Main menu:

Site search

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


August 2022
« Nov    


Iceland Day 1

If you just want to see photos, click here!

Thursday evening
Despite taking the scenic route through Everett and Revere to avoid I-93 traffic, we arrived at the airport 1 hour earlier than needed. Check-in was fast and we headed to the Air France lounge for “dinner.” The food was ok, the lounge was crowded, we were sleepy and ready to start our adventure.

Boarding was delayed (late inbound aircraft) so we didn’t get settled until nearly 10pm. Economy Comfort meant a larger seat and access to the pre-flight lounge, but not much else. We tried to fall asleep right away. Susan slept the first half of the flight but I was cold. Got my sweater when she woke up and slept almost 2 hours before landing. On the other hand Susan had trouble getting comfortable and didn’t sleep much the second half of the flight.

The last sun we saw for 3 days was as we descended through the clouds to the airport at Keflavik. Upon landing we immediately took note of the huge fields of purple lupine that we would see over much of the countryside. We deplaned out on the tarmac and boarded a bus to the terminal. Customs was fast and baggage claim was fast. We had a short wait at the Hertz counter for our Yaris. We should have known the clerk’s insistence on our checking the car for scratches was foreshadowing for the roads to come.

Our Yaris was a 6 speed manual and drove nicely. It was early (~7:30am) so we decided to head into Reykjavic for some breakfast at a cafe. I signed up for a $10/day verizon international plan. We’ll see what the charges are once I get back home, but it seems to work great and we made good use of it during the trip to make reservations and look up information. I could use google maps for navigation and found the cafe and parking easily. We enjoyed a breakfast of yogurt, granola, and fruit and grabbed a muffin for the road.

After breakfast we walked back up the hill about a quarter mile to a giant stone Lutheran church with a statue of Leif Erikson in front. We had apparently chosen a cafe in the older, touristy section of town so we got to take in some sights. Lots of colorful houses, mostly metal or cement with little courtyards. There were many flower pots, some strawberries growing on a front stoop, and a number of little hot dog and pizza shops in the neigborhood. The town had a very European feel between the tight street, shops, and road signs. Road signs have been easy to read and my German is coming in handy for many nouns which have similar roots.

We drove toward Hotel Budir, our hotel.  After not getting much sleep on the plane and having a little breakfast, Su was ready to doze off, and slept a good 20 min on the way out of Reykjavik.  There was a long 6km tunnel on Hwy 1 north of Reykjavik on the way to Akranes. It started to rain, a consistent pattern during the weekend.  Once we got away from city/main road (Iceland 1), there were lots of sheep along the roads and a good number of horse farms. We appreciated Dan Dunn’s parting advice, “Don’t hit a sheep!” since evidently the car driver has to pay the farmer for the sheep, and with free range grazing, it would be challenging to find the farmer.  We fortunately only saw one dead sheep on the road, so it looks like most drivers are careful, and sheep generally skittered to the side of the road once the cars approached.

We got to the local mineral baths about 1130am but the internet was wrong and the baths didn’t open until 1300, so we headed to the hotel. Our room was not ready so we changed clothes in the WC and headed to a cliff/ocean walk. It was raining fairly heavily with winds from the ocean, so we were damp on the way out, and soaked on the way back. Saw a ton of troll stones (rock formations that looked like trolls and had signs and names), lots of moss and small wild flowers and a few birds. We even saw an arctic fox from a close range. He was wet and on top of a short rock formation just off the trail. He scampered off pretty quickly once he saw us but I managed to snap a very quick photo. The hike was through an old lava flow so lots of volcanic rocks, some mixed with stones smoothed by the ocean water. Everything was so green. So many shades of green.

Afterward, we decided it was a great time to warm up at the swimming pool and drove straight there.  We paid admission and rented towels. As the sign and and attendant reminded us, you must shower first without your suit. It is demanded, in the kindest Icelandic way, as they don’t use chemicals in the baths, just the natural minerals.  This one was special due to the amount of iron, calcium, and healthful algae that grew in it.  There was one large swimming pool and two smaller round tubs. The pool was cooler (but still quite warm, over 90 degrees F) and the tubs hotter ~38C. The water smelled of iron and there was lots of algae growing on the bottom/stairs that made it very slippery, but also made it feel more natural. We chatted with a family from NJ who had vacationed in Iceland at least 11 times, and said how nice this pool was compared with the commercialization of Blue Lagoon which we had missed because we couldn’t get a reservation.  Nice and warm, we showered off and happily climbed into the car. But alas, on the way back to the hotel, Su realized she left her suit hanging in the changing room, so we had to drive back for 3rd time that day before heading to hotel. We noted that our skin was glowing like after a mud bath/massage.

We checked in and got an 1830 dinner reservation. Our room was on a corner of the inn so we had a great view of the river flowing into the ocean. But unfortunately it really clouded up and started raining more, like being in a cloud of mist, so there was low visibility.  We didn’t get to see Snaefellsnes glacier at all despite being so close.

After snacking during the day, but not sitting down for a meal in over 24 hours, we were ready for a nice dinner.  We were the first ones in the dining room to start, and picked a nice bright spot by the window. Brian started with cod cheeks (a local delicacy we’d read about) and Susan had cauliflower soup, which was delightful. We were disappointed that the catch of the day was catfish, so we passed on that and instead both had lamb with spring herbs (pea tendrils, green onions and something resembling anise pods), peas and yummy potato cakes. Brian had two different icelandic beers. One an organic pils which was very good (must be the crisp Icelandic glacier water?) and a red ale that was quite sweet. At one point during dinner Brian stopped and said “listen” – the muzac was an Icelandic rendition of “We don’t have to take our clothes off,” kind of an odd choice for dinner music. By 20:00 there were maybe 8-12 more people dining but we were ready to sleep!

We sat in the cozy lounge for a little while, with only Igor the sleeping dog and one man talking on his cell phone as company.  It would have been a great place for an after-dinner drink if Su had been drinking and we were less tired.  We finally agreed that it was late enough to stave off jetlag and head back to the room around 2100. Brian had managed to stay awake the whole day. We both fell sound asleep and slept 10 hours. We had a full size bed and each person had an individual duvet.

Write a comment