I’ve posted more pictures from Iceland here:
Iceland has about 330,000 people living in it, but received 4.4 million visitors in 2014. It seems widely accepted that the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull which disrupted air traffic between the US and Europe were the start of the tourism increase.
Iceland is expensive. I’ve budgeted about 50% more for Iceland than anywhere else I’m visiting, and that turned out to be about right. That includes food, museums, and a replacement hat and gloves. I also had the unexpected expense of renting a car. Since things are so expensive here, I’ve figured out a few cheap places to eat. I can get a $10 pizza and $15 dollar Thai fried rice. I’ve also had more pork ribs than usual, mostly due to their proximity. The bottom line is, I’ve given up on eating Icelandic foods for the most part. I did have a hot dog that was made popular by Bill Clinton. It was very good.
The weather this week was not great. It rained almost every day, kind of like being home in Pittsburgh. It was also cold. I was slightly under dressed for the weather, but I could only pack so much in one backpack, and most of the places I’m visiting will be warmer.
I started in Iceland by visiting Þingvellir national park. It had some unexpected Game of Thrones, apparently a few scenes were filmed there between Arya and the Hound and their adventures.
It’s also the edge of the North American tectonic plate. Our plate ends in a cliff and meets the lower Eurasian plate.
And it had a very nice waterfall
Next I went on a two hour horseback ride plus a bus tour. I’m new to horses, I’ve only ridden them once in Montana. If you’re on a horseback riding tour and they give you the option to be in the fast group or the slow group, the correct answer is the slow group. I picked the fast group. Everything ended up fine but I was worried for a few minutes. This was my horse, Gift. It was way easier than my Montana horse.
I met a couple from Pittsburgh from Regent Square on the tour, and a girl from Florida from Buffalo, and a retired hand surgeon from Japan who trained in the US.
We all went to see the Golden Waterfall and later nearby Geysers. Pictures won’t really do them justice.
Finally we saw a Geyser which erupted every 4-8 minutes. Having seen Old Faithful, it was significantly smaller and not as much of a show, but still fascinating.
The next day I went on a walking tour of Reykjavik. We learned about much of Iceland’s viking history and recent history. I was supposed to try to see the northern lights but it was too cloudy.
I followed that up with a day at the Blue Lagoon. It was about 50 degrees outside but the water was perfect. For some reason when I bought the ticket for this back in April I picked the expensive option, so I got flip flops and a robe, and a free drink among other things. I spent most of the day there before heading back.
Tuesday I stayed in Reykjavik. I stopped by the Hallgrimskirkja cathedral where someone was playing the pipe organ, and I went to the glacier exhibit in the Perlan museum. Then after two cloudy night, I went on a northern lights tour. We were lucky and got to watch the northern lights for nearly two hours. It was an amazing thing to see. The pictures didn’t really come out, you just have to see them.
Wednesday I went whale watching but we saw no whales. The weather was rainy and cold, and the sea was rough, so I didn’t feel like doing much after that.
Thursday I ventured out into the world, about two hours away from Reykjavik, to see Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, two waterfalls that were near each other. I was able to walk behind Seljalandsfoss, and climb to the top of Skogafoss.
This was Skogafoss:
This was Seljalandsfoss:
It was an easy drive from Reykjavik.
Friday I took a tour of Harpa Concert Hall. It opened in 2011 and was designed so that the acoustics could be changed to reverberate or not depending on the performance. It turns out I had just missed the Iceland Symphony Orchestra perform last night.
During a symphony performance, the red curtains would be raised to expose the wooden panels. It seats 1600-1800 people in different seating configurations and stage sizes. They were setting up for an Ella Fitzgerald performance while we were there. There was also a reverberation room that surrounded the concert hall for extra reverberation if needed.
There were some things I missed in Iceland as well. There were some black sand beaches in Vik, which was close to one of the waterfalls I visited. I didn’t know about it at the time though. There are also glaciers to be seen that I missed, and pretty much everything in the East. I’m off to London tomorrow.