lot of books!


October 5 - Reykholt

We also left Route 1 and made a loop to see Reykholt, one of Iceland's main historic sites.. Snorri Sturluson settled here in 1206, and was killed there in 1241. Photo is of the Snorralaug (seriously) a pool Snorri made to soak in naturally heated water. It has been restored somewhat, but still has the same stone floor, and together with the stone conduit arrangement from the 12th century, this may be the oldest preserved construction in Iceland.

Snorralog.jpg
The Snorralog

There is a rich history about Snorri. He wasn't just a settler. He wrote books — documenting history and recording and enhancing Sagas, was a peacemaker, Law Speaker, and so on. There's a Snorri app in the iOS App Store! Read about the modern settlement, institute, visitor center, Snorrastofa, here: ⤖⥉


Please excuse the lack of Lodging locations and photos. That would add too many photos. Sit back and enjoy jumping from one place to another.

October 6 - The Black Church

This black church was in the movie 101 Reykjavík. See more churches on my Art and Architecture page: ⤖⥉

Church Black
The Black Church

October 6 - Open Air Icelandic gas station

This is a gas-only N1 station, remote self serve, no snack bar! We didn’t use the station, but stopped to get off the highway for a while. Maybe a big N1 will be coming, as there was a huge freshly-paved parking lot there. (This was sited adjacent to a 'seasonal' tourist info center.)

N1 photo
N1 open air gas station

A friend thinks this station may have been designed by Philippe Starck .

October 7 - Snæfellsnes peninsula and Arnarstapi

For Jules Verne fans... Arnarstapi has this little tribute to Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, which supposedly started off at this spot in Iceland. A signpost shows distances on the surface compared to going through center of earth. There was also a rocky pit at the site, evidently a homage to the entrance to the Center, with a wooden bench thrown in, so I jumped in and reenacted the skateboarding scene in Ben Stiller's movie Walter Mitty.

Verne Center of Earth infographic
Jules Verne - infographic
Jules Verne signpost
Signpost showing distances on the surface vs through center of earth
John pretending to ride a skateboard
Walter Miller skateboards into the center of the earth

October 7 - N1

Time for a Rest Stop and Gasoline. Our initial impression was that an N1 on Route 1 in Iceland is like an Aire on an A route in France. This N1 is a mini mart with great food service and plenty of indoor seating. You might get a hotdog, a donut, a decent salad, soup, pizza, breakfast, burger, espresso, ice cream.. just about anything you want — Post cards, clothing items, camping supplies, etc. We will to try to use N1 for a meal or two since cafes and restaurants are soooo expensive.

N1 donuts and dogs
N1 Nom Noms

Just as an example, this N1 is where route 68 comes into the Ring Road (1). I don’t know if the place even has a name, but it was a welcome sight! See the N1 blue gas symbol in lower left.

Map showing location of an N1
N1 location

Turns out, not all N1s are the same. This one was the probably the most extensive, with others being smaller or having no store at all. One we were counting on was closed for remodeling, and had just a small portable 10x12' box for a store! No restrooms either!

October 8 - To Akureyri

I call this the Tin church (flat sheet metal nailed onto wood?) in somewhat poor condition, but still in use, on a hillside on our way to Akureyri. It looked out of plumb from a distance, and sure enough, the foundation was damaged, probably by a strong wind! Through a window, I could see a notebook inside listing attendance (or something) from summer 2016. Inside, hundreds of dead house flies rested on each window sill. See more churches on my Art and Architecture page: ⤖⥉

Church with Tin sides
The Tin Church, Silfrastðakirkja

Sidewalk Art in Akureyri, Iceland. Interesting concept. What detergent would be best, do you think? May depend on your particular malady.

Sidewalk Art - a brain washing machine
Brain Washer WWW. THORA KARLSDOTTIR. COM ⤖⥉

First woman to vote in Iceland, sits in the Hof.

