Back in Europe…way up in the North!

Reykjanes Peninsula Iceland

our first taste of Icelandic scenery

It is time to head back to Europe.  We will be traveling through northern Europe for about three weeks, and though a lot of stuff has happened in my personal life since my last blog post almost a month ago, it doesn’t fit in with the theme of this blog. Let’s talk about travel and photography!

For the next three weeks, you will hopefully enjoy following along on our journeys to Iceland, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. And as you may have expected, I will be enjoying this experience with my partner-in-travel, Kellie.

Iceland is a place I never imagined I would go to…and didn’t really feel like it was a priority. It turns out that when we bought our tickets for this trip last November, the price was unbeatable. Icelandair allows a nulti-day stopover, so we are technically flying Seattle to Glasgow with a four-day stopover in Iceland. That where we are now… Just back from a 225 km road trip, a quick trip into Reykjavik, and now comfortably enjoying wifi in our room. (Yes, when hotels charge $100-150, a $27 room in someone’s home, found on is perfectly fine with me.)  Besides automatic rental cars here cost about $125 a day for the cheapest and smallest ones, so we are being cost-conscious whenever we can. By the way, American fullsize cars can cost more than $300 a day.  We are in a tiny Suzuki Swift, and I was very encouraged to realize that it actually has tons of space inside…acceptable leg room and generous head room.

We left from Seattle, and when we checked in for our full flight, the agent asked if we would be willing to take an exit row. It’s a bit colder in flight because of the door, but we had about 4 feet of leg room.  And it was a row from the upgraded class, so we had aisle and window, with an open seat between us.  It was a comfortable flight- the worst part was that they charge for all food, but the best part was the entertainment system. Seriously I can’t imagine even the most elite airline having something better.  Eight radio channels plus dozens of CD albums….Dozens of Icelandic bands, dozens of classics (Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, current pop, 80s rock, etc.), any music anyone could possibly want. Also dozens of TV series episodes, and probably 60 movies or so. And not stupid movies…they had classics, Batman, Lord of the Rings, Office Space, and plenty of modern ones, along with lots of Icelandic movies. Lots of Documentaries, travel videos, flight info, a children’s section. It was wonderful!

So we arrived, picked up the rental car, and stopped by a gas station quickie-mart for some snacks, water, etc… because not too many stores are open at 7am on a Sunday.

The international airport is about 45 minutes SW of Reykjavik on the Reykjanes Peninsula. Today we focused to driving leisurely around this peninsula, stopping for walks, coming to a stop for photos in the middle of the road because it was pretty desolate, driving on rocky roads hoping the tires wouldn’t pop.  And the surroundings were like nothing I have ever seen or imagined.  It must be what the moon is like.  I learned today that Iceland is the youngest piece of earth on Earth. And there is pretty much constant …stuff..happening underneath: lava tubes, volcanic eruptions, hot springs, and on. So you know the land is going to be a surreal sight. Enjoy the photos.

By the way, tomorrow our plan is what people see when they are on the “Golden Circle Tour.” You can look it up – we are going to do it ourselves, not confined to a bus. And we hope to be near a wifi connection (note: look for a coffee shop, there are plenty) or a sports pub (less realistic) so we can watch the US womens’ soccer team play Canada at 7pm local time tomorrow.  We will also have a cool story about where we are lodging – we are couchsurfing ( to meet people and save on hotel rates.

(A second) bye the way.  I am currently drinking a “Egil’s Gull” beer, which was chosen in the 2011 World Beer Awards as the “Best Standard Lager Beer in the World.” ( It is made with Icelandic barley and Icelandic spring water, but I actually think it’s pretty weak. Then again, I’m not a lager kind of guy anyway.

Reykjanes Peninsula Iceland

Reykjanes Peninsula Iceland

Reykjanes Peninsula Iceland

Reykjanes Peninsula Iceland Gunnuhver Hot spring

Gunnuhver Hot Spring. A 20m-circumference hot mud spring.
This area had an intense smell of sulphur…much like the tap water does, by the way.

Reykjanes Peninsula Iceland Gunnuhver Hot spring

The mud was boiling and bubbling up.

Reykjanes Peninsula Iceland Gunnuhver Hot spring

The hot spring material is so highly acidic, it “corrodes” the land around and above it.

Reykjanes Peninsula Iceland

along the southern coast of the peninsula.

Hot spring Selfoss Reykjavik

hot spring between Reykjavik and Selfoss.

Hot spring Selfoss Reykjavik

Reykjavik Hallgrímskirkja

Hallgrímskirkja (Reykjavik, Lutheran) – the largest church in Iceland.

Reykjavik Hallgrímskirkja

Reykjavik Hallgrímskirkja

with Leifr Eiriksson statue

Reykjavik IcelandIceland whale puffin menu

Reykjavik Iceland

Reykjavik summer sunset

August sunset approx: 10:15
see the sculpture near the shore on the right?

Solfar Sun Voyager Reykjavik

Sun Voyager (Icelandic: Sólfar) is sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason (1931 – 1989). Sun Voyager is a dreamboat, an ode to the sun. Intrinsically, it contains within itself the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress and freedom. [wikipedia]

Sun Voyager Sólfar Reykjavik


not related to the scultpure!

Reykjavik sunset iceland

goodnight from Reykjavik!


2 thoughts on “Back in Europe…way up in the North!

  1. Wow, what a completely different landscape than nearly everything I’ve laid eyes on. Actually, some parts of that really look like Yellowstone National Park w/the hot springs, geyser type things & mud pots. But Yellowstone certainly doesn’t have a coastline like Iceland.
    Yay for Leif Erikkson! 🙂 That is definitely the neatest Lutheran church I’ve ever seen. Very cool architecture.
    I have to ask: did you or Kellie try the whale menu or the puffin menu, or neither? My choice would be puffin– at least it’s a bird. Maybe it “tastes like chicken”.

  2. Gracias for posting a comment! I was walking around on a “personal photo excursion” so Kellie didn’t even see the menu and I did not try it. That is about $50 for that meal.

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