Thursday, May 30, 2019

Greetings from Asgard

Rushing because it's after midnight, I still have to pack to fly home on Friday, and we have had a very busy day (plus I've been averaging maybe five hours' sleep at night because it's never really dark)! We went out after breakfast to drive along the southwest coast of Iceland, passing many horses, sheep, and geese as well as small waterfalls and big glaciers on the way to the black sand beach where Noah and other films shot scenes, and where we saw more puffins surfing in the waves than we did on the puffin tour! Afterward we visited a number of waterfalls, the most exciting for me being Skogafoss, which appeared on Asgard in Thor: The Dark World, though we got to walk all the way around behind Seljalandsfoss through rainbows in mist that got us thoroughly soaked and that was amazing. We also visited a glacier, a garden of volcanic troll stones, and a geothermal area with hot springs and bubbling cauldrons. So it has all been awesome!

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Southwestern Coast

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Hálsanefshellir Cave

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Reynisfjara Beach

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Solheimajokull Glacier

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Skogafoss Waterfall

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Beneath Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

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Urridafoss Waterfall

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Sheep by Reykjadalur Hot Spring Thermal River

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The Tröllabörnin

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Greetings from the Silver Circle

On Wednesday we spent nearly all day on the Silver Circle in southwestern Iceland, which is reached by driving through a very long tunnel under a fjord. We went first to Borgarnes, a pretty town on the water, where we stopped in Geirabakari Kaffihus (which stood in for Papa John's in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and has excellent chocolate cinnamon rolls). Then we drove to nearby Skallagrimsgarour and Hildartunshusin, a burial mound and replica sod houses in the town. From there we headed into the wilderness to Glanni Waterfall and Grabrok crater -- plus a visit to Bifrost University strictly to take photos by the sign. After that, we hiked to two waterfall areas, the spectacular Hraunfossar and Barnafoss, where we also had a picnic. From there we headed to Snorralaug, believed to be the oldest hot spring used by people in Iceland, and Deildartunguhver, the hottest hot springs in Europe. Our last stop was Trollagarourinn, a park with statues and information about trolls and many troll-related activities, including Surtur's involvement with them, before we headed back for dinner! In photos:

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One of the sod houses of Borgarnes...

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...and the burial mound of one of Iceland's earliest settlers, along with his horse and weapons.

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In the wind over the waterfall at Glanni, which also has a fish ladder.

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Sadly I could not get Heimdall to send me to Asgard.

The menfolk on the upper rim of Grabrok Crater, which does not have water in it like Kerid.

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The many waterfalls of Hraunfossar...

...and the gorgeous blue water of Barnafoss.

The little hot spring Snorri's Pool...

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...and the big steamy one at Deildartunguhver (again, ignore my hair)!

One of the trolls of Trollagarourinn...

...and a slightly less tacky mound that's part of troll folklore!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Greetings from the Golden Circle

We spent nearly nine hours on the Golden Circle circuit seeing spectacular Icelandic scenery on Tuesday, starting in what looks like the Martian landscape of Raudholar and ending up straddling two continents at Thingvellir National Park. In between, we walked deep into a lava tunnel where for a minute all the lights went out and we got to stand in absolute darkness, walked around and then down to a magnificent crater lake, watched Gullfoss Waterfall make rainbows, saw a geyser erupt and hot springs bubble, ate ice cream while watching the cows that produced the cream, and watched water fall from the European Plate onto the North American Plate. In photos:

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Raudholar's unearthly-looking lava craters...

...which our kids enjoyed climbing.

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In the dark wearing mandatory helmets in the lava tunnel cave...

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...and in the brilliant sunshine at Kerid Crater lake...

DSCN8235 which we climbed down after circling the perimeter above.

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Can you see the rainbow directly to my right? (Ignore my stunning hair please!)

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This is from the spray at legendary Gullfoss Waterfall, where we tailgated for lunch before hiking!

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Here we are by one of the boiling-temperature hot pools at Geysir, which also has, you guessed it, geysers erupting.

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We stopped at a horse farm to see small Icelandic horses and sheep, then at Efstidalur II Farm to see cows and ice cream!

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And we wound up at Thingvellir National Park, which has a waterfall crossing from the European Plate to the North American plate...

...which my kids are crossing here.

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The elevated part of the park overlooks stunning views!

Greetings from Viking World

After disembarking -- first time I think I've ever walked down a staircase onto the runway and been taken by bus to the terminal -- we had a fast trip through customs, got our luggage and rental car, and went to Viking World, which in addition to being a museum of regional Viking history (it covers Viking activity in North America as well as Europe) has a big breakfast buffet with lots of local fish that I did not eat and cheeses, skyr, fruit, muesli, and bread that I did! The museum has a full size replica Viking ship suspended from the upper level over the lower one, plus a farm with local animals including lambs, goat kids, chicks, and a friendly cat.

From there we got lost a bit in Raudholar before getting ourselves into Reykjavik proper, where we parked and walked past lots of souvenir and tourist shops (this is a great place for gratuitous Thor and Loki collectibles) to the Icelandic Phallological Museum, which is, you guessed it, a museum about penises, mostly impressive animal specimens but also a lot of art and some photos of human, um, exceptionalism. After that it only made sense to have lunch at Cafe Loki, which is across the street from Reykjavik's massive Hallgrimskirkja Church, currently under renovation. The cafe's rye bread ice cream is amazing, as is the church's pipe organ.

Then we walked down to the old harbor, where we watched some fish swim and saw a mink haul a fish practically its own size into a hiding place in the rocks, before boarding a boat with about 30 other people to visit the islands of Akurey and Lundey, which are covered at this time of year not only with puffins but with seagulls, arctic terns, and some kind of geese that had goslings! That was truly amazing and we only got slightly drenched! We thought about visiting the Saga Museum but were pretty fried from not-sleeping on the plane, so we stopped at a grocery store to pick up more skyr and other food and ate at our AirBnB in a pretty suburban neighborhood!

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Monday, May 27, 2019

Greetings from Dulles

Posting early from the airport because at midnight I'll hopefully be over the Atlantic en route to Iceland! We spent Sunday getting ready to travel -- two of us needed TSA-friendly backpacks, one of us needed jeans, one of us needed a coat -- and getting packed and organized to go. Now we're debating Smashburger vs. &pizza for dinner at the airport so we can sleep on the plane and hit the ground running in the very early morning. More soon!

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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Greetings from DC

I have both my kids here so I will make this quick! We had a nice Sunday with Adam after doing some cleanup, going downtown to Artechouse's fantastic In Peak Bloom exhibit, which is entirely interactive -- wave your arms and graphics of sakura petals go flying, touch a plant and it plays music -- and uses AR not only to make ghostly animals appear, but to make the drinks from the in-gallery bar bloom, shoot fireworks, and send dragons flying from the glasses. They strictly limit the number of people in the exhibit at a time, so it wasn't crowded and it was visually amazing.

By then we knew Daniel's flight was delayed due to weather and mechanical issues, so we went to the Freer Gallery's Whistler in Watercolor plus the recently refurbished Peacock Room, which now has copies of the original blue china displayed there. Then we picked up Daniel at Dulles, went to my parents' for dinner (plus graduation cake for Adam and birthday cake for my father), and now we're home doing laundry and trying to get things organized while Daniel shows us Stephen Colbert playing D&D for Red Nose Day. Hope everyone had a great weekend!

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