First Woman Voter in Iceland
First Woman Voter

October 9 - Grímsey

Grímsey is an island that sits on the Arctic Circle, north of the main island. Website: ⤖⥉

Map showing Grimsey location
Grímsey is above the blue dot.

This was my view of Northern Iceland after shoving off from Grímsey (island). We had a two hour stay on the island, three hour ferry ride, each way!

Looking back from the Grímsey Ferry
The headlands (?) of North Iceland from the Grímsey Ferry

Not many photos taken on Grímsey! I got seasick on the way over to Grímsey. The Icelandic Sea wasn’t rough, but was swelling enough to mess me up (even as I read this).

Getting off the Ferry, we were greeted by a local saying we could buy an Arctic Circle Crossing Certificate before reboarding — proving we'd crossed the Arctic Circle... LOL. I did make it to the Arctic Circle (~2 km from the ferry). The Arctic Circle is delineated with a ~three meter long cylinder, suspended on two rock cairns. You step up and over via a classic stile. You can pause at a platform at the top for a portrait. (Note: The Arctic Circle shifts as the earth wobbles a bit and the circle is now quite a ways north of the marker. ⤖⥉

Here are a couple of the photos I took on the island.

Photo on Grímsey
On Grímsey, Seasick!
Grímsey Recycling Station
Grímsey Recycling Station (part of it)

This is a windbreak at a scenic place to sit on the southern coast of Grímsey. Ocean view behind me! You can see the airport landing strip behind the windbreak.

Grímsey Wind Break
Grímsey Wind Break

Note: We took some Dramamine, derived from Ginger. Took the adult dose half hour before sailing out, then again 2 hours later for return trip. I got sick on the way out, and kept my head still on the way back. I got usually got car sick as a boy, a have never tolerated carnival rides, except a tilt-up centrifuge called Round Up.

The return trip was smoother, but I was immobile the whole 3 hours. It's nothing to be ashamed for, said the cute in-voyage video. Feeling better now, back in Akureyri B&B.

October 10 - Leaving Akureyri

This is the café in the botanical garden at Akureyri. We are finding things closing or closed for winter. No breakfast there! A frost has already bitten most of the plants. We had frosty windshield and ice on the ground this morning. We went to Akureyri Airport and had rolled pancakes cold, with coffee before leaving town.

Akureyri Botanic Garden Cafe
Botanical Garden Cafe

At the airport cafe, a table of men surrounded a feast of what looked like duck meat. Turned out to be roasted sheep heads. Got a close up view of another full platter and could see that the heads had been cut in half, with half snout, one eye, etc, per side. Yum! I stole a photo. You don't want to see it. It's how they celebrate the start of winter. The Basque in Spain and Oregon (!) cook pig heads and such, so we were not surprised.

After Akureyri, we passed through Svalbarðsstrandarhreppur, Northeast Iceland, Iceland. They were working on a new tunnel near here. We could see the work lights at night from Akureyri.

Fiord Svalbar
East side of the fiord that Akureyri is in.

October 10 - Goðafoss (Godafoss)

This is Goðafoss, named so because this is where in the year ~1000 the head Viking guy had to choose whether Iceland became Christian or stayed with the old gods. Finally, he sided with Christians and tossed his idols into this waterfall.

Goðafoss or Godafoss
Goðafoss Waterfall

October 10 - Icelandic Yule Lads of Dimmuborgir

You can have fun reading about the Icelandic Yule Lads, kind of like the seven dwarfs, in the English (or Icelandic!) portion of this sign.

whimsical Icelandic Yule Lads
Icelandic Yule Lads signboard

Dimmuborgir is an area of crusty pinnacles formed when lava came up in to a large lake and made explosive like patterns, so the theory goes. I have simplified. The clouds were heavy and sun low so it was difficult to photograph.

October 10 - Mývatn and Reykalið

Mývatn (lake) sits in and around volcanic formations, i.e. pseudo craters. Sheep graze on the grasses. There are many 1000’s of sheep in Iceland. 3x more than people. This is an iPhone pano from the southern end of the lake.

