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Iceland, February 2009

We went to Iceland for a few of days in February 2009. Here's notes. See also just the photos.

Wed 18th Feb - To Reykjavik

To Heathrow and thence Keflavik airport, with interesting coastal sights on the way in. About 60  minutes from Reykjavik in traffic and snow. Got to Cabin Hotel (got top floor room as heard it's quieter). Cheap, clean and quite adequate. Nice help-yourself 'free' cold breakfast bar.

Then walked along front past famous ship sculpture into town for pizza at Caruso's, then back for early night. Beer 700 IKR for 500ml and nice pizza for 1790 IKR. Exchange rate was 1000 IKR = £6.50, which is better than it's been.

Thu 19th Feb - Golden Circle

Weather looked moderate so pre-booked Golden Circle tour (the most popular tour, it seems).

Snow early on road didn't seem to faze the driver, even when it got heavy. It did make for beautiful sights, though.


Pronounced 'thing-vel-eer', this where the Icelandic parliament Alŝingi was founded in 930, making it the oldest parliament in the world. It is also where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet -- or rather where they are drifting apart at 2.5cm/yr.

Stopped at viewpoint, then walked down through rift, across boardwalk with views up river to church and down water-filled clefs. Just stunning and our favourite place.

Skálholt church

Then down white and winding roads at scary speeds to isolated and historic Skalholt church/cathedral, with clean interior, beautiful altar mural and abstract windows.

Gullfoss Falls

Then to Gulfoss Falls, with very slippery path (hang onto the rope!) down to fall-side, where the thundering water cascades down into a chasm and away. Water spray freezes there on the path and the rope-way. Went up to the clifftop and it's stunning view and sat outside for lunch.


Geysir is the original 'geyser' site and includes warm springs, steaming pool and the most regular geyser in the world, which blows every five minutes or so from a clear pool of very hot water. Apparently loads of people each year ignore warning signs and end up with second degree burns.

Nesjavellir geothermal power plant

Interesting from a technical view, though a brief stop here for an illuminating talk, see the machinery and outdoor gubbings was probably lost on most people.

Fri 20th Feb - Reykjavik

Mostly grey day though with the usual Icelandic endless changes of weather. Walked down the front past the delightful ship sculpture again, and turned down around back streets, west of the lake.

All older houses here, even the big ones, are made of corrugated iron nailed onto a wooden frame -- even the roofs. Painted bright colours they are beautiful and characteristic.

The cemetery on the hill is curious, with trees planted in and around the graves and signs of Christmas decoration around.

Below this, we paused at a 'St.George'-style statue near the lake, then back around into town via the beautiful and simple Lutheran cathedral where we paused a while to listen to the organist playing something amazing.

After coffee, Eleri went shopping whilst I wandered about and found an interesting mural and a naughty shop with an interesting web URL. I didn't go in.

We then walked out to the Pearl, a curiously empty modern building on a hill, where there's a great viewing platform outside the coffee shop where we could see over to the city centre and down to the distant hotel. There was also a good view south past musical statues to stormy skies.

Then back to the city centre along various streets, through a park near a church and past one of those big trucks that the Icelanders use off road and up glaciers.

After a nice supper at the 'One Woman' vegetarian restaurant, we walked back to the hotel past the still-delightful ship sculpture and through the evening fog (Iceland certainly does weather!) that afforded interesting views to the hotel.

Sat 21st Feb - Home

Saturday we were up for the 4:55 am bus (argh) to the airport and the flight home, past curious clouds and with a great view of London as we descended into Heathrow.


Overall, despite rain, snow, fog, hail and occasional sunshine we had a wonderful time. Iceland is a beautiful country with lovely people and safe, unique towns and cities. It's not cheap but it is worthwhile.


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