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Archive for the category “Iceland”

Water, water everywhere: Iceland Day 2 &3

Yesterday was such a busy day of touring. We began our morning walking along Laugavegur, doing a bit of shopping and enjoying the nice weather. We looked at woolen goods, checked out 66 North (think high end Roots/North Face clothing and footwear), and I picked up a bracelet and earring set made from Icelandic lava beads. By afternoon, we made our way to the Lutheran Icelandic church Hallgrímskirkja with it’s tall bell tower that is visible in most of Reykjavik. The inside is modest and very white, but the most impressive part is the 15 foot pipe organ with more than 5000 pipes. After a short visit to the sanctuary, we took the lift to the observation platform in the tower, which provided amazing 360 degree views of the city.
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Late afternoon we caught our bus for the evening golden circle tour. It was a small tour of 15 people and we met a fellow Canadian, Dan, within the first few minutes (he said Anne’s lululemon jacket and MEC bag gave us away). Our first stop was Þingvellir national park, a UNESCO heritage site. It literally means “Parliament Plains” and was the site of general assembly beginning around 930 and continued to convene there until 1798. It is also a place to see the rift between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates and they are moving away for each other at the rate of approximately 2 cm per year.

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This night we had short rain showers, and the intensity of the rainbows that followed was impressive, at one point we could see 3 individual arcs.

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The second stop on the tour was Gullfoss falls. Gullfoss is actually two separate waterfalls, the upper one has a drop of 11 metres and the lower one 21 metres. The rock of the river bed was formed during an interglacial period. There are two observation decks, the lower one allows you to walk out onto the rocks in front of the falls where the mist is very wet. Anne and Dan chose to get that close, while I preferred to stay dry on the first platform.

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The last stop on the tour was the Great Geysir, sight of the very first recorded geyser. While the original has ceased to spout, nearby Strokkur (“the churn”), spouts a 60-100 foot jet about once every five minutes. This area is also rich in walking paths that lead past steaming vents and colorful, mineral-rich mud formations.

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We decided that day 3 would be our day to relax. We thought a great way to celebrate Canada Day would be to visit the Blue Lagoon. This spa is located in a lava field in Grindavík, about 45 mins outside of Reykavik. While we had rain showers during the bus ride, when we arrived at the lagoon, the sun was shining. The water averages 37–39 °C and is rich in silica and sulphur (which gives it a slight smell). As you can see from the pictures, the water was beautiful and we returned to our hotel relaxed and happy.

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Tonight’s supper was at Geysir bistro and bar, which is just around the corner from our hotel. Anne had fish and chips and I had onion soup and chicken crepes. I also tried a local soft drink appelsin, an orange soft drink that had a taste similar to fanta.

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Tomorrow is a travel day to Belgium. Iceland has been fun, but I can’t wait to meet up with Alison and Andrew in Brussels!

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Iceland Day 2

Tonight’s post will be very short, it was a full day of touring and it’s now past 1am. I will post more details tomorrow afternoon or evening, but in short: this morning we walked to Hallgrimskirkja, the beautiful church with an elevator to the top of its bell tower, which provided some amazing views of the city.
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This afternoon we began our Golden Circle Bus tour where we visited Þingvellir national park, Gullfoss falls and Geysir hot springs.
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Tomorrow we are planning to relax and celebrate Canada day at the Blue Lagoon.

Arrival in Iceland

It’s been one of the longest days ever! Our red eye Icelandair flight was smooth and without incident. I found the seats comfy and the inflight entertainment system enjoyable. The only odd thing was that it was so warm, which is odd as I am usually freezing on planes. Good thing I dressed in layers and drank lots of water. We really didn’t get much sleep on the plane and by the time we cleared customs and baggage claim, and found the fly bus into Reykjavik it was 7am. Our room at the centerhotel plaza wasn’t going to be ready until 9am, but at least we got to sample the breakfast buffet. We were both exhausted and once the room was ready we slept for quite a few hours.

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Once we got up, we took a walk by the waterfront. Took pictures of the harbour and ended up at the beautiful concert hall and conference centre Harpa. It is a spectacular glass structure overlooking the water with magnificent views.
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We walked back to the central area that we are staying and found a quaint restaurant for supper. I enjoyed roasted lamb and root vegetables in mushroom sauce with a glass of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.

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On the way back we looked into the many shops and stopped into a 24h grocery mart for snacks.
It is very odd for it not to be dark, I am writing this after midnight and the sun is still shining. We are heading to bed shortly and will be going on the golden circle tour of Iceland tomorrow.
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