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Iceland Vacation June 2015

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Overview-

My trip to Iceland was absolutely amazing. I loved every aspect of the trip. The people seemed particularly quiet, but overall everyone was very friendly. The scenery was absolutely astonishing. Our cameras did not do justice! We wanted to do some self-exploration so we rented a car for the entire duration of our trip. I definitely recommend renting a car and exploring this beautiful country on your own. Iceland is truly a “must do” for travelers that love adventure and exploring. We stayed half of the week in the Capital of city of Reykjavik. We then spent the last couple nights of our trip in a cottage.

Cottage Iceland

Our Cottage

The country has a very diverse landscape. There are areas that are very lush and also areas that are covered with lava rock. During the summer months of July-August the country turns to green. We visited the second week of June, so we probably missed out on some of the lush-green scenery. The mountains in the distance were snow caped with cloud overcast. Along the western coast of the country, there are cliffs that overlook the ocean. There are plenty of places to pull your car over and take in some excellent views. There are photo opportunities around every corner!

GEO PARK 2

Throughout our travels we observed an abundance of sheep and horses. The horses in particular were scattered all over the country. The horses had free range to roam as they pleased. They were very comfortable with human interaction. We were able to go right up to them and pet them. As soon as they seen us stop on the side of the road they would come running over (probably just wanted food). They are very social animals.

The sheep on the other hand avoided human interaction. The sheep/goats were walking along the mountain sides in large groups. These sheep groups consisted of sheep of all different sizes and colors. There were even little baby ones roaming alongside. We also were able to see some Icelandic Sheepdogs! They were also very friendly. I noticed that many of the locals had Sheepdogs as pets.

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One of my favorite aspects of our Iceland trip was the midnight sun. The midnight sun was absolutely stunning. The dim sunlight was reflecting off of the clouds and snow covered mountain tops. The pictures we took did not do this beautiful sky justice! One of the major benefits of visiting Iceland in the summer is the twenty-four hour sunlight. The midnight sun allowed us to exposure the countryside all day long! literally! I recommend bringing a good camera that can handle the vast landscape, lush scenery, and the beautiful midnight sun. For skilled photographers, Iceland is paradise.

midnight sun

We hiked the Geothermal park in Hverageroi Park. We did a 4K hike through the mountain tops. Throughout our hike we observed waterfalls, geothermal pools oozing, spectacular mountain ranges, and beautiful skylines. When you get to the end of the hike there is a geothermal stream where people are able to lay in the warm water.

The country is very clean. There isn’t much garbage laying around and the properties, homes, and business are all very well maintained. It is clear that the locals are very prideful when it comes to their country. This country also has an abundance of natural water. There are countless clear blue lakes and waterfalls. We did a self tour of one of the oldest preserved turf house communities in the country. The turf house community we visited dates back to the 18th century. If you ever decide to visit Iceland rent a car and do your own exploring! Renting a car for the entire week made the trip for us.

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Reykjavik the Capital

Reykjavik was a very nice city. It was a very modern city with plenty to do. The downtown area has an abundance of restaurants and bars. There are also plenty of local shops and gift shops. There are also a couple of food trucks as well. The Hallgrímskirkja, “Church of Iceland” is a prominent landmark in the capital city area. The structure of the church is very distinguished. There is plenty to do in the capital and it is worth committing a day or two for walking around.

Hallgrímskirkja,  “Church of Iceland”

Excursions

Whale & Puffin Watching

We hopped on a speed boat and we went cruising around the waters outside of the capital. We did see three whales. Although we were only able to get really close once, it was still amazing to see these giants. This trip is a little on the expensive side. Also, there is no guarantee you see whales. Obviously, you cannot control when they surface or come swimming around. The Puffins are beautiful birds! They were randomly swimming in the water. You can’t miss their orange beak.

The Golden Circle Tour

This is a must! This is a 6-8 hour tour that will allow you to see multiple points of interest. The drive around the country in the tour bus is worth it in it’s self!

Gullfoss Waterfall

  • Geyser Geothermal Area.
  • Gullfoss (Golden Falls) Waterfall.
  • Thingvellir National Park, where the American and Eurasian Tectonic Plates are pulling apart.
  • Vikings first parliament site.
  • Visit and dip in the Secrete Lagoon.

Lava Cave

This was one of my favorite adventures! This was a tour we did with a company named Extreme Iceland. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and very friendly. The lava cave is very difficult to describe. There are areas of the cave where you have to crawl. 

lava

There are also areas with high walls and cave ceilings. Throughout the cave you can see the lava flow patterns on the walls. The cave is pitch black. You are provided with a flash light and helmet.

lava cave 2

 

This adventure is absolutely amazing. I won’t say it’s difficult, but it does require some crawling and some minor climbing. Here is a link to- Extreme Iceland- Lava Cave Tour

Blue Lagoon

We also did the blue lagoon. The blue lagoon is definitely a site to see. The blue lagoon is surrounded by nothing but black rock, which really allows the blue color of the lagoon to pop. It was very relaxing. It was a bit crowded (it’s very popular). Even though there were a lot of people, the lagoon is very large so there is plenty of room for people to float around. I recommend that you stop by the Blue Lagoon either going to or coming from the international airport. The Blue Lagoon is only a couple of minutes outside of the airport.

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Food

There is a diverse food selection throughout the country. They have a very extensive fresh fish selection. There are all kinds of fresh water and ocean fish to choose from. The lamb was also very good (I don’t eat lamb but people seemed to love it). They had an assortment of local and imported beers. Let’s just say that you cannot go wrong ordering fish & chips with a beer in Iceland! I noticed that there wasn’t many fast food chains in Iceland. Here in America, there is a McDonalds on every single corner! I did see they had KFC and Taco Bells though.

I noticed that Iceland has many ice cream shops. They offer ice cream in many of the actual stores as well. I am not a huge ice cream fan,  but they do have some delicious ice cream. The ice cream we have in New Jersey doesn’t compare. Maybe it is just in my head, but man, their ice cream was delicious. You surely have to try the lamb, fish, and ice cream when visiting Iceland. We also enjoyed some delicious crepes in a place call Huld in the downtown area.

Traveling

Renting a car was the best thing we could have done. The roads are all very well maintained. There are some side roads that aren’t paved but all of the main roads are very well maintained. There aren’t many cars on the road so it is literally smooth cruising. The only tricky aspect of driving in Iceland are the roundabouts. The gas is quite expensive, but it is well worth it. Even though the cost of gas is high, if you rent a car you will get a nice little manual 4-cylinder car, which will go days on a full tank. Rent a car and do some of your own exploring. Research some points of interest and go take a drive there! We also seen a bunch of people that were camping throughout the country. If you are visiting during the winter you will probably need a truck with 4-wheel drive.

Iceland

The country is one of the safest and most peaceful countries in the world. The people we interacted with in Iceland were all very friendly. The people seemed very peaceful and calm. What I did notice is that many of the people kept to themselves. They were very quiet even when they were with a group of friends and/or family. Even though many of the locals were very quiet, they were all very happy. Everyone seemed to be relaxed and in a joyful mood. The locals that reside in the capital seemed a little more upbeat compared to the people we met across the country side. Overall everyone was very friendly.


Conclusion

I absolutely loved every aspect of Iceland. It is a very safe and clean country. The landscape is absolutely incredible. There are endless photography possibilities. This is the ultimate vacation for people that love to explore and are adventurous. I feel that Iceland is a country that every person should visit. I will be visiting Iceland again in the future. Probably in the winter time for some skiing and to see the Northern Lights.

For additional images of Iceland check out my: Pinterest Page

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Name: JeffHemhauser

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