Images of Another Northern Town – Husavik

church, Husavik, Iceland, travel, tourism, Samsung Galaxy, photo

Husavik is certainly not the most visited spot in Iceland as many tourists tend to stick to Reykjavik, the South Shore and the Golden Circle and Husavik lies well in the north.  But, when I visited Iceland last year, we had opted to spend three days in Akureyri, much closer to Husavik.  That was such a great call!  The north was beautiful (Godafoss was awesome) and also a great launching point for some whale watching, which we greatly enjoyed.  We picked a whale watching tour out of Husavik which afforded us the opportunity to, even briefly, see this charming northern town.  Here are some images from our brief time there.

Click on the photo to see it bigger!


 

Images of a Northern Town: Akureyri, Iceland

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Olympus

Akureyri is the largest town in northern Iceland and it sits pretty deep in the Eyjafjörður fjord.  It is exactly at 12 o’clock if the island of Iceland were a clock (which it is not – in case you are wondering).  The town sits tight against the mountains behind it, almost being on the verge of being thrown into the water.

Where we stayed in Akureryi… or across from it

Through airbnb we found a phenomenal house sitting on a hillside directly across the fjord from the town so we got to look at it at night.  Er, in the evening hours in the daylight, since we were down there, er, up there, at the peak of summer when the sun did set, but not deep enough where it got dark (see the last two pictures in the sequence below).

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Olympus

The main “window” of the house we stayed at!

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Olympus

Looking from inside the “main window” across the fjord towards Akureyri – who cleans this window?

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

“Front” of the house I stayed at – and our nice rental vehicle

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Our house looking towards the end of the fjord; see the bridge to town on the right

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Late night in Akureyri in late June

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Late night in Akureyri in late June

My friends’ young girls loved running on the deck of the house and the field around it while we enjoyed sitting out there, soaking the view, with a beverage in hand (perhaps…).

In any case, I digress.  The town is small and is quite charming but is large enough to have a small airport for those who do not want to drive there from Reykjavik – which would be a crime if you skip the drive on the ring road!

Akureyri was a site for Allied forces in WW II which seems quite interesting given it is still a town of under 20,000 yet one that was first settled in the ninth century!  Something must have been right about it to be picked by the Allies during WW II given how far it is from Reykjavík.  You’d think they would have picked somewhere easier to get to.  In fact, Keflavík, where the modern Reykjavík international airport is located, was a U.S. air force base in WW II.

But I digress.  One night, we were wanting to be sure to have a good bottle of wine to have at the house so we rushed into town after we looked online where to buy some.  We knew we were tight on time as we had learned that liquor sales ended soon that day (I think maybe it was at 7PM but can’t recall) so we rushed out with a map on the phone marking where we needed  to go (thanks wifi!).  The drive over was nothing short of spectacular, rushing downhill, crossing the end of the fjord via the short bridge and then driving into town trying to find our way to the store (without wifi or GPS!).  We made it on time, like 10 minutes before it closed.  My friend ran in to get the wine while I stayed in the car – no time to find parking.  I sat there and watched people literally running into the store to make sure they could get their alcohol before liquor sales ended for the day.  People are people no matter what country you are in!!!

So what does Akureyri look like up close?

Alright, here are some images of this very northern town to close up this post…

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Hof Cultural and Conference Center by the waterfront

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Akureyrarkirkja (church)

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Akureyri Junior College

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

The town from the house I stayed at

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

“Downtown”

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

“Downtown”

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

“Downtown”

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

“Downtown”

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

“Downtown”

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Sculpture in the image of a ship

Of pylsur, ice cream and pastries…

And of course, a post here cannot leave out a mention of something food…  Icelanders love their hot dogs or “pylsur”.  They are everywhere.

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy, hot dog, pylsur

They love their hot dogs (“pylsur”)in Iceland!

And, when in Iceland, well, have ice cream!  Brynja is one of the national brands.  We indulged.

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy, Brynja, ice crea,

After the liquor store, we found the ice cream store. Priorities.

And, when everything else fails, go pastries!

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy, foodporn, pastries, bakery, food

Pastries at a local bakery

Akureyri is definitely a place far away but, having spent three days staying there, it is like any other place on earth:  food and drinks matter and, where there are good views and you are in good company, it is all perfect!  Even if my family is only with me on a photo 🙂

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Olympus

My family always travels with me…

——– More on Iceland ——–

My itinerary for my week visit to Iceland

A stroll around Reykjavik

Hallgrímskirkja Church in Reykjavik

Þingvellir:  Where History and Nature Meet in Iceland!

