Friday, June 8, 2012

Iceland Itinerary

Excitement is the word that fills my thoughts as I think in a little over two weeks Zack and I will be arriving in Iceland.  Since I was 10 years old and I would peruse the vast library of books and encyclopedias that my parents had in my childhood home, I have been forever fascinated with Iceland.  It has been a country that has called to me for years to visit and I can't believe that I will finally arrive there on June 26, 2012.  Only Mongolia and Afghanistan rank higher on my list of countries to visit than Iceland.

This trip feels like a fulfillment of a lifetime of dreams and wishes to visit the far and remote corners of our planet.  As a result I have read and I have planned much more than I have ever done for any foreign trip that Zack and I have taken before.  In comparison to our trips to France, Belgium and Costa Rica I have done countless hours of research and reading and I feel like we are embarking on an adventure of epic proportions.  With that said however, this is just the first adventure that is going to highlight our lives.  Even though we have yet to embark upon this trip, my mind is already churning and thinking of what the next trip will be.  I don't think the next trip will be to a place as remote. 

Our itinerary for this trip begins on Monday, June 25th at 5:15PM when we embark on Iceland Air Flight 670 from Denver to Keflavik International Airport outside of Reykjavík - the capital of Iceland.  We arrive in Iceland at 6:35AM and once we clear customs we will proceed to the Hertz Car Rental and pick up our car.  I am quite certain at that hour of the morning we are going to be tired as all hell.  Our arrival time in Iceland is 11:35PM MDT - so we will have a VERY long day ahead of us.  The plan for this first day is simply to visit the sites of Reykjavík and get adjusted to the time difference.  Knowing me and my reaction to European time zones, by 2:00PM Iceland time I will be absolutely exhausted and wanting to nap.  (Every time I go to Europe I tend to crash out the first day.  If I do what my body is telling me to do and sleep, I tend to feel so much better in the coming the days.)

Waking up early on Wednesday, June 27 isn't going to be difficult.  Given the time differential between Denver and Iceland, I am sure I will be awake by 5:00AM at the latest.  Once we check out of our hotel we will head to the north and east to reach the Eastern Fjords of Iceland.  This area of the country is one of the more desolate parts of the country.  It is marked by steep and isolated fjords that occupy the entire coast line.  The sights are beautiful but there isn't much there aside from the wonderful natural beauty of the mountains and the sea. 

For most of our trip through out Iceland we will be following the "Ring Road", which is an 832 mile road the entire way around the island.  However we will make many detours off the road as we journey into the more remote parts of the country.  The entire Western Fjords are off the Ring Road and we will spend most of our first day of travel off the Ring Road weaving along the broken coastline.

 (The Ring Road is shown on this map as the boldest red line.)

The following link provides a hour-by-hour update on road conditions throughout Iceland.  We will keep a close eye on this website as we travel around the country.  So if you are interested to see what we will be facing on a day-to-day basis you can check out this site.

That evening we will be staying in a very small fishing village called Suðureyri.  Suðureyri is a small Icelandic fishing village perched on the tip of the 13 km-long Súgandafjörður in the Westfjords.  The village has no economic base other than what is earned through fishing and from tourism.  Here we will be able to experience the dramatic beauty of the fjords and also learn a little about life in Iceland as the town offers tours of it's fish factory and we can arrange to sail with a local fishing boat.  We will definitely do the fish factory tour, but Zack is not too happy about some of the aquatic adventures I have planned for us, so this might be one we skip.  Our hotel in Suðureyri is called the Fisherman's Hotel and it is the only hotel for miles around.  I am guessing we will be eating a lot of fish while in Suðureyri.

On Thursday June 28 we will leave Suðureyri and head back towards the interior of the country to rejoin the Ring Road.  We will make our way along the northern coast of the country stopping here and there to explore wonderful waterfalls, mountain ranges, historic sites from the Icelandic sagas and fast flowing rivers.  At Lake Myvatn we will depart the Ring Road and head far north for to reach our destination of the day at Husavik. 

We will spend the next two days in Husavik doing things like going on a whale watching expedition, exploring the world famous phallogical museum (more on this later), experiencing the hundreds of thousands of birds that make Lake Myvatn home and doing a lot of hiking to view volcanoes and hot springs.  The phallogical museum in Husavik is Iceland's most off-beat museum and is quite famous around the world.  Inside the museum thre are examples of the penises of just about every mammal found in Iceland or off it's shores.  Yes - it's a penis museum.  Who would have possibility thought that something like this existed!  It's so bizarre that we have to go and visit it.

