Svo lengi í Íslandi, sjáumst aftur

That translates to

‘So long Iceland, see you again.’

A subheading could be

‘We Have seen 9,875 of the 10,000 waterfalls so we better come back to see the rest’. (That’s a bit wordy though, don’t you think?)

Nancy and I are sitting in the airport waiting to board our flight home. We take off at 6, fly 8 hours and land at 6 – happy hour the whole way!

I have probably mentioned in previous posts that this is a beautiful country. Maybe I haven’t, but it is.

Since last writing, we have visited Nancy’s new favorite foss and my old time favorite one. Hers is Leyningsfoss:

And mine is Kirkjufellfoss. We visited it twice in our first trip here – as a couple then with the photography workshop. I really wanted to see it again so on our way to Reykjavík yesterday, we took a 4 hour detour ( I have a VERY understanding missus & boy, do I love her!)

the mountain, Kirkjufell is reputed to be the most photographed mountain in the world. I’m not sure I believe that, but I read it on the internet so it must be true.

I’m not good at selfies without the tripod. Short arms and inflexible thumbs I guess. Evolution will be changing the species’ bodies to accommodate this shortcoming in the distant future I suppose.

I mentioned that Iceland has a Costco in an earlier post. Here is the proof

It was very busy when we visited for a few minutes. Some similar and some dissimilar items.

The price of the famous Costco hotdog and soda is @ $3. A bit more than at home I think.

Reykjavik is a bustling city. We walked around a bit last night and found what has to be one of the best restaurants we have discovered anywhere in the world. The name is Fisk Mrkt. We showed up without a reservation so the only place they could seat us was the Chef’s counter. (They did not realize it is our favorite place to eat).

I COULD include a list, description and photo of each course, but I will spare your eyes, salivary glands and tummy. Just know, if you come to Iceland and don’t eat here, you will have done yourself a huge disservice. The restaurant even has its own wasabi grown for them in eastern Iceland and their lamb is raised on an island where the only grazing is on Angelica. The taste of it was almost as good as the Minke whale (shhhh, don’t tell Greenpeace)

This morning as we were walking around to say adios to Iceland, we came across a 5k funrun that was about to start. We think the entire city was participating- A Color Run.

What a hoot! The participants are doused in chalk powder of various colors at each kilometer

There is a lot of public art and kitsch around town

I may have mentioned earlier about the midnight sun. Here is today’s sunrise/sunset info from up north on the farm. Soon it may lap itself.

Well that is all the news, I think. I would like to reiterate some thoughts from the last 25 days.

This trip was one of the best we have taken. It would absolutely not have been as amazing without my sidekick and true love. Nancy is the best traveling companion a guy could hope for. Patient and also a terrific navigator. (She has a problem with my iPhone playlist though but that is ok – not everyone can take nonstop Pink Floyd). By the by, we did retrieve the missing coat! The airport lost and found had it.

Berlin and Iceland are wonderful places to travel to. Combining them in one trip is a bit of a packing challenge but we were up for it. One bag was only 1.8 kg overweight today but no extra charges or the silliness of shift 4lbs of stuff from one bag to another.

Both locations were very photogenic but Iceland more so for my style of pics. I have about 4000 to go through – Oy! I’d say at least 3k are Iceland (waterfalls, don’t ya know).

The people of each destination were simply put, great. We have never had issues being American anywhere in the world. Even now! A lot of people asked for explanations for the current US political situation but we could not splain it – just apologize.

The food, scenery, history, people, ease of travel and ALWAYS super clean and stocked restrooms were absolute joys.

BEER in both countries could fill volumes (and did fill a tub). I enjoy traveling to reliable beer destinations – hello Asia – time to step it up (we will still visit though).

We think our next BIG trip will be New Zealand next year so stay tuned.

That is all from us for this chapter of the Adventures of Nancy and Chris.

If you have (or have not) enjoyed these ramblings, please send a comment or note. It is always nice to hear from you.

Lots of love❤️💕🇮🇸🇩🇪

NancyandChris

ps- a special thanks to brother Matt for the surprise birthday visit!

Oh my Thor, Alfresco Breakfast in Iceland!?

Who woulda believed the weather in far north Iceland would be so pleasant? I packed hands full of hand warmers and a boot full of foot warmers and we have not used them at all! They are heavy, too. We may leave them behind… the weight savings may make up for Some of the beach rocks Somebody has collected…

When we left you, we were checked into Ytra Lón guest house and sheep farm. What a lovely place.

It was nice to have two nights in one spot for a change.

Sunday is the 1st day of the year (at this latitude) with no ‘sunset’. The sun goes down at 12:01 am Monday- back up at 1:53. We have yet to see the moon or stars.

