Untamed Iceland, Day 5, October 5, 2018

When we awoke it was 25 degrees and overcast. After breakfast at the hotel buffet (so, so) we boarded our bus and headed north in search of the Leif Eiriksson,  Eiriksstadir Museum. The museum is located on the homesite of Leif Eiriksson, the father of Erik the Red. The route there took us over high snow covered passes.

There we entered a replica of a sod house and listened to a lecture of the early Viking life presented by a young lady in Viking woman’s attire.

Next we visited an Iceland horse farm  where we watched a demonstration of the different gaits of the horses. Demonstrating the tolk gait, which is soo smooth, the rider rode totally around the rink without spilling a drop.

Afterward, we went to the horse barn for a close up view of the horses. Babs petted and posed with some of these small but magnificent animals.

Following the horse barn, we went up to the farm house where we had a less than satisfactory lunch of soup and salad. The salad bar was understocked and ran out of food before everyone had a chance to get salad. The only shining light was the dessert, a yogurt with berries, and some horse meat.

Leaving the horse farm we took a fairly long drive over a snowy mountain pass with an icy roadway. Part of the drive we followed a snow plow that was also putting down sand to aid in traction.

On the way, we stopped at an area where a Troll had caused some mischief which resulted in this waterfall and canyon.

We arrived in Akureyri where our IcelandAir hotel is located. It is furnished in early IKEA but is clean and comfortable.

Dinner was here at the hotel and was a  salmon appetizer, tender, and delicious lamb, and dessert of chocolate mousse with berries.

Tomorrow we head farther north.

Babs Says: Snow, beautiful snow! It was so wonderful to see mountains covered with pure white snow. Even better seeing it from a nice warm seat and not worring about driving, shoveling, or slipping.

Neigh, neigh, yea! Icelandic horses are so cute, smart, and friendly (at times overly so as trying to nuzzle your neck).

 

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Untamed Iceland, Day 4, October 4, 2018

Another morning which is starting out raining. It has also gotten chillier with the wind blowing around 25 – 35 miles an hour out of the north and spitting snow. We drove across lava fields and saw many waterfalls.

We headed across the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Our destination was the fishing village of Arnarstapi. The bus deposited us at the marina where our hike along the coastline was to start. The trail began with a modest hill. The wind was blowing so hard it moved my 262 pounds off of the trail and I almost fell. That’s where my hike stopped. Our bus driver Alfred saw my juggling act and exited the bus to aid in my return to the safety of the coach.

Babs continued on the hike and took in the raw beauty of the ocean rock arches.  At the end of the trail was this stone structure. I asked Babs what it was and her answer, it’s too cold and windy to walk up there, so use your imagination! The rain drops on the camera lens shows how bad the elements were.

We continued down to this little sea side restaurant called Fjoruhusid where we had lunch. It was in Babs words, tiny, cramped, but very quaint. Lunch was home baked bread and fish soup. The soup was milk based and had good flavor but needed seasoning.

Our next destination was Snaefellsjokull National Park visitors center. There were historical and natural resources exhibits and a lighthouse. The exhibits were okay. The lighthouse was closed and it was too cold and windy to walk out to it anyway.

The drive to our next destination, the Bjarnarhofn Shark Center took us through lava fields, snow covered mountains, and near a “lava cone plug” which looks like a Viking Ship and a Viking from a distance.

A short time later we actually drove onto the center of a lava cone.

After arriving at the shark center, we looked at some of the exhibits and watched a short video about the Greenland shark. The sharks which can reach a length of over 24 feet are toxic to the point of killing you if the flesh is eaten fresh. The meat is cut into blocks, aged for several months and then hung to dry for nine months. It is called hakarl.

You eat the aged shark by dipping the meat into schnapps and then chewing it. After you swallow the meat you chase it with the schnapps. Any way you cut it, it’s not pleasant to say the least. A sequence of photos of my tasting tells the story. It may have been better with the schnapps but I don’t drink. I used the Grappa method of tasting which is exhale before tasting!

We left the Shark Center and headed back to the hotel where we ate dinner. I had mussels and Babs had scallops, both were delicious.

Tomorrow we head north to visit a horse farm.

Babs Says: I know I wrote something about Jaws but, Frank lost my Babs Says So I guess I said nothing.

Frank Says: Please forgive any “typos” or automatic spell check producing wrong words. It is always well after midnight when I’ve finished because I’m trying to catch up and I’m too tired to proof read.

