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      Posting these cat-cartoons-without-the-cartoon was a long journey that I don’t know if I’ll repeat soon again. A daily blog is tough … even when you have your material handed to you! But, I couldn’t have done it without the artwork … Continue reading →
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      A happy young lady shares a table at a tony restaurant with her cat; they both wear festive, cone-shaped party hats. The woman gaily says to the tuxedoed server, “One martini and one glass of milk.” The cat does not … Continue reading →

A Whirlwind Trip to Iceland

Posted by joeabbott on December 20, 2009

Suzanne and I have a lot of entries on “our list” for places we’d like to see and enjoy sooner or later. While we’re probably too young to talk about a “bucket list” (stealing the term from a movie with a similar name), it amounts to the same thing. And, with our varied interests, we don’t actually have the same list, but we enjoy variety enough to (mostly) welcome a chance to explore items on either person’s list. But Iceland was on both of our lists.

Now, to be completely honest, it wasn’t the highest place on either of our lists but we thought it would be “tamely exotic”, ruggedly beautiful, and reasonably close. So, on our lists it was.

But around mid-November we didn’t have any vacations planned through the end of the year; and probably not until after March 2010. I’m OK with that but Suzy was getting a little stir crazy, so when I saw we could get airfare to Iceland as a direct flight from Seattle for little more than it normally takes us to get back to Minnesota, I asked her if she was interested.

She was and then planned a wonderful “long weekend” trip to Reykjavik.

First a bit about Iceland.

Iceland is an island nation that abuts the Arctic Circle in the North Atlantic with just one small satellite island off its north coast. It’s about a 3 hour flight from London, a bit more than 5 from New York, and just over 7 from Seattle. In area, it’s about the size of Kentucky or Ohio and it’s geography features glaciers, fjords, and lots of mountains\volcanoes. Actually, about 2/3rds of the land is considered “waste” or uninhabitable. Which explains why its population of 300,000+ mainly live in the coastal areas and over a third of them in the Reykjavik area alone!

But, in a large part their economy was leveraging low quality banking monies and the global economic collapse of the last year or so hit Iceland very hard. And while life will get continually tougher for the average Icelander, it’s a bargain for tourists!

So Suzy and I decided to do our part in injecting cash into their economy! 🙂

We took off from SeaTac International Airport late on Thursday, 12/17 and landed in Keflavik International Airport early in the morning on 12/18. The time gap includes our 7 hour flight over Hudson Bay and Greenland, plus the 8-hour time difference between the two places. I’m too big to enjoy long flights much, and this one really messed with me. While we had thought we could walk around the area after we landed, I needed to get some real sleep. Which I did.

I’ll add posts here later to flesh out the details of our trip but the summary is as follows. We planned tours for each day which helped us to avoid the need for a car. We didn’t mind the loss of unstructured time as we were there for so short a duration that it was nice to have someone deal with all the details. So, tour tour tour!

Friday night we enjoyed a Northern Lights and Lobster excursion. While the weather was too poor to see the Aurora Borealis, the meal was fantastic!

Saturday was spent all-day on the Golden Circle excursion, but that night we had them drop us off downtown and we window shopped, enjoyed some local cuisine, and hopped a cab back to our rooms. And as a teaser, the Golden Circle refers to seeing their first parliament site (Þingvellir), famous waterfalls, and the granddaddy of all geysers!

Sunday we went on another all-day tour but this one really was all-day! Dubbed the Essential Iceland excursion, it includes another trip to Þingvellir … but our trip the previous day had been in low light and bad weather so we didn’t regret another trip. And, it’s a very very cool place! In addition to Þingvellir, the trip took us up onto their second largest glacier, into lava tube caves, to hot springs, more fantastic waterfalls, and finally under a fjord as we got back to Reykjavik! That was a long day!

Monday was our last day in Iceland so it was a bit more of a “taste” than the previous all-day excursions. We started with some horseback riding and then spent a few hours in the Blue Lagoon, before grabbing our bags and making a helter skelter run to Keflavik for our return  trip!

As you can see, there’s a lot to write about on this smashing trip. The one downside (well, aside from the flight length), was the weather. While a little rain and clouds didn’t bother us, it did make taking photographs very hard. The low light just didn’t work well for the point-and-shoot digital camera we were using. So, while we’ll share the pictures once we process them, I’m afraid the best you’ll get is smiling tourists (us) and not the phenomenal landscape (Iceland)!

More later.


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