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Iceland - A Little Travel Report <3

I promised you a travel report about my three weeks in Iceland, so here it finally is! With photos, of course. Enjoy! :D

Iceland banner

[Warning: This post is image-heavy!]

Now before we start, here's one more thing: http://tunein.com/radio/FM-Xtra-1015-s211679/ Click on this link right here to listen to "our" Icelandic radio station, FM Xtra. And now just imagine driving along a rocky coast, through the rough landscape of the highlands or through Reykjavik downtown to that music... ah, bliss...

Okay, now let's start!


Day 1

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After a long flight that was more or less comfortably spent watching movies, my parents, little sister and I finally arrived in Iceland! I know I've said this before, but I can't say it often enough: For me, it was a lifelong dream come true. So when we got out, I was all giddy already - and then the cold hit us. And it was VERY cold! And SO windy! The complete opposite to the 30°C we had in Germany before. I'm usually a summer person, but I didn't mind the cold because we were in ICELAND! :D
(During the next few days and weeks, we quickly learned that when it's cold in Iceland, it's VERY cold, and as soon as the sun comes out, it gets VERY warm - so you can literally have all four seasons in one day!)

After we rented a cross country vehicle (now that took some time! Those Icelanders know no hurry, I tell you! We super-punctual Germans aren't used to that! :D) and checked in to our apartment in Reykjavík, we went out to discover the city and ate some fish and chips. But not just ANY fish and chips! It was by far the best fish and chips I've ever eaten! In the photo, you can see the lamps inside the restaurant. Yes, they are real fish skins with light bulbs inside! They are very creative, those Icelanders. And they definitely like fish and meat! Maybe you know that I was a vegan before, but I gave that up for our trip. It's basically impossible to be vegan in Iceland!
(They also love liquorice in all variations, but mostly with chocolate. Which sounds weird, but it tastes really good!)

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Day 2

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(Now that's what I call art!)
Today we wanted to go grocery shopping for our trip around the island and buy as much food as we could fit into our car. Normally, many supermarkets have opened 24/7, even on Sundays. Well, normally.
But OF COURSE, today was one of the one or two days per year that EVERY supermarket was closed because it was the so-called "Commerce Day"! I'm not kidding!
Don't worry though, eventually we found one (probably the only) supermarket that had opened even on this special day. Phew!
And, of course, the souvenir shops had opened too, so my sister and I both got some typical Icelandic wool jackets to look like some northern top models gnomes. Here you see us gnome sisters: (I'm on the left, my sister on the right)

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Day 3

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Today our trip finally REALLY started! I mean, Reykjavík is awesome, but what we really wanted to experience was Iceland's nature. So we went camping on a big grassland right beside the Ring Road - the only road that goes all around Iceland in a circle. (The name kinda fits, doesn't it? :D )
And it was really nice, but there were so many flies!! They were tiny, but still, they were SO annoying!! Our parents had been lying to us - they had said there weren't any insects on Iceland! How can I ever trust them again?! D:
Such lies! Such flies!
(And coke bottles with funny names xD)

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Day 4

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(Don't mind me - I'm just chillin' on this lava rock with my sexy sun hat.)
While my dad went diving in the icy cold water in the rift between the American and European continental plates that divide Iceland (don't ask me why anyone would want to do that!), my mum, sister and I went hiking to take a look at... well, at the rift between the continental plates that divide Iceland. But without getting wet because a big part of the rift is just a valley, which I highly appreciated.

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Day 5

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Let me introduce you: This is a geysir, it's called Geysir, and it's located near a town called Geysir. (Very original, huh? Actually, Geysir is the geysir that gave all other geysirs their name. Wow, that was a lot of "geysir" in one sentence!) And every 7 minutes or so, Geysir spits a boiling hot fountain of water high into the air. That's why there's always a big crowd of tourists standing around it, at a reasonable distance of course, with their cameras ready. Even though it's quite cold and windy there and it's reeking of sulphur SO BAD. Humans are a very weird species!