The Blue Lagoon

Goðafoss:  The Waterfalls of the Gods

Whale Watching in Iceland

Iceland’s South Shore:  The Dyrhólaey Peninsula and Vik

Postcards from Iceland:  Dalvík

Goðafoss: The Waterfalls of the Gods and Water Art

Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

Goðafoss, (“Godafoss” for ease of my typing!), or “Waterfall of the Gods“, is one of the must-see waterfalls in Iceland.  The Godafoss waterfalls are about 36 ft high (12 m) and are located at the Skjálfandafljót River.  It is located somewhere between the northern towns of Akureyri and Husavik.  More precisely, it is on the ring road going east from Akureryi, right after the road to Husavik branches off (route 85).  The story goes that a key Icelandic chieftain in the year 1,000 AD was trying to decide whether Icelanders would adopt Christianity.  After deciding in the affirmative, he returned home and threw his images of the pre-Christianity pagan gods into the waterfall and, hence, the name for the waterfalls.

Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

The waterfall from the highway

The water was gushing generously, as one would expect a proper waterfall would do.  Perhaps this time in June was still a time of heavy melt?

Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

Fast-flowing!

Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

Yours truly

Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

Looking from the waterfall back towards the road along one of the trails

Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

Majestic!

Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

The main part of the waterfall

Not only was the waterfall impressive but the flow over the one closest to me drew my eye as the following pictures attest… I need to figure out how to turn some of these into neat art pieces for my home!Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, waterGodafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, waterGodafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water Godafoss, Iceland, waterfall, travel, photo, water

 

Can’t Beat Whale Watching in Iceland!

Iceland, sea, whale watching, Husavik, minke, humpback, whale,Canon EOS Rebel

A trip to Iceland without whale watching would just be missing something – it would just be wrong.  Therefore, on my trip to there last summer, whale watching was part of the agenda though, initially, I was not sure it was my top priority (I was wrong!).  As we were going to spend time up north (in Akureyri), we had easy access to a larger fishing town called Husavik, purportedly, one of the best places to whale watch in Europe.

We drive over there to catch a morning boat and spent a good three hours spotting minke and humpback whales.  We did not see any blue whales.  The morning started slow as we were crossing the bay but, once we were more in open sea (still not far from land as you can see in the pictures), that’s when the show began (and don’t miss the photos of the scenery at the end!).Iceland, sea, boat, whale watching, Husavik, minke, humpback, whale,Canon EOS Rebel

It was fun to see the whales come up for air a few times and then go down for minutes before re-appearing elsewhere.  As you can imagine, there is not just one boat out there so there is a little bit of watching what the other boats are doing as the boats give chase to the whales (or, rather, where they think the whales will re-surface).  We had good luck (and/or a good crew) because we got close enough to these giants.

Here is a sequence of one of the whales:

Iceland, sea, whale watching, Husavik, minke, humpback, whale,Canon EOS Rebel Iceland, sea, whale watching, Husavik, minke, humpback, whale,Canon EOS Rebel Iceland, sea, whale watching, Husavik, minke, humpback, whale,Canon EOS Rebel Iceland, sea, whale watching, Husavik, minke, humpback, whale,Canon EOS Rebel Iceland, sea, whale watching, Husavik, minke, humpback, whale,Canon EOS Rebel

And another sequence with the whale blowing through the hole:

Iceland, sea, whale watching, Husavik, minke, humpback, whale,Canon EOS Rebel Iceland, sea, whale watching, Husavik, minke, humpback, whale,Canon EOS Rebel Iceland, sea, whale watching, Husavik, minke, humpback, whale,Canon EOS Rebel

Finally, on the sequences, one that shows how close the boats get to the whales (or, is it the whales to the boats??):

Iceland, sea, whale watching, Husavik, minke, humpback, whale,Canon EOS Rebel Iceland, sea, whale watching, Husavik, minke, humpback, whale,Canon EOS Rebel Iceland, sea, whale watching, Husavik, minke, humpback, whale,Canon EOS Rebel Iceland, sea, whale watching, Husavik, minke, humpback, whale,Canon EOS Rebel Iceland, sea, whale watching, Husavik, minke, humpback, whale,Canon EOS Rebel

Of course, the magic is done mostly by the crew as this picture shows:

Iceland, sea, whale watching, Husavik, ship, boat, Canon EOS Rebel

The lookouts

Not only was the whale spotting and watching great fun but the scenery was breathtaking too.Iceland, sea, whale watching, Husavik, flag, Olympus, blue sky Iceland, sea, whale watching, Husavik, ship, boat, Canon EOS Rebel Iceland, sea, whale watching, Husavik, ship, boat, Canon EOS Rebel

A few tips

  • It may be cold/windy so go ready.  Additionally, wearing something waterproof would be a good idea though we did not get wet.  Some boats will give you a jacket (notice the pictures with people on a given boat wearing the same color!).
  • If things go well, you will be close enough to the whales with a regular camera but a moderate zoom can be helpful.  The zoom built-in into regular cameras will do the trick.
  • Bring a snack if you think you will get hungry in the three hours.  At the end of our tour, they passed hot chocolate around which was nice.
  • Don’t stress over getting a “great” spot on the boat.  There should be plenty of good sight lines during the tour.
  • We did not experience any rough seas or anything that could really make us seasick – the waters were calm.  However, there is no telling how the seas may vary due to weather or month so check ahead and go prepared if you  tend to feel seasick.

