ICELAND: Reykjavik, Greenland Day Trip & the Ring Road Rally

Posted by on Jul 28, 2016 in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

I will be arriving in Reykjavik on August 1st. for three days followed by a five day driving circuit of the country. I had planned to be in Iceland for at least three weeks, but I was unaware that it was a Schengen country, and I had nearly used up all of my Schengen time (90 Days). So I cut Copenhagen from my itinerary in early July, headed for the UK, and ended up with enough time (9 Days) to get a taste of what Iceland has to offer. Even in its abbreviated state, my visit here will be a fantastic way to wrap up my 2016 European Tour.

 

We come from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.  -Led Zeppelin-

 

I have arrived in Reykjavik, gotten oriented, and even flown to Greenland for an inspired impromptu day trip. Iceland has been a smooth groove even though I failed to plan extensively. I talked to a girl who worked at reception in the hostel the night before leaving for my whirlwind ring road adventure, and basically came up with some must see stuff. She even helped me sort out my google maps so I wouldn’t have to rent a GPS. The friendly Lithuanian guy at the rental agency and I hit it off the next day, and he gave me an automatic car for the same price as a manual which was an excellent start to the journey, to say the least.

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This is some iceberg action from Greenland. Since 90% is underwater it’s actually ginormous. I’ve already got 400 photos to work with, and I’ve still have three more days to go. It’s hard to make time on the roads in Iceland because you want to stop and shoot pictures every five minutes. The place is as bad as New Zealand when it comes to natural beauty and low population density.

 

                                        Reykjavik

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LOFT HOSTEL – Located dead center in Reykjavik, this hostel has an ideal location, comfortable accommodations, and a wonderful staff.

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There is also a good view from their top floor patio.

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Capital City with a small town vibe.

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Need one of those hats with the horns on it? This is the place for you. Flava Flav ruined Viking hats for me when he was slutting around on that sleazy reality show of his. “Flavor of Love” indeed, more like the flavor of chlamydia!

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See what I mean, and this is a good picture of him with his boozy, washed up, Eurotrash girlfriend Brigitte Neilsen from the show. She’s now making the rounds with that recovery charlatan, Dr. Drew Pinsky. I felt so sorry for his bandmates in Public Enemy being so humiliated by his antics on that abomination of a show, and also for Denmark for being her birthplace.

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MAIN STREET – As you can see Reykjavik is nothing like you would expect from a capital city with its two-story buildings on its main street. There are even a couple of one story buildings as well. There is a very small town feel to it, and the country’s total population is a mere 300,000 people.

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CAFÉ LOKI – The only reason I included this is that it is the name of my daughter Dina’s dog, and I had dinner here. I had a bowl of the local meat soup, some smoked trout on flatbread and a coke zero. All tolled it was $40. As you can see Iceland lives up to its reputation for being a bit expensive.

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HARPA REYKJAVIK CONCERT HALL

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HALLGRIMSKIRKJA – Lutheran Church and largest church in Iceland

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HULDA  HÁKON – PÉTUR/PETER

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A VIEW FROM THE TOP

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LEIF ERICSSON – Son of Iceland – Discoverer of Finland

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LEIF ERICSSON

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A woman’s work is never done

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HARPA REYKJAVIK CONCERT HALL

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Jón Gunnar ÁRNASON – Sun Voyager (Sólfar) – 1986

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LEBOWSKI BAR – A nice tribute to a much-loved movie by the Coen Brothers. Come on in and order a white Russian or just drink up the atmosphere. The Dude would love the place if he could come up the $14 which is a fee for a Caucasian.

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                             Day Trip to Greenland

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 Air Iceland – 2 hours to Greenland

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My First Iceberg

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A QUIET RIDE FROM REYKJAVIK

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A local guide who was very hard to understand. Nice fellow though.

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WE READY OURSELVES FOR A HIKE

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THE LOCAL HOTEL – Probably the largest structure on the island. In front of the building, you will see a tall gray pole in the ground. These are all over town and used to gauge the depth of the snow as the winter snows pile up.

