When I booked our flights I thought 7:30 am was early, but not too bad. Oy! Because of the distance to the airport and the use of the shuttle bus a 7:30 am flight means a 4:00am pick-up at the hotel. We hope to catch a few more zzz' s on our two hour flight to Glasgow. Good idea - poor execution.
The cold that I developed has gotten worse, so on Thursday we decide to take it easier and just see the city center of Reykjavik. Following breakfast at a French bistro we walk down the main shopping street in search of a pharmacy and some cold syrup. (The people at the grocery store near our hotel have explained that the only place to buy cold products other than Halls and Kleenex is a pharmacy). I speak with the pharmacist and learn that he can sell me a nasal inhaler, but any type of cough medicine or other form of decongestant requires a doctor's prescription. What a difference from Ecuador, where you can buy many US, UK and Canadian prescription medications simply by walking into the pharmacy - no doctor's order required! I decide a nasal inhaler is better than nothing.
We're half-way to the Hallsgrimkirkja, so in the cold rain we press on. The church was constructed from 1945 to 1986 and features a huge organ consisting of 5,275 pipes. We go up the steeple for some good views of Reykjavik.
Enough of the sight-seeing - I'm thinking about a little shopping then plopping myself under some warm blankets for a few hours. William agrees it's a good plan. He'll catch up on some E-mail while I hopefully sleep off some of this cold.
As I awaken I notice the rain has stopped, the sun is out and I am feeling better. We decide to walk down to the square and get some hot dogs to tide us over until dinner. The small hot dog stand has only four stools inside, but an interesting menu of different style dogs. We both decide on the Frenchie. The woman behind the counter begins her magic. She starts by toasting an unsliced hoagie roll. Once it is warm she holds it vertically and presses it down on a pointed copper rod, creating a hole through the center 95% of the length of the bun. The condiment(s) are then squeezed into the hole - in the case of a Frenchie mayo is used. Lastly she slides in the hot dog, leaving perhaps a half-inch hanging out the top. We agree we don't want to think about what Freud would say, but the hot dog is delicious.
We take our hot dogs to go so that we can enjoy the sunshine and a stroll to the National Museum. At the National Museum we learn more about the history and culture of Iceland.
Thursday evening we splurge with a delicious dinner at Kjallarinn. 6:30 pm is a early for Icelanders and most tourists to dine so we have the restaurant to ourselves. We start with a foe gras appetizer, followed by a steak for William and a local whitefish for me. Both are incredibly good. Since we are splurging we also share a slice of in-house made cheesecake for dessert. It comes with warmly toasted granola and berries artfully scattered on the plate. This is a very good meal - 5 stars out of 5 is our review on TripAdvisor.
On Wednesday we have a large breakfast at the hotel then prepare for our full day Golden Circle tour. The weather is unpredictable so we wear warm jackets and bring rain jackets, which proves to be a wise choice.
The bus winds through Reykjavik and out to the highway for our first stop - Thingvallavatn National Park. This rift valley was where the Icelandic Parliament was established in 930. Here we walk through the area where the American tectonic plate is separating from the Eurasia tectonic plate at a rate of 2.5 cm per year. It goes all the way down to the South Pole, but the only place it is visible on land is in Iceland.
Along the path we meet up with some sheep and note that the plants are showing off their autumn colors. With the rain at various intensity and the temperature at 6°C (43°F) we are happy to crawl back onto the bus. 20 minutes later we pass over onto the Eurasia plate.
Our next stop is Gullfoss waterfall, Europe's largest waterfall. It is impressive and the sun is peaking out providing us a bonus of rainbows.
We stop at the lodge and I opt to have the traditional Iceland lamb and vegetable soup for lunch. It is very good and helps the headcold I am developing.
Stop number three is the Geysir geothermal area. Unfortunately the famous water and steam spout which provided the generic name geyser to the world, no longer errupts. However the Stokker Geysir remains active and entertains us every 3-7 minutes.
Our last noteworthy stop on the trip is Skálholt. It was once the seat of power in Iceland, with the first Catholic bishop taking his seat in 1056. The first book printed in the Icelandic language was produced here in the late 1700's. There were at least 10 churches built on the site, many which were destroyed by fire or bad weather. The current church was built of concrete and consecrated in 1963.
On our way back to Reyhjavik we pass through an area of high volcanic steam. Iceland has ~ 300 volcano's, reminding us of Costa Rica but certainly a different climate! Iceland has harnessed this steam to generate electricity, warm their homes and provide hot water.
All along the trip we have enjoyed views of interesting landscapes between the raindrops.
We return to our hotel a little after 6 pm. Just in time to enjoy happy hour in the bar. The food service in the bar is from a highly rated restaurant in the same hotel, so we opt to stay put; William orders the fish and chips and I have a delightful piece of salmon with a dill sauce.
On Monday we have a last chance to see Mary (George is working) and then William points the car back to Dulles airport. William and I are flying to Reykjavik, Iceland (with a plane change in Boston). My parents plane leaves Dulles an hour later to take them home to Arizona.
Our flights on Jet Blue and Icelandair are without an issue. The strategy of booking the window and aisle on the 3x3 seat configuration works out well for our five hour flight from Boston to Reykjavik. The middle seat is empty and we stretch out. We are scheduled to arrive in Reykjavik at 6 am local time, but only 1 am Eastern. I am able to catch a couple of hours of sleep, but William only has a short catnap.
I read that there is a bus service from the airport to the city center, but our initial intention is to just grab a taxi. The international airport is located quite a way from the city center. Upon inquiring I find out that a taxi ride is approximately $125 US, while the bus service that will drop us at our hotel is $18 per person. The bus it is!
A little before 8 am we drag ourselves into the lobby of the hotel, hopeful that our request for early check-in has been noted and a room is ready for us. The request has been noted, but the room is still occupied. We're advised to check back around 10 am, but check out is not until noon and then they will need time to clean. Ouch!
We eat breakfast at the hotel then take a short walk. However, we are dragging and before too long we decide to return to the hotel and just camp out in the small lobby until our room is ready. At 10:45 we're told that the previous occupants have checked out and the front desk asks housekeeping to prioritize cleaning the room. I am not sure if the people at the front desk feel sorry for us or are alarmed by our occasional loud snoring or both. At any rate, by noon we receive our keys and have tucked ourselves in bed for a nap.
When we awaken to the alarm a few hours later we decide to do a walk-about and find a spot for an early dinner. The restaurants are plentiful in the central area of town where our hotel (appropriately named Hotel Reykjavik Centrum) is located. We opt for Geysir Bistro. William chooses the chicken alfredo pasta and I opt for the local mussels with fresh bread. My mussels have a lightly briny taste, almost like an oyster, are incredibly fresh and delightfully good. William declares his pasta to be exactly what he needed (pasta is his comfort food).
After a short walk back to our hotel we force ourselves to stay awake a few more hours and than it's lights out.
Hi. I'm Anne. I wander around the world with William.
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