So, pretty neat tour – I highly recommend it!!

——– More on Iceland ——–

My itinerary for my week visit to Iceland

A stroll around Reykjavik

Hallgrímskirkja Church in Reykjavik

Þingvellir:  Where History and Nature Meet in Iceland!

The Blue Lagoon

Goðafoss:  The Waterfalls of the Gods

A Northern Town:  Akureyri

Iceland’s South Shore:  The Dyrhólaey Peninsula and Vik

Postcards from Iceland:  Dalvík

Iceland’s South Shore: The Dyrhólaey Peninsula and Vik

Dyrholaey, peninsula, Atlantic Ocean, Iceland, south shore, black sand, basalt,beach,travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

The south shore of Iceland is a popular route for visitors to the island.   One can do a day trek from Reykjavik (though, arguably, a long day) to see the major sights along the ring road on the south (e.g., waterfalls, glaciers, black sandy beaches).  The south shore deserves more than one write-up so I will separate into the waterfalls, the Myrdalsjökull glacier, and the Dyrhólaey peninsula – Vik area.  Here, I want to share some of the views from the latter, the Dyrhólaey peninsula and Vik, just a short distance east of the peninsula, where our day trip ended before returning to Reykjavik.

Vik

I will start with Vik, since it is a small place to talk about.  Vik means “bay” in Icelandic hence why many towns on the island end in “vik” (Reykjavik, Dalvik, Husavik).  It is the southernmost town in Iceland.  When I read about Vik, it is called a village – it has less than 300 so “village” seems appropriate.  Be its size as it may, it is a scenic spot for sure, even if the time of day I visited was not the ideal light for great pictures (I wish I had been there at sunset though that was likely around midnight!).  The basalt rock stacks or towers coming out from the ocean (go straight south and you will not hit land until Antarctica!) are quite impressive.

Vik, Iceland, village, church, scenic, landscape, photo, travel, Canon EOS Rebel

Church in Vik

Vik, Iceland, village, scenic, landscape, photo, travel, Canon EOS Rebel

Beautiful fields of purple

Vik, Iceland, village, scenic, landscape, photo, travel, Canon EOS Rebel

These recall turf houses even if it is not turf on their roofs; note the layers of rock behind them!

Vik, Iceland, village, flowers, scenic, landscape, photo, travel, Canon EOS Rebel

Isn’t this an incredible sight??!! Basalt rock spires in the water.

The Dyhólaey nature reserve

Dyhólaey was declared a nature reserve in 1978.  This covered not only the landscape but the incredible wildlife there, mostly birds I assume.  We saw plenty of cliff birds perching right along the edge of the cliff and then flying off.  The contrast of the white feathers and the black sands below was pretty neat to see.  The black sands are definitely a reminder of the impact of volcanic activity in Iceland, especially in the south of the island.Dyrholaey, peninsula, Atlantic Ocean, Iceland, south shore, black sand, beach,travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel Dyrholaey, peninsula, Atlantic Ocean, Iceland, south shore, black sand, beach,travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel Dyrholaey, peninsula, Atlantic Ocean, Iceland, south shore, black sand, beach,travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Dyrholaey, peninsula, Atlantic Ocean, Iceland, south shore, cliff bird,travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

These birds are a sight to see as they fly to and from the cliffs.

There is a lighthouse at the top of the peninsula, one of two structures there (the other seems abandoned, maybe a former residence for the lighthouse keeper?).  The lighthouse dates from 1910.  I am not sure but I suspect no one lives in the property any more.Dyrholaey, peninsula, Atlantic Ocean, Iceland, south shore, travel, photo, lighthouse, Canon EOS Rebel Dyrholaey, peninsula, Atlantic Ocean, Iceland, south shore, travel, photo, lighthouse, Canon EOS Rebel

One can walk down to the beach right at the base of the peninsula where the black sands and smooth small rocks are right at your fingertips.Dyrholaey, peninsula, Atlantic Ocean, Iceland, black sand, lava rocks, volcanic, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel Dyrholaey, peninsula, Atlantic Ocean, Iceland, black sand, lava rocks, volcanic, travel, photo, Olympus Dyrholaey, peninsula, Atlantic Ocean, Iceland, black sand, lava rocks, volcanic, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel Dyrholaey, peninsula, Atlantic Ocean, Iceland, black sand, lava rocks, volcanic, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

As you can see the views from the top of the cliff are spectacular and worth admiring – definitely worth the drive over.

