Finally made it to Iceland! Have been talking about it for so many years, but for some reason I have never gotten around to do it. That was about to change, now we are 6 people (three couples) going together for the weekend, Friday morning to Sunday evening!
The weather wasn't the best when we got there and us tree girls were going straight out horseback riding. It wasn't cold just a little bit wet, but nothing we're not used to. I did not matter at all beacause we were so exited about going riding on the Iceland horses/ponies, kind of a must do thing in Iceland as a tourist. So after being a little bit delayed we got to the hotel where our pick up was waiting for us girls to take us to the horses. Now there are a few companies who specialize in taking tourist on different tours on the ponies and you can find them all online. The company we went with was very good. Friendly and very helpful staff who knew exactly how to match up the ponies with the people. You might not think that is so important, but trust me it is. One of my friends hadn't been on a horse since she was a kid so she got the sweetest little pony who were so nice and just followed the other ponies acting all nice and didn't even move without her telling him it was okay to move. So all three of us got ponies who matched us, and we were ready to hear a bit more about these wonderful creatures.
The funny thing about the Icelandic horses is that they tölt. Between the trot and the gallop they have their own little run walk that is called tölt. I had never been on an Icelandic horse so I knew nothing about this before we got started, I've heard about it but never experienced it. We were told a little bit about the origin of the breed and it was quite interesting to learn more about them. The Icelandic horses is a breed that is developed in Iceland, although it was the Scandinavian settlers in the 9th and 10th century who originally took the ponies to Iceland. In their native country they have few diseases, Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported into the country and exported animals are not allowed to return. This is the only breed of horse in Iceland, and they are also popular internationally, and sizable populations exist in Europe and North America. The breed is still used for traditional farm work in its native country, as well as for leisure, showing, and racing.
Brutus the dog was very friendly and Monica here became his new best friend, he also got to go with us when we went horse back riding.
And here is Monica on her very friendly horse Lady.
And Berit got a handsome boy (the one I was telling about in the beginning), he had a very Icelandic name and we could not pronounce it properly so Berit named him something similar to his name that was easier to pronounce. Very sorry to say that I don't remember it.
And here is me on Saphire, she was very nice but she liked to be the boss sometimes and show all the other horses what to do. And just like me she was stubborn. We were a perfect match.
Our horse back riding session lasted for almost 2 hours and it was absolutely beautiful. The landscape is breathtaking and you feel like you are in one of those Icelandic sagas. (A saga is a series of novel dealing with the families that first settled in Iceland and their descendants, with the histories of the kings of Norway, and with the myths and legends of early Germanic gods and heroes). If you ever go to Iceland go horseback riding it is so worth the time and money. www.extremeiceland.is this is the link I would recommend if you want to do any activities in Iceland / Reykjavik.
So now it was back to the apartment to take a long shower to get the horse smell out of us and then dinner and drinks. As we were 6 people traveling together we decided to get an apartment with 3 bedrooms. We found an apartment hotel called Downtown Reykjavik apartments. It was great! The guy in the reception was just outstanding and so helpful, nice and funny, and the rooms was really great, big, clean and comfy.
The thing about the apartment hotel is that it is not someone in the reception at all times, which is not a problem at all, there was a phone number you could call 24/7 and there was a code for the front door that all the guest could use to get in. The area where the hotel is located is very quiet and peaceful and it is only about 10 min walk to the city centre. The picture above shows Medin leaving a note for the manager of the hotel, he just had to sit down at the reception counter to do that. Some other guest actually thought he worked there:)
So, first night in Reykjavik, out to get dinner and drinks!
So this is the restaurant we ended up in. We hadn't made any reservations and we really didn't have any clue of where to go, so we decided to just walk around and see what we could find. And this place looked very nice and they had an available table for 6 people. It looked promising.
We got our table at the restaurant and started with ordering some drinks. It took first of all about 15 minutes before someone even came to our table to get our order, just for the drinks. no wonder why Lars and Medin are so happy when they finally got their beers, about 30 minutes after we sat down! So with a pretty bad first impression we figured it would be best if everybody ordered the same from the menu, in other words, we went for the set menu, a 5 course meal.