Panorama of Lake Mývatn,
Panorama of Lake Mývatn, from the south end

Cynthia cooked breakfast at our Home Stay in Reykalið. Our host Oli is native Icelander. He's a retired landscaper. His house and yard is a gallery of his own art and art he has collected, including a number of African and Native American items (Oklahoma!). His is learning to forge metal. He made this knife. He calls the goose foot his mind scratcher. I jokingly put them at my plate and took the picture, with Oli's permission. That's the traditional rugbraud (rye bread) — a little like molasses bread.

Goose foot as Mind Scratcher
Hand-made knife and Mind Scratcher, with eggs and bread

October 11-12 - Map Check

Here's where we are on our trip around Iceland. We started in Reykjavík of course, going clockwise. Tomorrow night we will be in the fjord town, Seyðisfjörður, past the 2 o'clock position.

Map showing Mývatn location
Map of Mývatn Homestay

October 11 - HVERFJALL

First stop Wednesday was HVERFJALL crater, a well formed tephra crater, among the largest of its kind on the planet. Diameter: 1000 meters. 89-180 meters high. (One end is higher than the other.) We hiked up to the rim, but did not hike around, as it was lightly raining, plus one can’t spend an hour and a half every place you go, and still get some driving in!

HVERFJALL crater
HVERFJALL crater

For some reason, the Japanese always want to pose pointing at, or with arms spread, (ta da!) in front of every attraction, natural or man made. This guy tread down into the crater in order to show it to his fans.

Guy In a Crater
Guy in Crater

October 11 - A Fissure named Grjótagjá

This fissure is just east of Mývatn. Unknown to locals for centuries, there is a cave that goes down into it just a ways, with hot water. (Cave discovered by British scientist.) It was possible to bathe it it at one time, but it's too hot now. Maybe in the future. We went partway into cave. This site was a location for a scene in Game of Thrones, so tourists gotta see it. Wikipedia Link: ⤖⥉

Fissure named Grjótagjá
A Fissure named Grjótagjá

October 11 - Bird Museum

Lake Mývatn has a huge number of species of birds that stop by to feed. There is an exquisite museum that houses the collection of a man, Sigurgeirs, who died in an accident with two others on the lake. The museum is very well done — I felt the birds were looking at me. Uniformly done infographics show when the birds are in Iceland, and where they are when not in Iceland. Eg: puffins go out to the open ocean! The museum also has eggs from different birds. It has a boathouse with the boat and tools used by a guy who provided transport across the lake, last century. And it has a café!

Sigurgeirs Bird Museum
Sigurgeirs Bird Museum

Here is the Fuglasafn museum website for more information and backstory... ⤖⥉

October 11 - Krafla Power Station

Big steam plant, generates power, 60 megawatts from two 30 MW generators. Here's a link to the Krafla Power Station: ⤖⥉

Huge Steam Plant
Krafla Power Plant

The whole area is a hot spot, thermal wells and pipes running all over. [Technical Alert! They use the super-hot water from the wells at the power plant to heat a closed loop system, like a refrigerator in reverse, producing a uniform pressure to drive turbine generators. i.e. A gas/chemical liquid boils at a lower temperature expanding into a gas to drive the turbine, and is then condensed by cooling towers. Anyway, the earth's hot water is a heat source that drives the turbines indirectly. I'll work on a better explanation. Feedback welcome.]

Steam Pipes
Steam Pipes
More Steam Pipes
More Steam Pipes

The lagoon shown here is not at Krafla Power Station, it's several kilometers away. Here they seem to be dumping excess steam — evidently more than they can distribute for hot water after using to generate electricity.

