A Travellerspoint blog

Iceland

The final stop

overcast 11 °C
View Around the world in a few months! on Labgirluk's travel map.


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The flight was relatively short for an overnight one although there was a 4 hour time change so wouldn’t land till 9 am. However, I, unfortunately, ended up with a chair that wouldn’t recline so ended up with no leg room once the person in front had reclined their chair. I was ever thankful for my trtl neck pillow as I woke up without a sore neck in the morning. Bleary eyed maybe and not really rested but no sore neck! ☺️ The joy of being back in the EU, speedy customs... Was out and bag collected fairly quickly. From there it was go and find an airport transfer bus to Reykjavík city and for a little extra they then transfer you in to a mini bus and drop you at the stop nearest your hotel. In my case right outside my hotel... A definite bonus.
As I arrived at the hotel quite a few hours before check in (3pm!) I dumped my main bag in the luggage store and chilled in the lobby for a while (making the most of the free WiFi) before heading next door to noodle nation for some lunch. Not very Icelandic I know but quick, easy and close... I was too tired at this point to care. 3pm on the dot I checked in and took my bag up to my room. I’d also had to contact STA that morning as I’d not yet received any vouchers for either activity I was booked on in Iceland... Thankfully these came through so I could rest until I had to go out. This need was probably one of the best beds I’d slept on in any hostel. I didn’t include hotels or friend’s beds in this...
I was off to The Blue Lagoon, a thermal hot pool (6th one during this trip, if you include hot water beach and the self serve hole digging at Hahei, NZ) back over towards Keflavik, the airport I’d come from just that morning! As seems to be the norm for Reykjavík I was picked up from the stop outside the hotel by a transfer minibus and taken to the main bus terminal for that bus company and then transferred on to the main bus taking us to the blue lagoon. Half an hour or so later we arrived and checked in. I was given my wristband that would work the lockers as well as show I was entitled to a free drink at the in-water bar and a silica mud face mask. In Iceland communal changing is the norm and for the lagoon you needed to shower naked first and then don your swimsuit. They also recommended slapping a load of conditioner on your hair as the silica in the water dries it out. I showered, slapped on the conditioner, put my bikini on and was then ready to hit the lagoon. Walking out of a nice warm building to 10c (it was about 7pm by this time) temp meant I headed into the water with haste... The water was very milky due to all the silica and minerals. The pool itself was quite large and segmented. Not having my glasses on as well as the steam coming off the lagoon surface meant I couldn’t see where anything was, especially the bar! Finally finding a map and figuring out where to go I aimed directly for the bar. One pint of cider later I was then slowly walking around the lagoon making sure I didn’t slip or accidentally drop my drink, nor dunk the bottom of it in the warm water....
After finishing the drink I headed to the mask bar. Some were managing to drink with their mask on but I decided it would get messy so waited till after for my mask. One mask applied I then headed back for another tour of the lagoon, thankfully not feeling a ninny as many others were sporting a mask too, and found a corner to chill in (maybe relax would be a better word considering I was in a thermal pool!) and let the mask do its thing before rinsing it off in the water.... Eventually it was time to get out, shower (more conditioner for the hair!) and dress to get ready for the return bus ride. It felt very odd still being in full daylight at gone 10pm, and knowing it would stay like that till after I’d gone to sleep and it would be light when I woke up the following day.. Thank god for black out curtains... ????
Thursday saw me up and out fairly early for a day trip around the Golden Circle and finishing the day at the secret lagoon. After we picked everyone up we headed out of the city and the surrounding towns and drove to the Þingvellir national Park where we were taken to the place where ancient parliament was held. They figured out that if the speaker faced away from the rest and talked to the naturally created rock face their voice would echo and amplify so all could hear the speech. Other major events are also held here, even now. It was also here that the trail split open when a fissure appeared. In the past this area was a road through the area... Some pretty amazing views too. At this point we were still on the North Pacific continent but on leaving there and heading to Geysir we effectively left the North Pacific continent and entered no man’s land, an area between the continental plates. The Eurasian plate was about 7km away and there was a small Icelandic plate also in existence. At the end of the North Pacific plate there were many gorges visible, created as a result of the plates moving. We were effectively driving on a lava bed, where lava had bubbled up as the plates moved apart and solidified as it cooled.
