31 October 2011

In Iceland They Call Their Country "Island"

In July I saw a three-day package deal to Reykjavik, Iceland.  It included air fare with direct flight from Washington DC, two nights in a hotel including a buffet breakfast, and an all-day bus tour.  I thought it was a very reasonable price, considering how much air fares have been this year.  And it was only a five-hour flight.  Kent and I wanted to go to Iceland when we lived in Germany but never made it, so we went ahead and booked the tour.  We also convinced our friends the Andrews to go with us.

Our flight left at 8pm on Thursday evening, and we arrived in Reykjavik at 7am.  We'd paid extra for a bus transfer to our hotel, where we allowed to check in and to eat at the breakfast buffet.  Afterwards we headed to downtown Reykjavik to look around and shop for souvenirs.  It was EXPENSIVE.  They have a 24 per cent sales tax, which you should remember the next time you complain about your state's sales tax!
Seeing this church in downtown Reykjavik was one of our first stops.
It's the most famous landmark in the country.  Kinda looks like it's made from legos, doesn't it?
This is the organ inside the church
This is the view from the observation deck at the top of the church.
We thought the houses throughout Iceland were very picturesque.
We like to see the sights at night when they're lit up.
 Most of the energy in Iceland is provided by geothermal steam.  This pipeline carries steam from the hot springs to the cities and towns.   
We took an all day bus tour to see some of the natural wonders of Iceland.  It's called the "Golden Triangle" tour.  Our first stop was a geyser that goes off every 10-15 minutes.
 Our next stop was a massive waterfall.
 As we drove through the countryside our tour guide pointed out the greenhouses, where they grow most of their vegetables.  I think all the fruit is imported.
 We also saw several herds of Icelandic horses.  They're pure bred; if a horse is ever taken off Iceland it's not allowed to return to the country in case it might have mingled with another breed.  Our guide told us that  the only animal native to Iceland is the Arctic fox.  All other animals were brought in by boat or iceberg.

There are also no mosquitoes, ants or cockroaches in Iceland.
 The last stop was a national park the shows where the north American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, and are pulling apart 2cm every year.
 All the trees on Iceland were chopped down by the year 1000 AD.  They are now trying to build up the forests again, but we saw very few trees in the part of Iceland where we were.
 On our last day we went out to a large mineral hot spring that's supposed to have healing qualities.  We could see the steam rising from miles away as we drove toward it.
 The hot spring is called the "Blue Lagoon" for the color of the water.

 The water was a light, milky blue color.
 It's a very popular resort.  These people are lined up to buy drinks at a little bar on the water.
 Here we are with our traveling companions, David and Tresha Andrews.  We enjoyed their company.
 Thought I'd show some Icelandic language.  Our tour guide said it's one of the most pure Scandinavian languages because it was written down a thousand years ago and they've been very isolated for many years.
On our flight home the skies were clear and I had an awesome view of Greenland from the air.  I saw icebergs and lots and lots of snow mountains.  From what I could see the southern tip of Greenland was a solid sheet of ice--a glacier, I suppose.