Dyrholaey, peninsula, Atlantic Ocean, Iceland, south shore, black sand, basalt,beach,travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Love this lonely stack of basalt

Dyrholaey, peninsula, Atlantic Ocean, Iceland, south shore, black sand, basalt,beach,travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

An arch that reminds me of the 12 Apostles in Australia

Dyrholaey, peninsula, Atlantic Ocean, Iceland, south shore, black sand, glacier, volcano, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Looking inland to the glaciers and volcanoes

Dyrholaey, peninsula, Atlantic Ocean, Iceland, south shore, black sand, basalt,beach,travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Dyrholaey, peninsula, Atlantic Ocean, Iceland, south shore, black sand, basalt,beach,travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

I agree – the vista is worth soaking it!

 

——– More on Iceland ——–

My itinerary for my week visit to Iceland

A stroll around Reykjavik

Hallgrímskirkja Church in Reykjavik

Þingvellir:  Where History and Nature Meet in Iceland!

The Blue Lagoon

Goðafoss:  The Waterfalls of the Gods

A Northern Town:  Akureyri

Whale Watching

Postcards from Iceland:  Dalvík

Hallgrímskirkja Church: The Young Icon of Reykjavik

Hallgrimskirkja, church, Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, design, views, Olympus, travel, photo

Hallgrímskirkja Church in the heart of Reykjavik is a “young” building.  It was completed in 1986 but took close to 40 years to erect.  Its design, driving up in a pointed way to the sky with its tower, reflects on the landscape of the island country with its lava flows.  The structure is not the tallest structure in Iceland but is the tallest church.  Though young, it has become the icon of the city due to its highly visible profile and unique architecture.

Hallgrimskirkja, church, Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, design, views, Olympus, travel, photo

Approaching the church from the back, on a slightly gray day

Outside, you can admire the structure from up close which allows for any number of neat pictures from different perspectives.  Outside you can also admire the statue to Leif Erikson, allegedly, the first European to reach North America (I mean, who knows if another Viking got there before him?!).  Interestingly, the statue pre-dates the church as it was given by the U.S. to Iceland in 1930 to commemorate the 1,000th anniversary of the establishment of Iceland’s Parliament at Þingvellir.

Hallgrimskirkja, church, Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, design, views, Olympus, travel, photo

The statue of Leif Erikson in front of the facade of the church

Hallgrimskirkja, church, Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, design, views, Canon EOS Rebel, travel, photo

Close up of Mr. Erikson – and the clock tower

Hallgrimskirkja, church, Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, design, views, Canon EOS Rebel, travel, photo

A visitor and Mr. Erikson meet – as seen from the clock tower

Hallgrimskirkja, church, Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, design, views, Canon EOS Rebel, travel, photo

The inscription that describes the gift from the U.S. of the statue on 1930

Hallgrimskirkja, church, Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, design, views, Canon EOS Rebel, travel, photo

A visitor takes advantage of the statue’s base for a shot of the church

We went inside and, as many Protestant churches, the interior was plain.  I assume the more so to help the faithful focus on God.  Being a tourist-visited site, of course, removes some of that aura but, at the time I visited, there was an organist playing (or maybe just practicing?) which drew attention to the pipe organ at the back of the church.Hallgrimskirkja, church, Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, design, views, Canon EOS Rebel, travel, photo Hallgrimskirkja,pipe organ, church, Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, design, views, Canon EOS Rebel, travel, photo

My favorite part is the observation deck at the top of the church tower.  As usual, when it is available, I always go up to gain a birds-eye view of the places I visit.  This deck did not disappoint as it helped frame the city of Reykjavik within its setting, hugged by mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.  I leave you with some of the views I enjoyed from up high in Hallgrímskirkja!

Hallgrimskirkja, church, Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, design, views, Canon EOS Rebel, travel, photo

Detail of the roof above the altar area

Hallgrimskirkja, church, Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, design, views, Canon EOS Rebel, travel, photo

View of the neighborhood by the church

Hallgrimskirkja, church, Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, design, views, Olympus, travel, photo

Looking towards the area where our apartment was

Hallgrimskirkja, church, Reykjavik, Iceland, Pearl, architecture, design, views, Canon EOS Rebel, travel, photo

The Pearl Observatory (and restaurant)

Hallgrimskirkja, church, Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, design, views, Canon EOS Rebel, travel, photo

View a little further away from the church

Hallgrimskirkja, church, Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, design, views, Canon EOS Rebel, travel, photo

Looking now further away from the city center

Hallgrimskirkja, church, Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, design, views, Canon EOS Rebel, travel, photo

Looking further away in another direction

Hallgrimskirkja, church, Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, design, views, Olympus, travel, photo

And now in another direction!

A Stroll around Reykjavik

Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, travel, street, red, Samsung Galaxy

One of the pluses of going to Iceland, besides witnessing the magnificent statement nature makes there, is enjoying visiting somewhere that is manageable in size.  One can cross the island in one day from coast to coast thanks for a great ring road that is in pretty good condition (especially, when one considers the climate).  Another pleasant aspect of it being of manageable size is that its capital, Reykjavik, is quite approachable and easily explored on foot – perfect for a stroll to discover!