 

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Untamed Iceland, Day 3, October 3, 2018,

Today it is overcast and colder as we drove toward our first destination, a wool dying demonstration. We will travel on a full size bus rather than a 18 seat coach, even though there were only 18 of us, including the driver and our guide. That was a real treat because it allowed us to spread out and everyone who wanted a window seat could have one.

After leaving Reykjavik, we drove through relatively unremarkable countryside.

The wool dying facility is located in fairly remote farm country. The lady lives alone with a dog and some chickens.

 

In addition to her wool dying job, she taches at the agriculture collage.  She selects the sheep that she gets the wool from and knows the name of each of those sheep. She only dyes her wool using “natural ingredients”,plant roots, stems, leaves and lichens. The sole ingredient that is not natural is household ammonia. What is unique, and grosses me out, is that the colors are added to the wool after soaking in cow urine that she buys from local farms.

The wool  is definitely beautiful and soft and done in a rainbow of colors.

Before we left, she demonstrated how to spin wool into yarn.

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Our next destination was the Settlement Center in Bsrgarnes. The  route there took use through the farm country on some narrow unpaved roads. Our bus driver, Alfred, did a great job negotiating a couple of bridges which were barely wide enough to accommodate the bus.

The Settlement Center demonstrates the early Norse history of Iceland. One proceeds through the exhibit following a recorded  presentation. Photographs weren’t allowed, although I can’t tell you why. After going through the exhibit, we had a buffet lunch which consisted of a salad bar and homemade lamb soup. The soup was tasty!

Our final stop of the day was Helgafell – holy mountain, a 250 foot high “mountain”. The path up the mountain was slippery, so I didn’t even try to do the hike. Babs, Tinker, and Vidal gave it a try with only Vidal making it to the top. If you complete the hike and do not talk or look back the entire trip, the legend is that you get three wishes fulfilled. Babs took these photos from half way up, just before turning around.

Just below Helgafell was this little Lutheran church and graveyard.

We left Helgafell for Stykkisholmur where we are staying at the Fosshotel tonight. On the way we passed this modern Lutheran church where we stopped in and took a peek at their renovations.

This is the view out of our rooms window and our  tinny bathroom.

We had dinner of salted cod at the hotel. Afterward, we had a drink in the modest bar and then headed up to bed.

Tomorrow we will start at a fishing village where we will do some hiking.

Babs Says: The Vikings seem to have been strong, courageous, yet violent humans. Sounds like a good name for a football team

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Untamed Iceland, Day 2, October 2, 2018

Today we awoke at 7:30 and hurriedly dressed and headed down to breakfast. (I was to set the alarm at 7 instead of 7:30) One change is that, for now at least, it is sunny this morning. After another good breakfast, we went back of the room to get ready for today’s tour of Reykjavik.

We were in the lobby promptly at 8:30 where it was hurry up and waited to begin our short (?) walk to the city bus stop. Those of you who have been in  the Army will understand. This is the bus which will take our group to another “short walk” to our first destination of the day, the Ocean Cluster Home. This for lack of  better word is a business promoting Iceland’s cod fish industry. Here we learned about how Iceland’s fishing industries are setting the “Best Practices”.  This is essentially not throwing fish guts, bones, and skin back into the ocean but processing the byproducts into products which will  produce more profit and (wink, wink) be more beneficial for thee planet. Of course the fish, crabs, and worms which used to live on those “left overs” might disagree with that.

Anyway, here is a photo of the “Bubba  Gump” of the cod industry explaining this to our group.

After this riveting lecture, we got an opportunity to taste some of these wonderful products. They included liver oil, canned cod, fish liver pate, and flaked cod, yummy!

Next we boarded another city bus that took us to the Iceland museum. It is a very well done museum showing Iceland’s rich history and heritage. This could have been a guy who had earlier listened to the lecture at the fish institute, but is actually the remains of a Viking. Pretty interesting place!

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In addition the exhibits included Viking weapons, stained glass from medieval churches, a carved drinking horn , model churches and ships.

After the museum, Babs and most of our group opted to walk 10 or so minutes to the down town area to shop. On their way downtown they passed the Parliament building, a picturesque pond, and a “cute little church”. Of course the “plus” was the funeral hearse.

Once arriving downtown they indulged in a hot dog from Reykjavik’s most famous hot dog stand, a bargain at $4.50.

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Afterward they walked around town where they saw this bakery, an adult “day care center sign, and the front of the penis museum.

Dinner tonight is on our own so we went with our friends Tinker and Vidal Falcon to a restaurant called ASKUR  (pronounced Oscar). Tinker had lamb chops, Babs, Oriental Lamb steak, and Vidal & I lamb shank. Everything was perfectly cooked. It was a totally excellent meal.

