Iceland

10/16/16 – 10/20/16

Susan was taking some time off from work and Stacey had some time in between jobs so we thought this would be a perfect time to take a trip together. We didn’t have a spot in mind, but the girls indicated they were up for an adventure. I found a few options, but settled on Iceland. Even though I just went on a guy trip last year, I started to get really excited about taking them and being their tour guide. We were going to do lots of the same stuff that I did last time, but also some new stuff.

Sunday
We left early on Sunday morning. We picked the Losher up at 5:00 am. We were flying Spirit Airlines at 7:40 and I didn’t want to mess around with them and have to pay extra fees. I was a little worried about them being on time or cancelling our flight all together and ruining our trip, but I gambled on it because the fare was only $30. This would give us a 6 hour layover in Boston. The Losher hadn’t been to Boston before, so we thought it would be fun to show them around. The Spirit flight went well and we landed on time and even got our luggage, so the gamble paid off. We took a water taxi across Boston Harbor. We stored our bags at a Marriott and then walked to the Quincy Market for lunch. We got lobster rolls, lobster mac and cheese and crab cakes. It was a great, expensive, lunch. After that, we walked on the Freedom Trail and saw a few of the sites. Then we took a taxi to Fenway Park. We walked around the outside and then bought some things at the gift shop. Our plan was to next got to Harvard, but they were just starting a Fenway Park tour. Greg and I stayed behind to do the tour. The girls went to Harvard and bought some things in the gift shop. Then, we met a the dock to take the boat back across the Harbor to the airport. We had a little time at the airport to get some food and watch the Cowboys game, then it was on to Iceland. We we flying on Wow airlines. Our round trip fare was about $275 each. The flight was less than half full, so we were able to stretch out quite a bit on the flight. This was our night, so we needed to get some sleep.

Monday
We landed in Keflavik airport at 4:30 am and then went over to Sixt to pick up our SUV. Then we drove to Reykjavik to try to check into the Hilton Nordica. It was 6 am when we arrived and our rooms weren’t ready yet. We went up to the lounge to have breakfast and by 7:15, we were on the road to Grindavik to go to the Blue Lagoon. We arrived right at opening time, 8 am, but were had to wait in line to get checked in. It was really cold and raining when we got it, but the water was great. We loved the Blue Lagoon. We spent about 3 hours in it and did the mud treatment twice. We also bought some Skyr yogurt smoothies, but they weren’t very good.

We got cleaned up and dressed and then headed into town to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Fish House Bar & Grill . We all got Fish and Chips and they were the best and freshest we’d ever had. We were pretty tired and Susan and I both dozed of while we were waiting for our food. After that, we drove back to Reykjavik to see the town. Our first stop was the big church at the center of town, Hallgrimskirkja. It’s a big, concrete church, that really isn’t very ornate. The reason to visit is for the view of the city. It’s so pretty with the water and mountains as a backdrop to all of the colorful houses. After visiting the church, we joined up with a two hour walking tour of the city. Our guide, Eric, did a great job giving an overview of the city and the Iceland people. After our tour, we grabbed a hot dog at the famous Barjarins Beztu Pulur hot dog stand and then went to the hotel to check in and rest for a few hours. We went out later that night and walked the Laugavegur street and went in lots of the shops. At about 10 pm, we got in the car and drove to see the Northern Lights. We felt like this was our only chance because the forecast was going to be rainy every other night. While driving, we were all craning our necks to see the lights. We didn’t have a good plan except to drive away from the lights of the city. We lucked out and they appeared and put on a show right in front of us as we were at the edge of the city. We pulled over at a dark spot near the lake and walked on a walking trail. We got are really nice second show from the lights. I’m so glad we stayed out, because this would be the only night they’d appear. We went to the hotel room to turn in for the night, and we could still the light show from our room.

Tuesday
This was our day to do the South Shore. I was most excited about the South Shore because I hadn’t been there before. We picked Tuesday because the weather was supposed to be the nicest. It was a beautiful sunshiny day. It got to the low 50’s and the wind was low unless we were right on the coast. We drove for about an hour to our first stop, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. It’s a nice, big waterfall, but the fun thing about it is that you can walk behind it. We all brought rain pants for this occasion and it was really cool. We all got pretty wet. After this one, we walked a 1/4 mile to another waterfall. This one is inside of a cave. We had to wade through a river to get into the cave, but it was really awesome once inside. The cave is tall with large grass covered stone wall. It was really wet inside. This stop was one of the highlights of my trip.

