Monday, 1 February 2016

Icelandic Adventure Day Two

On day two, we were quite lucky that the snow had stopped falling, however the wind had picked up and the snow drift was extreme! We were due to go on two excursions that day, one of which was the northern lights; so were keeping our fingers crossed for a clear night.

Iceland gets approximately 5 hours of low sun at the beginning of January, so when we set off at 9am, it felt like the middle of the night. We hopped on a coach and started the Golden Circle tour.

Iceland is famous for being a Volcanic island that is frozen, most of the year. Underneath the surface of Iceland is an abundance of geothermal energy; the Icelandic people utilise this in varying ways. Our first stop on the tour proved this; an all year round tomato farm!

As you can probably guess, not a lot grows in Iceland because of the harsh conditions, but they have utilised the resources their island offers them and have created geothermal greenhouses. The particular farm we stopped at was quite interesting. They grew tomatoes all year round, producing their own tomato goods as well as selling the tomatoes themselves. They have created their own perfect little ecosystem, with bees to pollinate and wasps as natural pesticides. We were going to try a Bloody Mary, but decided tomato soup was probably a better option for 10.30am.

After spending time here, and regrettably not being able to buy any soup to bring back, we got back on the coach to see the Geysers. I won't bore you with the science behind Geysers, but if you are interested in Earth's Blow-Holes you can check Wikipedia.

The scenery at this point was stunning and the Geyser erupting was absolutely fascinating. We caught some awesome footage on B's Go-Pro, but it's not been edited yet, so keep an eye out in the future for that!

Like I've said, the Sun doesn't get very high in Iceland, even at Lunch time, which is why all of these photos look like they were taken at sunrise/sun set. We ate lunch here, at their tourist shop. I tried a local delicacy of smoked lamb's meat in a sandwich, and I have to be honest, it was pretty tasty. 

After seeing the Geysers, we moved off to see Gullfoss, The Golden Waterfall. We were really high up the mountains at this point, I could barely keep my eyes open because of the freezing wind. My eyes would water and then my tears would freeze. It was so cold. However the view was breathtaking! There were three viewing platforms, but only two open in the winter. The picture below is from the platform directly in front of the waterfall and you can see the pathway down the left hand side that opens in the summer so you can get closer.

There was one last stop on this trip, Thingvellir National Park. This is one of the points where you can see canyons resulting from the moving of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. it was a short walk from one car park to the next, with some stunning views. B got some use from his Selfie stick I bought him at Christmas, and we took some fantastic panoramas that I will upload at a later date, with the Go-Pro footage.

Once we were back at the hotel, we ate there and prepared for our next journey, to see the Northern Lights. I will cover that in my next post, so keep your eye out!

Thanks for reading! 

Friday, 29 January 2016

Icelandic Adventure Day One

At the beginning of January 2016, I went to one of the most beautiful places I have seen so far.

Myself and B spent 3 nights in Iceland. We were based just outside of the capitol city of Reykjavik in Hotel Vellir. Which, side note, is not pronounced the way you just did it in your head, and got us into all sorts of awkward situations with the locals..

We left the house at 3am on the Monday morning, for our 07:45 flights from Luton Airport. We could only take carry on luggage with us, which was really tough! So I had my trusty 'Turkiye' bag packed up with the essentials, my hiking boots and winter coat on, and I was ready to go!

By the time we had landed at 11(ish) I had not slept in 24 hours. We got off the aeroplane and were greeted by lots of powdery snow. I usually hate snow, its slippery and wet and dangerous, Iceland's snow is not like that! It barely gets above freezing temperatures in the winter, so the snow never gets icy. I enjoyed how it looked, how it felt under foot, and actually quite liked it... for a while.

Snow doesn't bother Icelandic people, they are quite happy to drive like usual in it; their issue is the wind. The wind picks the settled snow up and drifts it over roads and pathways, making journeys treacherous, this meant that unfortunately our excursion that evening was cancelled. Don't fear, we got to it the next day, for the first day however we spent it in Reykjavik, Iceland's capital City.

Iceland fact: there's only approximately 300,000 people living in Iceland, and two thirds live in and around Reykajavik!

The only way I could describe walking through Reykjavik is by saying it was like a German Christmas market, with quirks, in the middle of New York, surrounded by Snow covered Mountains. The tourist industry is booming at the moment, and you can tell with all of the shops selling badges, key rings and Icelandic goods.

We had a lovely walk around and ended up back at our hotel for a 2 for 1 dinner. The food was lush, I had a club sandwich and B had a Bacon Burger. The quality and amount of food for what we paid, was exceptional.

Talking of payment, the currency was really hard to get our heads around. 1,000 ISK is similar to £5.00. but it ends up distorting your view of their currency. For example, we ended up paying 13,000 isk for a meal which in my mind didn't seem bad.... it's £70. Holy Moly!!

We were extremely tired by the end of day 1. I hadn't slept in 36 hours, and we had an early start the next day for our Golden Circle tour, so off we went to bed, with a fantastic view.

Keep an eye out for the next day of our adventure, which will be up soon!