Yeh, had to wait a bit for that. And the worst thing is that by the time we got our first dish, us girls hadn't gotten our wine yet! The first dish was just some garnish, it taste okay but the presentation of it did not impress any of us.
The second dish, did not look nice at all, but it tasted beautifully, it was really good. The pink lumps there is salmon, a very fresh and nice salmon.
By the time we were finished with our second dish us girls finally got our wine. Had to complaint a few times to get it as well. That really should not be necessary, especially at a place like this where they were supposed to be a fancy restaurant.
Getting the wine so late and not being very impressed with the food was not the only problem with this restaurant. Several of the staff was not very nice or service minded and they had no clue who to serve the food what so ever. I must say that there was one of the girls working there who were very nice, polite and service minded. If I was the manager of that place I would be embarrassed. However, not any of this stuff was going to ruin our night!
Moving on to more salmon..............
Again, the salmon tasted very nice, but the presentation of the dish was not impressing at all. More wine any one?
Next dish, not possible to get more wine, we would stay there the whole night waiting for it then......
So this time the presentation was okay however the taste was only okay as well, kind of expected a little bit more of a taste on this main course. Now we were just waiting for dessert, this had to be good, I mean how wrong can you go on dessert!
Oh you can go very wrong! This was supposed to be some kind of chocolate fondant, but it was just dry and so not tasty at all, most of us did not even finish it. Sad because I love chocolate fondant.
It was just time to move on to something better...................... mojitos!!!!!!!!!
That was actually the last picture I took that night. We stayed at that bar for a few drinks and went home after that. We had planned a big day that Saturday:)
It is important to get a good breakfast. And staying at that great apartment that we had we could make all the food we wanted in our little kitchen. Just have to say again how impressed we were with our place for the weekend. After breakfast it was time for me and Medin to pick up our car for the day. As we were 6 people we had to get a big enough car for all of us, as we were not interested in getting two cars, and of course we got one that was perfect.
Off we went. First stop Geysir! No GPS in the car, we did not need that, we could read a map.........
or at least so we thought....... After getting lost, just a little bit, we found the right way. only lost about one hour at that is not so bad, is it?
Just had to take a picture of this, have never seen anything like this before, the picture speak for it self.
Pit stop for the 5 of us who were not driving.
Even though we were on the right way at this time we had to make a few stops, the scenery in Iceland is just so spectacular. This is a country far, far north, 65 degrees. The North pole is 90 degrees north. So all the landscape, obviously, is reflected by this. It will just take our breath away.
Driving to Geysir you also pass through Þingvellir, a nature reserve placed in Bláskógabyggð, near the peninsula of Reykjanes and the Hengill volcanic area. Þingvellir is a site of historical, cultural, and geological importance.
The local beer also had to be tasted.
After driving for about 2 hours, maybe a little more, as we got a little bit lost, we got to Geysir. Can't really believe we got lost as the way was not that difficult to find and the roads in Iceland are very easy to drive on. However, we found the place we were going to.
As you can see from this sign the temperature is 80-100 degrees celsius in the water here, so of course you want to keep our distance. Still you get quite close to the Geysir and you can see it perfectly.
At Geysir there is always a lot of tourists, but I really did not get the feeling that it was crowded. Which is good, some tourist attractions are just dreadful to go to because there is so many people there. Any way Geysir is a must see in Iceland. Geysir is the landmark of Iceland.
Geysir lies in the Haukadalur valley on the slopes of Laugarfjall hill, which is also the home to Strokkur geyser about 50 metres south. Eruptions at Geysir can hurl boiling water up to 70 metres in the air. However, eruptions may be infrequent, and have in the past stopped altogether for years at a time. (Wikipedia.org)
As you can see, you get very close to the Geysir, and that makes pretty good pictures!
Another thing you should think about before you go to Iceland is to check the weather forecast. As I have mentioned it is very far north and the weather conditions is accordingly. We went there in August it is was only about plus 10 degrees celsius and a bit windy and rainy. Make sure to have good footwear and maybe some gloves and a woolly hat or something. It can be very cold being outside all day. A wind jacket is also in order here.
