Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Iceland: Part 3

Here's the 3rd and final recap of our trip. Check out part 1 and part 2 if you missed them.

Day 7: Explore the 'Capital of the north'
Go√∞afoss
Our first stop of the morning was at this gorgeous waterfall, Godafoss.

We had to walk over lots of rocks and streams to get close to the top of the waterfall and I was thankful, yet again, for hiking boots with grippy soles.
Harriet & Steve
Harriet's demonstrating how easy it would be to fall into the waterfall. Steve's trying to save her from her imminent death.

 bathroom with a waterfall view
A bathroom with a really nice view of the waterfall and scenery. I wouldn't mind having that view from our bathroom at home at all!

Akureyri - Iceland's capitol of the north
Next, we stopped for lunch in Akureyri, Iceland's "Capital of the North." We found these crazy puppets on the side of the street.

One of the highlights of the day for me was learning what the word "causeway" means (you have to drive over a causeway to get into Akureyri). Go ahead and look it up here if you don't already know what it means. I spent the rest of the trip trying to identify causeways and having Jon and/or Steve vote yay or nay.

Akureyri
Harriet and I would like to open a yarn shop in this little green storefront one day. We can dream, right?

Akureyri - Iceland's capitol of the north

Akureyri - Iceland's capitol of the north
A church in the old part of town.

rainbow seen on the highway
We spotted this rainbow as we were driving through the mountains and got out of the car to take pictures just in time.

Glaumbaer
Our next stop was at Glaumbaer Folk Museum (an Icelandic version of Greenfield Village or Sturbridge Village). Any place with animals is a big hit with Jon and any place that reenacts life in the olden days is a big hit with me!

Glaumbaer

Glaumbaer
Admission to the museum included a map and guide with information about each room in the turf house and we got to see how Icelanders lived in earlier times. The rooms were all dark and musty smelling (probably due to the dirt walls, eh) and I was thankful that I don't have allergies while walking through the place.

Glaumbaer

Glaumbaer

Glaumbaer

Glaumbaer
My favorite room of the house was the main room in the front portion. It was the sleeping and living quarters for all of the occupants of the house (around 18 or so) and was where all of the spinning, knitting and embroidery was done.

Glaumbaer

Glaumbaer

Hvammstangi, Iceland at Gauksm√Ωri Horse Farm
We stayed at a really nice horse farm in the middle of nowhere on night 7. The hotel was filled with lots of neat horse themed art pieces and our room had a beautiful view into the countryside.

Hvammstangi, Iceland at Gauksm√Ωri Horse Farm
The separate comforters are our favorite part about sleeping in Europe. We're thinking about making this switch for the winter to avoid stealing each other's blankets/sheets during the night.

gas station in Hvammstangi
Eating vegetarian in Iceland was a lot easier than I anticipated. Each restaurant had one vegetarian dish on the menu, most soups were vegetarian, and there were salads and vegetables everywhere. Unfortunately, the horse farm where we stayed was known for its 5 meat buffet (horse, seal, whale, lamb, beef) and was the only restaurant in the area. Instead of paying $50/person for a meat meal, we had to eat at the only other restaurant in the area - the local gas station. Needless to say, we were really craving anything that wasn't orange to eat at this moment!

See more pictures from Day 7 on flickr here.

Day 8: The Northwest & Snaefellsjokull National Park

We spent most of the day exploring the Snaefellsness Peninsula on the east coast of Iceland.
  Jon getting accused of trying to steal a cat
Jon, bonding with the local animals. The museum owner was afraid that Jon was steal his kitty and yelled out "Leave the cat here" when Jon started walking toward the car, cat in hand. Jon really can't help it that every animal he meets is magnetically attracted to him!

Skar√∞svik
We stopped at Skardsvik, which (according to a website I just read) is one of only 2 white beaches in Iceland (although we couldn't tell from our visit as it had just rained).

Skar√∞svik
We had fun playing around with different drawings in the sand - I'm more of a tactile person than I thought (but, then again, what knitter/crafter isn't?)

Skar√∞svik

kleinur
Here's a popular Iceland pastry - the kleina, which is a twisted doughnut spiced with cardamom. Not too sweet, with a hint of spice...very tasty! Steve sweet-talked the lady at the bakery known for the "best Kleina in Iceland" (according to our guidebook) into giving us a giant bag of frozen, day old kleina. Apparently a bus filled with tourists bought out her entire stock of fresh kleina just before we arrived. She felt sorry that we missed out on her pastries so she made sure we were well fed for the afternoon.

