This trip has been on the bucket list since 2010 when the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull deferred not only my plans but the travel plans of millions of Europeans.
So it was great to set off at last for Reykjavik. Current crisis of staffing in Dublin airport and the ensuing queues at Departure however almost scuppered the plan again!!!!!!
The famous Blue Lagoon was our first port of call. The bright blue milky waters appear a bit surreal set in a wasteland of lava. But the magic of lazing for 2 hours in the steaming waters, treating ourselves to a silica facial mask and followed by Icelandic beer would have to be experienced. We emerged feeling (if not looking) 10 years younger.
Day 2 started with a bus tour of Reykjavic. Lena our guide was a softspoken lady who gave us “just the right amount” of information. Reykjavic is not a big city and initially looks so modern (like our financial centre). Many of the older buildings are hidden between the large glass structures of today. The Perlan, on a hill just outside the city centre provided a panoramic view of the city and also showed us the importance of outdoor activitiy is to the residents. There are walking and cycling tracks all round the hill.
From there we hit down to the bay to see another important aspect of life here- the sea. The Solfár or Sun Voyager is a large steel sculpture which although somewhat similar to a Viking ship has no connection at all. Jón Gunner Árnason vision for this work was to represent “a dream of hope, progress and freedom”.
Nearby, is a another tribute to freedom, Hofoi House, where Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan signed the treaty in 1986 that ended the Cold War.
The Harpa, Reykjavik’s Concert Hall is also situated on the bay. It is a massive glass structure that reflects life around it. It’s lit up at night in a rainbow of colours. (Electricity and hot water are very cheap commodities here.)
Our last port of call was the Tjornin, or ‘pond’ as Lena called it – maybe meaning it as ‘lake’. We walked through City Hall, passing some statues of ladies who featured strongly in Iceland’s history.
Free to roam for the afternoon, we feasted on FRESH fish and chips (delicious) visited the Flea Market and finished up in FlyOver Iceland Experience – a fantastic experience: a digital story about trolls and the geological history of Iceland before the wildest simulated ride over the stunning Icelandic landscape – I could certainly repeat it, keeping eyes open more often, second time around!!!
Geysir Hot Springs – the original Geysir which gave the name to all hot springs around the world, is now inactive but is well represented by a newer blow hole, Strokkur, which treats visitors to an eruption every 7 minutes or so. We were treated to three quick eruptions (“wow” factor especially after some travelling companions’ criticisms). We almost missed Littl Geysir. a slushy, bubbling mud pool by the path.
Gullfoss Waterfall- this water fall is supposed to be spectacular at any time of the year but especially during the Spring melt. And it certainly was. A Dam had been planned for this river but a feisty lady, Sigridur Tómasdottir, campaigned very successfully to prevent it.
Last stop of the day was in Pingvellir National Park. If we’d been here a week earlier some of the roads would have been closed.
We were left to our own devices today. Some of the group took bus tours but we decided to stroll around the city. We visited the amazing Settlement Exhibition which comprised of the in-situ remains of a large Viking-age longhouse – I’m still in mourning for Wood Quay.
We found an amazing crafty shop and watched the proprietor needle felting.
We did a return visit to the Hallgrimskirkja. We aborted the plan to climb to the tower in favour of listening to the organist rehearsing for a concert. Such a treat.
Our trip to see the Northern Lights had been deferred till the last night. However, despite hours watching the northern sky, the clouds never cleared. I guess that means I’ll have to take another trip towards the Arctic circle or else just look at the Tromso photos!
After 2 hours sleep, we hit to the airport for the homeward journey.