Breakfast included home smoked trout caught in the river running through the farm as well as eggs from their own hens. I asked later in the day what the fuel used in the smoker is since there ain’t a lot of trees in Iceland (but it is getting better – Ytra planted 4000 last year). Sverrir (our host) told me he uses a traditional and VERY plentiful and organic material – sheep chips! Yup; just what you are thinking they are.

We were taken on a 5 hour tour in his LandRover to the Lighthouse at World’s End. It is where the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans meet. We stopped at bird cliffs, a town built about 1900 and abandoned in 1946 and is now in ruins, a ship wreck and an old US Army base that is just rubble now. Then the Lighthouse.

Dinner that night was more trout ?not smoked) & lamb that was very fresh….and local!

We then headed up the Meleakkasletta Peninsular to Iceland’s northernmost mainland town – Raufarhöfn 66° 27.733. Almost to the Arctic Circle. Only one little island crosses that line but we ain’t going there.

We had read about this thing being built called Arctic Henge. It is supposed to emulate Stonehenge in the sunrise/sunset solstice/equinox observations. Also supposed to include the 47 named elves and other beliefs that are still popular here. Well, construction started in 2007 and is still sloooowly moving along. We actually saw a truck delivering gravel (the Druids in Britain did not use trucks and probably built theirs faster!).

It is photogenic though!

When we were in Iceland in 2015, our weather was a bit less conducive to seeing some sights so we were washed out of 2 big waterfalls then – Dettifoss and Godafoss so we made sure to visit again during this heatwave as well as the north’s answer to the very touristy and overpriced Blue Lagoon. This one is called Jaròbödin and is about 1/2 the cost and less crowded.

We actually had some car trouble- our Duster had 2 warning lights come on. Fortunately we were close to our next stop, Akureyri which is the country’s second largest city – 17,000. I called the rental company and they arranged to have a mechanic standing by. It took about an hour for him to replace a couple hoses. Phew!

The shop had an interesting reception desk.

There is an amazing restaurant in Akureyri that is worth the trip if you are in Iceland. It is called Rub23. Great sushi, other seafood and steaks (I hear – I’ve only eaten the fishies). We are there twice last trip. Luckily they are still in business and thriving.

One of the great pleasures of this trip is the level of spontaneity we have. While perusing a great book store we saw a postcard showing a great waterfall – Aldeyjarfoss only about 90 drive from Aky. We headed over there and saw from one of our guidebooks that it was listed in the Top 10 Fosses. That makes 8 of those for us – but who is keeping score?

When we arrived, there was a chopper parked there and I don’t mean a Harley. It took off a bit later and flew right down the canyon headed upstream to the falls. I did not get pics of the scariest bit as I was not expecting such aerial maneuvers but I did get some plus what I think are some other good shots.

We returned to Aki and found a great beer bar for sale – anyone wanna go halves?

Aki has some funkiness to it.

As well as a great botanical garden

We had dinner the 2nd night at a place that had this sign

I asked if was the # of meals served- nope it is the # of Icelanders. They update it daily. Funky, funky, funky…

Another bit of spontaneous action on our part involves the eastern Washington couple we met. They told us of a town north of Aki called Siglufjordhur- Siglo to the locals and since we had two nights unbooked (intentionally for just this eventuality) we decided to head up. They also recommended a terrific hotel right on the harbor and a restaurant that serves seafood pizza. I could get used to this!

But not before the aforementioned alfresco breakfast this morning

Along the drive, in the town of Askógssandur is the home of Bjorbodin, the country’s 1st microbrewery. That alone is a reason to visit but they do one better- a BEER SPA! Yup. A hot tub full of their fine young brew. It has all sorts of restorative properties and is organic, local (except the hops which come from Washington), antibiotic, probiotic, free radicals, chained up radicals, vegan & vegetarian, low carb, non toxic and tres cool!

That tap you see is free to use. I did so but sparingly as I had a drive ahead of me through winding roads and 3 tunnels of 6, 7 & 4 kilometers (the 1st is one lane with pullouts)!

I uttered a phrase for the first time today – “I have beer in my ear.”

I am very lucky that both countries we visited on this journey have great beer cultures. Nancy is not a beer girl but more a wino. Germany had lots of good wein but Iceland does not make any vino so the pickins have been slim.

We are now in the town of Siglo and I am sitting outside still in shorts at 5:45 pm. This is a fishing town and we managed to be on the dock while a boat was unloading

I’ve mentioned before about the endless days here. I have 2 pics to illustrate- 1 shot at 11 pm last night and the other of the same little piazza at 5 this morning (it is hard to sleep when there are no blackout curtains- lucky we brought eye shades! (I am not sure without looking at the time stamp on the photos which is which.)

Well, consider yourself caught up with the latest chapter of this glorious trip. As George Harrison said, All Things Must Pass and this adventure is no exception, alas. We have only 3 more days before heading home (to plan the next trip, no doubt).

Here is my view now

Time to have a beer!

Adios!

Nancy and Chris

I Got Your Puffins Right Here, Pal!

