Our Journey Ends In Iceland

The sun has finally broken through in these final hours of our time in Reykjavik. Tomorrow we will be at the airport bright and early to catch our flight home.

Our amazingly good luck with the weather over the past 2 weeks came to a screeching halt when we arrived in Iceland on Friday.  We were greeted with heavily overcast skies and finally rain.  Dull, grey, persistent rain.

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Gullfoss

It didn’t stop us from exploring Reykjavik and the territory within a 2 hour driving radius of the capital.  It is a place full of the unexpected.

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Strokkur – Geysir Hot Springs

I had high expectations of its major tourist draws.  I don’t know why.  I know better … I generally don’t like tourist hotspots and this turned out to be no exception.

At the risk of sounding like a jaded tourist, the “must-see” highlights did not provide me with a *wow*.  I’m going to blame the dull, grey rain and the persistent headache I nursed all day.

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Þingvellir National Park

On the flipside, we didn’t expect Reykjavik to be such a likeable city.  It is considerably larger than we expected and the big surprise was that – for once – we were in a city on a race weekend … and we weren’t racing.

The Reykjavik Marathon was held on Saturday and that evening the city celebrated Cultural Night. According to Mr Google, this has been an annual festival for 20 years when the entire city celebrates with parties, street musicians, fireworks, and an overall carnival atmosphere.

The downtown core was completely blocked to car traffic with music and entertainment scattered throughout the crowded streets. This city had its *party* on, in spite of temperatures that felt more like October than August.

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This morning, we needed a little more action so Gilles and I headed down to the harbour for some whale watching.

Zooming across the choppy water was a considerably more physical ride than we were expecting.  In a semi-standing position, the knees are used to absorb the shock of the boat hitting the waves.  By the end of the 2 hour trip, we were all feeling a little wobbly in the legs.

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I cannot believe I managed to successfully capture this photo of the boat beside us as we were zooming along the waves.

Did we see whales?  Oh yes!

Did I get a single photograph?  Uhh … no.  I did however manage to capture many photos of the sea AFTER the whale had already slipped below the surface.

Sometimes we don’t always find what we are looking for, but instead discover something else entirely. That’s how I feel about Reykjavik.  I was captivated by the city and, yes – all the stories of how insanely expensive it is are true, but this is one trip I would make again.

There is so much more of this country to explore than a mere 2 days can cover.

About Joanne Sisco

Retired but not idle. Life is an adventure - I plan to continue to embrace it.
This entry was posted in 52 New Things, Adventure, Nature, Outdoor Stuff, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

63 Responses to Our Journey Ends In Iceland

  1. treerabold says:

    I am not a person that enjoys the tourist traps. I’d much prefer wandering around a strange city and find the hidden gems!!
    How ironic you all ended up in town on a race weekend!!
    I love the boat picture!

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  2. Wow is all I can say. The photos are amazing. Iceland isn’t a destination I’ve considered before your post.

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  3. Sue Slaght says:

    Joanne I would love to go to Iceland. Definitely planning it as a stopover on our next trip to Europe. I think your boat photo is amazing. As to photographing whales I have decided this is physically impossible unless the whale should land in my lap.

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  4. Sammy D. says:

    Fantastic action boat shot, Joanne. I’m impressed you didn’t drop the camera in the drink with that chop, waves and ‘sitting’ position. Glad you found the proverbial ray of sunshine in Reykajvic (if I can’t spell it I can’t go there. Damn!) and I find the near-end part of any great trip to be somewhat of a letdown because it’s the transition between the trip and the going home.

    Thanks for sharing so much of your journey.

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    • joannesisco says:

      I have an appalling ability to drop things, so both of my cameras have wrist straps that I’m diligent about using the moment I put a camera in my hand. I would have lost this camera at least a dozen times without it :/

      … and it’s so true about the end part of a vacation. It’s the same reason I never seemed to get anything done at work the day before a vacation. Mentally, my mind has already moved on.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Iceland is on my must go list for sure and I enjoyed your post. You can tell you’re a seasoned traveller by the way you could see through the rain and headache that this was a place to come back to! Even on this short visit you seem to have done a lot. Nice waterfall photo – you were up high for that shot!

