I finally got to see more than the Keflavíc airport in Iceland!
I spent about five days throughout the country, driving north of Reykavík and then heading back to the capital for a couple days. My friend and I rented a car to visit the location of Iceland’s first Parliament (930 AD), called Þingvellir. Here there are also crevices where tectonic plates in the earth are splitting apart.
We drove further on to Vík, then realized we’d gone a bit too far and backtracked a bit until we found the farm we were staying at for the night. We’d actually taken pictures of it from a distance, because it was situated so snuggly in a valley with a glacier above it and volcanic beaches (meaning black sand beaches) below it. Sheep (about 2,400 of them!) roamed around the land, and we saw chickens and horses as we drove up to the cluster of buildings.
Our host, Jón, suggested we walk out to a lighthouse next to Dyrholaey. We climbed nearly vertical stairs (which were really stones wedged into the earth) to get to the top of the hill where the lighthouse is perched. We had a great view of the surrounding area, and leaning over the edge of the precipice to look down at the water reminded me of the trip I took to the Cliffs of Moher.
The next day we got an early start so we could see Jökusárlón (a glacial lagoon),
Skógafoss (a waterfall),
and a couple other places that we came across and thought was worth a visit. I was amazed at the size of Jökusárlón! Years ago I hiked to Iceberg Lake in Glacier National Park; my family and I had all agreed it was one of the best hikes we’d taken. Jökusárlón, however, put that little lake to shame.
When we reached Skógafoss, the sun was glinting off the water, and the wind had died down. After climbing the 527 stairs (real stairs made of metal this time), we laid down for a bit and just listened to the water. It was so peaceful; as I was still adjusting to the time change, it was a great place for a little nap.
The last few days of our time in Iceland we spent in Reykjavík. I visited the Harpa, an architecturally stunning music hall;
the Hallgrímskirkja, a church with an enormous pipe organ that I would have loved to hear played;
the Culture House, which had an exhibit about visual artistic culture in Iceland that combined works from six different institutions (including the National Library, National Museum and National Gallery!).
While walking toward the Hallgrímskirkja, I stumbled upon a little coffee shop that would totally be my hang out spot if I lived in Reykjavíc. Even though I was only in the city for a matter of days, I still managed to taste numerous cakes and drinks they offered, all of which were delicious. It was a good place to read and write postcards.
My friend and I finished our Icelandic adventures at the Blue Lagoon. There’s a hotel and spa nearby, but the bus from Reykjavíc is pretty direct so I think it’s a better deal, being near the city most of the time. The lagoon was a strange milky blue color, and the mud has minerals that are good for your skin, so they suggest using it as a face mask (I lathered my arms and legs and stomach as well…). There was also a waterfall that fell hard enough to provide a nice massage, and sauna and steam rooms. I wish I’d had something like that closer to me when I was in school! Would have been a wonderful way to relieve stress.
Now it’s off to London! Caught an early flight to spend a few days there before heading to France.