A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Day 3 in Iceland

Waterfalls and more Waterfalls


View 2015 Adventure on CheryleB's travel map.

Day 3 October 15

Up early today as we want to get a head start and beat the tour buses. Our plan is to get to Vik and see Skodafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Dryholaey and anything else in between.

Set the GPS for Skodafoss and we're on the road by 8:30! Got just past Selfoss and the GPS said to turn left, Skodafoss was 27 kms down the road. After driving close to an hour, the GPS said, "Skodafoss on your right 100 meters". We drove in, and it was the community of Skodafoss, one farm house with rooms to rent , and some farm buildings!

Gas tank says 1/8 tank and when we change the destination to Vik, the GPS says 95kms, 30 of those over a gravel road to an unknown town. Fortunately we had a decent road map and after studying it we chose returning the way we came. We made it to Halle with about 8 liters of fuel in the tank. It was good, Lana got to hone up on her map reading skills which stood us in good stead a few more times.

We drove into Dryholaey and the sun came out perfectly for our pictures. We did not realize that the basalt stacks were down on the beach so did not see them.

On to Vik and the black sand beaches. They are doing some reclamation of their beach foliage and vehicles are no longer allowed to drive there.

Drove back to Skodafoss and once again the sun god was with us, so we had rainbows. We climbed to the top, 525 steps each way to a beautiful view point. There is an old fashioned ladder over the fence at the top, so people can hike out in the area beyond and see more of the river.

There is a narrow promontory halfway up that you can walk out on. There I was able to get a picture of the falls from top to bottom, with a rainbow that appeared to be falling down the falls from top to bottom.

There was a bride and groom taking pictures, he setting up the camera and timer, then running to stand beside his bride.

Onward to Seljalandsfoss! We stopped at Eyjafjallajokull and got some decent photos of the glacier. A bit further down the road was some old stone buildings built up against a large rock. It was an old animal house and a larger one that had a place for animals and the hay loft.

A we drove we further north the rain started to come down in sheets and we groaned thinking it would be pouring at Seljalandsfoss. Once again luck was with us. The sun didn't come out but the rain stopped and the clouds were high. There were several buses there but not many people. When we went behind the falls for pictures we were the only ones. The rain coats and pants made it fun to go behind because we got very wet. What surprised me is the amount of wind a large falls like that makes.

We returned to Reykjavik and, surprise surprise, had kitchen sink scrambled eggs.

A full, satisfying day.

Posted by CheryleB 23:12 Comments (0)

Day 4 in Iceland

Horses and Whales


View 2015 Adventure on CheryleB's travel map.

Day 4 October 16

Today we go horseback riding.

We were at the riding center at 9:15 for our 10:00am ride. There is a video showing you how to get on and off the horse as well as how to guide it. Then they take you to get a helmet, any rain gear you might need, and your horse. Many of the people hadn't ridden before. They ask you how well you can ride and give you a horse that suits what you say your skill is. My horse's name was Ishak. He was a bit bigger than some of the horses and liked to push the horse in front, or be in front. I had to get them to shorten my stirrups as I lost my footing on the right side when we started to trot. Not fun!

After about 15 minutes slow riding with a bit of a trot, we were separated into a fast and a slow group. I went with the fast and we learned how to "tolt", a gait that only Icelandic horses have. They can do it because their shoulders are shaped a bit different than other horses. In order to tolt you have to pull the horse's head up quite high. Their trot then becomes a tolt. Oh, so much better! It is so smooth! No bouncing around. When I commented to our guide,she said yes, especially on Ishak, you notice the difference. He has a longer, rougher gait than some of the horses because of his longer stride.

Icelandic horses come in every color except apaloosa. The Vikings took horses from wherever they raided. They brought horses that had good dispositions,were hardy, and had a good gait. The Vikings liked riding their horses. Horses are not allowed to come into the country, not even an Icelandic horse that has been out of the country. Their horses have been isolated so long, and sick horses died the first winter when they arrived, so they do not have any of the diseases that afflict horses elsewhere. They do not even want you to use riding gear from out of the country.

The fast group had a short stop where we adjusted the saddle. The tolting gait tends to move the saddle forward on the horse which makes it uncomfortable, not painful, just uncomfortable. Our guide pointed out the old lava and the newer. You can only tell by how much lichen has grown in them.

When settlers came from Norway and Denmark they planted lupins to enhance the soil, not realizing how much they would spread. Now the hills around the horse center are covered in lupins.

The Vikings cut down ALL the trees, so some spruce, birch and pine from Scandinavia have been planted. I saw some that looked like blue spruce as well as regular. The only trees the Vikings didn't cut, were the willows, because they were too small. The joke in Iceland is, If you ever get lost in the wilderness in Iceland, just stand up and you will see where you are.

After our ride, once again, no rain, we went to the Whale Museum in Reykjavik. They have life size models of many of the whales, hung in the air. The walls are painted blue so you feel like they are swimming around you.

The people there so helpful and informative. Apparently they hunt mostly the Minke whale and there is a quota. Only one company really hunts them. The owner of that company also owns the company in Japan that buys the meat. The rumor on the street is that the Japanese don't eat whale meat either and it is made into pet food. No one knows for sure because there is a lot of secrecy and they don't have to disclose what they do with it.

After the whale museum we went to Perlan, a glass domed building on top of a hill. On a nice day you can get a great 360 view of Reykjavik. We didn't. However they did have nice souvenirs. We decided to eat there. They had a spelt bread sandwhich, there wasn't much ham or cheese, but the spelt bun was delicious.

Tonight Lana came out of the bedroom laughing. She showed me that the "extra padding on the bed" was actually our individual quilts. Lana had taken a double quilt from the bathroom cupboard, and I had been using the bedspread. We had a good laugh about that.

Posted by CheryleB 23:14 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

Day 5 in Iceland

Cold wind and a Secret Lagoon


View 2015 Adventure on CheryleB's travel map.

Day 4 October 16

Today we go horseback riding.

We were at the riding center at 9:15 for our 10:00am ride. There is a video showing you how to get on and off the horse as well as how to guide it. Then they take you to get a helmet, any rain gear you might need, and your horse. Many of the people hadn't ridden before. They ask you how well you can ride and give you a horse that suits what you say your skill is. My horse's name was Ishak. He was a bit bigger than some of the horses and liked to push the horse in front, or be in front. I had to get them to shorten my stirrups as I lost my footing on the right side when we started to trot. Not fun!

After about 15 minutes slow riding with a bit of a trot, we were separated into a fast and a slow group. I went with the fast and we learned how to "tolt", a gait that only Icelandic horses have. They can do it because their shoulders are shaped a bit different than other horses. In order to tolt you have to pull the horse's head up quite high. Their trot then becomes a tolt. Oh, so much better! It is so smooth! No bouncing around. When I commented to our guide,she said yes, especially on Ishak, you notice the difference. He has a longer, rougher gait than some of the horses because of his longer stride.

Icelandic horses come in every color except apaloosa. The Vikings took horses from wherever they raided. They brought horses that had good dispositions,were hardy, and had a good gait. The Vikings liked riding their horses. Horses are not allowed to come into the country, not even an Icelandic horse that has been out of the country. Their horses have been isolated so long, and sick horses died the first winter when they arrived, so they do not have any of the diseases that afflict horses elsewhere. They do not even want you to use riding gear from out of the country.

The fast group had a short stop where we adjusted the saddle. The tolting gait tends to move the saddle forward on the horse which makes it uncomfortable, not painful, just uncomfortable. Our guide pointed out the old lava and the newer. You can only tell by how much lichen has grown in them.

When settlers came from Norway and Denmark they planted lupins to enhance the soil, not realizing how much they would spread. Now the hills around the horse center are covered in lupins.

The Vikings cut down ALL the trees, so some spruce, birch and pine from Scandinavia have been planted. I saw some that looked like blue spruce as well as regular. The only trees the Vikings didn't cut, were the willows, because they were too small. The joke in Iceland is, If you ever get lost in the wilderness in Iceland, just stand up and you will see where you are.

After our ride, once again, no rain, we went to the Whale Museum in Reykjavik. They have life size models of many of the whales, hung in the air. The walls are painted blue so you feel like they are swimming around you.

The people there so helpful and informative. Apparently they hunt mostly the Minke whale and there is a quota. Only one company really hunts them. The owner of that company also owns the company in Japan that buys the meat. The rumor on the street is that the Japanese don't eat whale meat either and it is made into pet food. No one knows for sure because there is a lot of secrecy and they don't have to disclose what they do with it.

After the whale museum we went to Perlan, a glass domed building on top of a hill. On a nice day you can get a great 360 view of Reykjavik. We didn't. However they did have nice souvenirs. We decided to eat there. They had a spelt bread sandwhich, there wasn't much ham or cheese, but the spelt bun was delicious.

Tonight Lana came out of the bedroom laughing. She showed me that the "extra padding on the bed" was actually our individual quilts. Lana had taken a double quilt from the bathroom cupboard, and I had been using the bedspread. We had a good laugh about that.

Posted by CheryleB 23:24 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

October 18 Day 6

Off to Gay Paris


View 2015 Adventure on CheryleB's travel map.

Day 6 and we are off to Paris

Up at 3am and out of the apartment by 3:45.

I was surprised that there were a few people out and about, including one young couple trying to walk straight, alternately staggering and holding each other. That reminded me that Friday night in Reykjavik is known for partying. The tradition is to travel from pub to pub until the last one closes.

I was surprised at how busy the highway was to the airport, about a 45 minute drive. We arrived a bit early and I dropped Lana off at the airport check in. Dropped the car off at 5am and walked over to departures. We used the machine to get our boarding passes and in the 10 minutes it took us, the baggage drop off line had doubled. It took about half an hour to drop the bags.

Lana decided we should go down to the waiting room at our gate to have coffee so off we trotted. Stood in line in a narrow, humid hall with a lot of other people, only to find that this WAS the boarding gate to the plane, but not ours. Turned around and had coffee upstairs. Sat beside a nice couple from New Zealand and quickly drank our coffee as the wait time to get it was fairly substantial. One of the ladies making the coffee said it is only busy like this in the morning. It looks like most of the flights arrive and depart in the early morning.

I was able to get my VAT back. First time ever! Once you spend over 4000ISK in one place, you can apply to get it back.

Once on the plane we met a nice french man by the name of Yves. He had been in Iceland attending the conference on the changes in the Arctic and its affects on northern countries. He is a presidential aide to the president of France and a scientist studying the changes in the arctic and antarctic. Most of his time is spent in the Arctic and Antarctic. Very interesting fellow. Lana had a nice chat with him, which I wish I had listened in on, because he told her a lot about his work and what was happening.

At Charles De Gaule, he walked with us to the luggage pick up and found out how to get to Blvd Richard Lenoir. Unfortunately Google read it as Rue de Richard Lenoir, so we ended up quite a ways away. Took us 1 1/2 hours to find the place and one block from the door was the Metro Station Richard Lenoir...

While at the luggage pick up two of Yve's collegues came along. Turns out one is a French Senator and one is a geoscientist who works with Yves. Very nice friendly men.

The apartment is very nice with a fairly well appointed kitchen. Our bedroom has its own bathroom but no place to hang towels. The master bedroom had a shower but no toilet, and the washer/dryer. European style dryer, it extracts the water, does not dry like our north american ones. The master bedroom toilet was in the hallway next to our bedroom.

The security in the place is quite incredible. A locked gate to get into the yard, a locked door to get into the foyer, a locked door to get into the hall with the elevators, have to use the key fob to go to your floor, then finally a lock on the door of the apartment. The key costs $180.00 CAD.

We went out for dinner at a small Basserie that allowed smoking. Very unpleasant in the breathing department. Fortunately, the smoker had left by the time our food had arrived, or they opened windows, so it was not as unpleasant while we ate.

Posted by CheryleB 01:51 Archived in France Comments (0)

October 19 Day 7

Paris and the Louvre


View 2015 Adventure on CheryleB's travel map.

Day 7 - Paris

Up and off to the Louvre. The Louvre is a LARGE A shaped building where the top of the A is flattened.

There are many staircases taking you down half floors, to opposite sides of the floor and down full floors.

There are a number of "Chambers" and looking at the map it looks like you can go around the top of the A or the middle of the A to get from one side to the other. NOT!! I spent about 1 hour trying to do so, so I could see the Mona Lisa. There are so many rooms and so many options on each floor that it is very easy to get lost. I finally got smart and asked an attendant. Turns out you have to go to the bottom floor at the centre of the pyramid and enter the other Chambers from there.

The Deneb Chamber was very busy, packed with groups of people so it was hard to navigate, even in the main corridor. Once in the room where the Mona Lisa was, you could hardly see the painting for the crowd. Everyone was packed tightly around the rope cordoning it off and once people got to the front, they took selfies and pictures of each other. I was surprised that it is an ordinary sized portrait, like one you would have in your home. I was told it was really tiny.

Posted by CheryleB 01:52 Archived in France Comments (0)

(Entries 6 - 10 of 13) « Page 1 [2] 3 »