A Travellerspoint blog







We woke to rain and were thankful we did not have to drive in it today. We could have a bit of a sleep in as we did not have any distance to cover to got to our next nights accommodation. We have 2 nights here in Hafnarfjordur, a little harbour town just outside of the capital.

There was a vague plan to visit the capital, Reykjavík, but the rain put rest to this idea. And anyway, I would like my memory of Iceland to be the magnificent open vistas that we have seen over the past week, not a wet, expensive, busy city. So a day of rest was called early and we all stayed in. (Most of us only taking off our pj's for Lyn to put them in the washing machine when we were able to use it after 4pm). Although Dolly did wander out at some stage during the day to get a few needed supplies from a nearby supermarket.

I have spent the day catching up on loading photos, finishing blogs, doing expenses and planning the next leg of our journey.

Tomorrow we need to return the hire car by 12.30, then repack our bags which we left in storage at the hire car office. They will shuttle us to the airport and we are on a 4.15pm flight to Spain, arriving in Madrid at 10.25pm (local time).

It was been a great time in Iceland, so glad we made the stopover as it really was a one off opportunity. As you would have seen from my photos the scenery is just spectacular and really my photos do it no justice at all. I would not like to be here in winter as our summer days here were cold enough for me, but I did think it was going to be colder and I think we all came prepared with enough warm clothing. Most of which was purchased in charity shops in the USA and will be left here at the hotel - donation to tourists who may not be as well prepared.

I am glad we travelled around the Ring Road and did not just base ourselves in one place with day trips. Although the driving was a times a bit hairy for Miss Dolly, she did a wonderful job. Especially with all us passengers gasping and clinching unnecessarily. Unfortunately, due to her having to concentrate on the narrow road, avoiding sheep, cyclists, and oncoming traffic she probably did not enjoy the countryside as much as the rest of us, but my 100's of photos are a little compensation for her.

We knew Iceland was going to be expensive and the budget accommodation I pre-booked from Australia has all been very clean, warm and comfortable. The prices were high compared to anywhere else for the same standard but that's just Iceland. I made sure we had some sort of cooking facilities in all the accommodation as the price of any sort of food, from petrol station hot dogs to cafes to restaurants, were all way out of our budget. Even supermarket prices were incredible, but self catering saved us a lot of money. In fact the only meal we had out was the first lunch at IKEA. And to tell the truth we have been alternating between meals of chicken wings & vegetables and spaghetti bolognaise, as the only meat we wanted to pay for was chicken wings and mince. The price of everything in the supermarkets was just mind blowing crazy. But that's ok we didn't come here for the food - thank goodness!

So in the end our food bill for the week was quite minimal. Accommodation was the biggest expense and the car hire and fuel was ok because it was divided between the 4 of us. Our 7 day/8nights costs were:

Food total = ISK 19,169-51 = aud$235-54 (aud$58.89 per person or average aud$8.41 per person per day)

Accommodation total = ISK 153,092-44 = aud$1,881-11 (aud$470.28 per person or average aud$58.79 per person per day)

Car hire and fuel = ISK 60651 = aud$730.64 (aud$182.66 per person or average aud$22.83 per person per day)

Which is a total of ISK 232,912.95 = aud$2805.80 (aud$701.45 per person or average aud87.68 per person per day)

This is pretty good for such an expensive country. The fact that we could cook our own meals and did not eat out made the big difference. Our food bill could easily have been an extra aud$200+ a day if we did not self cater.

So the highlight of the whole country for me was definitely the glacier lagoon. Sure the waterfalls were pretty impressive, both the official ones and the hundreds we saw just falling everywhere from great heights. But those small and giant icebergs floating around in the water were just the most amazing sight I saw here, and I'm not likely to see this again anywhere again. The different shades of blue to clear were just beautiful.


