Monday, April 6, 2015

Icelandic Adventure Day 3 & 4

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I want to blog about Easter and the kiddos, so I'll finish up the Iceland blogging here in a hurry.

Day #3

This was also a hefty travel day, as we backtracked from Reynivellir just past Jokulsarlon Bay to Hella.  We had already traversed this way the day before, but the lighting and mist meant much of it looked new.  I loved the journey back.

We started as early as we could - our travels were often delayed by my pumping/expressing three times a day to keep production up. (A note on maintaining breastfeeding while traveling without your baby: I had planned the trip around Christmas thinking Esther would be six months when Gideon gave up breastfeeding, not five (math is *not* my strong suit!). In any event, I was definitely not ready to give up breastfeeding - am still not - so I worked on it for about a month prior and left with the freezer full of milk so she would maintain familiarity with the taste and then pumped and dumped while on the road. Broke my heart it all went to waste, and Lance was convinced he could angle an economic value out of it...but it worked!  She's still breastfeeding three times a day.  I'm so, so grateful.) Anyway, was pretty sure I was the only breastfeeding mother on the island sans baby--saw a lot of babies there touring with their mums--but it worked beautifully and made for a nice, very needed getaway with my sweetheart.

video

(I watched the above video of Esther maybe 20 times a day while pumping to simulate as close as I could being with my baby to trick my hormones.)

We ate breakfast at a no-name hotel in Hnappavelir - unremarkable but for the little sod playhouses above.  Architecture isn't really Iceland's strong suit.  Buildings are built to withstand the elements and be functional - often, a mere box, as materials are so very expensive (everything is expensive!).  The exception are these old sod homes and churches - wood is scarce on the island.  More on these later.

sod church
Church in Hnappavelir


Then it was a 2-3 hour drive through the lava fields, which I loved.  Lonely, beautiful, solitary.  Without the passing cars on Highway 1, there is not a sound about.


moss covered lava
The lava is either found in rocks, above or in bumpy "fields" of moss-covered rocks, pictured here.
It was then on to Vik, home of the black sand beach, where we stopped off for groceries.  We finally figured out that to save money on our adventures: we would either bring groceries (we did plenty of this, but by day 3 we had run out) or purchase them there, and then eat breakfast and lunch on the go. Dinner would be a bit of a splurge and something to look forward to after a long day of hiking.

They had these fun little tykes carts.  Our groceries included an Icelandic hat for yours truly, as I did not have one.  Turns out purchasing it at the grocery store avoided the tourist tariff.  Score.
black sand beach
Vik's sea stacks, Reynisdrangur.  Legend says that these are ill-fated trolls that got caught out in the sun. 
We then made it to Skogar, where we had determined to enjoy a long hike above the falls. We were hoping to make it all the way to the volcanic craters - I was eager to see live lava - but the hike proved with only a few exceptions to be more than we could have hoped for.

The hike above Skogarfoss is called "waterfall way," and consists of 23 waterfalls.  Many are more stunning than Skogarfoss itself, and you get them all to yourself.  March isn't exactly hiking weather, but geared up we were ready for the sun, mists, rain, and sleet (!) that beat upon us - who said there is no inclement weather, only inadequate gear? - and enjoyed ourselves despite the elements.  Our least favourite part of this hike was the mud.  Solid ground was not so solid, but more like muddy quicksand, even when topped by sturdy rocks.  Thank goodness for good boots!

We were finally stopped by Spring melt that had left big holes in a frozen bridge over a churning stream/river.  We couldn't see fresh tracks, and had a certain sense that our weight plus Spring melt could mean a nasty and irretrievable fall into the water and then possibly over the cliff not 20 feet away where the stream morphed into a beautiful but treacherous waterfall.  I counted 18 waterfalls before we had to turn back.








We then discovered Skogar Museum - a pristinely preserved sod village.  You could even climb into the attics.  I got many decorating ideas.

Icelandic sod houses

sod houses





This was the sherriff's home, the first all-wooden home in the region, built from drift wood and a shipwrecked vessel.

Clearly Iceland is culturally affiliated with Scandinavia


We then made our way to the quiet town of Hella where we enjoyed an amazing meal at Arhus campsite, where we also stayed.  The staff was friendly and my four-cheese chicken penne was possibly the best I have ever had - I even got the recipe and was happy to make the chef's day.  This was our favourite night.  Our little cabin at Arhus was quaint, compact, and rather economical--for Iceland.  Our only disappointment was not seeing the Northern Lights again.

This barn was built right into the lava formation.

Coca-Cola is Lance's Mormon beer.  He enjoys it, usually in bottle form, while we are on the road.
Day #4

We were planning on seeing the Blue Lagoon the next day, but I thankfully discovered while waiting for Northern Lights that it had to be pre-booked and was sold out for the day.  So, knowing that we disliked crowds and big tourist attractions anyway, found another hot spring to hike to in Hveragerdi called Reykjadalur.  We enjoyed the hike and swim in the snow immensely - until we found ourselves changing back into our clothes in a blizzard!

Rainbows in Iceland are plentiful


Planks are and changing platforms are being added to this hot mountain stream

Icelandic Hot Mountain Stream


And then it was home again, home again.  We booked it to the airport 90 minutes away and made it home to our babies.

All in all, this trip was an epic adventure, and reminded both of us how much we enjoy and love each other.  I'm re-converted to couples time, even when (and perhaps especially when ) you have tiny children.


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