Rainbows, Eric Clapton and thermal waters in Iceland


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September 2nd 2012
Published: September 2nd 2012
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Great reflection
Travel 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
Searching for a pot of goldSearching for a pot of goldSearching for a pot of gold

rainbow around each corner
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 Blondos

Hotel Geigur- Myvatn

Icelandic Air Hotel- Egilsstadir

Foss Hotel – Skaftafell

Gugga’s house


Additional photos below
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A day of rainbows
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2nd September 2012

Rainbows, Eric Clapton and thermal waters in Iceland - Fantastic!
Eric should have made more of an effort, meeting you two wouldve been one of his lifes highest achievements ;-) LOVE the rainbows..dont know how but you have managed to make iceland look sexy!
2nd September 2012

Eric and Rainbows
I'm sure over the years that story can grow and take on a deeper form. Iceland is unique but you have to embrace the weather changes and nature to be happy.
2nd September 2012
Taking a walk

SEEKING VALHALLA
Wonderful sojourn in Iceland ending...great blog to capture your memories...sounds as if you got close...but did you reach Valhalla? Hope you didn't get too cold spying on Eric...and how come Brutus never gets his feet dirty?
2nd September 2012
Taking a walk

Brutus leads a pampered life
He has fans around the world. He is a rock star with people catering to him. Not sure we reached Valhalla....but had an above average time. Nature is raw and unique in this land.
2nd September 2012

Gorgeous pictures, but.....
...the price of a beer and a burger with chips has actually put me off a little though. Another piece of useless information for you, but did you know that Icelandic and Old English are actually very closely related? Strange but true!
2nd September 2012

The prices are tough
It is hard to pay that kind of money for a burger but we enjoyed our time here so....that is the price you pay for world travel. it would be interesting to learn more about old English.
2nd September 2012

What a Great Wrap Up
It looks as if Iceland was a great starting point for this trip. I know I learned a lot and loved your pictures. Looking forward to your next stop.
2nd September 2012

Hello Brendan,
Good hearing from you. The first phase of our trip has been full of nature and unique landscape. We are planning a down day tomorrow as today was a travel day. Who knows what we will see soon.
2nd September 2012

"This is a land that has a fire within and yet is covered by quite a bit of ice." -- what a great line! Reading this blog makes me want to book a flight for tomorrow. And ten rainbows in a day? I think there's a viral youtube video in there. Brilliant photos, great writing, looking forward to the next one.
2nd September 2012

Hello Michelle,
You should book that flight....you did not have enough time there. You need to go in search of rainbows. It was truly amazing. We now consider ourselves waterfall snobs!
2nd September 2012

Amazing!
As always, I have so enjoyed the comments and the photos. You guys look like you're having an amazing time and enjoying every minute and experience and sight. Thanks for letting me be there to enjoy it too. Don't know where you're headed next, but look forward to participating vicariously.
2nd September 2012

Hello Billie
So good to hear from you. Glad you are following along. We have seen some amazing things in the last month. Life is a journey...never know what will come next but we are open to receiving.... Today was a travel day and tomorrow we explore the Shetland Islands....it is good to be on Scottish soil again.
3rd September 2012

Valhalla, indeed!
Your adventures and photos are heavenly--all of my faves--impressive waterfalls, glaciers and snow, thermal springs, puffins and gorgeous flowers unexpectedly blooming. Since it's a bit out of my price range, I so appreciate the vivid images you've shared--I feel as if I were there too! Since you seem to have a lucky streak, I imagine you'll find some more puffins in Scotland.
3rd September 2012

Hello Tara
Believe it or not the prices have dropped in the past couple of years. We saved an extra long time so we could add this destination. We had planned to visit Iceland in 2000 but ended up enjoying the sunshine in Mexico instead. It is an amazing country and out of many peoples budgets. Not a place we could afford to visit each year. Even with our prior knowledge of the high prices we were a bit surprised they were as high as they were. None the less glad we went. Nature at its finest.
3rd September 2012

What beauty!
Truly enjoyed the sights of Iceland! where are you off to next?
3rd September 2012

Hello Lydia,
So great hearing from you. Glad you are following along. We had a great time in Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. We are currently in the Shetland Islands. There is so much to see in the world. Please keep in touch.
4th September 2012

Absolutely breathtaking!
Your pictures make me feel like I was there with you! Who would have known that Iceland was so beautiful. It is probably a bit sad to know that so much of the snow mass is melting! Wishing you continued good travels.
4th September 2012

Hello Anne,
Great to hear from friends, thanks for writing. Glad you are following along. Anyone who questions global warming needs to go to Iceland and Greenland. Substantial changes in the past decade. Not good. Having a great time. Hope you have some wonderful travels planned soon. keep in touch.
6th September 2012

I've been waiting for the perfect time so I can savour your blog, but I had to go hunting for it as it was already off the front page! Ali, you have got to fix this! Great blog, really enjoyed your pictures. Snowballs and thermals. Wow what a place. I so want to go someday!!
6th September 2012

Hi Andrea
Thanks for your note and thanks for following along. Yes, you must add it to your list of must do's. What a great place. So much to see and do. Lots of hiking and beauty and waterfalls around each corner.
12th September 2012

Rainbows etc
Finally I have had time to read your blogs and follow you to the Shetlands and Denmark. So entertaining to read.
12th September 2012

Hello Gugga,
Glad you are finding us entertaining. I am glad you have some down time to rest and read. Hopefully, soon, you will be the traveler.
13th September 2012

Ministry of Elves
I've got a roommate in my hostel dorm from Iceland and have told him all about you two. He was excited that you visited so many of his great sites. Also told me that there's a Minister of Elves in the govt that checks out new building sites with locals to make sure they don't interfere with known elf spots! So all those fairy tales you've been hearing are true!
13th September 2012

I believe it
We heard so many stories about the elves and trolls. you gotta watch out. Great history. We were so glad we won't to the western fjords because so few people go there.
13th September 2012

I believe it
We heard so many stories about the elves and trolls. you gotta watch out. Great history. We were so glad we won't to the western fjords because so few people go there.

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