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Day 6

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After a short night at the campsite of Geysir, we visited Gullfoss today, one of the most famous and the most beautiful waterfalls of Iceland - as you see above. Afterwards, we drove into the highlands where it got even colder. And the condition of the so-called "road" went from "still okay" to shitty muddy and rocky. But that was okay because the landscape got prettier and prettier! There were lots of sheep, ponies, lava fields that looked like a lunar landscape, waterfalls and little brooks, mountains in all colours imaginable, and in the distance we could already see the first snow and some glaciers!
Sure, camping wasn't much fun in the cold (and it was raining, too!), but at least we had our wool jackets. (Now that I think about it, we were wearing those jackets practically every day on our trip.)
Besides, the wonderful nature more than made up for it! We went on a little hike through the mountains that was more climbing than hiking, and it was SO pretty! It looked like we walked straight into Middle Earth from Lord of the Rings! This was what I came here for! *-*

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Day 7

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Today we left our beautiful camping site once again to drive even higher up into the mountains. And there we saw one of the most breathtaking landscapes I've ever seen - with glaciers, colourful mountains and lots of steaming, boiling mud pots in the ground! (And by the way, it was WAY steeper than it looks! :D ).
Afterwards we also visited a geothermal area where utterly fearless people took a bath in the hotpots. We didn't dare to do that, though, because you know, even if it's nice in the warm water, sooner or later you have to get out again... Brrr! I already found it cold enough!

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Day 8

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After spending the night on a very nice camping site in Varmahlid (there was even a big trampoline for kids like us! Neat!), we drove on to Akureyri, the "second capital" of Iceland. We had left the highlands now, but our car was still awfully dirty from all that mountain mud. So dirty that we could draw cute pictures on it! (Everything has its benefits, right? :D)
On our way to Akureyri, we also visited a historical village to see how people lived on Iceland 100 years ago. Slightly scary, that was. But very cool.

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Day 9

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After experiencing all that nature the last few days, we felt like visiting a city today, so we took a trip through Akureyri. We saw the Botanical Garden, the harbor, traffic lights in the shape of hearts... wait, what?
All in all, Akureyri reminded me of Reykjavik, just a little smaller and with VERY steep roads! Of course, we also ate fish and chips while we were here. That's a must if you ever go to Iceland!
Once we were sated, we continued our way to our next camping site, Myvatn. On the way, we stopped by the famous waterfall Godafoss where lots of crazy people took selfies on the cliffs and my father struggled to make the perfekt photo, which was a challenge because of the evil sunlight.
Needless to say, it was late afternoon by the time we reached Myvatn!

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Day 10

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We left our stuff in Myvatn today and spent all day hiking through the crazy lava formations of Dimmuborgir. And as if that wasn't exhausting enough, we decided to climb up the volcano Hverfjäll to walk around the crater edge. Yay! I mean, why not? Sounds like a great idea!
Well, I didn't think so once we started to walk (or rather, climb) up the so-called "path" up to the crater. Afterwards, I can say that this was by far the most strenuous thing we did on our trip. But it was fun, too. Somehow.
And when we came back, hungry and exhausted, I tried dried fish with butter for the first time. It tastes a lot better than it sounds!

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Day 11

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We stayed in Myvatn for another day because the weather was great and the camping site was nice, too, right beside a lake. The only thing that sucked was a big Bavarian tourist group that was ALWAYS loud, not matter what day or night time it was. But we could live with that for just another day.
We visited another thermal area with blubbering, steaming mud pots in vibrant colours, and afterwards we took a bath in the "Blue Lagoon" of Myvatn. The original Blue Lagoon is near Reykjavik, but it's always very full there because it's so famous, so we rather went to the one in Myvatn. After all, it was supposed to be almost exactly the same: blue and warm.

