Archive for the ‘Iceland’ Category

It’s funny when we showed the picture of our snow covered car to our friends, the first question they ask is “Will the car start?”. The simple answer is Yes. First ignition. Don’t have to try and try again. This is a very modern world we’re living in. Fuels are protected with anti freeze solution ūüėČ

This morning, yes, the car started, but we had a little trouble trying to get out from the parking spot. The tyres couldn’t grip onto the snow covered road properly. I think God knew what was going to happen, and along came a local man. He saw us in trouble, and he quickly ran behind the car and started pushing. I couldn’t have done it. Mat was at the wheel. The man didn’t give up. He just kept helping to push and push the car till it got properly on the road for us to drive off. Kind man. Did I tell you Icelandic people are such nice people?

Even though the snow stopped since yesterday, and snow ploughing trucks went over and over the roads, it was still a challenge to drive. Powdery snow kept being blown over the road. So some parts of the road were still slippery. It was still very challenging for Mat to drive. More over, the car that we rented wasn’t a 4wd.

This is the car we rented. A hyundai.

First stop of the day, Dj√ļpal√≥nssandur. It’s suppose to be a beautiful pebbled beach. But as you can see, it’s not at the moment.

If we hiked a few kilometers, maybe 2km, we will reach a pebbled beach,¬†where four famous stones used by fishermen to test their strength. They are Fullsterkur (“full strength”) weighing 154¬†kg, H√°lfsterkur (“half strength”) at 100¬†kg, h√°lfdr√¶ttingur (“weakling”) at 54¬†kg and Aml√≥√įi (“Useless”) 23¬†kg. They were traditionally used to qualify men for work on fishing boats, with the H√°lfdr√¶ttingur being the minimum weight a man would have to lift onto a ledge at hip-height to qualify. The bay is now unused.

Unfortunately, because of the snow, we will just appreciate the information on the board.

Lovely views from our drive along the west coast.

Next stop, Arnarstapi, a small fishing village at the foot of Mt. Stapafell.

The beach holds a particular attraction called Gatklettur, and three rifts,¬†Hundagj√°, Mi√įgj√° and M√ļsagj√°. It’s very much like the London Bridge at Great Ocean Road. As for the rocks, very much like the rocks on Jeju Island. I guess, lava stones have their similarities.

Views around Arnarstapi.

You can’t really tell, but these 2 next pictures¬†are taken from the mountain top.

We didn’t get to do much, or should I say, get down of the car much. One: there’s snow everywhere. Even though we were wearing proper hiking shoes, it would be safer if we wore crampons, those “spikes” that keeps your feet planted on the ground. Two: The wind is really strong. You can’t tell from the pictures, but, I-kid-you-not. Three: With the wind blowing, your face is constantly hit by icy waters. Not fun. So I think I’ll enjoy the view from inside the car.

We made it back safely to our hotel for a rest.

Tonight, we have a reservation with the Blue Lagoon!

Tip: If you have only limited days to spend in Iceland, you’ll only have to visit these three places: Reykjavik city, The Golden Circle, and The Blue Lagoon.

A time slot reservation is required when visiting Blue Lagoon. Book early to avoid disappointment.

If I were to visit Blue Lagoon again, I would have booked the day time slot, in order to see the blueness of the lagoon. At night, you can’t see a single hint of blue.

But, if your aim is to HOPEFULLY catch a glimpse of the northern lights/Aurora, then, book the night slot. (FYI: Auroras do not appear every night and everywhere).

And you know what, of all the three nights that we stayed in Iceland, and of all the time slots that Mat could have got us in Blue Lagoon, how perfect timing could it be. God must have known the desires our hearts, because, it was only at THIS destination, THIS time 7-8pm, we saw the aurora with our very own eyes.

I’m sorry for the quality of the photo because all we had was an iPhone camera. It’s much better enjoyed in person.

What a perfect end to our trip in Iceland.

A few tips about Blue Lagoon:

  1. Bring your own towel, even if it’s the hotel’s towel. Don’t waste your money renting the one at Blue Lagoon. Don’t even need to bring your toiletries. Shampoo, conditioner and body shampoo are¬†all provided. USE IT. It’s spa quality!
  2. It’s not that bad walking in the cold(if you come in winter). Only takes 2 seconds, and you’ll be in the warm waters.
  3. Remember to put on the mud mask. Put it on till it dries up, then wash them off in the water you’re soaking in (yes, along with other people’s dead skin). lols!
  4. If waiting for the aurora to appear, find a good spot to sit, sit back, relax, and enjoy.
  5. Best way to end the night after a good soak in the blue lagoon? Go back to your hotel and make yourself a nice cup of Shin Ramyun Noodles (that you packed with you before flying to Iceland). Bliss.

