Day 2: Southern Iceland / Golden Circle

Day 2 of our Iceland adventure started bright and early (2 year olds don’t seem to care about the time change), we had a great breakfast at the hotel including Icelandic yogurt (Skyr?) and then Beck and I got picked up to get our rental car. We got a Nissan Pathfinder with third row seating (2 adults, 3 kids) and 4 wheel drive, 25k miles (or kilometers maybe, I need to check) and diesel. I wish I could have said that this:

was our truck, but apparently they don’t rent those. Either way, our little truck runs like a champ and looks like it’ll handle most anything we throw at it. We packed everyone and everything up and headed out at 9:20, the sun only having come up an hour earlier.

We hit Þingvellir as our first stop, nabbed a couple of waterfalls:

and had a nice little hike around the river:

and the old church and graveyard:

Wind really picked up and I think we all were pretty surprised at how cold it was with the wind. The sun never gets seems to get above 30 degrees, staying low in the sky all day. Completely forgot about getting geocaches.

After that we piled back into the car and drove to go find some geysers, on the way we stopped at a super market / fast food joint and had the customary American hot dogs and hamburgers and then Karen found a farm that made their own ice cream so we stopped because… homemade ice cream.

After a quick pit stop there (and some frolicking with a friendly farm dog), we made it to the geysers (Stokkur) which erupted a couple times for us in the 20 minutes we stood around watching it. I even got one on video, which I’m sure will win awards in some kind of video competition for people with horrible phone cameras. Good number of people with their backs turned toward the geyser attempting to get a selfie with said geyser as it erupts. Kind of misses the point of going to see the geyser in the first place.

Last visit of the day was a gigantic waterfall called Gullfoss, which was wet and windy and really cold but we all made it down the stairs and back up again:

The hotel for the evening was out in the middle of absolutely nowhere and was perfect. It probably had 10 rooms and was / is attached to a farm. The ladies running the place were both there for the summer from Germany and took great care of us, even into the middle of the night when the oldest son proceeded to throw up into the wee hours of the evening, which is always a good sign when you’re about to drive around an island in a small car with 4 other people for 8 days.

Stats:

  • Geocaches: 0
  • Waterfalls: 3
  • Ice cream: check
  • Hot dogs: 3
  • Hamburgers: 1

Day 1: Reykjavik, Iceland

Somewhere during the last couple years I figured out that Iceland looked like an amazing place to visit and so as part of our year in England, I put Iceland on the short list of places that I wanted to visit. In preparation for the year, I bought a book at Powell’s in Portland before we left called “100 Places That Can Change Your Child’s Life”, which is published by National Geographic and probably isn’t worth the money to buy but is great if you’re looking for ideas on things to see with kids around the world. One of the suggestions in the book was to drive around Iceland on the Ring Road which turns out would have been really amazing during the summer but we had already booked a trip to see some parts of Norway with my parents in July, which brings us me today (actually day 3 of the trip) and this blog post.

On Friday (10/10) we got to Gatwick 2 hours early, got some sandwiches before got on the plane, ate them while waiting to board and then promptly sat on the plane for 2 hours while we waited for some weather to clear. This would have been a nightmare but Iceland Air has TV’s for each seat with lots of kids movies, so the 2 hours waiting was relatively painless, in fact my oldest turned to me while we were taking off and asked if we were landing. Regardless, we landed 2 hours later than we were supposed to and met the driver (Christian, super nice dude) who picked us up in a brand new van and dropped us off at the hotel, which was right across the street from Hallgrímskirkja:

which apparently you can climb to the top of but we didn’t have time (yet) along with a recommendation to eat at a restaurant that was a block away from the hotel. I tried Foursquare for something really good but the really good place was booked and didn’t have a table for us so we ended up at Café Loki. For dinner we got some Icelandic meat soup, a couple sandwiches and some fermented shark for dinner. Kai took a small bite of the shark because he was hungry and immediately put it back, Karen and I both ate a small piece. We all agree that it’s horrible and will never have it again. After dinner and dessert (Rye bread ice cream, really good), we broke out the headlamps (anything to get the 2 year old and 4 year old out walking) and did a couple mile walk around downtown and then headed to bed.

Stats:

  • Geocaches: 0
  • Waterfalls: 0
  • Ice cream: check
  • Fermented shark: check

What I did this weekend: 10/05/2014

  • Took off work on Friday since my boss was in town, I made one of my favorite things the night before and had it for breakfast. We took him to Bath, walked around the town a bit (boys had fun chatting with a guy dressed up as a Roman soldier, complete with sword and spear), tried to find a geocache or two (no luck), did the tour of the Roman Baths, had pasties for lunch and then headed back home, on the way hitting Stonehenge (English Heritage yearly pass gets us in for free) at sunset and did the walk over the burial mounds (which was gorgeous because the cool autumn wind was blowing and the sun was warm on our backs and there were long shadows, it was my perfect temperature). Beers at Nags Head and The Griffin.
  • Saturday we drove out to Warwick Castle after doing pancakes with berries for breakfast. Saw a great long bow demonstration, some beautiful birds (Steller’s sea eagles are amazing) and walked all the way around the castle, which I hadn’t done before. Didn’t get to see the flaming ball of fire fired off by the trebuchet but the boys did get to fire off a bunch of their own arrows and have their swords and shields, which always makes their day. Dinner on the way home at The Quince Tree, which is highly recommended if you’re ever around that area. Some of the best food I’ve had in England. Beers at The Griffin.
  • Today Beck and Sid and I got on an early train to London and went to see the Tottenham Hotspurs (English Premier League) play Southampton FC. We got to the game way too early but walked around the grounds a bit and then headed inside right when the gates open thinking that we’d be able to walk around the stadium a bit… no such luck (you’re locked down into just the area you were ticketed for), but we did end up lucking into great seats, 3rd row back, slightly to the right of the net on the north side of the field. Had a great view for the only goal of the game. Quite an end to the weekend.