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Day 12

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Our next stop was in Husavik where we visited the Husavik Whale Museum. It was a bit warmer again because we were closer to the coast. (And with warmer, I mean about 10°C.)
But there was a downside to the "warmth", which we noticed when we unpacked our stuff on the next camping site in Asbyrgi: Flies! (Nooo, not again!) Yes, again. Gigantic swarms of tiny flies were buzzing all over the place! And they weren't alone this time. There were also some wasps and, worst of all, terrifying monster spiders (I'm not kidding! They were enormous!) that took a liking to crawling into our tent. God help us!
But apart from that, our camping site was very nice again. There doesn't seem to be a single ugly camping place on the whole island, if you ask me. This time, we stayed in a canyon that reminded me a little bit of the Grand Canyon. Well, okay, only a tiny bit.

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Day 13

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Did you ever go on a hike that involved climbing up a rocky cliff with the help of a rope? Well, we did today, and afterwards we walked another 7km through the beautiful area. We were lucky, the sun came out and we could even walk in just t-shirts for some time. When we had a little break to eat something, we also had an amazing view of the river that was flowing through the valley. It was awesome.

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Day 14

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It was time to leave Asbyrgi again, but that was okay because it was cold and raining. So we all had the fastest shower of our live (it cost 500 ISK to have 5 minutes warm water!), packed our stuff and drove to the waterfall Dettifoss, the water-richest (can you say that?) waterfall of Europe. We got totally drenched from all the rain, wind and spray from the waterfall. Well, now we knew that old Gore-Tex is NOT waterproof...
But we enjoyed the view nevertheless. For a few seconds, we even saw a rainbow in the spraying water.
We drove on and had a late lunch in a cozy little inn - a traditional meat soup with lamb and reindeer meat. A few hours later, we reached our new camping place: A big meadow that we had almost completely for ourselves. There weren't even any insects this time (yay!). The meadow was surrounded by trees and we always heard a strange rushing sound. My parents thought it was a distant road, but I didn't believe that. So I wandered around a little bit (at some spots I sank into the soft ground almost to the knees, that's how thick the moss was!) and finally found a big lake. I was right!

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Day 15

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We left our tent by the lake in Hallormstadur for another day and went sightseeing. Our whole trip to Iceland contained a lot of driving around by car, but today it was extraordinarily much: At first we drove to an information centre about the national park where we were currently camping, then we visited a giant hydroelectric facility in the highland and finally we went hiking to the waterfall Hengifoss. By this time, the sun had finally come out again so we had a lovely view of the waterfall - but it was a very strenuous hike uphill until we could actually SEE it. But that was okay. Hiking is always fun in Iceland (as long as the sun is shining) because of the lovely landscape and the adventurous, rocky paths.

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Day 16

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When we reached our next destination, a camping site right next to a little hotel, it looked like we had the whole hotel for ourselves. A very young, very good-looking man assured us that we could use the kitchen, the showers and the toilets of the hotel as we pleased. What luxury, we thought. However, this luxury ended quickly when a bus with a gigantic Italian tourist group arrived. Suddenly, the hotel was packed, including the kitchen where they naturally cooked a profuse Italian meal in big pots and pans. We barely found a space for our little noodle pot! But the Italians were cute so we weren't mad at them. My sister and I were sure it was a rainbow group. We spotted two guys who were clearly together, a woman with rainbow-shoes and another guy who was flirting with the young host all evening.
Well, and that was basically the most interesting thing that happened all day. That and me stroking a sheep.

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Day 17

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Sadly, it was time to leave the cute sheep and cute Italians again, so we drove to Vik, a little city near the coast. We visited the glacier lagoon Jokulsarlon where we saw lots of blue ice, amphibious vehicles (boats with wheels), seals and giant, aggressive killer seagulls.
Afterwards, we took a short trip to the coast to see the famous "bird cliffs" - high, steep rocks where lots of birds, expecially the lovely puffins, like to breed. Well, there weren't any puffins anymore because the breeding season was over already. Instead, we were greeted by very stormy weather that turned the sand and ash of the coast into a very unpleasant sand blaster that tried to peel everyone's skin off. And back at the campground, the first small tents were flying away. Not ours, fortunately.