We arrived at Geysir, the site of the Strokkur geyser as well as a couple of other wells, but these ones just bubble/boil and not explode! Dropped off at the top car park we then wandered to look at the wells and streams before going to watch Strokkur do its thing. Fortunately it goes off pretty frequently, every 4 to 7 minutes, so could watch a couple of times, work out the time between each ‘fountain’ of water to get the best shot! Apparently the time can vary from day to day but in each day it will be fairly consistent. The day I was there it went off every 4 or so minutes so not long to wait really. We had been warned to watch where the wind was blowing too and not to stand in the direction the water was going as it could scald if not careful. Interestingly, either people weren’t told, didn’t listen or didn’t believe as there were a few standing right where the water was heading.... The noise when the geyser went off confirmed that 1) they got wet and possibly 2) the water was still hot! It had just shot boiling water into the air..... Thankfully the 10c air temp helped cool it down a bit. Idiots! I stood at the opposite end where the water was trickling down to the stream and got a nice under foot heat pad from the water running down the rocks and warming them on its way.... Got my photos and a video so I was happy. Had a wander round the gift shop before it was time to get back on the bus. We had the added excitement that one of the group had lost her camera. She’d had it in the bus just before arriving at the top car park but didn’t have it on her when she went to take a photo of the info board near the car park entrance. I was pretty certain someone would have picked it up and put it somewhere visible. Checked in the visitor centre and nothing handed in so we went back to the top car park. My faith in the other tourists was justified and her camera was sitting on a post so it was visible from the bus in the car park. One happy person, and thankfully one still working camera, even though it had been dropped and out in the drizzle....
A 10-15 min drive later we were at Gullfoss, an amazing waterfall. Fast flowing and rushing through a gorge it was incredible being able to get so close to it – thankfully I’d put on the raincoat as you did quite wet during the walk there, from the splash back... As per many tourist areas there was the usual fun of avoiding certain nationalities who seem to think it was ok to barge through, not consider other people, watch where they were walking and generally push to the front to get the ‘best’ photo.... Not the first time I’d had to cope with this but it still grated all the same. I have learnt how to effectively use my elbows while pushing forward myself.... ????
From Gullfoss we headed to the added extra of the tour. Some time at the Secret Lagoon (not so secret anymore!) in Flúðir. This lagoon was so completely different from the blue lagoon, apart from the naked showering beforehand. No silica, less commercialised, heat source was water trickling in from geyser wells just by the lagoon so you could get close to the hotter water coming in if you wanted (did try and it was hot), and was just a more chilled out hot pool experience. We even got given pool noodles to use as float aids. They were also more strict about what you could wear in the water. One man got the whistle and told to take his t-shirt off, another girl just coming out of the changing room was stopped before she could get in with her t-shirt on. At the blue lagoon, I’m sure there were plenty wearing t shirts and long sleeved tops in the water.
From there it was back to Reykjavík and dropped off, as required, at the various stops. Too tired to figure out food so thank god for leftover carrot cake oreos and some tasty coconut ice topped white chocolate that I’d bought in NZ. Not the healthiest but enough to keep me going. A long but enjoyable day was had.
My last full day in Iceland was spent visiting Reykjavík. First thing I felt I should see was the phallological museum directly opposite the hotel. You kinda stared at it every time you waited at the bus stop so googled it and felt it could be interesting. It was too. Had an audio tour by the museum founder/owner with info about the different specimens; background about where they came from and any other bits of interesting information including the interesting fact that they shrink when dried for the taxidermy process –this, I think, is why many were then stored in liquid in glass jars. It was quite fascinating and learnt all sorts about size, shape, differences between animal type etc. The only really cheesy part of it was in the gift shop at the end with some of the willy themed items on sale. From there it was time to see the rest of the city...
I’d bought a city sightseeing hop-on, hop-off (hoho) bus ticket as I’d thought that would be the easiest way to get to the various places and see a bit of the city at the same time. It had worked well in Canberra and LA so guessed it would work here too. The bonus this time was that the voucher was on my phone (so didn’t have to go find a main office to get a ticket) and the nearest bus stop (stop 7 on the map) was just around the corner from the hotel. The only issue I had was I couldn’t find a timetable on line that gave the bus times at the various stops so had to do a bit of guessing. Luckily I guessed that correctly too and I only had a 10 min wait for the bus.. ☺️
On I jumped and decided to take a tour all the way round to stop 3 where there were some other museums I was interested in visiting. I looked at the maritime museum and decided against that, partly due to cost but also just didn’t fancy it when I got there, so went to find the Whales of Iceland museum. I happened to come across an ice cream shop on the way so a very tasty, but not so healthy, lunch of ice cream was had while I walked around to the other museum. This museum had information and life-size models of the whales/dolphins you could see in the ocean around Iceland. Was nice to get some more info about the sperm whales and right whales after reading/hearing about them at the whale museum in Nantucket as well as the others. It was also incredible seeing just how big these creatures are. One day I would like to see a living one in the wild. I’d best add that to my new bucket list...
