ICELAND: Part I

The original plan was for us to be in Dallas, Texas for Andrew’s cousin’s wedding this Memorial Day Weekend. We had the whole trip planned out in an admittedly not-so-simple plan to make it to Dallas for the weekend, then fly back eastward to finish a week-long vacation in Iceland. The first part went fine. We caught the train from Lausanne to Zurich airport. The next steps were a little trickier. Our plan was to take a flight from Zurich to Reykjavik, have a 1.5 hour layover (taking advantage of the airline’s Stopover Deal), fly to Chicago, go through customs, pick up our luggage, and re-check in to a different flight with United to fly on to Dallas 2 hours later.

OK. We know this sounds risky, but with the timing it looked like it would work and we built in time to allow for delays once we got in the U.S. or possibly getting stuck in Chicago until Saturday morning. Worst case scenario we would make it in time for the 6pm wedding Saturday night. As you’re guessing by now, things went far from expected. Iceland air traffic control went on strike (how could we have planned that one?!) and deliberately delayed flights to/from the U.S. and Europe. Our Chicago flight left from Reykjavik without us, and the only alternative flight plans had us arriving in Dallas over an hour after the wedding started. Sadly, we had to make the call, and since we already planned to be here, we elected to stay in Iceland and extend our vacation by four days.
So, here we are. In Iceland for the next 9 days!

DISCLAIMER: The next few posts will be 100% Iceland as we have a lot to document and need to spread it out into more than one post. This is both to be able to share with you and also to chronicle for ourselves for the future. If you don’t care for it, no worries, just ignore the posts for a little while 🙂

DAY 1 Friday – DAY 2 Saturday:

ACCOMMODATION:

IcelandAir took full responsibility for the missed flights and compensated us with a free hotel for two nights in Reykjavik at the Hotel Cabin. It came with breakfast and dinner. Given that this change in plans is four days more than we planned, and this is not a cheap place to visit (even in comparison to Switzerland) we elected to go budget and take advantage of anything free. The breakfast and dinner were buffet, nothing special but had a good salad bar and breakfast with fresh fruits, meats, cheese and hard boiled eggs.

Comments about Iceland so far:

So far it is clean and it feels less populated even than Switzerland. I noticed I don’t feel so bad speaking English here since no one else in the world speaks their language (is this awful of me?). To their credit, their English is very good! I had to go to the pharmacy to buy my allergy medicine and the pharmacist was super helpful and we communicated well. Iceland clearly has higher prices and Andrew and I are trying to go budget whenever the choice makes more sense.

The sun sets at 11:30 PM and rises at 3:30AM every day this time of year. In fact it is 11pm as I am writing this and it is still very bright. The daylight is great because we never feel rushed to see stuff due to sunset. And so far our hotels have had good blackout shades so you cannot tell how light it is outside while you sleep.

WHAT WE’RE UP TO:

Day 2 – Saturday 28.05.16:

We had planned our whole trip in Iceland to begin on Tuesday May 31 after the Dallas trip, so by starting things early we had to switch the plan up a little. But it’s all working out well! We brought forward our tour of the famous Golden Circle to this day, and it was great because we had all day to tour and take our time with it. The high season is just getting started in Iceland so there are a lot of people and tour buses but it’s not too bad.

First stop of the day:

Thingvellir National Park:  This park features where the Icelandic Parliament first began and also is where you can physically see the continental drift is occurring! It was incredibly windy and raining at times, but forgetting the weather it was amazing. Okay…so you can not actually see the continents drifting apart, but there is much evidence to that fact as pictured below.

Here we are walking in the fissure in the Earth where the two tectonic plates are separating!
A fissure in the Earth caused by the separating tectonic plates which is filled with water. You can go scuba diving and snorkeling in there. Hard to tell but its incredibly clear!
View of the park and the site of the original Icelandic Parliament

Second stop of the day: Geysir was our next place, which is a spot with geothermal activity in the form of 80-100 degree Celsius (boiling!) creeks and a geyser that goes off every few minutes to varying degrees of intensity. It was amazing!

The geyser. This is nowhere near the highest we saw it go, but the highest we took a picture of. 

Third stop: Gullfoss, which is a massive waterfall along the Golden Circle. It was stunning!

 

1
Gullfoss – check out the size of the falls in comparison to the people!
Andrew in front of one of the massive, souped up Charter buses. These things are crazy!

Last stop: Kerid Crater

And that was just day 2! We’ll keep you posted as we move on in Iceland 🙂

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