I was surprised by the amount of cyclists we saw, both young and old. This is a hard country to cycle, no cycle paths, narrow roads with no verge and nervous tourists driving hire cars and campers. Lots of hills, mountain passes, winding roads and open spaces with long, long distances between villages or towns. And even in the summer as we have experienced, it's cold and it rains.

We also saw a large number of hire camper vans of assorted sizes and companies. I guess this is a way to save on expensive accommodation costs. And the large amount of campers in tiny little dome tents was crazy also. Most of these tent dwellers were also cyclists so they were double crazy.


Sheep were everywhere, including on the road at times. Not in large flocks, usually just the ewe and a couple of little ones feeding on the roadside or sitting in the long grass. Lots of Icelandic ponies, of which we found out they do still eat, but only the young ones. The ponies are used for riding around the countryside rounding up the sheep and even more to take the tourist trade out on horse back adventures. We saw a few herds of cows, but these were are mostly kept inside oversized sheds/barns which we saw accompanying every farm house. Battery cows are the thing here too. At this time of year the farmers are growing, cutting and bailing the feed for the animals to stock pile for winter. Everywhere dotting the countryside were assorted coloured plastic covered bales waiting to be collected and piled next to the barns.

We saw 2 reindeers and a seal and some geese.




After breakfast and a collection of abandoned clothing, left at the boat house for the cleaner to donate to the op shop, we were ready to return the hire car. Being a weekend the petrol stations were closed but we managed to find one where we could stick in a credit card and get the tank filled.

We managed to find our way back to the car hire office, the car checked out with no problems or damage. We took our time repacking our bags before we were taken to the airport in the shuttle van. We were early so had a bit of a wait at the airport.



It was a short flight from Iceland to Spain and after we had collected our luggage we called the hotel I had booked as they offered a free shuttle collection service from the airport. This was one of the main reasons for booking this hotel, as we arrived on a late flight and this was the best option for us.

The shuttle bus turned up 20 or so minutes at the agreed area and another 15 minutes later we were at the hotel reception checking in.

Our accommodation includes a buffet breakfast which we will take advantage of tomorrow before heading into Madrid for the day.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 08:59 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)






Our last day driving in Iceland, and we woke to still overcast but non raining skies. We started the day with a surprise included breakfast, did not show on the booking, so an added bonus.

We are making our way back to the beginning today via the Golden Circle. These are the only few sights that most visitors to Iceland manage to see in their 2-3 day stopover. Where we have included them in our Ring Road lap of the country.

Of course our last day we again saw magnificent scenery. Doesn't seem to matter where you look in this country it's all pretty magnificent. That is why I have not written much of a commentary for any of the days as the country really does speak for itself. Only a few photos in these blogs but please go to my facebook photo albums for many, many more pictures.


Our first stop on the Golden Circle was Gullfoss - the biggest waterfall we have seen in Iceland.

Gullfoss is a waterfall located in the canyon of the Hvítá river in southwest Iceland. Gullfoss is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland. The wide Hvítá rushes southward, and about a kilometre above the falls it turns sharply to the right and flows down into a wide curved three-step "staircase" and then abruptly plunges in two stages into a crevice 32 metres deep. The crevice, about 20 metres wide and 2.5 kilometres in length, extends perpendicular to the flow of the river. The average amount of water running down the waterfall is 140 cubic metres per second in the summer and 80 cubic metres per second in the winter. The highest flood measured was 2,000 cubic metres per second.


Our next stop was in Geysir, and here is a bit of trivia for you all:
Geysir, sometimes known as The Great Geysir, is a geyser in southwestern Iceland. It was the first geyser described in a printed source and the first known to modern Europeans. The English word geyser derives from Geysir. The name Geysir itself is derived from the Icelandic verb geysa, "to gush", the verb from Old Norse. Geysir lies in the Haukadalur valley on the slopes of Laugarfjall hill, which is also the home to Strokkur geyser about 50 metres south.

We did not see The Great Geysir erupt, but we did see the Stokkur geyser a few times. Also hot steam vents all over the place.



Our last stop was Almannagia.
Canyon Almannagja in Iceland - the seam between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.


