Iceland 2016

  • Iceland 2016 - Day 8 - Bye bye Iceland!

     

    A video of my trip

    View from our shuttle bus on the way to the airport

    Final day, It's time to say goodbye already. This trip was a great experience for me, and I would definately go back to iceland if I could, perhaps explore the other side of the country, and checkout the northern lights when the timing is right. I will never forget this trip and Iceland, all the cool landscapes, expensive but great food, and all the nice Icelandic people.

  • Iceland 2016 - Day 7 - Blue Lagoon!

    On our last full day in Iceland, we visited a natural hot-spring. The landscapes were impressive, it felt like i'm on another planet, the grey gooey clay bubbles on the ground with an extremely strong odour that is similar to rotten eggs, but worse... 

    An orange lighthouse

    We then took a little short drive over to see some shipwrecks. It was about a 20 minutes hike in total from the lighthouse, where we were dropped off and to the other side of the road.

    Pierre for scale

    We stopped at 2 different shipwrecks, both of them were rusted form inside out. 

    Blue Lagoon

    We hurried and rushed to our last stop of the day, the highlight of the trip, the Blue Lagoon! Pierre was so prepared and already made a reservation for us so we didn't have to lineup (yes you have to line up to get into the lagoon). The Blue Lagoon was easily one of my favourite place in the whole trip. Despite it being so commercialized now, it was still worth the visit. The warm blue water in contrast with the chilling air was really a different experience. We also got to try on the face mask where you apply some white clay on your face and it's suppose to improve your skin, it sure was refreshing doing that.

    Midnight sunset at Reykjavík

    After the nice bath at the Blue Lagoon, we headed back to our hotel. Hanna, Adrian and I took a little midnight walk, we caught the sunset at the sæbraut just in time, the lighting and the view was mesmerizing at the time. 

  • Iceland 2016 - Day 6 - Back to Reykjavík

    Biking along the sæbraut

    It was overcast the next morning in Reykjavík, but that didn't stop us from renting bikes and biking to the dock to catch a ferry to Viðey Island (Videy). 

    Skarfabakki Harbour (Viðey Island at the back)

    It was only a few minutes ferry ride to the island, and we clumsily took our bikes with us to the island since we could not ditch them at the dock. 

    As we approached the island, the clouds got a little darker, but that didn't stop us from exploring the island. Viðey island is known for the Yoko Ono's "Imagine Peace Tower" inspired by John Lennon's song. From October to December, the tower lights up to commemorate John Lennons birtday and death respectively, the beam of light can reach up to over 4000 meters in a clear night. The tower has the phrase "Imagine Peace" in 24 different languages written over the white column.

    Yoko Ono's "Imagine Peace Tower"

    Hanna at the top of the hill

    Not long after visiting the Peace Tower, it started drizzling, we hurried and biked back to the top of the hill where the cafe was and spent a little time waiting for to catch the next ferry back to Reykjavík.

    A window at the top of the cafe

    Baejarins Beztu Pylsur - Reykjavík's famous street hot-dog

    After returning the bikes, we decided to walk back to near the market where Baejarins Beztu Pylsur is, a famous hot-dog stand in Reykjavík. I can easily say its one of the best, if not, the best hot-dogs I have ever had. It may look nothing more than the Ikea hot-dogs, but the twist is in the sauce and what's underneath the sausage. The sausage is lamb-based, with pork and beef, the condiments consists of remoulade (a french mayonnase), sweet mustard, fried onions and raw onions. Sounds amazing, I know, and apparently the brand was founded in 1937 in Reykjavík.

    Waffles at Mokka-Kaffi

    We took a little stroll around town and landed at Mokk-Kaffi, the oldest coffee shop in Reykjavík. Mokka was founded in the 50's and their decor inside is still very retro looking, Hanna was the one who discovered the place before the trip and told me that we HAVE to go try their waffles. Gotta say, I was not dissapointed, compared to the crunchy waffles we had at þingeyri, this one is more doughy, a little heavier which I do not have a problem with. Accompanied with the set up is some sort of strawberry or raspberry jam and whipped cream deliciousness.

    We spent the rest of the day easy as it started to rain a little more and it was really cold out. We visited a bar later in the night and headed back to our hotel.

  • Iceland 2016 - Day 5 - Abandoned Herring Factory

    Interior of the abandoned herring factory in Djupavik.