Steam Waste Lagoon
Steam Waste

October 11 - Driving from Mývatn to Seyðisfjörður

Last thing was to drive for hours through rain and fog to get to our destination — Seyðisfjörður, a Hostel housed in a wooden dormitory for cannery workers (I think). We could not see most of the mountains we were driving through. Just a degree or two C above freezing!! Hot doggies for dinner? Good night.

Driving In Fog
Driving in some fog

October 12 - Seyðisfjörður to Faskrudsfjordur and beyond

We’ve seen these rainbow sidewalks in two other town/cities... I bought a hand-knitted wool stocking cap for 3500kr at the MARKADUR on the right. The sister of the woman who knitted it (Ljósbrá) was there with another woman, both knitting away. The one more our age interpreted for us, as the older woman spoke only Icelandic.

Rainbow path and sky
Rainbow path and sky

October 12 - Map check

Here's where we stayed Wednesday night and will be starting from on Thursday. In a fiord in East Iceland. Town is Seyðisfjörður.

Map location update
Staying in Seyðisfjörður

Raining next morning. We had to drive up back out of the fjord, so we hoped it would clear up. We figured that the south coast may be all rainy back to Reykjavík, but we took one day at a time. Good news — 2:30 pm in another fjord, and we're in full sun, seeing blue sky with white clouds, and snow brushed jagged peaks.

In all towns they like to grow grass on top of walls, and on top of some houses too.

Grass atop a Wall
Grass growing on top of wall

Here’s construction detail I saw in another village, some insulation fastened to the outside of the wall, before the corrugated metal siding, which is ubiquitous.

insulation and siding
Construction Detail - insulation and siding

One section of Route 1 was damaged by rains in late September, so we were on dirt mud today for a stretch. Actually some of 1 is gravel road yet in 2017. Footnote. Today they were building a causeway across the small bay, evidently in order to eliminate a problem section rounding into the natural bay.

Road Washout, Maybe construction.
Washout, Maybe

Last shots from today. We went in and out of three fjords and two bays and through a 6km tunnel. Hard to photograph other than by panorama, and they typically look similar, and SMALL compared to the scenery, so I will offer just these two and knock off to help plan tomorrow. We are in Höfn, on the southeastern coast of Iceland tonight. No map pin for you, but you can find it on Google maps.

Fiord
Fiord, looking out toward Papey and other islands.
Fiord
Fiord, looking inland from the same place as above.

That is an island you see in the first photo. Actually there are three out there, one of them being Papey, that was inhabited by Irish monks long ago.

Fiord, French Village, Sheep
The fiord has a French Village, Faskrudsfjordur, and Sheep

Map check, October 13th

Where we are tonight in Iceland, Friday the 13th.

Map Location, Trip South
Map Trip South

Aurora Borealis

Ha! Northern lights just like that, right outside our guest house! They've rotated to Russia or Canada for a while I guess. 10:30pm here. Aurora photos with my iPhone 7.

Aurora photos
Aurora Borealis

October 13 - Continued

It's been crazy, trying to do all the things on Cynthia's plan, and also spending time seeking out practical things, and checking the local town each morning. Here we are driving after sundown, which is getting significantly earlier every day up here.

Driving After Sundown
Driving Route 1 After Sundown

Monument to a bridge torn out in 1996 by a very large chunk of glacial ice carried by the river.

Bridge Memorial
Bridge Memorial

Iceland has a lot of space. We were lucky this afternoon to get out of rain and clouds into blue sky. This looks uncrowded, but there are plenty of people around, just not in my photos.

Lotta Space, YA Glacial logoon
Another Glacial Lagoon?

Glacial Lagoon

We visited a glacial lagoon to see ice floating after it had calved off a glacier, then went from the lagoon down the river to an ice jam, then to the beach where lots of ice was (being) washed up on the black sand by ocean waves! I have over a dozen incredible photos.

Lagoon Ice
Lagoon Ice, icebergs?
Lagoon Ice Jam
Lagoon Ice Jam
Lagoon Ice on Beach
Lagoon Ice on Black Sand Beach. It was like a gallery of jewels.