Tomorrow we will enjoy one of the perks of a bus tour, our luggage must be out and ready to load onto the bus by 7:30 am. At 8:30 we’ll be on our way to travel overland to Stykkisholmur.

Babs Says: We left the restaurant tonight singing, “We all ate a lot of lamb, lot of lamb, lot of lamb. We all ate a lot of lamb, and no one missed mint jam. Baa, Baa, Baa!

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Untamed Iceland 2018, Day 1, Oct 1, 2018

We boarded our Iceland Air Boeing 757 at 7:50pm at Washington Dulles  airport and departed slightly late at 8:40 p.m. The flight was smooth and the all female flight crew made up time and we landed at Reykjavik 30 minutes  ahead of time. That’s where the “fun” began.

The landing was understandably rough due to 50 mile an hour gusting cross winds and a deluge of rain. There is no jet way so you have to negotiate a steep portable jetway in a down pour and wind that is trying to knock your off your feet.  I was trying carrying a small carry-on bag, had my CPAP bag around my neck, and hold onto the hand rail in a gusting wind and being pelted by rain. I was about to careen head first down the jetway when an Iceland Air employee came to my rescue. That began my Iceland experience.

The airport is small with no “moving sidewalks”. It seems as though you walk 2 miles  to get through customs and then another five miles to the baggage claim area. We then had to find our transportation to our Hilton hotel, Fly Bus. Once we found the departure point for the Fly Bus, we enjoyed an hours ride into Reykjavik where we had to transfer to a smaller bus to be taken tour hotel.

At the Hilton we met our guide “Beggie”. Our room wasn’t ready, so we met some of our fellow travelers and enjoyed a very nice buffet breakfast which was great. Our room was ready at 10:30 and I elected to take a nap. when I awoke at 1:20pm, Babs had joined the walking tour of Reykjavik.

Her guide took them on a three hour tour through Reykjavik. They passed n old schoolhouse that once had 1500 students and now has only 700 and a preschool which is unusual because the buildings are on wheels.

This Lutheran church is constructed of poured concrete. the architect designed a similar Catholic church and was hired to built this church to be bigger than the Catholic church he had designed.

The statue in front of the Lutheran church is Leif Erikson.

Street scenes and Punk Rock museum pictured here.

These are photos of the Prime Ministers house and the Reykjavik Music Hall.

The  tour ended near the ocean where a rainbow shown over the seaport.

After a  great dinner we headed up to our room.

It’s now10:30 p.m. Tomorrow, more Reykjavik.

Babs Says:  Rain, rain go away. Hope Northern Lights are on the way.

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First Adventure of 2018, Day 13, 04/30/2018

We awoke, dressed and checked out of the hotel. We returned our vehicle to Hertz and took the shuttle bus to the terminal.

After checking our bags, we walked to the TSA check point. Our tickets said TSA Pre indicating that we didn’t have to take our shoes off, take out electronics, etc.. Well today there were so many people, they determined that everyone was TSA Pre. I should say, everyone with except me, because I have a metal shoulder. Out comes my wallet, everything in my pockets, off comes my belt, and I enter the electro magnetic chamber of dread.  Supposedly this thing can see the difference in men and women, and my shoulder glows red. So why do they still pat me down?

We had breakfast at Sammy Hagar’s “Beach Club” restaurant. Two breakfast sandwiches and two coffees and tip, $48 dollars. The coffee was great, Seattle’s Best, and the croissant sandwiches good, but $48 dollars?

Our full Southwest Airlines plane boarded on time at 9:55am. Thankfully we departed the fair city of Los Vegas on time. I can see no sane reason to ever return to Los Vegas again. A shame, because it used to be a fun place. In my opinion, it is now just loud, crude, and money hungry.

We arrived at on time to BWI at 5:50pm. Thankfully, I decided to use a Skycap, because I would have gone to the wrong place to meet our Uber driver. Our ride home was uneventful. Where ever so humble, there is no place like home!

Frank Says: Babs is asleep so it’s my turn! Thanks for following us. We had a fantastic time. The true highlights were the trip to rainbow bridge, the Antelope Canyon, the drive on US 50, Death Valley, and most of all, seeing family, and Christine & Jason’s wedding and reception. The only disappointment was how Los Vegas has changed. I attribute that mostly to our age, maybe if I were younger I would see it differently.

If you can stand it, follow us to Iceland at the end of September.

 

 

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