Sunday, September 30, 2012

In and around Reykjavik

We spent most of September dealing with a few items from our ever lengthening bucket list.  
Here's some photos from our trip to Iceland.
This first set of photos are from in and around Reykjavik.

The trip started with me meeting Mamma G in Edmonton and with an overnight stay at the Toronto Pearson Airport.  In the morning we caught Roger on the red eye and flew out to Reykjavik via Boston.

We arrived in Keflavik at 11pm, and were picked up at the airport.  Reykjavik is about 45 minutes from the Keflavik airport.  
We stayed at the Embassy Luxury Apartments and we couldn't have been happier with our accommodations.  Probably slightly cheaper than a regular hotel, The Embassy was essentially an apartment just blocks away from central Reykjavik but is located in a residential area so we missed the drunken noise of the weekends.  It had everything you could possibly wish for in a home.  Including a dish fairy.
Mamma G and Kerstin were just next door to us so most of the time our doors were open as we hopped back and forth.
They had the option of pre-arranging breakfast for the first morning, so when we arrived our fridge had a couple of cups of yogurt, bread, eggs and smjör.

First morning in Reykjavik, waiting for my missing luggage to come from the airport.

We quickly expanded our fridge contents with a quick stop at the super market.  Here were some of our favourites.

Mamma G's really cool counter-top dishwasher.

One of the many fika's at The Embassy med Weinerbrod.

By the way, the tap water in Iceland is delicious.  It's like having immediate access to fresh spring water everywhere you go including the mountain huts.  And.. you never have to wait for the water to heat up when it comes out of the tap.  

After my bags arrived, we set out to explore some sites around our accommodations.  
One of the first places we went was a graveyard.

Our second stop was a bakery of course.

I can't tell you what we ordered, but it was stuffed with marzipan.  

Some sites we saw while walking to Hallgrimskirkja

Hallgrimskirkja is tall enough that you don't necessarily need a map to find it.  Just follow the tower.  and the sound of the bell chimes every hour.


You can ride an elevator to the top and get a panoramic view of Reykjavik.

Getting hungry.  

I had pickled herring on Rúgbrauð (rye bread), plokkfiskur (mashed fish/fish stew) on rye bread and rye bread ice cream.  
Strange, but delicious.  
We were told that's one of the ways to use up rye bread leftovers.  
I love a country that makes leftovers into ice cream!

Roger was braver and tried smoked trout on rye, smoked lamb on rye, dried fish and fermented shark.

We also tried Kjotsupa (meat soup).  It's lamb in a clear broth with vegetables.  Pretty tasty!

In the evening, Roger drove our rental car out to Laugarvatn to visit our first geothermal pool at Fontana Spa.  The drive took about 1 1/2 hours.  It didn't help that we got a little lost, but we saw some beautiful scenery while the daylight lasted.  At the spa we had supper which consisted of smoked trout from the nearby lake on rye bread and delicious ginger soup.  Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera out to snap pictures of the food.
The Fontana Spa was nice.  It's not huge, but consists of pools that vary in temperature.  Since it was evening, and a trademark Icelandic wind was blowing, we quickly headed for the warmest pool to keep warm.  
One thing that was a bit unexpected is before going into the geothermal pools you're required to strip down completely and wash ALL areas with soap.  In particular, they highlighted under the arms, the crotch and feet.  So yes, you need to get naked in the shower, and no, there's no dividers at Fontana.  For us non Europeans, it can be slightly traumatizing..

We met Kerstin at the airport the following day.

The following photos are a bit out of order as Roger and I took off on a 5 day hike in the highlands the next day (more on that later).

A few sites from short road trips out of Reykjavik

Kerstin enjoying some of Roger's "off-road" driving.

The Golden Circle.

Þingvellir (pr. Thingvellir) National Park.  The location of Icelands first parliament, and also where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are drifting apart.

Second stop, Geysir.  
Strokkur goes off every 8 minutes.

Last stop, Gullfoss.  
Unfortunately it was raining at this point, and my camera was fogging up, so although Gullfoss was unbelievably beautiful, I only snapped a couple of photos before running back to the car.


 A drive out to the abandoned town of Krysuvik and Seltún.


Perfect fish!


They have these throughout 101 Reykjavik. 

On our last day in Reykjavik, you could see snow on the mountains across the water.

Last meal in Reykjavik. 

Bacalao and lamb

Blue Lagoon.
Here also you have to get naked before hand and wash yourself with soap.  However, they have cubicles here so it's a little easier for us modest North Americans.

Roger's 2 rental vehicles.


 We loved Reykjavik.  
One of my favourite things: you can get a chocolate dipped cone pretty much anywhere.
One of my least favourite things: horizontal rain.
Regrets: Wasting valuable luggage space by packing shorts for Iceland in September.

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