Sunday, June 15, 2008

Iceland

We have just returned from an amazing holiday in Iceland. It turns out that we are not the new Aunty Peggy after all - we were just heading in the wrong direction, before. We had one day of rain but after that it was sunny and clear (although obviously it didn't get up much above 15 degrees).
It being June it was light all the time. I took this picture from our hotel room at 00.15. The guide books claim it did get dark but I always have to go to the loo in the middle of the night and it was always light enough to read a book outside. However, the downside of that of course is that it must be equally dark in winter. We stayed in a small town in the North which is surrounded by three mountains. Apparently the sun goes down at the beginning of December and it doesn’t manage to rise above the mountains until the end of January.



The hot water is heated geothermally so it all smells a bit sulphur like. It seemed worse in Reykjavik or we just got used to smelling a bit eggy. I always like to think of Trev as Lord of the Farts so he was in his element.
The land is amazing we saw geysers, lava fields, fjords, waterfalls and rifts. I should have paid more attention in geography in school.
The roads were quite exciting and, luckily, fairly empty too. As there are hardly any trees you could see for miles ahead so overtaking was a fairly simple option,which probably pleased the Icelandic drivers who could overtake us. Actually, our rough guide did warn us that Icelandic drivers do literally tear along the dotted line as they drive, but the roads are so empty that it did make sense. Some of the roads are gravel, Trev had a very exciting driving experience avoiding the potholes in them. Our Toyota Yaris did outstandingly, but in hindsight I think we would go for a four wheel drive car. There are some roads that are so rough that you are only allowed to do them in a four wheel drive.
Our accommodation and food was universally excellent. Apart from the night when we arrived in Isafjordur which was about an 8 hour drive from anywhere else only to discover that the hotel hadn't opened for summer. Fortunately they had booked us into the other hotel in the town! It is a VERY expensive place to holiday. There are not many places that make London look like a cheap date! A bottle of wine with dinner would have cost us £35. We had bought some over with us and then Trev went and topped up at a booze shop which was only open one hour a day and you had to access through a flower shop. Then they put the wine in brown paper bags like winos in American films. Talk about guilty pleasures.
The other thing we loved looking at was the bird life. There are snipes and puffins and arctic terns everywhere. The terns are very bold and apparently later on in the year they attack people! There were lots of eider duck who make a very comical noise. We took a boat trip to an island where there is one farm which makes it’s living from eider down. The ducks always nest in the same place every year and will sit on the eggs for 4 weeks not eating but they will go for a drink once a day and that is when the farmer goes to collect the down. They then process is to get rid of the bugs then they go through it by hand to clean it. No wonder eider down is so expensive. The farmer on the island lay on a tea for us involving lovely home made cakes. An Icelandic man on the trip had a slice of each of the four kinds of cake then he went back for seconds – he had 7 slices of cake! Clearly he was laying down his blubber for winter. Luckily he didn’t sink the boat.
Anyway, it is a wonderful place. We would love to go back and I would highly recommend it.Here are some photos if you want to see more you can go to our Picassa page here

Gullfoss


Reykjavik from Hallgrimskirkja


A gravel road over the mountains. The snow hadn't melted properly and there was a howling gale so the picture was taken from the car!


There were plenty of these everywhere. Although they have short legs you MUST call them horses, not ponies. Apparently they have 5 gaits.

Drangajokull Glacier from Isafjordur

2 comments:

kate.mcnabb said...

Wow looks amazing! Scenary is quite spectacular, shame about the restrictions on the vino though but luckily it sounded like a good holiday and not one that needed enhancing with additional booze :)

oreneta said...

I have so wanted to visit Iceland for so long....it sounds as amazing as I thought it would....and as expensive.