September 03, 2018
Review about The Best of West and North by Celia & Torben
Hello Fellow Travellers,
It now seems like a dream of our trip to Iceland. We have been home now a few days and have recovered from an unexpected Jet Lag.
We left Maple Ridge via Iceland Air at 4:00 p.m. after enjoying Iceland Air's airport lounge with free food and beverages.
We landed in Reykjavik at 6:00 a.m. (local time) which was too early to check into Hotel. The airport Kerflavik is about a 40 minute drive to the city centre of Reykjavik.
We met our wonderful tour guide Kari at the airport who showed us around town and local sites until we could check into our hotel room.
Now being up for about 40 hours we were wiped. There was an annual party in the square across the street from our Hotel (Centrehotel Plaza) where they had food vendors, music, fireworks and huge crowds so we joined in the fun. On day two we walked around the historic part of Reykjavik enjoying the historic buildings, shops and many bars and restaurants.
After one day of rest Kari drove us around the south area including his home in Arkanes, enjoying the beautiful scenery with stops at Thingvellir Nt'l Park where the Vikings established the first parliament in the world in 930. Our next stop was the geothermal pools around Geysir where Strokkur erupted for our photographic treat amid heavy rains and wind! We stopped at Gullfoss Waterfall where the skies opened up and enjoyed viewing the beautiful falls. We were shown a local Iceland Horse Breeding farm where the trainer gave us a demonstration of the 5 gaits of this magnificent little horse. We stopped the night at Hotel Ranga in Hella, a lovely hotel on a slight hill overlooking barren landscape, mountains and glacier and lovely meandering river behind the hotel.
Our next day we headed for the waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skogarfoss the plunge over 60 meters. Also in this area is Eyjafjallajökull that erupted in 2010 if you recall that closed down many air flights in the world. Beautiful scenery with rugged cliffs, mountains, lava beds, glaciers and black sandy beaches. Our next stop was the small village of Vik where we had an enjoyable stay at hotel Kria. Day 5 we drive to ice lagoon Jokulsarlon, the continue to Glacier Lagoon where dramatic piles of ice jam up at the sea entrance. We took a Zodiac ride to view the glacier up close and toured the lagoon to view the icebergs with a knowledgeable guide at the helm.
Our stay this evening is at the FossHotel in Hnappavellier which is a perfect place near glacier and lagoons. We enjoyed the restaurant and lovely landscape views of the hills and sea under a full orange moon. Very friendly sheep that tapped on the hotel lower window for a treat!
On day 6 we head into the east fjords stopping at the fishing town of Hofn. We continued along the east coast filled with picturesque scenery, farms, waterfalls, sheep, sheep, sheep and Icelandic Horses. Did I mention we saw a lot of sheep and horses. Driving through the fjords allows for great coastal views, inland farms, small villages, farms and long inlets. We stopped at Husavik for the night staying at the Fosshotel. A small fishing village
The next morning we head into Myvatn, Nanafjall, Dimmuborgin and the beautiful falls of Godafoss where a chieftain threw into the waters statues of the Norse gods and took to Christianity. We travel through endless scenes of lava rocks and spectacular rock formations. We stop for the evening at Siglufjord staying at Hotel Siglo that is built out into the harbour. Another lovely hotel with full amenities with views of the fjord and harbour.
Our last distant driving day after leaving Siglufjord we enter a very long tunnel (one of many we have travelled through) to bypass more rugged edges of the sea cliffs. We continue towards Reykjavik on the west side of Iceland. Again travelling through dramatic scenery along the cliffs that seem to slide into the ocean. We are told on a clear day you can see Greenland. Dramatic drop-offs where our driver Kari takes care of one of his charge that isn't too keen on drop-offs! Many sheep and horses continue to grace the countryside with a few braver sheep challenging the vehicle. A long days drive when once at Reykjavik we stop at the airport for Torben to take a helicopter ride with a few others. Great pictures taken by Torben on the countryside and their stop at a remote geothermal geyser area. Our next two nights staying in Reykjavik at the Centrum Hotel located in the centre of town in the historic area. The following day we drive to the waterfalls of Hraunfossar in Husafell. We stopped at a farm where we able to drive down to the sea where we saw 3 seals on the rocks and saw many whale bones along the shore. We found a nice roadside restaurant for much needed lunch.
We leave Reykjavik for the drive to the Blue Lagoon where we are reserved at the Retreat Hotel on blue lagoon. It's a rainy windy day along the Atlantic coast. We stop at a shopping mall that has installed a glass plate floor to display a view of the Tectonic plates that were discovered when the mall was built. We continue our drive to the small towns of Thorlakshofn and Grindavik. We found the most wonderful restaurant overlooking the stormy Atlantic ocean seaside with one of the best seafood soups! Later this day we reach the Blue Lagoon and located the Retreat Hotel. A lavish hotel with private access to multi layered pools of the Blue Lagoon. It was refreshing and relaxing swimming and soaking in these warm mineral rich waters. My first trip into the lagoon was in rainy and windy weather and enjoyed the warm waters under nasty weather. The next few swims were under better conditions including darkening skies making the lagoon more magical.
We enjoyed a nice dinner and another dip into the warm waters. The following morning noticed some clothes missing from an over eager staff that turned down the beds while we were out for dinner. They found my clothes and will mail them to me! I guess the do not disturb sign didn't work! Overall a very interesting place but think the next door hotel Silica may be a more realistic option. The scenery and seclusion at this place was wonderful but not for us. Kari picked us up and slowly drove us to Keflavik Airport for our departure after a nice lunch by a harbour restaurant.
Once at airport we said our goodbyes to our wonderful guide Kari and entered the small airport for our trip home. We stopped at the Icelandair lounge which had self serve food and beverages. We picked up some duty free items and headed for the gates. It was very chaotic as figured out one gate could be used for multiple flights to different destinations and missed any announcement for Vancouver bound passengers but luckily made the last bus out to tarmac and then boarded planes. Icelandair had good service and nice direct flight to Vancouver. Picked up our car at flynpark and drove home and suffered more jet lag!
Our travel log does not cover much of the beauty of this land and what we saw. I normally write our travel log as we go but not this time so many names places may be spelled wrong and so many beautiful wonderful places we saw. We had the most amazing time and very much due to our guide Kari. I am sure on our own we would not have seen as much or learned so much of Iceland's history and folklore. A beautiful country with amazing scenery and people. We met so many nice locals and travellers. Iceland with its population of 349,000 is a unique place to visit and explore. Although a bit expensive (probably the same as Europe cities) so planning would help with costs and using local services where possible would help. Would be happy to share our tour company name with you if interested. It seems easy to get around and wonderful roundabouts to move traffic well. We mostly used charge cards for purchases and tipping is not expected. Kari will not like this but some washrooms at various places may require a small payment to use. I would go back in a heartbeat especially in winter to see the northern lights. Torben not so much as rather be sitting in Arizona or Nevada for the heat but was a good sport. Hopefully the Retreat will return my clothes! We required little cash with us as charge cards used most often.
Wishing you safe travels and love to hear of your travels,
Celia & Torben