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Day 18

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I finally finished the e-book "The Art Of Breathing" and I can only say: it was so, so awesome! Definitely a recommendation.
Apart from that, we drove to Hveraverdi today, our last camping site. It was actually a very "civilized" camping site this time, one that reminded me more of a big allotment garden than the wilderness we had experienced before.
We also visited another waterfall where you could walk behind the falling water and went hiking to a warm brook. And then came the scary part: we went into an earthquake simulator, which was basically just a small, dark box. Once we were inside, we heard a loud rumbling noise coming nearer and nearer until the whole box was shaking so much we were almost falling over each other. Wow. I think we were all pretty pale when we came out. And I was so, so glad we never have earthquakes in Germany.

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Day 19

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And just like that, our time in the tent came to an end. We returned to Reykjavik where we had rented a small apartment in the middle of the city, and of course we arrived way too early, so we strolled a little through the town and ate a bowl of lamb soup outside in the sun. However, when we could finally get the keys to our apartment, it was neither clean nor tidy, so of course we complained and waited another two hours on the balcony until it was habitable. But even then, "habitable" didn't necessarily mean "clean, in one piece and complete": the floor was still dirty, the plug for the sink was missing, the so-called teatowel was way too thin, kaputt and wet, there was no tv, the light in the fridge didn't work, half of the shower wall was missing so whenever someone took a shower, the whole bathroom and part of the hallway were flooded... I don't even know where to start. The only good thing about this apartment was the big balcony and the view: we could see the Hallgrimskirkja, the Perlan, and so on.
And of course the weather was wonderful! 11°C, burning sun and icy wind. That meant: t-shirt weather! Or, in case of the Icelanders: No-shirt-weather! Yes, we really saw a lot of half-naked Icelanders, most of them on skateboards, when we went downtown to buy some food and drinks. We also visited the statue of the stylized viking boat, the town's landmark, and took photos.

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Day 20

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Today was shopping day! At least for my mum, my sister and me. My father rather spend the day at a warm beach and let us girls have our fun in the Kringlan shopping centre. Everything was pretty expensive so I only bought two necklaces. Then we met up with my dad, had lunch and drove to the Perlan, a big hot water reservoir with a hemispheric dome where we enjoyed the view over the city and had a coffee in the "Kaffiteria".
This day was another proof that the Icelanders are generally very stylish, gay-friendly and hilarious: we saw so many gay bars, beautiful shoes, funny condoms, guys with amazing hair and remnants of the Gay Pride Parade (I wish we wouldn't have missed that!). Oh, and Zorro's car.

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Day 21

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If you ever go to Reykjavik, I have a secret tip for you: visit "The Volcano Show"! It's a private mini cinema hidden in a backyard where the owner shows footage of Iceland's most famous volcano eruptions of the last century. Footage that he and his father recorded themselves. My father had already visited The Volcano Show when he was on Iceland 30 years ago and he assured us that everything there was still exactly the same, even the old owner.
We spent our last day roaming through the city and soon realized that today was "Culture Day", which meant there were lots of free open air concerts everywhere, as well as a marathon where everyone in Iceland seemed to participate. At night, there was also a big firework, but we couldn't watch it because we had to go to bed early. Instead, we spent our last evening in the fish and chips restaurant we had discovered on our first day.We were all sad we would have to leave by the next morning.

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Day 22

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We got up at an ungodly hour to return our rented car, which was more troublesome than expected. Even though we had an appointment, nobody was there to take the car back, sign our papers and drive us to the airport in Keflavik. As it turned out, they had totally forgotten and the responsible guy was still sleeping after the long Culture Night, but our phone call woke him up and he quickly rushed to our rescue. *chuckles*
And then we were up in the air again, flying from Keflavik to Kopenhagen and from Kopenhagen home again. It was really weird to be back. I'm not exaggerating when I say that Iceland changed me somehow. It took several weeks until "home" finally felt like home again, partly because our cat Steffi wasn't there anymore (she died right before our trip), partly because we'd gotten so used to living in a tent.