The next stop was a little viewing area off of the highway of Eyjafjallajökull. This is the volcano that last erupted in 2010 and shut down air traffic over Europe of a few days. The volcano is covered with a glacier. This was 2 minute stop and then we we on the way to get up close to the glacier. We drove a few miles off the main road to a large parking lot. Their were lots of tours getting geared up to go on a glacier walk tour. We didn’t really want to do that, but did want to see it. It was pretty impressive and we had lots of fun on the ice and taking fun pictures. Greg fell twice and almost got sucked under a glacier.

Our next stops were the Dyrholaey lighthouse and the black sand beach at Reynisfjara. Both had crazy rock formation and the wind was about 50 mph. By this time, we were all starving, so we stopped in Vik for food and gas. We turned around in Vik and headed back towards Reykavik and more stops. The first was the large waterfall Skogafoss. We stopped and got close to it, but didn’t climb the mountain to get a view from the top.

The sun was going down, and we had one more stop to make. Seljavallalaug Pool is an old abandoned swimming pool in a valley surrounded by mountains. It is fed by hot springs, so it is warm. It is hard to find and you have to walk about 15 minutes to get there. We found it and there were 2 couples already there. We changed into our swimming suits in some nasty dirty changing rooms and got it. The girls were really grossed out by the water because it had algae floating in it. It wasn’t real warm except in a couple of spots where the spring fed it water. It was a really cool experience to be swimming out in the middle of nowhere with beautiful mountains and waterfalls in view. We made our way to the car right as it was getting dark. We drove on to the town of Selfoss and ate dinner at a Kafe Kussi. We got appetizers, pizza and desserts. We were hoping we’d see the Northern Lights on the drive back, but it rained the whole way. It was a long, fun day.

Wednesday.
After eating at the buffet breakfast at the hotel, we did the Golden Circle. Our first stop was a quick look at Pingvellir National Park. Next was a stop at Efstidalur Il for ice cream. This is a dairy farm that make their own ice cream. After that was 2 main attractions, Geysir and the Gulfoss waterfall. These are both crazy natural wonders. Next was a stop at Fridheimar farms. There, they have a tomato greenhouse with a restaurant inside. It was awesome and Susan was in heaven with all the fresh tomato foods. After we ate, we drove to the Secret Lagoon to take a look. It looked awesome, but we decided to head back to the hotel to use its spa. The drive back was treacherous with high winds and sideways rain. We made it back safely and spent 2-3 hours in the spa at the Hilton. It’s really nice with 3 inside spas and one outside. We liked the outside spa the best and each took a quick turn in ice bath. It was COLD. Another thing they do in the spa is give free shoulder and neck massages while you are in the hot tub. I got two! After spa time, we cleaned up and went into town. We had some more great food at Icelandic Fish and Chips. The weather was still bad, but we managed to walk to the Harpa opera house and to some other sites in town. We had some amazing crepes at the crepe place too.

 

Thursday
We had a half day before our flight left at 3:30pm. Greg and I got up early and went to play golf at Keilir golf course. It was a crazy windy day, but it wasn’t raining. When we got there, it wasn’t open yet. We waited for about 45 minutes and finally got to play. They kind of acted like we were crazy to play in those conditions and we never saw anyone else on the course. The first 9 is in a lava field and the second 9 is a links style. The course is by the ocean with some incredible looking holes and incredible wind. We were walking the course because either they don’t have carts or they weren’t available. We rented clubs and I only brought 6 balls. I thought I was going to be in trouble on the first tee shot when I lost 2 balls, but I didn’t lose any after that. It was a great taste of Iceland golf and the course was awesome. We only got to play 13 holes and then we had to leave.
The girls slept in a bit and then went into town to shop for souvenirs. Every time we were in town it was late and lots of store were closed. They each got souvenirs and Christmas ornaments. We met back at the hotel, packed and headed to the airport. After about 15 minutes, Stacey realized she left her passports in the hotel safe. We turned around and got them. It made our trip to the airport tight on time, but we still made it in plenty of time.

To get home, we were flying through Boston and Chicago. We had time to get Greg another Lobster Roll from Legal Seafood.  It was a long day.  We were in bed by 2:00 am and went to work the next day.

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