Iceland and the Final Days of Our Grand Adventure: Part 1

After a four hour flight from Munich, we arrived in Iceland. Iceland was the icing on the cake of our travels (see what I did there?) When discussing when and where we would fly home from, we discovered that flight prices dramatically drop from August to September and that if we took Icelandic Air, we could choose to have a multi-day layover (we chose three days) at no additional cost. Icing, baby, Iceland.

During our travels, we met several people who had traveled to Iceland. Everyone loved it and expounded on both the beauty as well as how expensive the food and drink are. We hit up the duty-free shop before leaving the airport and bought some wine and prosecco (por supuesto) along with some chocolate.

When we picked up our rental car (the agent was from Spain, which I took as a good sign), the agent informed us that we needed to be careful when we opened the car doors as they could be ripped off by the wind. Holy moly! It was pretty windy as we set out toward Reykjavík, not door ripper windy, but windy. It was also much colder (Jess, it’s called Iceland) than we had grown accustomed to during our hot and sweaty summer travels on the mainland

Phil consulted the map and saw a light house a few minutes from the airport so we decided to make a stop and take the first of MANY photo opportunities. Iceland is beautiful (and windy).


We made another stop along the way at a grocery store called Bonus that has a wonky pig for a logo. I guess it’s actually a piggy bank which I only realized when searching for the logo online just now. A piggy bank makes sense but I will say I much preferred when I thought it was simply a wonky pig with an unknown origin story.

We grabbed sandwich ingredients, chips, and some fresh fruit as this would be our menu for our three days in Iceland because, as promised, restaurant food was quite expensive. After 500 days of living abroad, expensive was not in the budget.

After dropping our stuff at the hotel and enjoying the first of many sandwiches, we headed out to explore, stopping first at the souvenir shop near our hotel for some stocking caps as we only had light jackets. We intended to make our jackets suffice in the 40-50F temperatures. Living out of a suitcase for 6 months, traveling to places mostly in the 90’s+ all summer, we’d made some informed cuts to the wardrobe. It did not make sense to hang on to coats we would only need for three days. So, these supplemental beanies would have to do.

We walked along the water and then into town, finding ourselves on a rainbow road which led to the impressive Hallgrimskikja church that has a statue of Leif Eriksson out front.

Unfortunately, the church was closed for renovations. That was a real bummer but we got some pics in front of the cool front doors.

We walked around town a bit longer before retiring to the hotel and sharing a bit of wine and calling it an early night. We were determined to make the most of our short time on that beautiful island and planned to set out early (early for us, anyway) the next day.

We drove south in the morning, and just being on the road and driving was so beautiful. The contrast of black rock and soil and bright green mountains was lovely not to mentioned all of the waterfalls. We saw so many waterfalls! They’re like catholic churches in Spain or Italy; each beautiful, some a grander spectacle than others, and it seems like there’s another every time you turn the corner.

Our first up-close waterfall was the Oxararfoss Waterfall which has a lovely path from the parking lot, flanked by large basalt rock formations.

Our next stop was for lunch. We made sandwiches (duh) and ate at the Hrafnagja Observation Deck which has a lovely view of Lake Thingvellir.

There are many gravel roads leading off the few main highways in Iceland; some lead to waterfalls, others lead to hiking trails, many lead to people’s homes and farms. We took one of the latter when driving next to the lake. There were a few homes near the lake, but no one was stirring there, so we stopped, got out, and enjoyed the close-up views all by ourselves. It was unforgettable.

Something to note about Iceland is that there are a lot of fellow tourists, driving on the same route, stopping at the same places. We saw the same people a few times on our journey at different stops. Taking some of those unmarked roads is a great idea if you’re just a wee bit adventurous and have the time, if you’re looking to get away. Our next stop southward was the Kerid Crater, which is a turquoise lake located in a volcanic crater.

We continued south to large Seljandsfoss waterfall and it’s smaller neighbor waterfall, Gljufrabui. There was an almost packed paid parking lot (we’re not fans of paid parking) near the larger fall. Closer to the smaller fall, there was a short, dead end gravel road with a couple of cars parked along it’s sides. We opted to park there and enjoy the walk between the two falls.

One could choose to get in line and walk behind Seljandsfoss falls. We did not want to stand in line nor add wet to our cold, so we opted to take in its beauty from the front only.

Our next and final stop of the day was Skogafoss waterfall. Huge and atop a long staircase of 200 feet (60 meters), the fall was gorgeous and made us realize how long it had been since we’ve done a proper hike. The staircase was a doozy. Before ascending, we stopped in the hotel restaurant at the base of the falls for a much appreciated and very expensive beer (our only restaurant purchase during our time on the island).

We took our time, enjoying the view from atop the fall. Along with the hotel at the base, there were also many RV’s and tents set up in the parking lot. In addition to food being quite expensive, lodging is also. We didn’t stick around the base because we wanted to get to our own unique lodging situation for the night. More about that in the next post.

Stay tuned for my final European post from the black sand beaches of Iceland! 

Published by yogibarrington

American expat living in Gijon, Asturias, Spain

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