Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Iceland - The Golden Triangle

Back in June, we went to Iceland en route home from Europe.

When you fly Iceland Air you can have free stopovers there and we were excited to have a bonus adventure before we returned home.

We expected a lot, because we've seen the pictures and heard grand stories.  And Elle and Grace have been pining away to go there for a while now.

But it exceeded our expectations.  

By heaps and bucketloads.

It is one of the most interesting and different places I have ever visited.

From majestic waterfalls that took our breath away:

To a huge sea of gigantic icebergs:

To vistas of volcanic rock covered in gray-sage-green moss as far as the eye could see:

To lush green fields of lumpy moss where horses ran free:

These purple flowers grew wildly EVERYWHERE:
(see them carpeting the hills below?)
 And they lined the streets all over the place.

For a while we thought that was the only kind of flower on all of Iceland but we did spot a few other flower variety stragglers here and there:

And a random huge field of yellow too:

We walked up and down hundreds of stairs and climbed up and over countless boulders.

We scaled the sides of mountains:

And the cool thing was that even though we were only there for two days, the sun never set, so we had enough daylight to squeeze in so much that we wanted to see.

This time of year the sun hangs low in the sky when it gets super late (11:30ish) and then comes up again.  It was never dark.  This was our landing there at 11:30 at night:

We lucked out because we got a rental car that was teeny tiny like we did in Switzerland, but it was making some crazy weird noises so before we got too far we took it back to have them check what was wrong.

Sure enough, there was something quite wrong and they didn't have anything comparable in size to trade it out for.  So they handed us over the keys of this whiz-bang humungous van that we got to tour that place with.

It was luxuriously wonderful.

It didn't hurt that we had some treats left over from England to keep us company on the road:

Another very awesome thing about this leg of the trip was that Dave was in charge.  

And who wouldn't want to have this guy in charge of your trip?

I was in charge of the other stops (which I handed over to Anita and Char in Switzerland and London), but I was on my toes a lot making sure we got where we wanted to be when we wanted to be there with all the crazy logistics.

So it was like the best thing since sliced bread that I got to let go and let Dave take us around this last stop.

We only got to the south side of Iceland this time around.  

We'll have to go back with Max some day to do the rest :)

But let's back up for a second and start at the beginning.

We packed up our little apartment in London's Covent Garden (London is back HERE),

Traded in our beloved tube passes:

...and headed to the airport.

Normally I hate goodbyes to places I love, but we had all this anxious anticipation delight with Iceland on the horizon.

Both times we landed in Iceland I was mesmerized.  The first time on our layover en route to Europe I found it fascinating that there were no big cities I could spot, just volcanic rock for as far as the eye could see and some bunker-like buildings.

The second time we flew in (to stay a while this time) we passed some pretty gorgeous sites.  Lakes in the middle of high plateau mountains:
A lonely gyser:
All that lava rock covered in moss:

Our first stop was the BLUE LAGOON.
All the tour books suggested this might be a little touristy, but Dave decided it was still worth it to check it out.

So we did.  And we were pretty glad about that.

They were right about the touristy part, there were a lot of people there.

And it was funny because supposedly the minerals in that thing are so healthy and healing for skin so everyone was swimming around this huge lagoon with their faces plastered with white mineral foamy stuff (including us).  Which cracked us all up.  And in turn, our cracking up cracked that white stuff right off our faces that we were trying to let dry so we could have the fountain of youth.


But despite the touristy stuff, it was worth it.  We loved that place.

(Gotta love the "don't kiss me" post Lucy does quite often.  It's hard not to kiss off those cheeks though!)

After the Blue Lagoon we headed out to take a little tour of what they call the GOLDEN TRIANGLE of Iceland (which includes Pingvellir, Geysir and Gulfoss).  Not to be confused with the Golden Triangle we did in India (back HERE and HERE).

Here's a map of the Iceland Golden Triangle:

We started by heading to PINGVELLIR:
Pingvellir is a National Park where Iceland held open-air assemblies starting in 930 until 1789.  They would meet here every year to set laws and settle disputes.

It is also where there is a huge divide of the earth.

See those cliffs off to the right below?
Each year those get further and further apart from each other.

There is a gorgeous view there:

And there was a random group of girls doing a jump too...

En route to the next spot we stopped for ice cream because apparently it is the best ice cream on the planet.

I'm not an ice cream girl so I opted for a cucumber instead which Elle thought was funny and posted on snapchat...

The ice cream place is on this little farm which is just as picturesque as the rest of Iceland:

Next we went to the GEYSIR field where there are a lot of steamy hot springs:

Gorgeous flowers:
...and a huge geyser called STROKKUR:
We were mesmerized by that thing.

We spent some good time hiking around that area taking in all the beauty.

We sat there mesmerized by Strokkur and watched it go off again and again.  Grace was so excited because she caught the actual eruption a couple times.  (It's much more random than the ones I remember seeing at Yellowstone.)

We wrapped up the day at GULFOSS, this massive waterfall:
It's so hard to describe things like this because there are just no words.

And no matter what I try, pictures cannot do it justice.

The power of WATER is astounding.  See that rainbow it's making below?
It helps to get an idea of the majesty of that thing when you see the teeny tiny people next to it.

That's a LOT of water shooting off of that thing I'll tell you that.

First we went up to check it out from above:
...with our "Grumpy Tourist" tour guide:

Why do I love this side profile so much?
I love that those girls are taking after their father in the selfie business :)
Then we went to the middle ground:

And then headed to get soaked in the spray:

Pretty powerful force right there below us...

We ended the night by eating at this little Ethiopian restaurant randomly found on the side of the road at around 10:00...

And stopping by this gorgeous lumpy field full of horses.

We breathed it all in.

To be continued tomorrow...


  1. What a beautiful corner of our earth! Thank you for sharing :)

  2. One doesn't often see gorgeous photos of Iceland. Wonderful! --M

  3. Iceland was one of our favorite stops on our trip to Europe this summer. I love the way you captured the beauty of it so well in your photographs.

  4. Oh my goodness! We'e GOT to go! Thanks for sharing!

  5. hi could you let me know where you got your basic white frames that you have covering the one wall just off your kitchen. Ikea? They hold all the black and white photos. They are all the same. What are the size of them?

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  7. Goodness, Iceland is breathtaking!!

  8. The flowers are called lupines and grow like weed in our garden... still beautiful though :)

  9. This makes me want to go to Iceland. I agree the flowers are lupins

  10. We went to Iceland last summer (like you, we were visiting family in London, and then in Ireland). Iceland was the first leg of the trip and the one my kids were least looking forward to. (They were very excited to see their cousins in England and Ireland, less excited to hike, etc.) But once we were there they LOVED it and it ended up being their favorite leg of the trip (helps that they went in with really low expectations) and we have all agreed that we would like to go back again someday. Also, funny story, we are a large family like yours (7 of us) and there was no rental car large enough for they gave the Enterprise shuttle bus! We laughed so hard and we could spot our car from the top of every mountain because it was the giant green shuttle in the parking lot! Can't wait to see your next posting on Iceland!

  11. oh my gosh! this is amazing! Iceland has been on my list of places to go for ages! now I'm motivated to really look into it again. thanks Shawnie.

  12. We are living in Germany now and this makes me want to visit Iceland. Who would've thought Iceland was so cool??

  13. So beautiful! Off subject, but have you read Ms Rumphius? It is a sweet story, and lupines are a key player :)

  14. 1. Touristy places are often touristy for a reason. So I wouldn't forego them just because they are touristy, too.
    2. A cucumber? Over ice cream? I'm in shock.


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