Today we drove 290km.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 12:20 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)






A clear morning. After breakfast we drove back into town for a stop at the supermarket and to fill up with petrol.


Drove passed lots of glaciers all the way up to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon- this is definitely the highlight of Iceland for me. Did not leave there until after 1pm. Saw a seal in the ocean. It was an amazing place. The giant blocks of ice that have broken off the glacier float around in the lake and as they break up and melt they drift out the river into the sea. Some of the icebergs are washed up on the beach where they continue to melt or get rolled around in the surf. Just incredible!

JOKULSARLON ; literally "glacial river lagoon" is a large glacial lake in southeast Iceland, on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park. Situated at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, it developed into a lake after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The lake has grown since then at varying rates because of melting of the glaciers. It is now 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) away from the ocean's edge and covers an area of about 18 km2 (6.9 sq mi). It recently became the deepest lake in Iceland, at over 248 metres (814 ft), as glacial retreat extended its boundaries. The size of the lake has increased fourfold since the 1970s. It is considered as one of the natural wonders of Iceland.
The lake can be seen from Route 1 between Höfn and Skaftafell. It appears as "a ghostly procession of luminous blue icebergs".
Jökulsárlón has been a setting for four Hollywood movies: A View to a Kill, Die Another Day, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Batman Begins, as well as the "reality TV" series Amazing Race. In 1991 Iceland issued a postage stamp, with a face value of 26 kronur, depicting Jökulsárlón.
The tongue of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier is a major attraction for tourists.


Not long back on the road when the rain started that stayed with us all the way to Steiner, so did not see much else during the drive.

We ate lunch sitting in the car due to the rain in the carpark of a café where we used the toilet. A few minutes break in the rain gave us enough time to have a quick look at Kirkjugólfið.

Kirkjugólfið (The Church Floor) is in the field just east of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. It's an approx. 80 m² expanse of columnar basalt, eroded and shaped by glaciers and waves. There has never been a church there but the plane looks as though it's man made. Columnar basalt is formed when lava flow gets cooled and contraction forces build up. Cracks then form horizontally and the extensive fracture network that develops results in the six sided formation of the columns. Kirkjugólf is a protected natural

Just before we reached our accommodation we stopped at Skogafoss to view the waterfall in the rain. Lyn & I climbed the 500 odd steps to the top where the outlook would have been magnificent had it been a fine day. By the time we returned to the car we were both drenched.

Skógafoss is a waterfall situated on the Skógá River in the south of Iceland at the cliffs of the former coastline. After the coastline had receded seaward, the former sea cliffs remained, parallel to the coast over hundreds of kilometres, creating together with some mountains a clear border between the coastal lowlands and the Highlands of Iceland..


Today we drove 316km.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 12:01 Archived in Iceland Comments (1)



all seasons in one day



This mornings exit over the switchback road was much easier than yesterday as the sky was much clearer and there was no low clouds.

Today was again another day of amazing scenery (how many times can I say this?), sorry but it's true.

We continue on the Ring Road heading south, for most of the day hugging the east coastline which gave us a different awesome perspective to awe at.

More waterfalls, more sheep, more winding roads, more mountains, more amazing vistas. We stopped and had a walk on the beach, too cold for a swim!
And we spotted a reindeer!


Today we drove 281km.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 10:53 Archived in Iceland Comments (1)






We managed to get up a little earlier, there is a lot to see today and a bit of a drive to our next nights accommodation.
Before leaving Akureyri we filled the car up with petrol and headed out.


Our first stop was Godafoss. Although we have seen lots and lots of waterfalls in the distance falling off lots of mountains, this was the first big one up close. Although it was not a real high waterfall it was pretty impressive. Lucky for us the day is clear, ok it's overcast and a little cold, but it was still nice enough to spend a hour or so walking around looking at the falls.