All in all, it was an amazing, fabulous, wonderful and adventurous trip, and I can't wait to go back someday!
Thanks so much for reading! :D
*bows*

Fabulous Iceland

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
brit_columbia
Feb. 24th, 2015 07:39 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Thanks so much for taking the time to write this travel report and post the photos. It was interesting for me to see Iceland through your eyes.

1. Those fish lamps were very cool. I could NOT figure out what they were at first. I thought they were actual fish hanging up to be smoked or something, and that those lights were just behind them.

2. When I saw your tent, I was shocked. It must have been pretty cold for camping! I had not realized that was the plan.

3. You on the lava rock: Very Middle-Earth-ish! I kept expecting to see Radagast and his rabbits dash by in the background. Which would have been bad for you, because that would have meant orcs, and they would have spotted you in that sexy sunhat for sure.

4. The first two pics of Day 7 looked like they were taken on another planet! But of course a planet that had oxygen and somewhat normal gravity.

5. I like the grass-covered roofs in the historical village. Did anyone explain why there was grass on the roofs? Did they keep goats on top of their houses in the old days?

6. That photo of Godafoss Waterfall with the rays of light streaming down is really an excellent photograph. It's all powerful and mystical, and I love the play of light and shadow. If your dad took it, give him a thumbs up from me.

7. Do people actually go in those mudpots?

8. Your 'Grand Canyon' shot did rather look like the grand Canyon. I say this as a person who has never been there.

9. That hiking trail with the rope looked like a workout and a half! You guys must have all lost ten pounds, despite all the fish and chips.

10. Those bird cliffs look really cool and kind of man-made, even though I know they're not. They looked surprisingly free of bird poo, too.

11. Love the condom ad and the sign on the bar window! Icelanders seem like fun people. Gay-friendly, too! Dee and Ryo should definitely go there for a vacation.

12. Now I'm going to be craving fish and chips!

Thanks again for posting this.



Edited at 2015-02-24 07:41 am (UTC)
awieatti
Feb. 26th, 2015 05:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Thank you!
Don't thank me - I thank you for reading! :)

1. When we entered the restaurant and saw these fish skins, we were pretty surprised, too!

2. Lol, it's funny but I don't really remember it being very cold. When we were in the tent, snuggled up in our wool jackets (or sleeping bags at night), it was actually very comfy.

3. Thank God there aren't any orcs on Iceland. Only elves and gnomes (many people there actually still believe in magic).

4. It was so amazing. The photos don't even do it justice.

5. There aren't a lot of trees on Iceland so people used to build their houses with turf rather than wood. I think they had grass on the roofs because the roots kinda held the turf together.

6. If I remember correctly, it was actually me who took that photo, with my phone no less. xD I didn't even try to make a good photo, I was just lucky that the light was perfect in that moment. That's probably the trickiest part when taking a photo, especially when the lighting conditions change so quickly!

7. Not those mudpots, they are way too hot for bathing. Most hot springs there are boiling, there's only a small number of them that are neither too hot nor too cold. But yes, if there's such a perfect spring anywhere in the landscape, there will be people who jump right into it to take a bath. xD

8. Yes! I was hoping I wasn't telling complete bullshit.

9. But it was so much fun! And yes, I think we all lost a little weight on our trip, which my parents appreciated. (I didn't.)

10. Many bird species keep the area around their nests free of poo because they find it disgusting, too. We have a little nest box on our balcony and there's never any poo inside or around it. I think that's what the birds on Iceland do, too.

11. They really should! I wish I could write a fanfiction about it, but my daily writing hour is already booked... And yes, Icelanders are really cool people, even if they're a little TOO laid back for my liking sometimes.

12. You're welcome! ;D
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )