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Published: December 28th 2018
And off I go again! (As per usual, sampling of photos here... there are way too many to ever post)
Originally I planned to return to Norway so that I could see it in all its wintery glory, but after pricing everything I decided I might as well hit up Iceland once more and return to Akureyri. It's also a nice bookend to the year and my decade of travels - Akureyri was my first real trip, all by myself, that started me on this crazy adventure that has brought me to 40+ countries, 20+ trips and more hostels than I can count lol. I thought it was fitting to close Vol. 1 of my travels where it began.
Flight landed at 3:40am (oof) so I decided I'd learn from last year... Last year I just sputtered around Reykjavik but when it's still pitch black at 9h30 it's really hard to stay awake lol. This year I opted to go full tilt on a tour. I opted for the Geothermal + Reykjanes Bus Tour for two reasons: 1) I love the coastline in winter, 2) Since I've done the tour before, I do not feel bad in the least
if I sleep in between stops. And that's totally what I did - couple short little naps all day. Woo!
I did walk around Reykjavik a bit between actually leaving the airport (I had been reading in a cozy nook). So. Walking along the waterfront when it's hailing and freezing rain is not ideal - lesson learned. Thankfully I also know that green doesn't automatically mean go because let me tell you cars on the highway were not successfully stopping on their red light... it was more than a tad icy. Despite the ice, I did take a "scenic route" to walk to the bus station. I love that despite it being pitch black I can still wander down any road and feel 100% safe here.
First stop of the day was the giant geothermal power plant which supplies most of Reykjavik - it was a quick visit, but pretty fascinating. They explained the process (water is ~300C and still liquid because of the pressure underground, so that's what they harness). We got to see one of the (GIANT) turbines and saw how large the pipes are that bring all the water to the city. It's an ingenious
setup - the plant is in the mountains so not only are the essentially paying nothing to get the heated water, they also have practically no transportation costs since gravity does it thing.
Ok ok sorry... mini geo lesson in the making there. ANYWAY.
From there we headed out into the Reykjanes peninsula - south/south west of Reykjavik. First stop was along the coast, at Strandakirkja - a tiny little church. There wasn't much to see at the church, but the coast was fun. They had this walkway you could take out onto the rocks... let's just say it was pretty obvious who's travelled near the waterfront before and who hasn't... about 10 people got SOAKED. And I mean proper drenched - when the waves come up over the railing, they really don't miss. I felt bad for them - it wasn't exactly warm out there to begin with and I was freezing just from the mist. I also got photobombed by a raven/crow while trying to get some shots of the waves lol. Silly bird.
Next stop was this huge geothermal area - Krysuvik. The geothermal areas are so much fun to explore - and I
always get a kick out of their warning signs (you mean I shouldn't walk on the bubbling and steaming mud?) and the fact the tour guide reminds you like 5x that it will literally burn you to death. ("Please no cooked tourists on my watch") Kindly noted. I'm forever amazed that more tourists don't die here. Anyway, the thermal spot was fun to explore - all sorts of colours in the soils and water from the different mineral deposits, steam coming up and out every which way - pro: it warms you up, con: smells like sulphur - and bubbling mud puddles all over. It creates such a gloriously creepy vibe at the same time with the steam. I really love it. This was the proper sunrise/sunset time of day too which added an extra level of beauty as we were leaving.
For lunch we stopped in Grindavik, a sleepy little fishing town. The restaurant seemed surprised to get us (lol) but that's ok. Since I hadn't ate anything but skyr (lol) since Canada, I coughed up the cash and paid for a hearty lobster soup. It came with bread and a free refill so it actually wasn't a
crazy price. From there we went to the Gunnar mud geyser - there's a whole legend that goes along with it - something about the King of Denmark wanting a census and this guy wouldn't pay his tax so they stole his cooking pot and he died and haunted everyone until they threw the ghost into a hot spring. A few years back there was a sizeable earthquake and this mud geyser opened up - so it's Gunnar's Revenge 2.0 lol. It's a pretty impressive though - the whistling sound it makes is the coolest part though - almost a hiss. And it's massive in terms of the amount of steam escaping. As per usual there is a lovely warning sign lol.
We stopped near Reykjanesviti - right out and open on the coast, wind so strong it literally pushes you sideways and makes it incredibly difficult (and risky) to take photos without losing your phone lol. I loved it though. Once again, another (not so gentle) reminder of the force of nature. You are literally being pushed along the rock slabs as you walk along the coast (obviously far away from the cliffside as to not go for
an unfortunate swim). It really is an amazing view and I had a good laugh as my hood kept hitting me in the face and I almost lost my tuque a few times.
Last stop was the "bridge between continents" - it's a bridge that crosses a fissure where the North American and European tectonic plates are drifting apart (~2.5 cm a year). It was so damn cold and windy that even though we were given 20 min, we all pretty much ran there, took photos, and ran back lol. At least this time we could look down the fissure and enjoy the view - last time I was here someone had created a giant rock penis lol.
The tour technically ends at the Blue Lagoon, but I'll be going to an outdoor hot spa in Akureyri and figured if I went today I would fall asleep in the water haha. Not ideal. So back to Reykjavik I came! Small world - sharing my room with two other teachers (who are both traveling solo) and one of them (Irish) has an uncle that lives in Ottawa. Such fun little moments. While chatting we were trying to make sense
of the extension cord and blew the fuse for the entire floor... woops! We had a good laugh at that and thankfully are back in business now.
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