The Goðafoss (Icelandic: "waterfall of the gods" or "waterfall of the goði") is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. It is located in the Bárðardalur district of Northeastern Region at the beginning of the Sprengisandur highland road. The water of the river Skjálfandafljót falls from a height of 12 meters over a width of 30 meters. The river has its origin deep in the Icelandic highland and runs from the highland through the Bárðardalur valley, all the way from Sprengisandur in the Highlands. The rock formations in and around the waterfall make it one of the greatest natural wonders in Iceland.


Next stop was at the Skutustadagigar pseudocraters around Lake Myvatn.

A pseudocrater looks like a true volcanic crater, but is not. These distinctive landforms are created when flowing hot lava crosses over a wet surface, such as a swamp, a lake, or a pond causing an explosion of steam through the lava. The explosive gases break through the lava surface in a manner similar to a phreatic eruption, and flying debris builds up crater-like feature which can appear very similar to real volcanic craters. Pseudocraters are also known as rootless cones, since they are characterized by the absence of any magma conduit which connects below the surface of the earth.

A classic locality for pseudocraters is the Lake Myvatn area of northern Iceland that was formed 2,300 years ago by basaltic lava eruption. The lava flowed down the Laxárdalur Valley to the lowland plain of Aðaldalur where it entered the Arctic Ocean about 50 km away from Mývatn. There was a large lake in the area at the time, a precursor of the present-day Mývatn. When the glowing lava encountered the lake some of the water-logged lake sediment was trapped underneath it. The ensuing steam explosions tore the lava into small pieces which were thrown up into the air, together with some of the lake.


A little further around Lake Myvatn and we stopped to look at some lava pillars. One looked like a troll to me - especially the face part.


And continuing further we came to the Dimmuborgir lava field. Apparently Game of Thrones (never seen it) was filmed here.

The Dimmuborgir area consist of a massive, collapsed lava tube formed by a lava lake flowing in from a large eruption in the Þrengslaborgir and Lúdentsborgir crater row to the East, about 2300 years ago.[3] At Dimmuborgir, the lava pooled over a small lake. As the lava flowed across the wet sod, the water of the marsh started to boil, the vapour rising through the lava forming lava pillars from drainpipe size up to several meters in diameter.[4] As the lava continued flowing towards lower ground in the Mývatn area, the top crust collapsed, but the hollow pillars of solidified lava remained. The lava lake must have been at least 10 meters deep, as estimated by the tallest structures still standing.

The lava flow surface remains partly intact around the Dimmuborgir area, so that the Dimmuborgir itself sits below the surrounding surface area. The area is characterised by large hollow cell- or chamber-like structures formed around bubbles of vapour, and some dramatically standing lava pillars. Several of the chambers and pillar bases are large enough to house humans, giving rise to the term "castles" (borgir).


In the distance we could see Hverfell crater - it was massive. We could see little ant like movement on the rim of the crater and worked out that was people up there walking around.

Hverfjall (also known as Hverfell) is a tephra cone or tuff ring volcano in northern Iceland, to the east of Mývatn.
It erupted in 2500 BP in the southern part of the Krafla fissure swarm. The crater is approximately 1 km in diameter.


We stopped near a church to have lunch in the car as it was too cold to sit outside and we could not find a picnic table anyway. The church was built on the site of a wooden church that was miraculously saved from a lava flow many years ago. The harden, now cracked, molten lava flow still surrounds the church yard.


After lunch we had quite a long drive to reach the east coast and our nights accommodation. Dolly again did a marvellous job of driving even though she is not so comfortable with the distances, narrow roads and mountain ranges. All this on top of driving on the opposite side of the road to what she is accustomed to.

Along the roadside we came across a wonderful waterfall. These are in no short supply here in Iceland, but when we get the chance it's always worth a walk up closer.


The last stretch of the road that led us into Seydisfjordur, and our bed for the night, was in fact in the clouds. Followed by a very steep, switchback road down to the small harbour village. This was just amazing scenery, but a bit hair raising for our apprehensive driver.


This was the view from our guesthouse.


Total distance driven today 300km.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 16:39 Archived in Iceland Comments (1)






The plan was to get up at about 8 and be on the road at about 9ish, but that didn't happen. No-one set an alarm, so we had a late breakfast and left Hvammstangi at about 10.30am.


We again drove through some magnificent scenery again today. The sun was out all day, but the temp was lower than yesterday and each time we exited the warmth of the car we needed to put on a jacket, and hat, and scarf.

A banana break stop.

We only had about 200km to travel today, so a side trip detour off Highway One was taken to visit some turf houses in Glaumbaer.


Icelandic turf houses (Icelandic: torfbæir) were the product of a difficult climate, offering superior insulation compared to buildings solely made of wood or stone, and the relative difficulty in obtaining other construction materials in sufficient quantities.
30% of Iceland was forested when it was settled, mostly with birch. Oak was the preferred timber for building Norse halls in Scandinavia, but native birch had to serve as the primary framing material on the remote island. However, Iceland did have a large amount of turf that was suitable for construction. Some structures in Norway had turf roofs, so the notion of using this as a building material was not alien to many settlers.
The common Icelandic turf house would have a large foundation made of flat stones; upon this was built a wooden frame which would hold the load of the turf. The turf would then be fitted around the frame in blocks often with a second layer, or in the more fashionable herringbone style. The only external wood would be the doorway which would often be decorative; the doorway would lead into the hall which would commonly have a great fire. Another interesting aspect of the Icelandic turf house was the introduction of attached toilets, which were communal, and the act of going to the attached toilet was often done in large groups. The floor of a turf house could be covered with wood, stone or earth depending on the purpose of the building. They also contain grass on their roofs.

We took the long way back to re-join Highway One, stopping for a sandwich picnic lunch with a view.


The rest of the afternoon we drove north and again, still witnessed some magical scenery.


A quick visit to the supermarket for some dinner supplies before checking into our accommodation at about 4.30pm. We just relaxed for the rest of the afternoon/evening. Lyn cooked spag bol for dinner, thank god for share kitchens.


I went for a quick walk around outside before dinner and discovered we were surrounded by snow capped mountains.


Another great day in Iceland.

Today we drove 261km.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 17:18 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)



all seasons in one day



Somehow we managed to be down at breakfast by 8.30am. It was a help yourself buffet with cereal, toast, cold meats and cheese. We ate up a storm as this is the only free feed we would be getting on this whole trip.


We hung around in our rooms until it was time to check out at 12 noon, which was the time I had arranged with the car hire company to come and pick us up to collect the hire car. Orange Car Hire was late and at 12.15 we asked the B & B receptionist to give them a call and they advised they would be with us in 15 minutes.

30 minutes later the van arrived and we loaded our luggage and drove back to the Orange office. By the time the paperwork was completed and we had stored luggage we were leaving and loaded luggage into the car that we were taking it was 1pm. Dolly actually booked this car months ago when we were still at home and she agreed to drive. It was a bit of a nervy shaky start but we all survived the day and driving on the opposite side of the road to what we are all used to.

Our first stop was at Bonus supermarket for some dinner supplies as tonight we have accommodation with kitchen facilities. We tried really hard not to be shocked by the inflated prices as we knew they would be, but it was still hard not to be horrified by the price of some groceries. We ended up with a handful of vegetables and some chicken as it was the only meat we could afford. The shock of these items was enough for the first shop.


Next stop about half an hour up the road was IKEA. We always like to visit IKEA in different countries and I read that IKEA is where you can get the cheapest meal in all of Iceland. Not necessarily the best meal, but the cheapest. So we stopped took a photo and had meatballs and chips for lunch.
It tasted like it does everywhere, but the bill is still burning a hole in our wallets. ISK3955 = aud$49.90 - wow and this is the cheapest meal in Iceland? I think we will be taking full advantage of the kitchens on offer at our accomodations.