    In the following morning, we took a tour of the abandoned herring factory with one of the owners/manager of the hotel. He was a real nice man, and he told us a lot about the history of the town and the factory, and carefully guided us through the abadoned architecture. 

    3D stereoscopic photographs done by an artist.

    The top floor of the abandoned facotry is now used as an art gallery, mainly dispalying photographs. The owner told us they exhibit a different collection of work every month, and anyone is welcome to submit their work. The quality of the photographs that exhibits there was amazing, but what's more amazing is the gallery itself. The gallery is located in a long hall that features small windows along both sides, when the sun shines in at a lower angle, the lighting in the gallery is very photogenic.

    Greg checking his photos inside the gallery.

    Abandoned fish oil silo.

    Right outisde the main facotry sits 2 silos that used to hold fish oil. We climbed through a short pipe into the silo. The interior is a peaceful little place, the acoustics were echoey, so we started singing like a choir inside. There is a little tiny opening in the top of the silo, allowing a slither of light coming through the silo. The square pillars and the spiral shaped pipe on the floor also made it a very sci-fi looking place.

    Random drive-by view

    Fries at the gas-station

    Before we hit the crater, we stopped by a gas-station/snack stop for a quick lunch. Their fastfood menu did not feature english, but by the 5th day I've already learned that chicken is kjúklingur in Iceland, well, and the photo features some pieces of chicken so it was pretty self-explanatory and obvious that I'm going for it. I got the 2 pieces chicken with fries combo and the fries blew me away. The fries looks nothing special, but the packets of fries seasoning and the compulsory fries dip was what made it fantastic. The seasoning looks to be made with salt and pepper and different kinds of herbs, adding a kick to the fries. The dipping sauce is similar to salad dressing, its hard to describe, but its so good that I wish they have them here in Canada.

    View of Grabrok Crater from the top of the hike

    Befoe we head back to Reykjavík, we stopped by the Grabrok Crater for a little hike. The trail was well paved by wooden walkways and stairs, making it very easy to navigate. It was quite windy at the top due to the height and the shape of the hill. There wasn't that much in the middleo of the crater but the view from the crater was mesmerizing.

    We then drove straight to Reykjavík and took the rest of our day easy since the ride was long.

  • Iceland 2016 - Day 4 - Djupavik!

    Front of Guesthouse Sandafell

    Guesthosue Sandafell was where we stayed the night in Þingeyri. The interior is extremely nordic, and our room again features white walls and Ikea beds with a big roof window. Adrian and I were lucky to have 4 beds to the two of us. The breakfast bar was small, but delicate, and they served ham and cheese slices, some fresh homemade brown bread that's doughy, and a type of liquidy yogurt that comes from a carton. 

    Vestfjarðagöng

    We then began our journey towards our next destination: Djupavik! On our way, we passed the longest tunnel in Iceland, the Vestfjarðagöng. The tunnel has a length of almost 10 Kilometers and I am sure that we were in there for over 10 minutes. The lanes were really tight, like a one way tunnel with oncoming traffic yielding to us throughtout the tunnel. 

    Ísafjörður

    On the other side of the tunnel, we arrived at Ísafjörður, a bigger small town in the northwestern part of the Westfjords with a population about 2,600. We stopped by for gas and bought our lunches for a picnic later. 

    Maeve being attacked by Arctic terns

    On our way, we stopped at this abandoned castle and just as we're about to walk towards the pathway, a flock of 3 Arctic terns appeared out of nowhere and started to protect their territory. Maeve (being the brave one) tried to run towards the castle but got attacked by the birds and quickly retreated. We then had an idea to use Greg's tripod as a stick so the birds wouldn't get close to our heads. Aaron was able to walk towards the castle and survived, but the doors were locked so our efforts were without their reward.

    View on our way to Djupavik

    Hotel Djupavik

    Boiled Cod at Hotel Djupavik

    We finally arrived at Djupavik! a small town with a population of 50 people. This historic small town used to thrive with a herring business. The hotel manager told us that in the winter, the town might be closed off for months since the roads to Djupavik are not paved nor shoveled during the winter. We were all hungry people when we arrived, and the only place to eat was inside the hotel, so Hanna and I decided to try out the fish in Iceland. We had the Icelandic style, Boiled Cod with potatoes and veggies, it was one of the best fish I've ever had. 

