Monday, May 22, 2017

Nana and Papa's pre-vacation visit

Nana and Papa came to hang out for a couple of days before Jeff and I left on our trip, and they took Axel to Las Vegas.

At swimming lessons.


Swinging at the park



Day 12: Windy Day and Home again

This morning was a bit of comedy of errors. We were supposed to get picked up for Whale Watching at 8:30, so we got ready early and checked out around 7:45, put our luggage in storage, had breakfast, then started waiting for the shuttle. We waited and waited. It was drizzling a bit, but we didn't think anything of it. Eventually I decided it would be a good idea to check my email. Sure enough, whale watching is canceled because of bad weather. The time the email was sent: 7:37. So if I had just checked my email a couple of minutes later, we could have stayed comfortably in our hotel room until check-out time at noon! But now we have 4.5 hours to kill until our airport shuttle comes.

The weather didn't look bad to us, so we decided to walk down the couple blocks to the water. Little did we know it was WINDY! Like, couldn't walk straight, buildings creating a vortex when you try to pass them, etc. It was crazy!

Look, we finally could see the tops of some mountains!

We took refuge in the Harpa building, the music hall of Reykjavik. I have no idea if we were supposed to be in there, but it had wifi and no one told us to leave. So I checked my email and saw that I had to GO INTO the bus station to get the refund for the day's cancelled trip. So lame. Luckily we were only a 5 minute walk to their city-center location. Unluckily, the employees at that location didn't know what they were doing. But eventually it got sorted it.

We walked by the Reykjavik Cathedral again.


A typical street in Reykjavik.

I was so worried that our flight would be delayed or cancelled because of the wind, so when we got back to our hotel lobby I kept checking and checking the flights. But all the flights were landing and taking off as scheduled. And sure enough, our flight took off with no problem! 

We were so happy to see Axel! He stayed up late to see us. HUGE thank you to Rhonda for taking care of him, and bringing him back to New York for us. He loved hanging out with all the family members for almost 2 weeks. I'm pretty sure he would be ok with staying with them forever!

Day 11: Viking Horse Riding and Golden Circle

We rode Icelandic Viking Horses! The breed is virtually unchanged since the 9th century AD.



Jeff with his horse Jonas (pronounced Yo-nnas)


Me and my horse Shonna (pronounced with a long "o" sound)

We decided not to take pictures while we were riding due to the likelihood of dropping our phones from 6 feet up.

We stopped by a beautiful canyon.




For the record, I am TERRIBLE at horse riding. But I managed not to fall off. Mostly by grabbing onto the saddle with one hand.

Next we went on a bus tour of the Golden Circle, which is 3 famous stops near Reykjavik that everyone always visits.

The first stop was the "no man's land" between the European plate and North American plate. The plates are pulling apart by 2cm every year, so Iceland is slowly getting larger. 



Jeff took this picture from a moving bus. Pretty good, huh?

Viking horses everywhere

Next stop, the Gulfoss waterfall. The sun came out a bit so we could see a beautiful rainbow.






We went down right by the water, and got very wet. Luckily all our clothes (minus our gloves) were waterproof.

Video we sent to Axel


Next we went to the Geysir. There were signs EVERYWHERE not to touch the water because it is 80-100 degrees celsius. But we saw no less than TWO people stick their hands in it! They both exclaimed, "Wow, that IS hot!" No duh. Luckily they didn't have to go to the hospital (only because they were smart enough to touch the run-off instead)

Jeff pretending to have a hard time walking over the geyser run-off.

Geysir erupts every 5 minutes, so we were able to see the cycle 5 times. Sometimes it did double eruptions. There is no warning for the eruptions (unlike Old Faithful in Yellowstone that bubbles a lot before) so people always screamed. Silly people.

"Should I put my hand in?"




We decided we couldn't leave Iceland without having seafood, so we found a reasonably priced seafood restaurant in Reykjavik when we got back. It was so delicious!

Day 10: Snaefellsnes Peninsula

We did an 11 hour bus tour of the Snaefellnes Peninsula. We made lot of short scenic stops, and a few longer stops. 

(Full discloser, there are a disproportionate pictures of me vs. pictures of Jeff because Jeff had the nice camera. Sorry)

Pretty little waterfall we drove by.

The cloud cover was really low, so we couldn't see the tops of any mountains. We were driving right next to volcanoes, but couldn't see them!

This beach is called Ytri-Tunga and had some seals. We tried to get closer to them, but picked the wrong way to try to scamper across... But that's ok! It was so beautiful!



Me pointing at the seals.



At a scenic overlook, looking at craters formed by volcanoes blowing up.


At the shoreline in Hellnar. 





There were so many nesting birds! They were so loud! It was amazing!









Monument to the giant who shaped this area, or something like that. Every bit of Iceland has its own origin story.



Those are the magma chambers of an ancient volcano that cooled, and the rest of the volcano eroded away.

DELICIOUS lunch!

Trying to get my helmet clipped to go in the lava tubes (at Vatnshellir). I swear I have a college degree!


"Journey to the Center of the Earth"


Inside the lava tubes.

At one point the guide had us turn off all lights and stand in total darkness. All we could hear was the dripping of the water. Amazing.



Next stop was called Djupalonssandur (don't ask me to pronounce it).



Ancient sign of manliness

Jeff giving it a try


There are pieces of a ship wreck from 1945 all over the beach

The most beautiful beach!





This was the ground by the water.

Beautiful black pebble beach. 

This mountain normally looks really cool. Still looked pretty cool. It is one of the most photographed landmarks in Iceland, called Kirkjufell. It is 1500 feet tall from the shoreline, and symmetrical (so they tell me).

Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall




Jeff running back because we were the last ones back to the bus!

At another scenic overlook



Hey, finally some blue sky!

Back in Reykjavik, we just HAD to eat at the Church Norris Grill, with dishes like "roundhouse kick sandwich" and "knocked out chicken." They had Chuck Norris jokes written all over the walls.

More awesome street art.



We were sooooo exhausted by the end of the day!