Archive | May, 2012

Iceland – Day 2

30 May

After breakfast we set off in our bus (Lady Scania!) for Solheimajokull – a very large glacier.

The first think you notice is that it’s grey because it’s covered in ash but as you get closer you can see the clean ice and it’s a pretty amazing sight.  The picture hopefully gives an idea of the scale – it’s massive – and some of the pictures here give an idea of the amount of ice in the glacier. It was strangely beautiful but the most interesting thing is the speed at which it’s melting – our guide was last here less than 2 months ago and it’s retreated since then,

We then drove along the main road to Vik -a small town on the coast. You can see a few photos of the town here. The lupins in the picture are not native to Iceland; they were imported from Canada and were planted in a bid to stabilise the sand/ash. Unfortunately, they’ve been much more successful than was expected and are taking over! Apparently, they are being pulled up in parts of the island because they’ve simply become too dominant.

After a lovely coffee break we went down on to the beach. The pictures may not be too clear but the thing which is spectacular about all the beaches here is that the sand is black – all the rock is volcanic so when it gets broken down to sand (it’s actually more like fine grit) it’s also black. It looks pretty spectacular when it’s wet.

Walking up the hillVik is a small town but it does have  a store selling Icelandic woolen products (and many more souvenirs). Their website only lists a fraction of what they sell; I bought a superb hat for about a tenner ( I thought I’d need a hat and I’d managed to leave my own hat at home. As it happened, this day was the only cool day in the whole week so I didn’t really need a hat. It’s such a good hat that I’m sure it will be useful later!)

We had lunch at Hjörleifshöfði (I think; my Icelandic spelling is not too good! I decided not to go up the hill and just wandered around near the beach. Even down at that level the scenery is amazing.

Basalt Columns Reynisfjara was our next stop – this has the most spectacular basalt columns which you can hopefully make out in the photos. Unfortunately, the weather was getting greyer so the light wasn’t too good but it’s still fantastic to see the scenery.

 

The final stop was Dyrholaey – “Door hole” in Icelandic. It’s a natural rock arch but sadly I failed to get a decent photo of it!

 

Iceland – day 1

29 May

We flew with Icelandair from Heathrow to Keflavik; the flight left an hour late but we made good time and arrived just 30 minutes late. We were met at the airport by our Trex coach and driver. I can’t spell his name but it’s pronounced “Yoey” (rhymes with Joey) who has turned out to be an amazing asset – a good driver, with a huge knowledge of the country, a good command of English and a willingness to get stuck in with every aspect of our holiday!

The Blue Lagoon

Steamy waters

From the airport we made our way to The Blue Lagoon This is a huge outdoor pool with geothermally heated water and it’s blue because the silica (basically very fine sand in the water) refracts the light and makes it blue. It’s a fabulous place; the water is mineral rich which means that even if you can’t swim, you can just float around in the pool and even at it’s deepest it only comes up to chest height so you can easily walk around. There are also saunas and steam rooms if you want a little more warmth.

Iceland can be a cold place (the clue is in the name!) so a good tip is to not go out through the main door from the changing room. Instead, get in the small pool by the door and then go through the door at the far side of the pool; this way you stay in the warm water and the cold air is not quite such a shock!

My photos of the Blue Lagoon are here

From there we made our way to Hotel Dyrholaey just outside Vik. We arrived quite late in the evening but sunset in Iceland at the end of May is after 2300 so at least the drive was in daylight. The hotel proved to be lovely – the staff were charming and very helpful and the accomodation perfect for our needs.