October 13, continued

After leaving Höfn this morning we eventually came across the bridge that had washed out just before we left Portland. We didn’t know if we would be able to complete our Ring Road trip, but a temp bridge was put in place just as we arrived in Iceland, so here we are going on the temp bridge looking over at the damaged bridge. BTW we've lost track of how many bridges of various kinds we’ve crossed. Most all of them are single (one) lane. You wait if some one else is approaching closer than you are to the bridge. No close calls. Most of the time no one else was around anyway.

Bridge Washout
Bridge Washout

Everywhere we go, there seems to be (mostly) Japanese brides having their photo taken in front of a landmark building or natural landscape. What is this about??

Bridal photo shoot
Bridal photo brigade.

Here's another view of this same wall, with just a person's foot in it. I have a person-free shot of the wall.

Columnar Basalt
Columnar Basalt

Modern Art in the lobby of Hotel Fròn tonight, our last night in Iceland...

Modern Art in Hotel Fròn lobby
Modern Art in Hotel Fròn lobby

Misc Scenery

Basalt 'Church Floor' (Myth)
Basalt 'Church Floor' (Myth)
A Flooded area next to Ring Road
A flooded area next to Ring Road
Quonset Hut
Quonset Hut - we saw many of these.
Gorge
Skaftárhreppur, South Iceland, Iceland
Another Bridal photo shoot
Skaftárhreppur with Bride posing
A rock next to our hotel
A as-yet unnamed rock next to our hotel

Cynthia trying to unload leftover lettuce and apple pcs near the end of our road trip.

Icelandic Horse
Icelandic Horse

We have seen a couple of these signs in this region, protesting the use of towers for power lines, in scenic areas. I did see a pair of transmission lines (two tower designs) running in parallel over the landscape elsewhere. The power is coming from hydro projects, according to the signs, not geothermal. I haven’t seen any dams. Something to research. They don’t have huge reservoirs, just a lot of reliable runoff from rain and snow melt. [YES! Dams in the interior. I found a National Geographic story on Power, and have located several dam projects on Google Maps. Will share on Stories page in 2018.]

No Pylons - political sign
No Pylons - political sign

Back in Reykjavík

Back in Reykjavík for our last night. Flying back to Portland on Monday. Found more wall art walking around choosing a restaurant. We went to Sumac, and had excellent dishes. I had a tagine, Cynthia had lamb — wood fired, reminiscent of Portland food scene.

October 16, Last Day

First time we saw this we thought it was funny, but this is evidently the Icelandic hotel idea of breakfast buffet: bread, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, cold cuts and cheese. You can toast the bread and have with jam. Choice of cereals - cornflakes, cheerios, or oats and raisins with yogurt or milk, etc.

Cold Cut Breakfast Buffet
Cold Cut Breakfast Buffet

Monday morning in Reykjavík we went for one last walk on one of the main shopping streets, and ended the walk at the SANDHOLT Bakery. We left town in our rental car and stopped at PERLAN, a cool place on top of a hill a ways outside of downtown.

PERLAN
PERLAN museum and viewpoint

After getting into the car, I noticed I'd left a USB/12vDC converter in the cigaratte lighter. When I went to put it away, I discovered that my backback was Nowhere, with my Passport in it!! We had to drive back into town quickly and recover my bag from SANDHOLT bakery before going to the KEF airport! Lucky that we didn't drive 41km to the airport before discovering my bag was missing! Thus began a rather long day of being herded though check-in, security, customs, immigration, etc, and an 8 hour flight home, losing only one hour on the clock in the process.

Here is PERLAN's website: ⤖⥉ Wikipedia also has a little on the history of Perlan -- Huge storage tanks from WWII were fancied up, and built upon.

Home from Iceland!

What a trip. Will distill further as I reflect on it. I have started a page of Stories... maybe that will appear in January.