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A pretty little village whose colorful houses used to carry meaning for the town. Each color used to designate a specific function in the community. Some colors for water, electric, communications, etc. Now they are purely for aesthetic purposes.

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TRUNDLING TOWARD THE VILLAGE BELOW

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WHERE’S WALDO? – Try and locate the three dogs. These Greenland dogs are special sled dogs indigenous to this country.

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TINY LOCAL MUSEUM & GIFT SHOP

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SEAL SKIN – Just as the Native Americans used every part of the Buffalo so do the Innuit People of Greenland with the seal.

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I feel a little bad for buying a Polar Bear Claw, but I could rest assured that this was not from a trophy hunter. Clearly, a family was fed for a considerable time, the fur went to good use, and the claws alone fetched $1000 total. It’s a very expensive place to live. Aside from that, it was a gift for my awesome son-in-law whose nickname is Bear.

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WATER FILLING STATION

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CHURCH

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Love the ship model behind the pulpit, not to mention the seal skin kneeling cushions for communion.

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This lady is the mother of the guy with the green shirt in the pictures below.

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This Innuit performer has traveled around Europe and is demonstrating to us the song and dance of culture as passed down to him through the generations.

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Our friend gives us a funny story about a raven and a seabird while making ridiculous guttural sounds in the process.

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In this performance, he plays the role of a lascivious old perv as he sidles up to blond who is agonizing in the foreground because she has just seen him accost another lady. He sticks out his tongue and weaves about. It really is kind of creepy even though it’s clearly an act.

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ICEBURG HUNTING – A little one appears.

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Getting Bigger

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Panama hat with icebergs, I love it!

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One last MegaBerg

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One last Greenlandscape

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Time to grab the flight back to Reykjavik from Kulusuk.

 

 

                                          Reykjavik

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Overnight in Reykjavik before the big “Ring Road Rally”.

 

 

                    Day One – South Coast – Vik Area

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My intrepid little method of conveyance. Note the TR Z (travel zealot) license plate.

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ON THE ROAD

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THE MOUNTAIN HAS SPRUNG A LEAK

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SELJALANDSFOSS WATERFALL – The first of many waterfalls I will encounter.

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And now for a farmhouse that was nearly destroyed by the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in its backyard. Although the eruption temporarily threatened those beneath, people never gave up. Farming continued, and plants and animals were nurtured

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                               Skògafoss Waterfall

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These falls are striking with their crisp, straight, stone lip turning water into a foaming curtain so well formed that one can’t help but suspect that it is manmade.

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SUCH BEAUTY – This is a place where man does as little damage as is possible. 100% Renewable Energy, now.

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                             Sólheimajökull Glacier

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Glacial Ice

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I love the interplay of the layers and textures of color. For a quiet photo, there is a lot going on.

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EYE CANDY

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VIK

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HRUTAFELL GUESTHOUSE – Hvolsvöllur – South of Vik

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THE BACKYARD

 

                             Day Two – Hofn Hostel

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BLACK BEACH – Perfect day for rain and angry clouds.

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I do love composing these textural playgrounds.

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Once again a great way to shoot these beaches; from under an umbrella.

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I think a real test of a country is how beautiful it is in the rain.

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So many times you snap a picture here, and it looks like a painting.

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Here’s a little welcome déja vu along the lines of the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland.

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CAN’T BEAT THOSE HEXAGONAL BASALT FORMATIONS

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Don’t dare to throw trash or call their horses ponies, and you will get along just fine with the locals.

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HOFN HOSTEL – A tired old overpriced hostel that charged me $150 for a nights stay in a private with no bathroom, sheets, or towel.

 

                                      – Day Three –

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                                       -Day Four –

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Petra’s Stone Collection – This is an early hoarder who focused her efforts on stone. This is nice because they don’t rot. Most of her collection just came from the region she lived in. A number of locals suggested that her time might be better spent on other pursuits, but Petra was unable to disengage from her stony obsession.

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This is one case of hoarding that really paid off. The King of Iceland even gave Petra an award, and the museum is bringing in a lot of money for the family.