After lunch we continued north along the west coast heading to our accommodation for the night. We came to a tunnel that went under the water and realizing we did not have any local currency to pay the toll we decided to take the 80km detour around the bay instead. Dolly was a little horrified that it added so much mileage to her drive but we assured her it would be fine. And wow, the drive showed us some magnificent scenery which we would have missed had we taken the 5.7km toll tunnel.


It was about 8pm when we arrived at Hvammstangi Cottages - our home for the night. Our cabin is surrounded by magnificent scenery at the back of Hvammstangi village. The wooden structure is cosy and warm as we sat down for a cuppa and some of Robyn home made cake (which she brought with her from Australia).


What a great day, good driving Miss Dolly, we all made it in one piece. The weather was a little touch and go today, we had a few spots of rain, and the sky was mostly grey with patches of blue. Sitting in the car is warm, but getting out for photos is definitely chilly, but the wind was not too bad in the places we stopped so a light jumper was enough. After we arrived at the cabin, Lyn started dinner and I went out for a little walk to take some more photos and wished I had rugged up a little more as it was now 9pm and the temp had dropped. But I felt much warmer once I walked through the campground next to us and saw that some crazy people are actually camping on the ground in little dome tents. BRRRRR.

As I finish typing this the ladies are all in bed, I look out the window of our little wooden cabin and the surrounding hills are covered in low cloud or mist. I can see some close by houses have their lights on but it's still quite light outside. Its now 12.15am, there was no sunset today due to cloud cover, but it still does not look like its going to get very dark.

This place is amazing.

Distance driven 281km.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 14:03 Archived in Iceland Tagged keflavik hvammstangi Comments (1)






After a lot of creative packing last night we managed to get everything into our bags for the next leg of our journey.

Both Ian and Nanette drove us to the airport. Thank you again for having us stay with you , we had an amazing time.

Check in at the Icelandair desk went all smoothly, much to my relief, as this is still the most stressful part of travel for me. My bag weighed in at the heaviest at 22.8kg - but we were allowed 2 checked bags at 23kg each so all was fine. Baggage allowance to and from the USA is always very generous. Our flight out of Iceland is only 1 checked bag at 23kg, so lets hope I don't gain too much.

We are meeting up with our friend Robyn at the Keflavik airport in Iceland. Robyn is travelling from Australia and has been enroute since yesterday. Obviously Australia is a lot further away from Iceland than the East Coast of USA as we only have a 5-6 hour flight. Flight timings are good though as we all arrive within 30 minutes of each other - just before midnight - in Iceland. And by all accounts it will still be daylight.

Flight was ok, no food service on Icelandair, only softies and coffee/tea so I was happy we had a snack of Teresa's cutlets at the airport before we boarded the plane. Managed to watch a few movies, lucky we had brought our own earphones on with us otherwise would have had to pay 8 euros to buy a headset.


I watched the sun set from the plane as I caught my first glimpses of Iceland!

It was still very light when we exited the plane.


Collecting luggage and entry through immigration all went smoothly. Robyn was waiting for us as the meeting point which was a relief as she had a close connection in London. We waited about an hour for our shuttle bus to take us to the airport, all the while it was still light outside. Not as light as daytime, but like a late afternoon dimness.

I took a photo of the full moon outside our hotel window at about 2am and another photo at 2.15am when it seemed like it was starting to get lighter already. So strange, but cool at the same time. Speaking of cool, it was not too bad outside at the airport, about 10C, with no wind so bearable.


I had booked a quad room at Bed & Breakfast Keflavik Airport but when we checked in they advised there was a mistake and were we ok with 2 twin rooms. Hell yeah, at the same price. 200 euro = aud$300 for the 2 rooms, expensive as hell I know, but this is Iceland.


Although it was still early in US time we all decided to try and get to sleep as we needed to get up in local time in the morning, and poor Robyn who had been travelling for 30+ hours was well and truly shattered.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 03:32 Archived in Iceland Tagged icelandair Comments (0)

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