Cynthia did a super job of researching everything months ahead of time. I don't know what the trip would have been like without all her work.. knowing what was ahead each day. Guide books are only part of it, and it's just too much to try to parse those 'cold' and plan while you are on the ground.

Purchases

Some of my purchases, including $100 of DUTY FREE booze, and a bottle of Rapeseed Oil. I did not meet the woman who knitted the hat/cap, but her sister was there, who spoke only icelandic. Another woman there (more our age) interpreted.

My Purchases
My Purchases

Doors (13)

A few of the many interesting doors right on the sidewalks of Reykjavík and elsewhere in Iceland. For more doors, see my Art and Architecture page: ⤖⥉

Two Doors in Reykjavík
Two Doors in Reykjavík

Statues (10)

Statues are every where you look in Reykjavík and elsewhere in Iceland. For more statues, see my Art and Architecture page: ⤖⥉

This statue was in a town whose name is 18+ letters long... there is/was a convent in the village, and a monk’s monastery near by. Two sisters were executed for sleeping with the devil. Not sure if that is related to the statue.

Statue of 2 nuns carrying a boulder
Sisters bearing a heavy load?

Building/Wall Art (8)

Icelanders evidently don’t like blank walls. Everywhere we go, walls have faces or organized graffiti-like art. Here is a wall in Seyðisfjörður this morning.

Urban Wall Art
Fanciful Schematic as Wall Art

For more Art, see my Art and Architecture page: ⤖⥉

Churches (7)

There are dozens of these churches all around rural Iceland. In towns and out on farms. Same design, with variation in the windows, door, surrounding wall and gate, and Cemetery. Some have budget steeples, others a bit more deluxe but still the same geometry. Caught this one earlier this morning when sun was coming through.

Early morning church light
Early morning church light

For more churches, see my Art and Architecture page: ⤖⥉

Signs (6)

The are Not many signs in Iceland telling you what Not to do. But here is No swimming...

 No Swimming!
No Swimming!

For more signs like the above, see my Signs page: ⤖⥉


Questions I have!

Just some of the questions I have - What all does Iceland do with geo-thermal, and how? (Ansered by the National Energy Authority: NEA) Some whole towns were heated with hot water, and had sulfury hot water in the tap. (Back to sulfur water was determined when we arrived in a town.) What to they do with their trash? (Several places were noted for recycling a high percentage.) What is the government like? 101 Reykjavík is a disctrict. I read that they have 'counties'... but little of that was evident, unless I missed it among all the strange roadsigns. How does their economy work? Minimum wage? What goods are imported and what do they make/grow locally? An aluminum plant employs 450 full time outside of Reykjavík!

How do the citizens /really/ feel about the crush of tourists? I asked one of our hosts, who was very genuine, and she said she didn't know where it would all end. Must be unbearable. We had good interactions with the Icelanders, but mainly through stores, restaruants, museums, and other services, and a few very special relationships with the AirBnB hosts. They are a very kind and gentle people, from our experience.

Facts

Iceland is less than half the size of Oregon.
Oregon is 2.5 times larger than Iceland.

Oregon 98,466 mi²
Iceland: 39,769 mi²

Iceland lies between latitudes 63°N and 68°N
Iceland is approximately 300 miles wide.
Iceland has an irregular coastline with many fiords and peninsulas.

Oregon population 4M (2017 est.)
Iceland population 337,000 (2017 est.)

There are 800,000 sheep in Iceland.
30,000 Icelandic cows make all that Skyr.

Much of the landscape is volcanic, but very complex, like Oregon. Cities and towns derive their heating and hot water from geothermal wells and springs. Hot water is piped to houses, green houses, and farms, instead of natural gas. Some are wells, but in some places the superheated water comes right out of the ground. Even this resource is finite.

All houses, churches, rocks, geologic and natural features have names in Iceland, every rock island off of every island has a name. They like to name things. However, there are a finite list of names that can be given at birth. If you want something different, you must apply for it. There is a whole daughter and son patrilineal naming scheme. (i.e a woman is the daughter of her father!) Phonebooks are arranged by first name, since there are so few last names.

