July 28 – Still in the Middle of Nowhere & Reykjahlíð

Halftime Report, A Stinky Place, Carl to the Rescue, Game of Thrones, The Hoff Returns and Dining with Cows?

OK… we are about half way through our trip and here are some of my thoughts & observations so far:

  1. The Icelandic people are great. Very friendly and everyone speaks English real good 🙂  FYI all of the American/English movies are only subtitled in Icelandic so I think this helps them pick-up English quickly. In many of the big countries (Germany, Spain, Italy…) they translate the dialogue into the local language. (It is pretty weird watching Homer Simpson speak Italian 🙂  ) 
  2. The Icelandic language is crazy. They have words/towns with like 20 characters. Here is an example of a town we stopped at: “Kirkjubæjarklaustur”. We can’t pronounce most of the words. The only word I know is “takk” which is “thank-you”. I use it all the time 🙂
  3. Everything over here is stupid expensive. Our dinners have been averaging around $35 per person… and we are eating in very average restaurants… nothing fancy. Paperback books are like $28!!! Gas is around $9 a gallon!
  4. The scenery here is nothing short of spectacular! I have been to the fjords of Norway, the Alps, the  Rockies, the Grand Canyon… Iceland is #1 on my list. If you don’t like the view here… just drive 10 minutes and the scenery will change to something completely different. It is really amazing.
  5. The food is good but not great (and expensive)… Italy wins this category. The seafood is fresh and delicious. 
  6. It is weird to think that when the first people arrived in Iceland (around 700 AD) the island was empty. There were no mammals… just birds. Talking with the locals they said there are no predators (i.e. bears, wolves…) or snakes on  the island. One lady told me that every 5-10 years a polar bear is carried to the island on an iceberg. They usually shoot them when this happens because of the diseases they may bring to the island.
  7. You can stand anywhere in Iceland and see sheep and/or a waterfall. 
  8. The Icelanders count floors in a building like us-how very civilized 🙂 . When you walk into a building you are on the first floor… just like home. In Europe you enter the building on the zero floor.  
  9. A few blogs ago I mentioned that some of the places looked like the moon. Well, I just learned yesterday that the Apollo astronauts actually trained in Iceland because the geology and terrain are similar to the moon.
  10. It really never gets dark here during the summer. I woke up one night @ 3am and it was still light outside (like at dusk). It is weird going to bed at night @1am and light is peeking around the curtains of our bedroom.   
  11. It is kinda weird to think that there are only ~320,000 total people in whole country of Iceland. Milwaukee is 4 times the size. This means there are only 320,000 people in the world who speak Icelandic. FYI the Icelandic language is closest to Norwegian. The local say they their language is ancient Norwegian and has not changed for more than 1,000 years.    

OK… back to reality… I have to get the flat tire fixed today. As I mentioned we are staying in the middle of nowhere. Now I know that many of you might think I’m exaggerating. Well, here is a map showing where we are…

The nearest city town village is Reykjahlíð… population 300 was about 40 minutes away! Luckily we heard there is a auto repair shop there. The guy at the hotel didn’t know the name or location of the place, but with only 300 people in the village…

Here are a few pics along the way to Reykjahlíð

OH look another waterfall…  There are amazing waterfalls everywhere… most don’t even have a sign or name on them.

A Stinky Place

Just before entering the village of Reykjahlíð we noticed a terrible smell. I thought maybe the car was overheating or the spare tire was rubbing on the wheel well. Well not to worry. The smell was coming from the hot sulphur springs in the distance. We stopped for a few pics… the smell was pretty awful 🙂

The village of Reykjahlíð makes use of the geothermal activity to generate electricity and to heat their homes. Here are some of the plants…

Here was a van in the parking lot…. kinda appropriate for the moment 🙂

Carl to the Rescue 

As we drove into town we found Carl’s Auto Repair shop… YEAH! He fixed our flat tire in 15 minutes and only cost us 5,000….. Icelandic Kronas not dollars…. about $40.

Here is Carl hard at work…

Game of Thrones 

Now it was time to explore Reykjahlíð which is located on Lake Mývatn. We stopped at the tourist office and found that there were lots of thing to see around the lake. This area had lots of unique and interesting volcanic features. So we decided to spend the day @  Lake Mývatn. We also discovered that Game of Thrones had used the area for filming. Here is a shot from Game of Thrones:

And here is my shot of the same area…

OK back to the drive around the lake. Our first stop was at a nice little park/forest. You may have noticed from my pics there are very few trees in Iceland. According to the interwebs, at the time of human settlement about 1140 years ago, birch forest and woodland covered 25-40% of Iceland’s land area. The relatively tall (to 45ft) birch forests of sheltered valleys graded to birch and willow scrub toward the coast, on exposed sites and in wetland areas and to willow tundra at high elevations. The settlers used the trees for building & heat. At the same time they introduced sheep to the environment. Unfortunately, sheep grazing prevented regeneration of the birchwoods after cutting and the area of woodland continued to decline. Today there are some areas where they are trying to redevelop the forests in some areas of the country.

Sorry for the detour 🙂

The 20 minute hike was quite delightful. Here are some pics:

Here are pics of areas that were also filmed for Game of Thrones:

The Hoff is STILL stalking us 🙂

First for the younger viewers of this blog…  “The Hoff” is none other than David Hasselhoff, Baywatch’s famous lifeguard and Kit’s sidekick in Knight Rider. “The Hoff” is revered in Europe… I’m not kidding… Here is great clip of the Hoff…

Those of you who have followed my other vacations know that David Hasselhoff was in Nice when we were there 2 years ago. Last year he was in Barcelona when we were there.

We had a judge issue a restraining order, but alas he has followed us to Iceland. This van was parked next to us as we left the park 🙂

Susie was freaking out 🙂

After that ordeal, we headed down the road to a place with volcanic craters. Here is little info on them:

Here is shot from the air that gives a good idea of what these things look like:

Here are some pics from the area. It was pretty cool:

Here are few more shots from the area:

This is an off-road camper you can rent. I want one! Susie said no 😦   (FYI I love the ladder to get into the thing)

There are signs of volcanoes everywhere you look…

Dining With Cows????

Who did you dine with last night??? We had dinner with some cows 🙂 No really… 
We found this cool restaurant called the Cow Shed. Here is a pic of the building:

 On the right side of the building is a small working dairy barn and you are greeted with these guys:

On the left side of the building is a restaurant.  Notice the stalls and the milking stand (left) in the background. 
Here is shot the milking stand in action:
The cool thing is all the dairy products served in the restaurant are from these cows. Plus all the meat is from the farm. (FYI Susie & I ordered the fish). 
After a  fun dinner we drove 45 minutes back the middle of nowhere and when to bed…
Cheers,
-jj

One thought on “July 28 – Still in the Middle of Nowhere & Reykjahlíð

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