This is why you should have good foot wear, it is small puddles everywhere.
And the little Geysir, showed it above as well, but here are some more pictures.
Before we went to your next stop we had some lunch in the Geysir Cafe, easy but still nice lunch. And at least we got our wine straight away here.
It is a bit difficult to see from this picture, but it shows many of the places that are worth seeing if you ever go to Reykjavik or Iceland. Our next stop was Gullfoss.
Had to take some pictures before we went down to the actual waterfall of Gullfoss. The first thing we saw when we got out of the car was an amazing glacier. Might be hard to see from the pictures above, but tried to take a picture of it. It looks so much bigger in real life than on the picture.
Once again, spectacular! No point on even commenting the pictures, I think they speak for them self. However I can tell a little bit about Gullfoss. It is located in the canyon of Hvítá river and is one of the most popular attractions in the country.
The wide Hvítá rushes southward. About a kilometer above the falls it turns sharply to the left and flows down into a wide curved three-step "staircase" and then abruptly plunges in two stages (11 m and 21 m) into a crevice 32 m (105 ft) deep. The crevice, about 20 m (60 ft) wide, and 2.5 km in length, extends perpendicular to the flow of the river. The average amount of water running over this waterfall is 140 m³/s in the summertime and 80 m³/s in the wintertime. The highest flood measured was 2000 m³/s. ( wikipedia.org)
By the time we were finished looking around Gullfoss it was time to head back to the apartment. Even though we wanted to see more of the sights that Iceland have to offer, we had to get dressed up and ready for the night. A bit bittersweet as it would have been so great to see a Volcano as there are a few of them in Iceland (famous ones as well, if you can call a volcano famous).
Running a litte bit behind schedule we started our saturday night party in the car;)
As we were driving back we saw this strange place with a lot of stones placed everywhere on a big field, still to this day I don't know what it is but we had to stop there and take a quick look. And yes, get some great pictures.
As our experience from the night before was a bit crap when it came to the dinner experience we had done some research before we went out for the day and booked a table at a highly recommended restaurant, Café Paris. Most people recommend it for lunch but there were some people who say it was just as good for dinner. So we decided to try it.
It was so great that I forgot to take any more pictures. It was really good, great food, great service but also very crowded, make sure to have a reservation.
Good and ready for a great night out we went from bar to bar, and what happens then? You don't take any more pictures, you just forget. But we did go to some fancy bars as well, Bar 11 was one of them and it was quite okay, a bit small and expensive, but okay. The rumor is that this is the place where the celebrities goes, and that might be true we saw a famous footballer............
The next day it was time to pack our bags and leave Reykjavik, but there was one stop we had to do on the way to the airport, The Blue Lagoon.
The blue lagoon is a geothermal spa and is without a doubt the most visited tourist attraction in Iceland. The steamy waters are part of a lava formation. The spa is located in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwestern Iceland. Bláa lónið is situated approximately 13 km (8 miles) from the Keflavík International Airport and 39 km (24 miles) from the capital city of Reykjavík. That is roughly a 20 minute drive from the airport and a 40 minute drive from Reykjavík. The warm waters are rich in minerals like silica and sulphur and bathing in the Blue Lagoon is reputed to help some people suffering from skin diseases such as psoriasis.The water temperature in the bathing and swimming area of the lagoon averages 37–39 °C (98–102 °F). The Blue Lagoon also operates a Research and Development facility to help find cures for other skin ailments using the mineral-rich water. The lagoon is fed by the water output of the nearby geothermal power plant Svartsengi and is renewed every 2 days. Superheated water is vented from the ground near a lava flow and used to run turbines that generate electricity. After going through the turbines, the steam and hot water passes through a heat exchanger to provide heat for a municipal water heating system. Then the water is fed into the lagoon for recreational and medicinal users to bathe in. (wikipedia.org)
The conclusion of this is simply, go to Iceland, you will love it!