The Icelandic word for U.S. of America is Bandarikjunum. Google the term and you'll see some of the images they associate with the U.S: Lucky Strike, traffic congestion, voting machines, death penalty, the Trump Obama hand shake, MLK, Guns, hypo needle litter, cannabis, ... and the original Macintosh computer.

Practical Tips

WiFi is everywhere. Get a cellphone SIM card for cellular data and voice.

Maps...

MONEY. 100 ISK (Islandic krónur) or 100kr is a coin worth approximately $1. Denominations of paper bills are: 500, 1000, 5000, 10,000. If you see a price '1800kr' just take off the two zeros and think of it as $18.

MONEY. We got some Icelandic paper money before leaving USA — 14000kr each person, in the form of 5000kr, 5x1000kr, and 8x500kr. You spend 500kr for a small purchase such as coffee. 1000kr to go through a tunnel. Coins are good for Pay Toilets (200kr!) or for church donation boxes.

CREDIT CARDS: Gas stations take swiper cards, where as shops, cafe's, everything else take Chip cards. We used Capital One VISA. Our Discover card was worthless.

GAS was $8/gallon. Actually, it was 209.9kr per Liter.. Since a Liter is about a Quart, that works out to about $8/gallon.

COST of FOOD: Soup for 18-22 dollars (1800 - 2250 kr). Hamburger $26. Order of bread $9. Hot dog 450kr up to 800kr if you add special sauce, etc. Coffee 450kr. Coffee & pastries for two ~$20. Dinner Mains ranged from $25, $34, $58, $65. Only a few places had any kind of Salad as a main dish.

TIPS: No tips are given or expected at restaurants. Prices are high enough! Coffee shops had a tip jar, and as you fumble with all the coins given in change ('tilbaka'), you might be tipping several dollars worth! — I tipped a bartender on our last night. He gave us special attention, and came to our table several times. I discretely passed to him my remaining crisp 1000kr note in a handshake, with smiles, on the way out.

LODGING was $100 on up per night. Cynthia booked all but the last two nights on the Ring Road. Our last night Hotel was also booked in advance. We think you could book just a few days ahead in the shoulder seasons, but not in summer. Forget about it. Cynthia used airbnb.com and bookings.com. She’s still writing reviews!

LAUNDROMATS: There are NO laundromats in Iceland — Only the Laundromat Cafe in Reykjavík, and the Backpacker in Akueryri. Seriously. Our AirBnB in Akueryri asked for 1000kr per washer load, and 1000kr to dry! (ie ~$40 for 2 loads) Except the dryer didn't dry, and we couldn't decipher the controls or instructions! We left 2000kr for 2 loads, and line-dried the clothes, over night, and the next night. One town listed a washing machine, but no dryer! Some campgrounds in summer have a machine. (Like Eastern Oregon!)

SPAS: The big spas are not hot, the water is warm - good for hanging out with a beer for hours, evidently (eg. Blue Lagoon, Mývatn Nature Bath.) Most every community has a heated pool. Private hot tubs may have naturally hot mineral water. You may find smaller public natural 'hot springs' crowded. 'Hot spring' in Iceland means a thermal source, not a spa. We were disappointed to hike into a well-known pool, only to find it barely warm, and not in good condition, in October. Your milage may vary.

SEASONS: October has less daylight, and risks related to weather, but supposedly fewer tourists. We hated to imagine how crowded it must be in peak season. Ugh!

NORTHERN LIGHTS are not visible in summer because it's light all the time. Other months, it may be cloudy, rainy, snowing, or there may be no solar wind arriving, and so on. You need a little luck and good location to see them.

DRIVING: The Ring Road and Golden Circle have no shoulders. You may have to drive long distances without the ability to pull off to take a picture. Sometimes there will be a little pull out, or a little driveway to a house or field that comes along. They try to have Vista type pullouts for the bigger attractions, but anything else you may be S.O.L.