Pedestrian friendly areas

With a population of about 125,000, traffic in this city is not a problem; one can easily walk around, cross streets, etc.

Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, travel, street, red, Samsung Galaxy

Walking around Reykjavik is delightful

Reykjavik, Iceland, architecture, travel, street, lone biker, Canon EOS Rebel

Plenty of road space for bicyclists

But Reykjavik has in its city center a nice pedestrian street, Laugavegur.  Shops of every kind and a few eateries can be found in this street.  We actually stayed right off it in an apartment we rented on Vatnsstigur – a perfect spot central to everything.

Reykjavik, Iceland, street scene, travel, pedestrian street, Laugavegur, Hallgrimskirkja, church, tower,Olympus

Hallgrímskirkja Church as seen from Laugavegur street

Reykjavik, Iceland, street scene, travel, pedestrian street, Laugavegur, Canon EOS Rebel

Laugavegur is a fun street to walk about!

Reykjavik, Iceland, street scene, travel, pedestrian street, street art, bicycle, blue,Laugavegur, Olympus

Neat way to close up the street to cars!

Reykjavik, Iceland, street scene, travel, pedestrian street, Laugavegur, Canon EOS Rebel

Looking from one end of Laugavegur – it was a nice “warm” day!

The Old Harbor (which still functions as a harbor for fishermen, etc.) is a place with great seafood restaurants (also has a Viking museum and other places of interest).  The one I went to was not fancy at all but it served OUTSTANDING fresh seafood.

Reykjavik, Iceland, Old Harbor, seafood, fishing, travel, photo, map, Olympus

The Old Harbor has been re-vitalized and it’s a great spot for dining.

Reykjavik, Iceland, Old Harbor, seafood, fishing, travel, photo, Olympus

One of the many restaurants in the Old Harbor

Interesting architecture

I found the town to be quite charming even if I cannot say its architecture is overwhelmingly incredible.  The type and materials of construction, of course, are designed to deal with the climate the town experiences.  But, some of the designs are pretty neat visually, to my untrained eye at least.

Reykjavik, Iceland, buildings, construction, color, architecture, travel, photo, Olympus

Corner door AND sharp color contrast – my kind of place!

Reykjavik, Iceland, buildings, construction, color, architecture, travel, photo, Olympus

Nice contrast between these two neighbors

Reykjavik, Iceland, buildings, construction, color, architecture, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

A propos of it being a seaside city

Reykjavik, Iceland, buildings, construction, color, architecture, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Nice contrast between the exterior wall and the window frames

Reykjavik, Iceland, buildings, construction, color, architecture, travel, photo, Olympus

Simple is also OK

Reykjavik, Iceland, buildings, construction, color, architecture, travel, photo, Olympus

Typical corner door and “cut-out” above

Reykjavik, Iceland, buildings, construction, color, architecture, travel, photo, Olympus

The picket fence is a nice touch

Reykjavik, Iceland, buildings, construction, color, architecture, travel, photo, Olympus

My favorite corner door and “cut-out”

Reykjavik, Iceland, buildings, construction, color, architecture, travel, photo, Olympus

Don’t forget to look up!

Reykjavik, Iceland, buildings, construction, color, architecture, travel, photo, Olympus

Sharp color contrast

And food along the way

A stroll around Reykjavik is NOT complete without having an Icelandic hot dog.

Reykjavik, Iceland, hot dog, cart, travel, food, photo

One of the many hot dog carts around

There is more to see in Reykjavik, of course, like Hallgrímskirkja Church, museums, etc.  But, start with a stroll like this and you will love this northern town too!

————————————————————————————————————–

Read and see more about my trip to Iceland:

  • Thingvellir (or “Þingvellir” in local alphabet) – where history and nature meet
  • A “post card” from northern Dalvik
  • The Blue Lagoon – where is Brooke Shields?
  • Our week-long itinerary

Postcards from Iceland: Dalvík

Dalvik, Dalvík, Iceland, fjord, Eyjafjordur, fishing town, mountains, boats, churches, Canon EOS Rebel, photo, travel

Dalvík, in the north of Iceland right at around 12 o’clock, is a small town of about 1,400 inhabitants on the western side of the Eyjafjörður fjord.  We drove through this fishing town on the way to our base in Akureyri as we rounded the peninsula where Dalvík sits on route 76 going east after visiting Hólar earlier that day.  Route 76 is not part of the famous ring road.  It is a very scenic road hugging the coastline and passing through a couple of charming small towns (Siglufjörður and Olafsfjörður) – a drive I would recommend.

We enjoyed some of the views around Dalvík and here I share some of my favorites.  What do these images remind you of?

Dalvik, Dalvík, Iceland, fjord, Eyjafjordur, fishing town, mountains, boats, churches, Canon EOS Rebel, photo, travel

Incredible landscape around Dalvík and across Eyjafjordur.