(Check out the puffin photo bombing us)

So, when last we left you, we were headed up the east coast of Iceland and boy have we done that, twice in fact for several hours (but more on that later).

So, currently , I am sitting outside, sans foot coverings on a beautiful afternoon on the Langaness Peninsula at a guesthouse on a sheep farm. No Kiwis here – luckily for the sheep!

Here is the corridor

The place is built with converted shipping containers. Funky, funky, funky…

So, the day after our last post was supposed to be spent going out to Papey Island on a puffin colony tour. However, late in the day before the excursion, Gunnar emailed me to let me know the boat no longer complied with EU regulations (those had changed) so he wasn’t able to put it in the water for the start of the season.

So, I started scrambling as we REALLY want to see puffins. Our first trip to Iceland was a week or so too late for their nesting season here. Asking around, I found a place in the far northeast called Bakkagerdi Estry (Estry is east , as there is another Bakkegerdi in the south. This is a small country and they have a LOT of words, why do they need 2 towns with the same name? Oh, and there are at least 3 Reykholts!)

So, anyway, it is a 3+ hour drive somewhat in the direction we are headed anyway. We changed hotel reservations for the next night and in the morning we took off.

So, that evening we met a couple from eastern Washington who used to live near us, in Richmond Beach, WA. In getting to know them over dinner, it turns out their son is marrying a young lady we know from Edmonds!

So, next morning we had a late breakfast and hit the road. We stopped for waterfall photography along the fjords.

So, since we had plenty of time we had a cappuccino in a cute little town, took our time & stopped for lunch in another town that had a bakery with amazing cookies. We then checked email to learn the hotel where we spent the night before, 2 hours south of us, had sent a message that one of us left a small pair of hiking boots at their hotel.

So, I figured since they are small boots, it wasn’t me so must have been the previous guest. Nope! My traveling companion… nuff said. So, back we go to Djúpivogur A slightly different route so we had more fosses to shoot.

So, it really is a beautiful country and even when you are in a rush to backtrack, you HAVE to stop and smell the waterfalls.

So, we grabbed the boots, turned north again & finally made it to Bakkegerdi Estry and found the puffins’ summer residence. The road, once you are north of Egilsstadir , has some very rough sections. They call them gravel roads here but you can’t think of a US gravel type road. These are more hard packed dirt with rocks from pea sized to softball sized. Sometimes there are potholes and sometimes not. That’s why you rent a 4wd vehicle here. We have a Dacia Duster – a Renault/Romanian joint venture. (The car is well named) This is what we had in our 1st trip too. I’m used to Iceland roads and driving but, oh my Odin, this day was for the memory bank. Very steep and hairpin turns thrown in with thick fog. Take your time and all will be well.

So, here they are in all the glory I can provide- please pardon the plethora of pics. I even ran out of space on my memory card or I would have more to show you.

I especially like the last one as it looks like his arms are behind his back and he is asking, “Are you looking at me?”

So, then we found a little bar and grill in BE that had just opened that day for the summer. The menu was limited to lamb burgers (about 10 varieties) + ham and cheese sandwiches. They also are one of only 2 pubs in Iceland serving a particular craft brewery’s wares.

They were quite concerned about their WC etiquette it seems

So, if we thought the drive TO the puffins was tough, the trip to that night’s stop made it look like a walk on a glacier. Oy! This one included all the same road for the 1st hour and then what turns out to be Iceland’s highest mountain (road) pass – also ‘gravel’ but with 17° grade up and then down. About 10 miles of this intensity- with no guardrails and sheer drops – in both sides at the same time occasionally. The only good bits of this leg were it was still light (‘sunset’ at 11:30) and we did not see one other vehicle on the mountain the whole time – & I know why! It was a real clencher. I’m glad we do not have to go back that way. We found out this morning that the road just reopened for the summer about a week ago.

So, today, we drove up here –

after stopping at the gas station to clean the rental (sacrilege!). All the stations here offer free hoses and brushes for just this purpose. If you take out your map, and look in the northeast for a peninsula that looks like a goose, that is where we are.

We stopped to play with some horsies along the way.

We had lunch nearby in Pórshöfn at the only restaurant in town. The waiter told us it is Fishermen’s Day so all they are serving is lamb soup and Guillemot eggs (I have seen a documentary where people go down the cliffs on ropes to collect the eggs from the birds’ nests. It is pretty dangerous. I did not realize this is where they do it.), and it is free. The town is buying everyone’s lunch today!

We heard some commotion at the harbor (Höfn) after lunch and they were having a knock him off the log competition- into the cold water of course).

So, that is all I have to report for now. Tomorrow, we are headed out on a landrover tour of the area including more birds. Gannets, (they mess their nests), guillemots, gyr falcons, auks, ptarmigan and of course, PUFFINS! Maybe some pufflings (babies), if we are lucky.

Mikid af Ást

Nancy and Chris