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Published: September 2nd 2012
Viti Bore HoleTravel tip # 32:
Iceland is a whole lot bigger than you can imagine, so get smart fast and plan more time than you think you need. In the 14 days or so that we have been here, we really have only scratched the surface on all there is to see and do.
As we now sadly bid farewell to Iceland, we can say we have enjoyed our time here. No, wait a minute, strike that…… we have been witness to great natural wonders and wonderful experiences that will last a lifetime. We will surely miss the days that allowed us to see twenty or more new waterfalls in a few hours or the day that we saw ten rainbows in just one day.
We have used up all the adjective possible to describe what we have seen, so we leave you with this. Simply amazing.
Gugga has filled our heads with stories of Icelandic history, Vikings, trolls and elves. We’ve learned the trolls live in the mountains, some are good and some are bad, we learned the elves lives in the rocks. We’ve heard story after story of how a town or mountain got its
name or a tale about a local resident, fact or fiction is not to be determined. We have come to learn about life in Iceland and how it has changed over the past few hundred years and the development and building of the roads and tunnels, which changed the dynamics of life in Iceland. We are now educated on fishing and the importance it has to this country and Iceland’s politics, religion, taxes, retirement, and developing tourism industry. We leave with a much broader perspective on this Northern Atlantic land. Travel tip # 84:
The prices in Iceland are better than they were a few months ago and most likely much better than a few years ago. The economy is improving but if you are planning a trip, be warned that the prices are still steep in comparison to the States. As always you can find fairly reasonable prices at a fast food restaurants or grocery markets. Eating in the simplest of restaurants will dent your wallet. It is common to pay $8 to $10 for a beer and $25 for a burger with fries. In a restaurant an average entrée will run $30 to $50. Currently
gasoline is approaching $12 per gallon. To stay within our long-term travel budget we generally ordered one meal in the evening and split it. Fortunately, the portions here are substantial so it was never a problem.
Now Iceland is not your usual tourist destination. Weather is a key factor as it rarely goes above 65F and wind is frequent if not constant. Even visiting here in August has subjected us to a myriad of weather conditions. We were prepared for most. Many people love to say about where they live “if you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes and it will change.” This is quite an appropriate remark here due to the continually changing weather conditions due to Iceland’s location in the North Atlantic and the continuing effects of the Gulf Stream and the sometimes brutal northerly Arctic winds. Even in “summer” here, one should be prepared for a myriad of weather conditions, not to mention the elongated days that summer brings up here near the Arctic Circle.
One of the key learnings about this land is that it seems the Icelandic people are borrowing the land as it is for the
time being as things can change quite rapidly (see the volcanic eruptions in the last 100 years alone. Not many folks can sit there and have a conversation like, “this whole area used to be (fill in the blank) until the eruption in (fill in the year here) and now it is……you get our point. This is a land that has a fire within and yet is covered by quite a bit of ice. A volcanologists dream, and someone else’s nightmare. Californians like to tell of the earthquakes, but here they have earthquakes, volcanic eruptions along with glacial melting to boot.
And yet, if you embrace natural serenity, Iceland is the place for you to visit. You can explore innumerable wonders like vast lava deserts, waterfalls, glaciers, geysers, hot springs, fjords, volcanic craters and sea bird colonies. It would seem that each night as we laid our heads on our pillows, we had experienced something magical in the beauty that is Iceland. It can wear your brain out just trying to reconstruct each day’s visual events. Travel tip # 57:
Please refer to the horses as horses and not ponies or you will offend
an Icelander. Seems Princess Margaret referred to the beautiful Icelandic horses in this manner and it wasn’t well received.
Each region we visited brought new and wondrous delights. Some towns in the western fjords built on massive mounds of rock and land on the down slopes outside of their towns to assist in protecting them from avalanches. As we would wind through the mountain towns, Gugga would tell us of the year they had an avalanche and how many perished, some while in their beds. They never saw it coming…..
Blonduos afforded us the opportunity to meet an eclectic local who invited us into his home to view his mastery at carving. He was referred to as “The Collector.” His house was a jaw-dropping and amazing collection of some of the most impressive wood carving we have witnessed. Not just small items but furniture and even unique hand grips for his staircase. This points out yet another advantage to being with a guide as otherwise we would never have known about this gentleman or that he would welcome us into his home to look around.
Eric Clapton heard we’d be in
the area so he came in hopes of meeting us. Seriously, he is here in this tiny town with his family. He rented a few cabins and came to fish. As we were driving into town we saw three men in hip waiters in the river fishing….it may have been Eric and may not have been, but that is our new story and we are sticking with it!!
We stayed at the Hotel Blonduos and there was a guest house next door with a restaurant. If you are in the area we recommend you eat in this dining room. This woman can cook!
Seriously, some of these town names are really hard to pronounce and spell. We clearly have spent our time here bludgeoning the pronunciation of most if not all of them, but have a feeling the Gugga understands. Seems the English and Icelandic languages don’t cross over very well. We continue to try, but it is really fruitless at this point. Better to smile and nod your head when you hear a name rather that try to pronounce it and embarrass yourself once again.
At (Godafoss) Falls of the
Gods, we were taking a photo of Brutus yet again (seems he likes the waterfalls best) when we hear someone hollering to us that they would like to take a picture of Brutus. Yes, Ohio State grads are everywhere! She was thrilled to take a photo of Brutus at the falls and flashed a big smile when I squeezed him and she heard the Ohio State fight song. We took pictures of her holding Brutus with both her camera and her cell phone. She was certainly excited to run into us. She was standing on the falls singing the Ohio State song. Probably the last thing she expected to have happen to her on this day was to get off the tour bus and get her picture taken with the mighty Brutus. Happiness comes in many forms. Travel tip # 46:
If you’re going to rent a car, get the full insurance or make sure you’re covered one way or the other. Some roads are pretty rough for a passenger vehicle and there appears plenty of opportunities to hit sheep, have a rock crack the windshield, or simply run into a boulder in the middle of the
road due to the steep, rock filled cliffs right next to the roads.
Weather wise, we saw rain, strong winds, sleet, and yes….snow. A snowfall in the north provided a unique experience. The next morning, the snow mixed with brilliant sunshine was a combination not to be believed. A stop at some steam-throwing geysers and mud pots was followed by an ascent on a small mountain that held a small lake and an accompanying geyser. It was a stunning vista to say the least. There is no way the pictures will do it justice. The snow was snowball perfect and Dave let a few throws go because it seemed like the thing to do, throw snowballs in August! Put that one on the list of unique things done in life. We also learned that there are 32 words in the Icelandic language for snow. That should just about “cover” the subject.
We lost track of the number of waterfalls we saw quite early in our time here and by the end of the second week we had become waterfall snobs. When you’ve seen about one hundred of them, you learn which ones you fancy
and which ones are just so-so.
You may have noticed a new mascot....Brutus made a friend and his name is Myiknes the puffin.
We saw Puffins our last day in Iceland!! Places we stayed:
Hotel Geigur- Myvatn
Icelandic Air Hotel- Egilsstadir
Foss Hotel – Skaftafell
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