Monday, July 24
Our ship docked at …. and we took a whale watch excursion. The weather was less than optimal; quite cold and very wet, but it was still nice to get out on the water to be with nature.
Wednesday, July 26
Our ship docked at Reykjavik for the day and we took a brief tour of the city with a few of the passengers while most of the remaining passengers went out on various Golden Circle tours.
We visited the president’s residence at Bessastaðavegur, then Perlan Museum which has a viewing deck with great panoramic views over Reykjavik. We picked up a couple of souvenirs while there.
Next up was Hallgrimskirkja, the church that dominates the city skyline with its imposing tower. Karen paid to go inside and take some photos. And finally, the group had taken so long at the museum and church that we only got a quick glimpse of Hofdi house, where the summit meeting between President Ronald Reagan and Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev was held in 1986.
Thursday, July 27
We departed our ship this morning for Hotel Sand where we would spend the night. We downtown Reykjavik allowed us to stow our bags while we went out for lunch at Forsetinncafé – Reykjavik bistro & bar. The food was wonderful!
After lunch we walked around Reykjavík a little, discovering a great bakery next to our hotel, then returned to the hotel and got our room. After a little bit of rest, Alan went down to the Tjörnin pond and took some pictures of a whooper swan to add to our list while Karen rested a bit more.
Friday, July 28
We had arranged for a eight-day self-driving tour (they set up the rental of a 4×4 vehicle for us) of Iceland through Nordic Visitor, a tour company specializing in the northern countries of Europe. We chose the South & West Iceland Classic tour and allowed the company to arrange for all of our accommodations as well as two special tours; a visit to Húsafell Canyon Baths, and a walk on Skaftagell blue ice glacier. Since Karen had taken that spill in Finland and broken her ankle, we requested a change of itinerary and switched the glacier walk to a zodiac boat tour on Fjallsarlon Glacier lagoon.
For our first day of the trip, our hotel was very gracious and held one of our bags in storage until we returned. We simply packed everything we needed into the other large piece of luggage and used only that one for this leg of the trip. Once we were checked out, a representative from Hertz to pick Alan up around 8:30am and took him to the office to retrieve the car. He returned a bit later and picked up Karen and the luggage.
Finally, we were on our way! Our first visit was the Icelandic Settlement Center in Borgarnes, then the Barnafoss and Hraunfossar waterfalls. Iceland is the land of hundreds of waterfalls and they don’t disappoint. The landscape here is stunning.
At 1:00pm we visited Húsafell Canyon Baths and took a very relaxing dip in a natural thermal pool. Afterward we continued on the way and stopped at a goat farm https://www.geitur.is/ – which turned into a lot of fun.
That night we stayed at Hótel Hamar and ate in their on-site restaurant for dinner.
Saturday, July 29
Today we visited Snaefellsnes Penninsula where we saw some very cool murals, Londrangar cliffs, saw the Old Black Church at Buoir, and Kirkjufell Mountain and saw some wild horses near the hotel.
Sunday, July 30
Today we drove to and around on, the Golden Circle. On the way there we passed under a fjord through Hvalfjörður Tunnel – it is just under four miles long, under water – pretty cool. Farther down the road Alan’s knee was hurting him so Karen hiked to Öxarárfoss waterfall by herself and took some pictures. It was very overcrowded, so there wasn’t a great opportunity for a nice photo.
After leaving Öxarárfoss, we drove through Thingvellir National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and on up to Gullfoss waterfalls. The falls are immense and beautiful. We walked around the upper deck then down to the lower deck where we got good and wet from the spray from the waterfalls.
Next we had lunch in a greenhouse at Frioheimar Farm. They specialize in tomatoes and supply Iceland with 40% of what Iceland consumes in tomatoes. We had tomato soup and some bread. It was already 2:30 when we ate, so a light lunch was just perfect, especially since we have dinner reservations for 7:00 (it’s Alan’s birthday today).
After lunch we visited and hiked the mile around the lip of Kerio Crater.
Tonight we stay at Hótel Selfoss, located just across the river in downtown Selfoss.
Monday, July 31
Today was a long list of sites to see. First up was the most impressive; Seljalantsfoss waterfall. We made the short hike out to it, then we walked behind it. Karen stood on an outcropping and posed for a drenched photo. We continued on with the hike and saw some smaller waterfalls, then Alan walked through the slippery gap at Gljufrabui hidden waterfall – it is a waterfall inside a canyon.
Next up was the Eyjafjoll Mountain Range (stunning!), and then the beautiful Skogafoss waterfall in Skogar.
We stopped by Reynisfjall Observation Deck to view the rock formations, and stumbled upon something even better – puffins!
We drove by Solheimajokull Glacier then stopped at the volcanic black sand beach of Reynisfjara near the village of Vik I Myrdal. We saw Dyrholaey rock arch and the Halsanefshellir sea cave and Garoar cliff too.
We stayed at Magma Hotel – a boutique hotel with individual cabins and a separate building with a restaurant.
Tuesday, August 1
Today was Diamond Beach, stunning black-sand beach known for its huge, glistening iceberg fragments that drift ashore.
Then we drove to Fjallsarlon iceberg lagoon replete with icebergs and took a boat ride.
Wednesday, August 2
Today we drove back to Reykjavic, stopping at a pharmacy for some meds for Karen’s “cold” (we later found out it was Covid).
We turned car back in to Hertz and got ride to Hotel Sand and retrieved our stored luggage. We had lunch at Forsetinncafé, and repeated dinner at one of the other restaurants we’d already visited before.
Thursday, August 3 we headed home.