3rd January 2013

Iceland Inspection Trip Adaptable Travel Tour Coordinator Kerry Baker recently undertook an inspection visit to Iceland. This is her blog from that trip.

As soon as Eayjet announced they were opening a route from Luton to Reykjavik, I knew I had to jump at the chance to visit such a unique country. Excited was a bit of understatement for how I felt as myself and a friend waited for the Easyjet flight to Keflavik. A short 3 hour flight and we had arrived into Iceland. Keflavik airport is small and easy to navigate.The coaches from outside the airport either go to Reykjavik or the Blue Lagoon. Our coach took us directly to the Hotel Cabin, where we were greeted by the friendly staff and checked in very quickly.

To the left of the main reception was the dining room where we could see hotel guests making the most of the buffet lunch on offer, and to the right was the bar area with sofas and TVs. Our room on the top floor was comfy, cosy and clean – and had wonderful views of the islands just off the coast. After unpacking, we ventured down the path from the hotel to the main fishing harbour.

The whale and puffin tour boats were pulling out of the harbour, full of excited tourists. A visit to the tourist office provided us with a map of the area and our next destination- the National Museum of Iceland. After a stroll through the city centre, we found the grand museum next to the University of Iceland. The museum had a very modern feel with many interactive exhibits. The history of the original Nordic settlers was detailed and interesting (they had phones set up where you could call different settlers and get their perspective). We spent 2 hours in the museum, before visiting the café downstairs for hot chocolate and cake.

We made our way back to the harbour for our evening meal, seeking out the catch of the day. Many of the restaurants at the harbour had exotic food on offer: minke whale, horse, puffin, and lots and lots of fresh fish!

After a good night’s sleep at the hotel, we went downstairs to the dining room for the lovely continental buffet breakfast. They had a good selection of food available, and were continually bringing out fresh options. The only thing that stopped us from eating more was our coach arriving for the Golden Circle tour.

Our tour guide Gus greeted us on the bus and gave us a map of the area with some information on the sites we would be visiting. The drive out of the city was incredible, the landscape was breath-taking. The coach passed volcanoes, snow, rising steam from the geothermal energy underground and ice. Gus told us about the elves who lived in the mountains and how the locals had to ask their permission to build on the land. Our first stop was at a tomato farm in a massive greenhouse. The farmer talked to us about the geothermal energy they use to heat the greenhouse and how he ships in 1000s of Dutch bees a week to pollinate the plants. We had a chance to have some of the delicious tomato soup they make (a million times better than Heinz!).

Back on the coach, we drove past the many summer houses the Icelandic people use for their holidays and small ponies which were brought over by the original settlers. The next stop was the amazing waterfall at Gullfoss. We learnt the story of Sigríður Tómasdóttir who, when foreign investors planned to put up dams to harness the waterfall’s energy, threatened to throw herself into the waterfall in protest. The waterfall is now protected and a big tourist attraction.

A quick stop at the gift shop, and we were back on the coach driving along to the geyser geothermal fields. The first thing we saw as the coach pulled into the car park at the geyser fields was Strokkur, the second largest geyser, explode from the earth. This geyser erupts regularly every 5-10 minutes. The walk up to Strokkur is filled with mini geysers and geothermal springs. We saw two documentary crews filming the geysers (one from the BBC) and watched a modelling shoot nearby, all trying to catch the perfect image of the erupting geysers.

Our last visit of the day was Thingvellir National Park. We walked over the Mid-Atlantic ridge which separates the Eurasian and North American Plates. You could have one foot in America, one in Europe. We saw the Logberg or the ‘Law Rock’. This was the place the first Icelandic law council would meet and establish legal actions that would affect the nation. Once we had walked through the park (and taken thousands of photos of the incredible scenery), Gus announced the Northern Lights tour that evening was unfortunately cancelled due to cloudy conditions. Nobody seemed to mind as we were all tired from lots of walking.

Iceland is an amazing place to visit, unlike anywhere I have been before. The landscape is unparalleled With such a short flight to what seems like another world, it really is a must-see, especially for anyone with a keen interest in Geography. I plan on going back to see the northern lights, do the South Shore tour and go for a dip in the Blue Lagoon.

Written by Kerry Baker, Travel Coordinator 

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