    On our way to the Pool

    Krossneslaug Pool, Est. 1954

    Sunset view at the pool around 11:00 PM

    After dinner, we took a 45 minute drive to Krossneslaug, an outdoor pool that's right next to the ocean, The pool is geothermally heated, and swimming outside in the cold in warm water was such an experience. Too bad I did not have any waterproof camera gear with me to take pictures, but I sure enjoyed the view as the sun came out later in the evening. They also have a hot tub that fits around 8 people, which was cozy and warm. 

    View of the mountain behind us from the pool

    It was really interesting to see a consistant layer of fog just covering the top of the mountain while there was sun on the opposite side of us.

    Sunset view at Krossneslaug Pool

  • Iceland 2016 - Day 3 - Flatey Island!

    Breiðafjörður

    Dock at Stykkishólmur

    On the morning of the tird day we were up early to catch the ferry that brings us to Flatey island, which is located in Breiðafjörður, a large shallow bay that seperates the Westfjords from the south of Iceland. We loaded our minivan onto the ferry, which was heading for Brjánslækur.

    It was about an hour ride to Flatey, so we had breakfast in the lower deck canteen of the boat. Not long after leaving Stykkishólmur, the clouds cleared up and the weather was extremely nice, minimal clouds and blue skies. It stayed like that for the rest of the day, which was a rejoice. 

    The ferry was quite large, so it was hard to get sea sick. On the way we noticed a bunch of small islands that only had single houses on them. It must be lonely living on the island, but it wouldn't be a bad vacation home.

    View of Flatey as we approach

    Flatey is one of the largest islands of the west islands in Breiðafjörður, though I wouldnt say it's that big of an island. There is a small old village on the island, and the houses are all painted in nordic colours, muted yellow, green, blue etc. 

    The village was quiet and tranquil, and we saw locals that were enjoying the sun and kids swimming in the water. The overall feel of the island was peaceful, great for meditating and to escape from the cities. 

    Surrounded by the water, the isalnd also attracts lots of birds like the Puffins and Arctic Turns that are known for attacking people (if you go near their nests). There are also plenty of ducks and sheep spread throughout the island. 

    Overall, I would say this was the nicest little place I visited this trip. I would love to just go back to the island and spend a day or two there. I would highly recommend if you're heading to the Westfjords, to take the ferry and stop by Flatey.

    The Ferry only operates during the summer and it only comes twice a day, so we caught the 5PM ferry towards Brjánslækur and meet up with our van again.

    Dynjandi Falls - A series of waterfalls in Westfjords

    After arriving at Brjánslækur by ferry, we drove towards our next destination, Dynjandi Falls, which is a series of waterfalls all connected together, with a total height of 100m. The hike up to the top is around 15-20 minutes. The mass amount of displacing water creates a fine mist in the air, and we were able to see multiple rainbows at the falls - quite the view! Kent showed us that you can actually drink from the waterfall, so we all took our bottles and filled it up at the river, the water is very clean and refreshing, and it's naturally cold already! 

    View of the valleys on our way to þingeyri

    Waffles at Simbahöllin Café

    We then arrived at one of my favourite small town þingeyri, which has a population of 260 people, It's  small and quiet. Our first stop was Simbahöllin Café, and their waffles were one of the best waffles I've ever had in my life. They press it fresh right at the cafe and it's very light and crunchy, as opposed to a doughy mix. Their muted Jam and whipped cream is just the perfect match with the waffles. Alsaka Lupine - These purple flowers are scatters all around WestfjordsPanoramic View form the dock at þingeyri

    The sun never sets during the summer time, and these panoramas were taken around 10 PM at night. The lighting was amazing: the sun is just about to set, or rather, dip below the horizon. The water was very calm and the town was in silence. There's almost no sign of people in the streets late at night and you can really feel and listen the serenity of the town.

    We went out for a little walk after we settled into our guest house, around 12 AM the sun was just setting below the horizon, the lighting was just like what you would expect in dawn, except its midnight. By the west side of town, there's a little black sand beach where we spent some time and enjoyed the peach coloured sky against the distant hills.


    A little video about Flatey Island!

  • Iceland 2016 - Day 2 - Our Journey Towards The Westfjords!

    On the way to Westfjords!

    The Westfjords is the north west side of Iceland, and has a lot of mountainous areas. The Fjords are carved out from glacier erosions. Apparently, only about 6% of tourists visit the Westfjords, perhaps because of the hard to navigate terrain and some unpaved roads. In my opinion, its the nicest place i've been to and we're lucky to be that 6%.