Once I’d had my fill of the whales I walked back towards stop no. 3 and found the little Aurora museum. This one explained how the northern lights are created and why different colours can be seen, as well as a selfie spot to get a picture with the northern lights in the background – probably only time I’ll be in the same spot as those since I picked the wrong time of year to be able to see them – also picked the wrong time to see the southern lights while down under too. They also had VR headsets to enjoy the northern lights in 360° splendour. After this I felt I needed a little walk and leg stretch so walked along the old harbour back towards stop no. 1, near the harpa conference centre. On the way on the old harbour dockside there were sculptures and information boards about the history of Iceland and Reykjavík. It was nice looking at the ships too, including 2 coastguard ships – I think I am definitely my father’s daughter! I could have walked up to the next port of call – Hallgrims church – but decided that I might as well make the most of the bus since I’d paid for it already! This church has a 73m high tower with a viewing area. The first 8 floors have to be taken by lift (couldn’t see a ‘take the stairs’ option anywhere obvious) and this brought me out behind the clock faces. From there a couple flights up to the view area above the clocks. No glassed in windows but all with grills and little foot stools so you can climb up and see out comfortably. Could get a 360° view of Reykjavík and surrounding area. I liked being able to see the colourful streets below with the buildings all painted different colours next to each other as well as the sea and hills in the distance. Once back down I caught the next hoho bus for one last visit – Perlan. This is a glass domed building built on top of 6 hot water tanks with an interesting exhibition on Iceland and its history, and included a walk through an ice cave, where I had a little sit down on an ice throne. Also included was access to the observation deck which wrapped around the whole building. From there I could see back into the city and the harbour behind it.
This day had been relatively warm, around 14/15c at times, but as I was waiting for the bus it tried to rain... Thankfully it didn’t last as I then had a walk down Laugavegur (one of the main shopping streets right on my hotel doorstep) to find both dinner and a post-box to send my last postcard of the trip to Bish, so that she could add it to her wall of cards. Didn’t realise just how far down I’d have to walk to find one either! They are not overly abundant I had found as I’d carried the card for a couple days without seeing any post-boxes! I also resorted to a Subway for my dinner. Something I knew I could eat and wasn’t massively expensive – well by Icelandic standards anyway. It would also do for brunch the following day since I was on a 12.30pm flight and unlikely to get any food. Headed back to the hotel for my last evening.
The following day I was up and out relatively early to catch the transfer minibus back to the bus hub. This bus was picking up not just airport transfers but also day trippers. We had a couple of no shows but instead of just driving off the driver radioed back to base who then tried to contact the person to find out where they were. As there had been no response we had to leave without them as the rest of us needed to swap to the main buses. These had also been held back for us so that none of us missed them. I felt this was pretty good service and duty of care. They could have easily just driven off every time without checking on the no shows to ensure we made it to the buses on time. A quick and traffic free journey back to the airport meant I was there in plenty of time. Check in and security was quick and gave me time to do a bit of shopping and use up the last of my money. Once the gate was announced there was up to a 20 min walk as it included a secondary security check. Thankfully there was no queue and I was through in plenty of time.
Boarding and flight was uneventful and thankfully only 3 hours long and a 1 hour time difference. Although Iceland is in same time zone as the UK they don’t observe daylight savings time so for 6 months of the year they are 1 hour behind the UK and for the other 6 months the same as the UK... At least it meant my jet lag was reduced in a controlled manner from – 8 hrs in LA to – 5 hrs in Boston and then just – 1 hr in Iceland... We landed on time but at the furthest end of the T1 gates which meant a long long walk back to T2 arrivals. This was the first time in 4 months I could walk through passport control quickly, as I could still go through the EU passport channel, and not have to deal with immigration. Even with the walk and passport control we still beat the luggage. Thankfully mine was quickly delivered and I was out meeting the car driver in just under an hour from landing. I was on my way home and this epic journey was over...

Posted by Labgirluk 14:41 Archived in Iceland Tagged geyser iceland reykjavik blue_lagoon strokkur golden_circle gullfoss þingvellir_national_park secret_lagoon

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