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PETRA WOOD CARVING

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                                          -Day Five-

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                                          – AKUREYRI –

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AKUREYRI BACKPACKERS

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BAUTINN – This place whips up a fantastic lobster soup.

 

 

 

                         Day Six – Return to Reykjavik

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INTERESTING ICELANDIC  PILLOWS

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THIS MENU CAUGHT MY EYE BEFORE I CIRCLED ICELAND

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APOTEK RESTAURANT

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FRESH ICELANDIC BREAD & BUTTER

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AMUSE BOUCHE – A Taste of Puffin

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OCEAN PERCH – Slow cooked ocean perch, beetroot purée, spicy butter, serrano ham, beetroot

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MINKE WHALE – Shallot vinaigrette, crispy Jerusalem artichokes

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SEA TROUT – Yuzu mayo, truffle mayo, crispy quinoa, thinly-sliced apple served on a thick salt block

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PLAICE – Samphire, green asparagus, blood orange, lime beurre blanc

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RACK OF FREE RANGE ICELANDIC LAMB – Lamb filet, leeks, pickled onions, browned cereliac, baked carrots, spinach, and dill cream

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SKYR FANTASIA – Skyr fromage, Skyr mousse, strawberry & lime gel, lime sponge cake

Six Courses with Dessert – 7,990 kroner – $69 – an incredible value for Iceland

anna

ANNA – My delightful Icelandic server.

8 Comments

  1. Jason B.
    August 6, 2016

    Not familiar with Schengen ??

  2. The Travel Zealot
    August 7, 2016

    Jason, so good to have you back in the Zealot Zone!!! The Schengen countries are a bunch of European countries that have an agreement whereby it is not necessary to obtain visas when traveling across borders within their collective. This is good for 90 days, after which you have to leave the Schengen zone for at least 180 days unless you are able to obtain an extension.

  3. Karen Devers
    August 28, 2016

    I’ve always known that Iceland is a place I’d like to visit and your photo journal has me even more certain. There’s so much natural beauty that it is almost overwhelming. I love the rock collection since I share that passion. Wherever I travel I try to pick up a small rock to take with me as a momento. I agree with you that some photos look like paintings but I would love to do some watercolor paintings of the beauty that is Iceland. Thank you for taking so many lovely photos and posting them with your commentary.

  4. Jason B.
    September 3, 2016

    It was a real treat to finally get back to your site for the whole Iceland,Greenland experience. Spent a good 30 minutes or so just taking it all in. Worth the wait. Great job!

  5. Janet Cascadia
    September 10, 2016

    Wow, I’m overwhelmed – such gorgeous photos. You have a eye for composition. I loved Petra’s rock collection – I collect rocks too, but not on that scale. I also loved that place where the houses were partially covered in rocks, soil, and grass – along with the all the low-tech equipment and lifestyle. The landscapes were, in some places, Martian-looking. I enjoyed all the photos of the basalt, wet and dry – and what was the explanation for those little foot-high pyramidal mounds of rock all over in that one place you visited? The only thing I was somewhat put off about was some of the sterile-looking architecture – but maybe the Icelanders have to build fast during the few months of good weather that they have, and focus on thick walls and impervious exteriors! I’m sure I’d have a better appreciation of it once I visited. I’m not going to forget the allure of Iceland now!

  6. The Travel Zealot
    September 16, 2016

    Iceland’s definitely a place that is worth a return trip. I still have a bit of commentary yet for Iceland and my computer has run out of storage so I have been unable to load my Pacific Northwest photos. Tonight my son in law will help me clear out my memory so I can catch up on the blog.

  7. The Travel Zealot
    September 16, 2016

    Hi Jason,
    I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s a wonderful place to visit very much in the spirit of New Zealand. Neither should be missed.

  8. The Travel Zealot
    September 16, 2016

    Janet, I’m glad you enjoyed. I need to add some commentary to those cool grass covered houses. That was one of the last things I visited. Needless to say the old architecture is more interesting than the new.

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