    Our driver Kent was really well versed on Iceland. Kent drives fast, and some of the roads in the Westfjords are really narrow. On-coming traffic would have to slow down and pass each other cautiously on the edge of the cliff.

    Our first photo stop!

    This was our first landscape stop. The reflection on the water was calm and smooth, and the panoramic view was overwhelming. We all took our time to take pictures and all of a sudden we heard Kent yell "Yar Yar!" I still don't know what it means, but every time he would yell "Yar Yar!" we knew it was time to go.

    Guesthouse Tradir (at Snaefellsbaer)

    We then arrived at our guesthouse for the night to drop off our luggage. It was an amazing place in the middle of nowhere,  surrounded by the mountains and next to the ocean. Our room was like an Ikea show room, everything is basically white and scandinavian, It even smells like Ikea! Since there's literally no other buildings or shops around, the only place to eat was within the guest house and it was a little pricey.

    Arnarstapi

    Arnarstapi is one of the more touristy spots on the west side. While it's technically not the Westfjords yet, this is one of the postcard picture stops. We took about an hour to hike through the trail, which spans across the shoreline on a cliff. The point mountain behind us is Mount Stapafell, which I really enjoyed photographing. Along the hike we could see the arch rock Gatklettur which is quite the formation.

    Hellnar & Fjöruhúsið Café

    After about an hour hike, we arrived at a small village called Hellnar which used to be a fishing village. The little red café called Fjöruhúsið café was spectacular, located right by the shore, the view and the amazing Skyr cheesecake was absolutely a treat. 

    Djúpalónssandur

    Our last stop of the day was Djúpalónssandur, which is a black pebble beach. On the way down to the beach, there's remains from the shipwreck of a british trawler. The shipwreck scatters along the the whole area, making it almost like an art installation. The contrast between the rustic orange and the natural black is phenomenal. Across the little hill reveals the actual beach itself, which is decent sized, and there were a fine mist across it when we visited.

  • Iceland 2016 - Day 1 - Jet lag, Jet lag, Jet lag

    This is the first picture I took in Iceland! (taken from flybus, on our way to Reykjavik)

    It was about an hour bus ride from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavik, the landscapes are very different than the rest of the world. The lands across Iceland are mostly volcanic rocks that are black, and covered in muted green moss. It was relatively cloudy when we landed, so we couldnt see the land until the plane was a few hundred meters high.

    Skyr.is !!! (First Skyr I've had)

    Skyr is the best thing you can ever get in Iceland! It's a type of yogurt that is high in protein, and it tastes like greek yogurt, but better. They come in many different flavours such as: vanilla, pear, strawbetty, chocolate, blueberry, banana, etc. It's relatively affordable around 2500 Kr (around $2.50 CAD) and it contains 17 grams of protein which will fill you up. We lived off of Skyr for most meals, i'm sure I had at least one every day during the trip.

    Jet Lag (I look tired, I know.)

    There is a 4 hour time difference in Iclenad compared to Toronto, we were all really tired having to stay up over 36 hours straight after working a full day was exhausting, but I did it!

    A Graffiti alley in Reykjavik

    We took a walk, well, many walks after we landed to try to keep us awake, some of us craved in and went to bed, but Adrian won't let me, so I tried. Graffiti is a huge thing in Reykjavik as far as I know, but the government keeps trying to paint over the Graffiti, I guess they dont value them as art, but more vandalism which destroys the cities' view. I took this picture the first day, and a couple days later, I look down on the same alley, and its painted all white with a sign "Wet Paint" over it. I could be looking at a different alley, but I'm 99% sure that it was the same one.

    Hallgrímskirkja (Church)

    The iconic Hallgrímskirkja church is the largest church in Iceland where the iconic view of Reykjavik can be seen. The interior of the church features an extremely simple architecture look compared to most churches around the world. We rode the elevator to the top floor and the view was spectacular, we can see most of Reykjavik (which isnt that big anyways).

    HARPA (Concert Hall)

    HARPA, a concert hall thats worth looking at! HARPA features some really nice patterns on the outisde, and inside, I was mesmerized by the glass and mirror patterns, reminding me of a tesseract.

    B5

    B5 was the last stop of the day for me, its a little burger place hidden behind the bar B5. It's a neat little place with many drawings that customers (mostly kids) did and concert posters everywhere. I wasn't hungry enough to try their burger, but their milkshake was pretty nice.

    Shortly after, I crashed in our hotel around 7PM as I was up for over 36 hours straight.