Iceland in the North

We boarded a 19 seat propeller plane at the Reykjavík airport, a tiny airport where the desk clerk is also the baggage handler and grounds crew!  There was absolutely no security screening and no one even asked to see our ticket/boarding pass as we boarded.  Apparently seat assignments were merely suggestions.  Those seasoned travelers who routinely fly in this manner simply sat in an available seat.

Snow covered mountains

Near Húsavík, Iceland

We flew from Reykjavík, which is in the southwest part of the country to Húsavík, which is on the northeast coast, only 60 km from the Arctic Circle.  We were met by Matthias, a German who came to Iceland 30 years ago and never left; he has given up his German citizenship and now carries an Iceland passport.  It wasn’t until our first stop that I realized Matthias was our guide for the day and we were getting a private tour!  Continue reading

Beach, cliffs, ocean

Iceland – The South Coast

We began our journey by driving the same route as we did for the Golden Circle tour, passing Hveragerði.  Instead of turning north toward the interior of the island, we continued on the Ring Road staying along the coast.  The land along the south coast is extremely flat because it was carved by a glacier; the south coast is also the warmest part of Iceland.  We ate lunch in Vík (which means bay – Reykjavík means smoky bay). Continue reading

Grass-covered hill and waterfalls

Iceland – The Golden Circle

Tour books about Iceland state that most roads outside the cities are closed September through May; furthermore, one is taking their life into their own hands if attempting to drive these roads at any time of the year!  They are described as being rough gravel roads; therefore don’t consider renting anything other than a 4-wheel-drive vehicle with high clearance. Trucks It also isn’t uncommon to cross a river by driving through it; it is a river only in the summertime when the snow is melting so no bridge exists.  Moreover, if heading into less-traveled areas, the books suggest notifying those at your destination of the expected arrival time so that if you don’t show up, a search party can be sent out!  I even saw a sign posted at a gas station convenience store:  Register your travel plan at http://www.safetravel.is.  Check it out!

Based on these dire warnings, we thought it prudent to take an organized tour rather than striking out on our own! 🙂  Therefore, we took a guided driving tour of the Golden Circle – sort of an “Iceland in a Nutshell” tour.   Continue reading

Flying to Reykjavík, Iceland from anywhere outside Iceland means you are actually flying to Keflavík, a 45 minute drive from Reykjavík.  Reykjavík has its own airport but it appears to be used primarily for domestic flights and flights to Greenland – people actually go there!  We had pre-arranged for a driver to meet us at Keflavík and drive us into Reykjavík; he charged 30 Icelandic Kroner per person.

Reykjavík is a very compact city and easily navigated on foot.  In fact, through circumstance a number of days into our visit, we walked from the Reykjavík airport on the western edge of the city to our apartment on the eastern edge of the city in 45 minutes.  (Picture 3 people running full-out to catch a bus that has no intention of waiting!  Admittedly, it is very difficult to run full-out when laughing hysterically!)  But I digress… Continue reading

Don’t Touch the Caterpillar!

When I was a child, a favorite summer pastime was finding caterpillars.  Once found, I would place it in a jar with some sticks and leaves, screw the lid on tight, poke holes in the lid (Of course it needed air!), and wait.  I was waiting for it to spin a cocoon, incubate, and emerge a beautiful butterfly.  Not surprisingly, it never got past the cocoon stage; likely due to the unfavorable environment in which it was placed.  Yet, I continued to try.  I don’t know if that is an example of hope springing eternal or the definition of insanity:  trying something repeatedly and expecting different results!   Continue reading

Amsterdam

We are staying near The Hague, Netherlands so we drove about 45 minutes to a park & ride outside of Amsterdam where we caught a tram to the Central Station.  We could have taken public transportation from The Hague but it would have been 20-30 Euro/person; with the three of us it made more sense to drive much of the way and then park!

Figuring out the Park & Ride ticket machine was the first challenge of the day!   Continue reading

“It Is Not Possible”

Easter Monday is a federal holiday in Germany, as is Good Friday.  Everything is closed:  shops, offices, schools.  Since we are affiliated with the U.S. military base, today was a normal Monday for us; Jason went to work, Natalie went to school and I went to the gym.  As I was driving through the village between my house and the gym, I noticed that it was extremely quiet.  No cars parked on the street, not one person waiting at the bus stop, etc.  It was quieter than even a Sunday morning.  I saw a few people, dressed in riding gear (not an unusual sight), riding their bikes and I thought, “Hmm, this is what some locals choose to do with their day off work.”

I should have known better!  Continue reading