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Today, we visited the most famous sites in Iceland, and they are all in what they call the Golden Circle Tour.

Driving out of Reykjavik was a surreal experience. It feels almost like you’re driving on¬†Mars. The landscape is barren, but yet, there’s an eerie beauty-ness about it.

Our first stop of the Golden Circle Tour is¬†√ěingvellir (also called Thingvellir) National Park. This is where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plate meet.

A view of Lake¬†√ěingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland.

I have seen and experience snow fall many times especially when I was living in South Korea, but what we were about to experience was definitely a first. As we were walking down this cracked cliff, the weather changed without any warning. A snow storm? blizzard? was passing through. It was crazy. After a few seconds, we thought it will be extremely ridiculous to be walking in this weather, so we quickly walked back to the Information Centre to dry out and wait for the blizzard to pass.

As soon as it came, 10 minutes later, it was gone. The sun shining, not a wind in sight.

Apparently, there’s a lava tube somewhere in¬†√ěingvellir National Park. I’m not sure where it is. But it’s ok, we’ve seen many lava tubes in¬†Jeju Island, South Korea.

So, our next stop, is Geysir, or The Great Geysir.

The word “geyser” comes from the Old Norse geysa, “to gush”, has been adopted into English.

Boiling hot water is shot up into the air as high as 70m. This happens approximately every 10 minutes. So if you want to get a shot, or a video, you’ll just have to be very patient, and keep your finger on the record/snap button. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for another 10 minutes or so.

After missing 2 geysers and successfully snapping one, off we went to out next destination, Gullfoss – Golden Waterfall.

This mighty waterfall cascades 32m into the river gorge. It’s like the niagara falls of Iceland. Awesome sight.

This next waterfall is called The Faxi (or Vatnsleysufoss) waterfall. It’s a smaller version, and less visited by the crowd.

It’s interesting that they specially¬†built a staircase for salmon? or trout? to jump up the river.

And then that’s the end of our Golden Circle tour. And good timing too. Because if we left a little later, we would have bumped into more trouble driving back to Reykjavik.

The snow storm came again. It took incredible concentration for Mat to drive, and I too had to keep my eyes on the left side railing to make sure Mat kept the car on the road. Visibility was almost zero.

Really praise God we made it back safely to our hotel.

Stay tuned for the next post, because the snow is about to get historical.

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Iceland – Day 1

Iceland is¬†considered one of those unique countries on a traveller’s list. But the weekend that we went, it could not have¬†been more unique.

Mat has been to Iceland, maybe 3 years ago? And he went during summer, and even bumped into summer solstice, where the sun never sets. I couldn’t follow him that time because he was on a week’s course staying at the Uni’s hostel. After his trip there, he had a goal of taking me there for a holiday with him, and also, the ultimate goal of seeing the aurora!

Mind you, flights to Iceland is not cheap. So at last when we found a reasonably priced flight, it was in the peak of winter. hoo-ray-

(If I would give you one important tip, it will be, “Don’t visit Iceland in Winter!”)

So, we booked ourselves on the Icelandic Air. Flight was fairly smooth until we approached the land. Visibility was crazy, strong winds, etc… Praise God indeed we landed safely. We soon found out that half of Iceland was closed because of the weather.

It is recommended to rent a car when visiting Iceland, unless you are travelling single. There are plenty of tours, but it will cost you a bomb. Since Mat has been to Iceland, he was very confident he could take me around in a car ūüôā

Most shops in the¬†capital city, Reykjavik (pronounced REYK-ya-veek), closes early. So since we arrived late evening, we had to hunt down dinner quickly. This is Iceland’s most popular hotdog stand,¬†B√¶jarins Beztu Pylsur (translation: The best hot dog in town)

If you want to eat it as a meal, one hotdog is definitely not enough.

So is it the best hotdog in town? Yeah… the sauce, the hotdog, the bun, is nothing unique, honestly¬†speaking, but what’s under the hotdog. They put fried onions, so it gives that additional sensation of texture. Without it, this will not be the best hotdog in town. Warning: The line is always long, made popular by Bill Clinton.

So, since one hotdog wasn’t enough for me, and I didn’t want to queue up again, so off we went to look for a supermarket. There was only 1 supermarket left open in the whole of Reykjavik at 7pm. Bought ourselves some fruit, and breakfast, and also lunch for the next day.

Tip no 2: Food in Reykjavik is really really really expensive. So to save yourself some money, get some sandwiches from the supermarket, especially for the following day’s lunch. The cheapest supermarket is B√≥nus.

After that, we walked back to our hotel for a good night’s rest.

Here is a sneak peak at one of the city sight’s.

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