Lóndrangar - volcanic plug and the remnants of a fishing community
We hiked up to Londrangar, which is two giant volcanic plugs made up of basalt and saw the remains of a former fishing village. From reading the guidebook, we weren't too sure what "remains of a former fishing village" meant, but as you can see here, it's a bunch of old logs and discarded boat parts.

See more pictures from Day 8 on flickr here.

Day 9: Back to Reykjavik
Grundarfjörður
A view of the fishing town where we stayed on the peninsula.

where the term "going berserk" originated
We ran into a couple earlier in the trip that told us to check out Berserkjahraun while we were on the peninsula. Apparently, this place is the inspiration for the phrase "going berserk."

Berserkjahraun

an Icelandic picnic table
An Icelandic picnic table

tight chain walking
learning to "tightrope" walk

Icelanders really seem to like Snow White & the 7 dwarves
Snow White and the 7 Dwarves seems to be quite popular among the locals. We saw paintings, murals and figurines all over the place.

Borgarnes, Icleand
We passed through the picturesque town of Borgarnes on our way back to Reykjavik.

visiting the Alafoss outlet
Harriet's and my most anticipated shop of the trip was the Alafoss outlet, just outside of Reykjavik. We made sure to rush through the morning sightseeing so that we'd have enough time to shop (priorities, right?).

visiting the Alafoss outlet
posing with the "yarnmobile"

visiting the Alafoss outlet
Most of the outlet was devoted to selling handknit goods but a small corner of the store was filled with lots of different types and colors of yarn.

visiting the Alafoss outlet
Don't let his look of boredom fool you! Jon picked out the yarn for me to knit him a sweater and a hat and is holding "his yarn" and a new pair of mittens while waiting.

visiting the Alafoss outlet
All set to check out. They really should have shopping carts at this place! We were wishing we had brought more luggage at this point!

bridge between two continents
After visiting the yarn store, we made our way back to Reykjavik, had lunch and then drove out to the Reykjanes Peninsula to the site of the "Bridge Between Two Continents", aka the meeting of the European and North American tectonic plates. The bridge is much smaller than it looks and it's a bit of a letdown, but it was fun to jump back and forth between continents because you can't do that every day, right?

bridge between two continents

bridge between two continents
We ended our day with tickets to a lovely Iceland Symphony Orchestra concert. Listening to beautiful piano and symphonic music was a great way to relax and wind down from a busy trip! (BTW, the pianist has the cutest website here)

See more pictures from Day 9 on flickr here.

Day 10: Blue Lagoon
We returned the rental car in the morning and then took a shuttle bus to the Blue Lagoon. We were sharing the bus with a group of retired women on a tour of Iceland. Some funny comments overheard were:

"Did you see what he [tour guide] was talking about?"  "No. I don't see half of what he talks about"
"We can't forget Delores" 

Blue Lagoon
The Lagoon was beautiful! The water was incredibly warm and we had fun wading around and checking out the massaging waterfalls, caves and steam rooms. We were fortunate enough to arrive right as it opened, so it wasn't too crowded at first. After a few hours of bathing (and overheating), the place turned into Cancun during spring break and was overwrought with people (it even had a walk up bar!).

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

knittin, reading and waiting for our flight
After getting overheated in the geothermal pools, we had lunch and sat at the cafe knitting and reading until another bus came and brought us to the airport for our departure.

We fit a ton of things into our 10 days in Iceland and had such a great time checking out the scenery and wildlife in Iceland. The country is absolutely amazing and we are completely enamored with the scenery. We hope to return sometime soon!

See more pictures from Day 10 on flickr here.



Thanks for listening to me give our trip play by play!

The Lopi Haul

visiting the Alafoss outlet
Harriet and I went nuts in the Alafoss outlet store! We were literally running around adding balls of yarn to our baskets by the minute. All of the yarn we bought was around $2 a ball/wheel, so we bought as much yarn as we could fit into our luggage. It's a great thing yarn is so squishy!

visiting the Alafoss outlet
Here's what I bought:

my yarn haul

vest for me
Wheels of Pltulopi to make a shortsleeved/vest version of this sweater for me (Lopi 120 pattern seen on this page).

hat/mitts for Jon
3 balls of Ålafoss Lopi to make an earflap hat for Jon.

hat/mitts for me
3 balls of Lett Lopi to make mittens and/or a hat with earflaps for me.

sweater for jon
13 balls of Lett Lopi to make a long-sleeved Riddari for Jon (he's been asking for a green sweater ever since I started knitting).

vest for me
10 balls of Lett Lopi to make a Spring Morning vest for me.

lopi stash
And, finally, 3 balls of Einband laceweight and this pattern book to make the scarves or handwarmers (patterns here on ravelry).

Knitting Iceland just published an informative article on knitting with Lopi. Check it out here