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    • joannesisco says:

      I was very high above the waterfall for that shot. I had also been down on the lower level, but this was my favourite photo. I was surprised any of the pics came out. It was POURING rain and everything looked like shades of grey. I was happily surprised when I saw the photos.

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  6. NancyTex says:

    I once had an unplanned stop in Reykjavik for refueling, but other than getting to deplane and check out the terminal’s gift shop, I can’t really say I’ve “been” to Iceland. Definitely a place I’d like to visit one day.

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  7. Lynn says:

    Iceland looks like such an interesting place to visit & one that seems to be gaining popularity. Looks like you managed to pack in quite a bit of the few days you were there. Love the boat shot Joanne!

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    • joannesisco says:

      It’s true that during the past several years, Iceland has been gaining in popularity. I think they have been very active in promotion.

      Something you might want to consider the next time you are heading to Europe. IcelandAir offers flights out of Toronto to several destinations in Europe. There is a brief layover in Reykjavik, but you can tack on up to a 7 night layover in Reykjavik without an extra fee on the way over or back.

      In flying to Copenhagen, we discovered quite by accident that it was considerably cheaper to fly IcelandAir and it gave us the layover as a bonus!

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  8. Wow. What an action-packed couple of weeks you have had, Joanne. You’re not even going to know what to do with a bit of time at home now! Love your boat pic….thinking that’s one for the wall!

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  9. hilarymb says:

    Hi Joanne – sounds like you had a wonderful time – fascinating to see the Gullfloss … while it was great you were there during the Race – and were able to absorb some of the culture that way. The whale trip must have been exciting … and being out in the fresh air is the way to avoid that sickness ‘bug’ … well done on the boat shot – spreading your wings now photography wise .. cheers Hilary

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    • joannesisco says:

      Thanks Hilary. The more photos I take, the more I seem to learn. I guess it’s true what they say about practice, practice, practice!!

      Iceland is quite different from anywhere I’ve travelled. While Reykjavik is a major city in its own right, the country has a ruggedness and big slice of *wild* that really appeals to me. I hope to make it back here again some day.

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  10. It’s a shame about the weather and the whales slipping away, but the boat ride looks fun! Great capture of the boat too! Iceland is a place that I’ll definitely re-visit. I totally loved it there.

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    • joannesisco says:

      I really regret having only 2 days here. As a mentioned in a previous comment, there is a wildness to this country that really appeals to me. Who knew we could have gone scuba diving?! Unfortunately, with safety concerns, we couldn’t dive and then fly in such a short time frame (Gilles and I are both certified divers).
      I really hope I get chance to return some day. I have a better idea now of the things I would like to pursue.

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  11. Alex Hurst says:

    Great takeaways from a lackluster final few days, but even if they didn’t ‘wow’ you have some very nice photos! That waterfall was particularly cool looking. Maybe not for a two hour drive… but yeah. Haha. What kinds of whales live in that area?

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  12. bkpyett says:

    Joanne, thanks for this glimpse into another world!

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  13. Well it certainly looks beautiful, despite the rain and disappointing tourist attractions. I’m totally with you, by the way. I would always rather see the underbelly of a city than go the tourist route.

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  14. I’ve never really thought about visiting Iceland but it really looks beautiful! Do you ever use the burst mode on your camera? You can get some good action shots that way (although the one of the speeding boat is awfully good!).

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    • joannesisco says:

      It’s interesting you mention the burst mode because it did cross my mind when I was taking these shots. I’ve never used it before and I would have fumbled around trying to figure out how to do it.
      I’ve made a mental note to investigate that option on both my cameras. It definitely would have been useful!

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  15. Paula says:

    Love the boat shot! And yes, I can get seasick on huge boats, but not smaller ones or rougher water…I think it’s the way the big ones roll? Anyway, love this post – it’s the unexpected that really makes the trip, eh? You got an awful lot done and seen in two days! Whew. Looking forward to exploring Iceland myself…

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    • joannesisco says:

      Remember my comment on your Portugal post about my husband’s hurry-and-go style of travelling? Given his choice, we would have squeezed a LOT more into 2 days than we did. I slow him down dramatically! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Oh, Iceland! Definitely on the bucket list. For some reason I always think of Iceland in dull colour tones so perhaps the weather would not have bothered me. (But a headache definitely sucks the joy out of anything.) That boat shot is a ripper!

