Sunday, October 29, 2017

Chasing Waterfalls in Iceland-Day 1: Geysers and Waterfalls

We have been wanting to go to Iceland for several years and decided if we didn't do it now, we never would. Daughter Sarah joined us and offered to drive which was much appreciated. With the help of Road Trip Iceland, we were provided a detailed itinerary for driving the Ring Road around Iceland, maps, SIM card and vouchers for lodging, a rental car and airport transfer. We began our Icelandic journey on October 8.

We flew into Denver on a warm, 70 degree afternoon and spent the night at a hotel near the airport. The next morning we were greeted by snow! Sarah met us at the airport for our flight to Reykjavik leaving at 5:20 p.m.

On the plane we enjoyed a glass of wine to celebrate the beginning of our adventure.

We didn't sleep much on the seven hour flight but were excited to begin our trip. After a few delays with the rental car agency, we finally got on the road and left the Reykjavik area.

 Thingvellir is a popular stop along the Golden Circle route. It has been a National Park in Iceland since 1930 and was named a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2004. When Viking settlers arrived in the 10th century, they chose this site as the meeting place for the world's oldest parliament.

This is one location where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet and are being pulled apart at a rate of nearly an inch per year.

Next on the Golden Circle we stopped at the active Geysir Hot Spring Area with boiling mud pits, hissing steam vents and and erupting geysers.

 Stokkur (the Churn) geyser goes off every 5 to 10 minutes.

 Gullfoss (Golden Waterfall) was the next stop. In Iceland you know it's a waterfall because Icelandic waterfalls usually end in foss. Gullfoss is located on the Hvita glacier river where it drops 100 feet into a narrow river gorge via two tiers. It's impressive! 

Another view that shows just how massive it is.

All over Iceland you see volcano craters such as these.

 Nearby is Faxi, a smaller but broad waterfall in an area of flat farmland. Notice the fish ladder on the left. 

 Kerid Crater Lake, which is a nearly neon-blue lake sitting in a volcano surrounded by rare red volcanic rock.There was a small entrance fee but it was well worth it.

Arrived at our first night's destination, Hotel Fljotshlid, which is located on a working family farm that includes horses and sheep. Some of the farm's products are used in the hotel's restaurant. 

Love those photogenic Icelandic horses!

 Beautiful sunset from the hotel's driveway with a distant view of Eyjafjallajokull volcano that erupted in 2010 and caused turmoil for the airlines for a while.

The girls were in heaven....cameras and beautiful scenery!

 Enjoyed a delicious dinner at the hotel's restaurant. We had their Special which began with pumpkin soup. We later found out that it included peanut butter. It was delicious.

We devoured the homemade rye bread with Icelandic butter.

The main course was Icelandic cod with potatoes and salad with pepitas.

We didn't forget dessert and had their chocolate cake. Happy tummies!

What a first day in Iceland! We were tired and slept well in our small but immaculate room. 

Coming up next....Day 2....more waterfalls and black beaches!