Dalvik, Dalvík, Iceland, fjord, Eyjafjordur, fishing town, mountains, boats, churches, Canon EOS Rebel, photo, travel

Dalvik, Dalvík, Iceland, fjord, Eyjafjordur, fishing town, mountains, boats, churches, Canon EOS Rebel, photo, travel

Fishing and fish processing are the key industries in Dalvík

Dalvik, Dalvík, Iceland, fjord, Eyjafjordur, Dalvíkurkirkja, fishing town, mountains, boats, churches, Canon EOS Rebel, photo, travel

Beautiful church (Dalvíkurkirkja) that must almost get lost in winter with it being white!

 

Dalvik, Dalvík, Iceland, fjord, Eyjafjordur, fishing town, mountains, boats, churches, Canon EOS Rebel, photo, travel

What seemed to be the main church stands out well against the mountains around the town

 

——– More on Iceland ——–

My itinerary for my week visit to Iceland

A stroll around Reykjavik

Hallgrímskirkja Church in Reykjavik

Þingvellir:  Where History and Nature Meet in Iceland!

The Blue Lagoon

Goðafoss:  The Waterfalls of the Gods

A Northern Town:  Akureyri

Whale Watching

Iceland’s South Shore:  The Dyrhólaey Peninsula and Vik

Þingvellir: Where History and Nature Meet in Iceland!

Þingvellir, Parliament, Iceland, Golden Circle, history, signficant, travel, photo, nature

One of the key stops along the Golden Circle in Iceland (a nice day trip from Reykjavik) is Þingvellir (or “Thingvellir”, as the first letter is a “th”-ish sound), in the Þingvellir National Park.  It is a site of great importance both because of historic and geological reasons.  It was here than in the 10th century, Iceland’s parliament was set up less than 100 years after the island was populated by settlers from what is Norway today  And it stayed there until the very end of the 18th century!  Setting up this parliament was key in creating a unique Icelandic sense of nation.

The park is also the home of the largest lake in Iceland and it contains the crest of the rift valley in the mid-Atlantic.  As you walk in down a paved path, a large cliff wall on your left frames the scene.  It is an imposing wall!

Þingvellir, Parliament, Iceland, Golden Circle, history, signficant, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

As you walk down on it, you are shown to the spot where parliament was founded.  It is barely noticeable except for the flag pole and the framing put in place on the actual site – oh, and all the tourists!

Þingvellir, Parliament, Iceland, Golden Circle, history, signficant, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

See the flagpole in the distance?

Standing on the spot gives one a great view down to the valley.  But walk down to the water, perhaps the church and admire the cliff walls from below.

Þingvellir, Parliament, Iceland, Golden Circle, history, signficant, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Looking up to the site of the first parliament!

Þingvellir, Parliament, Iceland, Golden Circle, history, signficant, travel, photo, church

Church below the parliament site

But stop and admire the natural beauty of the site!Þingvellir, Parliament, Iceland, Golden Circle, history, signficant, travel, photo, nature

Þingvellir, Parliament, Iceland, Golden Circle, history, signficant, travel, photo, nature

Awesome land!

Þingvellir, Parliament, Iceland, Golden Circle, history, signficant, travel, photo, nature

Beautiful!

Þingvellir, Parliament, Iceland, Golden Circle, history, signficant, travel, photo, nature, lava, rocks

The strata of lava point to the incredible geological uniqueness of Iceland

It was one of the first “sights” I visited in Iceland (after the Blue Lagoon) and it definitely help frame the country for me by marrying its history with its incredible landscapes!

——– More on Iceland ——–

My itinerary for my week visit to Iceland

A stroll around Reykjavik

Hallgrímskirkja Church in Reykjavik

Postcards from Iceland:  Dalvík

The Blue Lagoon

Goðafoss:  The Waterfalls of the Gods

A Northern Town:  Akureyri

Whale Watching

Iceland’s South Shore:  The Dyrhólaey Peninsula and Vik

 

Iceland, Where Is Brooke Shields??

Blue Lagoon, Iceland, Reykjavik, geothermal, water, fun, travel, photo, Olympus

When planning our trip to Iceland, we decided that because the Blue Lagoon was on the way from the airport to Reykjavik that it would make a lot of sense to stop there after landing as a way to relax after a not-long-enough overnight flight (and a long layover in JFK).Blue Lagoon, Iceland, Reykjavik, geothermal, water, fun, travel, photo

Getting there

So after landing in Reykjavik, we found the bus that takes passengers to the Blue Lagoon (along with all the luggage), right outside of arrivals – you can’t miss it once you walk outside!   There are buses that go to the Blue Lagoon and others that go into Reykjavik.  Just look at the buses or ask!  Folks are very helpful.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland, Reykjavik, geothermal, water, fun, travel, photo

The arrivals area at the Keflavik airport

Blue Lagoon, Iceland, Reykjavik, geothermal, water, fun, travel, photo

Right across from that arrival area, you see the buses

Once you get to the Blue Lagoon, right by where the buses drop you off, is a storage room where you can leave your luggage (for a price).  You can bring a bag in to the changing room and there are lockers there but they are small.  We packed the bathing suit, a change of clothes and some toiletries in the smaller bag.  There was a little of a wait to get in as the place was full and they control how many people will be in at once (which I take it as a good thing).