DRIVING: The Ring Road and Golden Circle are two lane roads, one lane in each direction. Many bridges are single lane as note above on October 13, continued.

TIRES: Spiked or 'nailed' tires are delayed till freezing weather, as much as possible, due to road damage. Paved roads generally were in very good condition.

REST STOPS are very sparse! Think N1, Cafes, some visitor centers - if open. Public Pay Toilets were 200kr!

Beer and Alcohol

I had an EINSTÖK beer in Seyðisfjörður, brewed in Akureyri. This WHITE ALE had cardamon and orange peel for flavor instead of hops. Very good for me. EINSTOKBEER.COM

We’ve seen a couple microbreweries here. They certainly have the water. Only low % alcohol in stores. One must go to a Vin Budin store for the real stuff. vinbudin.is

Advanced Stuff / Travel Advice

Here I may write about other options when taking the Ring Road and/or Alternatives to taking the complete Ring Road. (Those Roads Not Taken.)

The so-called Golden Circle is a series places to visit. But the loop back after the main attraction has just one attraction on it, and the loop is not well defined, from our experience. Directions varied in guide books, and it was not signed as the 'Golden Circle' per se. So we advise going out to GullFoss, and going back the way you came, unless you have Good information in the future.

We did not use public transportation, Straeto. Link: ⤖⥉

Car Rental. Icelanders rent a boatload of cars and other vehicles to tourists. One of the rental agencies is Sad Cars — cars previously used by other rental agencies! We used Geysir: ⤖⥉

Iceland is planning a high speed train from KEF to downtown. This would multiply the pesky tourists at restaurant and shops by an order of magnitude! Iceland Monitor Article: ⤖⥉

Personal Stories and Observations

Coming soon... on a separate page.

Carbon foot print of our trip? Petrol in car, Jet Fuel.

Links

Iceland Travel Guide: Tips and Road Trip Itinerary, Alex Cornell, 06.26.15. This is a good blog we studied before our trip. It conveys the experience of driving the Ring Road. We did not take any rough roads into interior like they did. Good idea to plot your own route at your own pace! Blog: ⤖⥉

Road Tripping Through Iceland, is a blog with mostly people/photos, but shows a number of places we visited, including Grímsey. It lists an itinerary. You probably won't go scuba diving. Blog: ⤖⥉

Aurora and Ice Caves Photo Workshops in Iceland - about $4000 each person. Check out the incredible photos: ⤖⥉

N1 locations: ⤖⥉

Famous Hotdog stand(s): ⤖⥉

Grocery stores: ⤖⥉

Fly Bus: ⤖⥉

Public transportation, Straeto: ⤖⥉

Car Rental - There are several to chose from. Here's Geysir: ⤖⥉

All about road signs in Iceland: ⤖⥉

Dangers on Icelandic roads? - Driving with Elfis
Travelling in Iceland is a great experience. This beautiful landscape contains, however, some difficulties and dangers for the driver. In this animated video an Icelandic elf, called Elfis, tells you what to bear in mind when driving in Iceland and how to avoid these hazards. Have a nice trip. YouTube: ⤖⥉

About Route 1, including names for various segments of it: ⤖⥉

List of Tunnels in Iceland, including ones under construction, and ones on the drawing board: ⤖⥉

Iceland on Wikipedia: ⤖⥉

Guide Books: Rough Guide & Lonely Planet differences... Rick Steves Iceland Guidebook coming in March: ⤖⥉

To add: Blue Lagoon Website, Wikipedia, and other links collected from above...

Glossary

The Meaning of Icelandic Place Names (plus many other links): ⤖⥉ Yow!

Facebook Cover Photos

I changed my Facebook cover photo several times. This is an example.

Text alt for CoverSouthIceland.jpg
South Iceland with Ocean out there...