Erin and I had wanted to go to Iceland for about two years now; Ever since some colleagues of her's went and came back with beautiful pictures and experiences. We tried to go last year, but the plane tickets were too expensive. This year we got them early and had plenty of planning for what we would see.
We took an overnight flight directly from Denver to Reykjavik that left us feeling a bit tired early Sunday morning (May 31). Fortunately the place we were staying let us leave our luggage while we explored the city. After a hearty breakfast and lots of coffee we made our way up to Hallgrímskirkja, a large church overlooking much of Reykjavik. As we were there early, we enjoyed the choir rehearsing along with the massive church organ being played. The acoustics were amazing. The view from the bell tower also provided plenty of great views of the surrounding city.
We continued on through the streets of the city looking in various shops and museums. One of our favorite museums was the 871 +/-2 Early Settlement Exhibit. It had a lot of interactive features that really helped us understand what life was like for the early settlers of Iceland. Finally, after lunch we were able to head back to our guesthouse for a nap before going out for dinner and drinks.
The next morning we were woken up early as our rental car was dropped off at our guesthouse. We were soon on the road to Fljótstunga to see a lava cave. Unfortunately we got turned around and showed up late to the meetup point. We pressed on even though the tour had already left. We were able to go partly into the cave, but there was a gate blocking the rest of it. We were bummed that we couldn't stay longer for the next tour, but we had to move on to our next stop.
Later that day we arrived at a horse-back riding stable in Varmahlíð. Again we were a little late, but fortunately they had waited for us this time and we were soon out on the horses. It was nice to be out in the fields on the horses. They had a smooth ambling gait different from other horses we've ridden previously which was faster than a walk, but smoother than a typical trot. We did a two hour ride which worked out well. By the end of the ride we were a bit cold and a bit sore, but I'm glad we went.
Fortunately on our third day we didn't have to be anywhere at a particular time. Our day had us driving around the Trollaskagi Peninsula to see and experience a different slice of Icelandic life. We started with the Glaumbaer Museum which recreated life in 1800's Iceland with a variety of pancakes and cakes from the period. Our next stop was at a thermal infinity pool where we could swim and relax in warm water overlooking the ocean even though it was cold and raining out. While we had hoped to do some hiking the weather did not improve so we drove on, stopping for a delicious lunch at a house in the middle of nowhere.
In the afternoon we stopped at a herring museum showing the herring industry in Iceland and how people lived in the early 1900's when the industry was in full swing. It reminded me of my dad's parents house as the era-accurate items in the living quarters looked similar to the kinds of things they had in their house. We finished the day in Akureyri which had a nice botanical garden and a beautiful view of the fjord. That reminded me of my mom's parents who I remember traveling in Scandinavia with fjords and botanical gardens.
Our trip was off to a good start and we were looking forward to whale watching the following day. More on that in the next post...