After our two days in Husavik we will once again head out on the road and turn to the south.  When we leave Husavik we will journey through Jokulsarjljufer National Park.  The park is situated around a dramatically beautiful canyon that is believed to have been formed by the ice water melt when a large icecap was almost immediately melted by the eruption of a volcano.   Along the rest of the way south we will see plenty of huge waterfalls and other spectacular scenery. 

From Saturday June 30 through Monday July 1 we will be staying in an area called the Eastern Fjords in the small town of Djupivogur.  (I don't know why I even use the word small to describe these towns as the entire country is small.)  This is an area that is known for it's wildlife and is described as a "nature lovers paradise".  Staying here will also give us access to reach the interior of the country.  Though I would like to strike out into the interior on our own, we simply can't do it.  We will not be driving a 4 wheel drive vehicle and the interior consists of a lot of unforgiving terrain.  So we just aren't going to do it, instead we will hook up with a tour operator out of Djupivogur to visit the interior.

On Monday morning we will begin the trip back to the west.  We will drive along the southern coast of Iceland past rivers and bays choked with icebergs.  Along the way we might stop in Hofn and do some sea kayaking among the towering icebergs.  Our destination for this day will be something even smaller than a town - a mere outpost of civilization along the road.  Monday evening will find us staying on a farm that also provides over night accommodations for travelers.  In the morning we might have to go out and help with the milking of the cows, it all depends upon what they needs us to do.  Regardless it should be a really interesting stay and I am really looking forward to it.

Tuesday morning after our farm chores we will head back to Reykjavik.  The remaining 2 days of our trip will be spent in Rejkjavik, however each day we will travel far afield from the city.  The first day we are there, July 3 we will be heading to a ranch located south of the capital to spend the day horseback riding among the lava fields that fill this area of the country.  The ride will take most of the day but we will have great mounts as the Iceland horse is one of the more docile and obedient horses in the world.

Our last full day in Iceland will be July 4 and we plan to spend the day in Pingvellir National Park and also on the Snaefellsnes peninsula to the north of the Reykjavik.  We will then pack up and head home on Thursday July 5th.  We leave Iceland at something like 3:00PM local Icelandic time and arrive in Denver at 4:40PM local Mountain Daylight Savings time. 

It will be a wonderful trip for us and I am hoping we will be left with many wonderful memories that we can share with others through stories and pictures.

Besides getting the itinerary for Iceland set there are many other things going on in our lives.  Zack's last day of school was on Wednesday.  He is now free and clear of school until the end of August.  There are several camps in which he will be taking part throughout the summer, but in general for kids his age there aren't too many camps.  As a result, he is going to be spending a lot of time working around the house.  This is the summer in which Zack is going to learn the value of work!  The key project he is going to be working on is cleaning out a lot of the overgrown landscaping in the back yard.  He's gotten a lot taller and stronger so it's time for him to put those newly grown muscles to work!

Work on our kitchen has reached a fevered pace.  The drywall is now all finished and the new hardwood floor is being laid down.  The floor looks gorgeous and they finished laying it today.  Tomorrow the floor will get sanded and the cabinets will start being placed on Monday!  After about 8 visits to different granite show rooms around the city, I have finally selected the granite that will be used for the "centerpiece" of the island and the eating area.  Having that selection finally done is fantastic as making that choice was agonizing.

A major curve ball has been thrown my way by my work.  I found out early this morning I am going to need to be in Chicago for several days next week.  Getting this kind of notice for travel really kind of stinks as I don't have a lot of time to get everything organized and in place like I normally would.  On top of that I still don't have all the logistics of exactly where and when I need to be there.  Hopefully I will get an e-mail over the weekend with that information or Monday morning could be a real scramble.  Oh well - fun things like this sometime happen I guess.

I hoped to wrap things up with some new pictures of my kitchen/family room, however, access the to the space is difficult at this moment because there is plastic covering everyone of the doors.  So I will have to wait until tomorrow.

I hope everyone has a great weekend ahead!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.


Anonymous said...

I spent two years in Iceland, one in Hofn and one in Keflavik and it was a memorable time in my life. The interior has places that are a desolate as the surface of the moon and about the same color. Take your sunglasses as it won't ever be dark while you are there. I envy you.

Edan Stewart said...

Good thing you were able to come across a car rental company that is affordable and reliable.