In the changing area they clearly ask that everyone shower without clothing on BEFORE getting into the lagoon.  I assume it is for hygiene reasons but it seems most people ignore that…

The lagoon – minus Brooke Shields

Though it was a little cold that morning, the moment you step into the lagoon (which is sort of a light baby blue) you begin to warm up.  The lagoon is quite large and you can remain close to the area where you drop your towel/lounge or you can go further away to areas that are much more quite on the opposite side.  That day love apparently was in the air as there were many couples on that opposite side…  You can also hunt down the areas where the hot water comes in if you want the temperature a little hotter.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland, Reykjavik, geothermal, water, fun, travel, photo, Olympus

Beautiful waters and landscape

Conveniently (probably for all the British youth that may visit), there is a corner of the lagoon with an in-water bar area for those who want their drink on while in the lagoon.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland, Reykjavik, geothermal, water, fun, travel, photo, Olympus

The bar scene

Once in the lagoon, you can go to a couple of spots to find the local white-ish mud to put on you to rejuvenate your skin.  Though always uncertain about the effectiveness of such muds, I partook.  Clearly, not a flattering look but I look 18 years younger.  Well worth the embarrassing look captured below!

Blue Lagoon, Iceland, Reykjavik, geothermal, water, fun, travel, photo, mud, travel with children

The muddy faces blend well with the steamy air of the lagoon!

Oh, and it is worth saying that kids enjoy the lagoon too as you can see above!  But be sure to put the arm floaties because, even if they know how to swim, the waters are not clear so if a child goes under, they are unlikely to be seen.  No need to ask for trouble!

So, despite the similarly-named film, there was no Brooke Shields anywhere that I could tell.  If you go and you spot her, please let me know!  Otherwise, know that this is a great first stop to make after landing in Iceland from a red eye flight – it will help you recover some from the jet lag and lack of sleep, even if a bit on the touristy side!

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Read and see more about my trip to Iceland:

  • Thingvellir (or “Þingvellir” in local alphabet) – where history and nature meet
  • A “post card” from northern Dalvik
  • Our week-long itinerary

A Week in Iceland – Our Itinerary

Gullfoss waterfall, Iceland', Golden Circle, nature, water, sight, sightseeing, must-see

A week in Iceland comes to a close.  I am sitting at the airport (to which I got way too early even though just about over 2 hours ahead of flight time) trying to figure out what I will be writing about and, more importantly, how I will be describing in.

Before I get on to sharing my experiences, I’d thought I’d start with a simple post about the agenda for the week.  Those of you who follow the ilivetoravel Facebook page have seen some of the sights I have seen but maybe without the overall context for the photos (go click Like on it if you have not done so yet; I post real-time there during the trips!).  I hope this post provides that context while I craft the stories that made up my full but short one week in Iceland…  So here the overall itinerary of what we covered; later on, I will add the links to each as I write about them.  This post will be short on photos so I can issue it faster but, never fear, I will be sharing tons of the great vistas in this country!

Day 1 – Arrival to Iceland

On the day of arrival, the plan was to make our way to our apartment in Reykjavik but first making a stop in the Blue Lagoon to recover a little bit from the lack of sufficient sleep and rest.  We figured this is a must-see even if touristy so we could achieve both aims (recovery and sightseeing) in one brilliant stroke.  More on the Blue Lagoon here!

One of my travel companions has an Icelandic great-grandmother so part of the trip would be about finding her roots.  On the first day, we had been invited to a BBQ at her second or third, removed or not, cousins she had never met.  So that was the plan for the evening.

Day 2 – Go around the Golden Circle

Our plan consisted of using Reykjavik as a base to see some key places before heading north, to the land of my friend’s ancestors.  The first of this was the Golden Circle – a route that covers some very important places in Icelandic history and natural beauty.  One of the most important places on the Circle is Þingvellir, where Iceland’s first Parliament was established..  We planned to use a tour company for this to ease our workload before the trip (i.e., researching exact;y what all we had to hit) and then doing all the driving to hit those places.  It was a good choice!

Gullfoss waterfall,  Iceland', Golden Circle, nature, water, sight, sightseeing, must-see

Gullfoss waterfall in Iceland’s Golden Circle

Day 3 – Go south and meet the bad boy – Eyjafjallajokull volcano

Using the same logic as for day 2, we opted for the same small tour operator to do the South Shore.  We lucked out with the company we chose as they were very flexible and being a small tour, he could offer extra things or changes to the itinerary based on the weather that day.  We went to the southernmost point in the island, drove past two volcanoes, visited the black sand beaches, and visited two beautiful waterfalls:  Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss.

