Should I call this “How I spent my summer Vacation”? It wasn’t summer yet, and once I was there it really didn’t feel like summer at all.
It all started many months ago when a close friend suggested our destination would be Iceland. The first couple of places I turned to were 500-Pixels and Flickr to see what the place looked like. Fantastic! Then I looked to Geocaching.com to see what the caching was like. This place looked exciting and I set couple of my goals to see the country; it’s sights and to find some geocaches in Þingvellir. In preparation I spent many hours on Google-Earth, zoomed in quite close. That helped me know what to look for, but it didn’t show enough detail, like road names or numbers. So I was left with exploring on my own. That’s not a bad thing. Once we arrived and started a paper map collection, some covering the entire country, others were detailed maps of small districts
She and I were not interested in an organized bus tour, after a little searching we found Farm Holidays and it seemed to fit our desires. They offer a comprehensive list of “Farm House” locations, and car rental. What drew us to them was the freedom to pick the type of accommodations and to set our own itinerary. Many of the “Farm Houses” are hotels with breakfast and on request lunch and dinner.
Then plans changed, two others wanted to come along. and not stay in a “Farm House”. They picked a different tour company, I won’t go into details, but the trip changed into a trip that involved changing hotels everyday, hardly what would be comfortable to a photographer. Then I was inspired. I contacted Farm Holidays and arranged my own small ‘trip’ and car. My trip involved staying with the group for a couple of days in the beginning and end, and spending a few days on my own in the middle. I didn’t get as many good photos as would have liked, but that’s because of the weather – it rained almost every day.
I’d recommend Farm Holidays to anyone that does not want a Bus tour. They were very responsive to all my emails. Remembering that they run on UTC and I’m on EDT (4 hours time difference) If I sent an email before about 10am (EDT) I most likely would have an answer before noon, Otherwise I would have an answer waiting for me when I first checked my email the next morning. And they were quite helpful, I had made a mistake in the dates I needed my rental car, A short email to Farm Holidays resulted in my car rental corrected the next day.
An so we were off.
Leaving Washington Dulles International our first stop was Boston’s Logan Airport for the short overnight flight to Keflavik Airport. Short flight? Going East we gained 4 hours of time.
After the whole group settled into a hotel in Reykjavik, my friend and I went back out he Reykjanes Penninsula to Bláa Lónið (“Blue Lagoon”) where she had a message scheduled. while I located the nearby geocache, and took some photos of the rocks and the lagoon. When she was finished, and we ate lunch at the Cafe there, we headed to Miðlína (The Leif the Lucky) Bridge that spans the Álfagjá rift valley which marks the boundary of the Eurasian and North American continental tectonic plates. Even though the weather wasn’t great, we walked from Europe to North america across the bridge, then down into the valley from the North American side to get the photo of the bridge, the floor of the valley is a very soft, black sand, then along the valley for a few hundred meters and climbed out on the European side. Need I say this was the first of many rainy days?
The next day we headed to Þingvellir – Thingvellir National Park for some Geocaching. on the way we stopped to get some photos of a church high on a hill at Mossfell then the church at Þingvellir.
Þingvellir is a site of historical, cultural, and geological importance and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland. Parliament or Alþingi was established at Þingvellir in 930 and remained there until 1798.
Arriving at Þingvellir, I checked my GPS receiver, a handheld device – not the car’s navigation system. The closest cache was about a quarter mile away, off we went following a well groomed trail down between some rocky walls that also form part of the rift between the Eurasian and North American plates. The first cache was known as
Thingvellir Booth of Nikulas, a relatively easy find. After I signed the log I dropped some Travel Bugs then we continued onward to find two more.
We continued caching, and enjoying the sights and meeting other tourists, one couple from England was vacationing with their son who flew in from Seattle. After eating some cheese crackers and hiking to see some hidden waterfalls – too dark and rainy to get decent photos, we headed to our destination that day – Hotel Hekla, about 5km from Hraunvellir, for a dip in the Hot Tub. That evening the hotel’s restaurant served; Lamb steak (my choice that night), Garlic-Ginger Laid Chicken, and Grilled Monkfish. Over the three nights I spent there I tried each of the entrees, all of them were excellent.
The dining room in Hotel Hekla and the Breakfast Buffet in Hotel Hekla
The next morning the rest of the party departed for their destination of Skaftafell, while I based the next three days here to explore this region. I rejoined them a few days later near Vik, near Dyrhólaey in the Mýrdalur valley. Everybody we met was both friendly and helpful, even the tourists; Australian, German, British, Norwegian, Japanese and of course many from the US. The all spoke English, shame on us for not knowing any of their languages.
I’ll have more photos in later posts.
Disclaimer: I’m only a satisfied customer of Farm Holidays. I don’t have any other connection.