We have a lot of bags because we’ll be traveling for at least 3 months and it’s very cold in some of the places we’ll be visiting. Cold weather clothes take up a lot more space than warm weather clothes!
The South Platte Knight that we’re taking with us!
We parked our car in a garage in Denver and then took a taxi to the airport. We have to arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before our plane takes off. This is the rule for travel outside of the United States. We arrive outside the airport by taxi and find our airline: Icelandair.
We have to get our boarding passes and then go through a security check and remove our shoes and jackets and take everything out of our packets and certain things out of our bags. It can be a long process, but afterwards, we simply have to wait for our plane.
Our plane took off at 4:30 PM from Denver and arrived in Iceland 7 hours later at 6:35 AM Icelandic Time. This is our gate where we’ll board the plane.
On the plane, we can watch a map that shows how far we’ve flown. It’s fun to watch the plane go over Canada and Greenland to reach Iceland.
This is an image of the inside of the plane right before landing. It’s a tight fit to walk down the center aisle!
This map shows night and day at the time of our flight. I took this picture just as the plane was landing at the airport. Notice how there is more darkness at the top of the world because it’s winter in the Northern hemisphere.
7:30 AM in Iceland.
It’s 11:07…almost lunchtime and…
This is where the sun is in the sky at 11:07 AM. It looks like it’s about ready to set!
Pingvellir National Park. It looks a LOT like Wyoming to me! After putting our bags at the vacation rental, we decided to go out on our first Icelandic adventure. We got in the car at 9:30 AM and drove 3 hours to Geysir (a city), and Gulfoss Waterfall. We were very tired because 9:30 AM in Iceland is 2:30 AM in Nebraska. Our bodies still felt like it was the middle of the night, not mid-morning. We had jet lag.
The food in Iceland is expensive because a lot of their foods have to be imported (or shipped in) from other countries. Fruit was completely unavailable for most of the year except at Christmas until only a few years ago in Iceland. On the airplane, we spent $3 on one banana. That’s really expensive and the banana tasted a LOT different than the bananas at home! This tiny bag of peanuts and raisins cost about $4.50 or 549 Icelandic Kronas. Instead of dollars, the Icelandic people pay for things in “kronas”.
On the way to Gulfoss, we stopped at Geysir for gas. Geysir is a city filled with geysers. In fact, the word “geyser” comes from this place.
Icelandic would be a difficult language to learn. I’m glad a lot of the people here speak English! In most places outside of the United States (except perhaps Europe), people DON’T speak English.
Here we are walking to Gulfoss Waterfall.
Another view of the falls.
We found some food items in our refrigerator with funny names that we could hardly pronounce. See if you can guess what some of these items are!
All of the stores and signs are written in Icelandic which can make it hard to find things like the post office and the grocery store. Icelandic is such a hard language for English speakers because many of the sounds that they make in this language are sounds we’ve never used before in English.
The Viking Hotel where we’re hoping to find a map of where the Icelandic Elves live (seriously…this was our mission).
Notice the grass growing on top of this little building. The grass helps keep the inside of the building warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Vikings were the first people to settle in Iceland. I can’t imagine coming to this place and trying to survive here. Vikings from Norway and the British Isles were the first to try to make a home in Iceland. They found the island by accident or shear luck. They enslaved Irish women and brought them here which is perhaps why so many of the people here are light-skinned and very blonde with blue eyes.
Our “Point of Interest” that we’re visiting is The Elf Garden which is said to be inhabited by real elves, though only people with the “second sight” or psychic abilities can see them.
Our long shadows on the ground seem to indicate that it’s late in the day, but actually, it was about noon when we took this photo. This was the entrance to the Elf Garden.
Today, there is a mixture of Christian and pagan beliefs. Many Icelanders today believe in fairies and elves. We visited this Elf Garden where there are Elf Tours available on request.
The Elf Garden was located in Hafnarfjordier (see if you can pronounce that!)
The Elf Garden was a neat place with lots of little caves and green spaces. It was nestled into an area surrounded on all sides by houses and streets, but it was still quiet and calm.
A cave…perhaps a place where an Icelandic elf might make a home.
It was easy to see how people could believe that elves live here. Perhaps they’re right!
This little building is where the official Elf Tours begin and end.
A street in Iceland. The houses look a little different than the houses in Nebraska. There aren’t very many trees here and since Iceland is an island and wood has to be imported, the Icelanders build their houses with cement and metal. The streets are very clean and tidy.
In the distance, you can see the steeple of a church.
The Icelandic people are very patriotic. They are some of the most enthusiastic readers on the planet! There are more people in Iceland (per capita) who publish books than anywhere else in the world. One of the most important stories told by Icelanders are the Sagas. This is the Saga Museum.
We’ve seen the word “Saga” many times since we’ve been here. In fact, there was even a “Saga Class” on the plane (a much nicer place to sit than Economy Class).
The Sagas are stories about Iceland. Some of the stories are true and historical stories while others are mythological or fictional.
The Saga Museum that portrayed these sagas used wax figures and props. It was pretty cool.
We had to ask for directions, but we finally found the Katlahraun Lava Floes outside of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.
At first, the landscape just looked hilly but as we drove further, it changed.
Looking closely at the ground, it was easy to see that it was covered with lava rocks.
The sheep and horses here in Iceland look different from the sheep and horses at home.
The sheep are really fuzzy with long strands of wool.
I tried to get close to one for a picture, but these sheep are apparently quite shy. The closer I got, the further they moved away!
The horses in Iceland are called Arctic Horses. They look like giant ponies to me.
At the end of our second day touring around Iceland, we went to the Blue Lagoon.
This is a spa that’s one of the most visited sites in Iceland. Usually, when we travel, we avoid, or spend shorter periods of time at the most popular tourist attractions. We prefer to see the stuff that no one else sees and have our own unique experiences that are different from what most people would have while traveling.
We didn’t actually go into the Blue Lagoon spa but we did take a look at the light blue water in the white, calcified pools. The water we dipped our hands into was icy cold, but the people who go into the spa itself sit in water that’s heated by the earth.
The Blue Lagoon is a hot spring and sitting in it is like sitting in a hot tub. A hot tub that costs $70 per person to visit!
Icelandic Sheep and Skipping the Blue Lagoon — By Jennifer Shipp
A Taste of Wyoming–In Iceland: The Gulfoss Falls and More — By Jennifer Shipp
The Saga Museum – A Chilling Walk through Icelandic History: Photo Gallery
Four days in Iceland: Photo Gallery
Real, Live Icelandic Elves– By Jennifer Shipp
Dealing with Vacation Envy in Iceland– By Jennifer Shipp
A Small Church and a Full Moon in Iceland — By Jennifer Shipp