Day 4 – Head north young man.  And another man, and a woman and two young girls

On day 4, we undertook the approximately 5 hour drive to our home base in the north of Iceland:  Akureyri, the second most important city in the country after the capital.   We looked forward to seeing the landscape along the way and contrasting it with the landscape of the south shore as we were told there would be a noticeable difference.

The house we rented for 3 days sat across the fjord from Akureyri and sported a large frontal window (I posted a couple of photos in Facebook).  It was a neat place to stay – you almost did not want to leave it!

Day 5 – Exploring family history in the great Icelandic north

Day 5 was reserved for visiting areas where my friend’s family had history, likely areas most tourists don’t see if they are just sticking to doing the ring road.  While the ring road is great to explore, areas off it are more pristine, if that is the right word.  So we visited small towns, like Dalvik (which seemed almost Alpine), and got to drive the northern rugged coastline, way off the ring road – it was awesome and more to come on this for sure!

Day 6 – A whale of a time

While in Iceland, whale watching is a must and we planned to join a whale watching tour in Husavik.  The waters were very calm and it was very pleasant.  More on this later.  We also knew we wanted to see the important Godafoss waterfalls which sit conveniently by the ring road.  Then we went for a hunt for the best ice cream in Iceland at Brynja in Akureyri.

Husavik, Iceland, whale watching tour, sea, boats

The harbor of Husavik, the whaling capital of Iceland

Day 7 – The start of going home

On this day we planned to backtrack to Reykjavik as trying to head back continuing the clockwise direction would take WAY too long.  We planned to stay near the airport so we could return the car, save money, and have an easy time the next morning getting five of us to the airport on time.  But we started the day walking around Akureyri before hitting the road – a town I liked a lot.

So this is a BROAD sketch of the itinerary.  The details of each story are yet to come – stay tuned!!!  (Subscribe to the blog so you can be notified when a new post comes out!)

Summer Vacation Is Almost Here!

map, Iceland, Reykjavik, Akureyri, travel

This summer, I finally get to take a real vacation, not just a couple of days of here or there.  Actually, I get to take TWO real vacations!  The two vacations came about differently and it was certainly hard to plan them as I did not control when one of them took place and the other had to be coordinated with other people’s schedule.

The great cold and outworldly:  Iceland

The first vacation will be to Iceland, my first time visiting this unique land sitting astride an incredibly active piece of Earth (who remembers the volcano-whose-name-cannot-be-said-because-it-is-too-hard?).  Friends of mine were planning to go and invited me to come along with them and their two young daughters.  One of the parents has an Icelandic ancestor and has been doing research so part of the trip will be to visit the rural areas of her ancestors.  This is likely unlike what the normal tourist goes to do in Iceland and that is precisely what I think makes it a great opportunity for me to travel.  Of course, we will try to hit the major unique features of the island that make a visit there so neat (waterfalls, volcanoes, hot springs, fjords).

Upon landing, we plan to hit the Blue Lagoon hoping it will help some with jetlag (we have a 6-hr layover in JFK… remember, with two young girls aged 4 and 7…).  We will then spend some days anchored in Reykjavik but hopefully doing the Golden Circle and perhaps a day trip to the south part of the island.

After those three days we will drive clockwise on the ring road to the town of Akureyri.  We have rented a house across the “bay” from it with spectacular views.  We already see ourselves in the hot tub with a bottle of wine soaking in the late Icelandic summer day…  We will use this as a base to explore the northern part of the island and the area where my friend’s ancestors lived in.map, Iceland, Reykjavik, Akureyri, travel

Trekking with a purpose:  the Camino de Santiago and Morocco

Right after returning from Iceland, I will go on the second vacation of my summer.  This one is a special one as I will be doing 7 days of the Camino de Santiago with Trekking for Kids in order to help street and at-risk children in Morocco (I went with this organization to hike in Romania and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro).

The trip will begin by going to Morocco and spending a few days at the center that we will fundraise for (each trekker raises money that will go 100% to the projects we will fund at the center).  I have never been to Morocco and though I will not be officially “touristing,” I like that I will experience some of Morocco in such a unique way.  We will then fly to Madrid and train it to León from which we will begin our trek in the Camino.  I have wanted to do the Camino ever since a friend did it many years ago (though I am not sure I would want to do the route starting at the Pyrenees). So this trek is perfect as it will be about 7 days’ worth of walking.  A good bit of that walking will be in the area of Galicia where some of my ancestors come from so walking through it will be special in that way for me.

I have been to Santiago de Compostela before but look forward to the experience of arriving there by foot, as many have done since the Middle Ages, and getting my “Compostela.”

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I am very much looking forward to my vacations, long overdue.  One thing I will say before I conclude here is to urge you to consider doing a trek with Trekking for Kids – it will be a unique experience as the fact that many trekkers (like me) keep returning for other treks!  Check out the upcoming treks to Kilimanjaro, Jordan, and Patagonia here.

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