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    • joannesisco says:

      There’s something magical and mysterious about Iceland … and visiting it has not dampened that feeling. If anything, I regret that I thought 2 days would be enough.

      I want to explore the iceberg caves, the glacier fields, scuba dive (who knew you could do that here?!!!) and we talked a couple from Denmark who had spent 7 days on a horseback tour from the north to the south … almost 300km. What a fabulous way to see a country. The fact I can’t ride a horse is completely irrelevent 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  17. mickscogs says:

    I’d love to go there but Jo hates the cold so no go. A friend ofmine worked there at a fish factory over the winter to earn her fare back to Australia back in the 70s. She still has great memories, mainly partying as it was dark most of the time!

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    • joannesisco says:

      I sympathize with Jo. It doesn’t feel like summer at all … jackets, hats, gloves, scarves. It’s chilly at only 9C in the morning.

      I have a curiosity about the winter dark and I hope I get to experience it some day! … perhaps not an entire winter, but a few days would be good 😉
      Interestingly enough, our research indicates that their winter temperatures are actually more moderate than ours. It can be considerably colder in Toronto than Reykjavik ,,, but on the flip side, they don’t get the heat and humidity in summer either.

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  18. bikerchick57 says:

    The photo of Gullfoss is gorgeous! Sorry about the rain and headache, but I would imagine seeing the whales was well worth it. I probably wouldn’t have stepped on the boat with my motion sickness tendencies, but glad to see that the waves didn’t stop you and Gilles from enjoying one more piece of your great adventure. Glad you had such a fabulous time!

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    • joannesisco says:

      The irony is that I was seasick on the cruise from Copenhagen to Oslo … a massive 10 storey liner on calm water. Yet I could bounce along in rather rough water (by my standards) in a Zodiac without blinking an eye. Go figure. I’ve never claimed to be uncomplicated 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • bikerchick57 says:

        That’s funny. I used to bounce around on Lake Winnebago, in choppy water, in a 14 foot fishing boat and never get sick. I often wondered about that, but perhaps it has something to do with the boat? The water? I’m just not sure. Lake Michigan is another story. I don’t go out on that lake in a boat if I don’t have to. Otherwise, it’s urpie time.

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  19. Beautiful post! Iceland is next on my list to visit, even more so after reading this 🙂

    http://www.natalie-alice.com

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  20. Joe says:

    Great post and I love all of the images but you really nailed that speeding boat Joanne 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • joannesisco says:

      Thanks Joe. I shot that picture as a lark … we were bouncing around so violently, I never expected anything other than a blur. I learned a valuable lesson … take the photo even if you have serious doubts!!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Su Leslie says:

    Glad you enjoyed Iceland despite the weather. I’m glad to find I’m not the only one usually underwhelmed by tourist attractions. Cities are the thing for me, and you’ve just made me want to visit Reykavik even more than I already did! Cheers, Su.

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    • joannesisco says:

      There were so many things I wanted to do in Iceland but with only 2 days, virtually none of them were do-able. I was pretty well left with the touristy stuff … but I’ve seen enough to know that it’s a fabulous country and I hope to go back someday!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Su Leslie says:

        🙂 It’s one of those places that was on my radar while we lived in the UK, but there never seemed to be quite enough money (especially when hotter-than-UK destinations always seemed so much more appealling). But I’ll get there sometime!

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        • joannesisco says:

          Money and time … always the limiters to everything we want to do!! … although, as I get older I would also add energy level. There is so much more I could do if I didn’t run out of energy!!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Su Leslie says:

            I’d have to agree with all of those. I’m finding particularly that my mental energy has diminished. I can take in fewer exhibitions and museums than I used to before I feel totally overloaded. I’m not a particularly athletic traveler, so my physical energy has probably not been tested to the extent that I notice it lessening. If that makes any sense …

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  22. Heyjude says:

    I’d love to visit Iceland though preferably not in heavy rain 😦 Still you enjoyed most of it (and like you I have very little expectations of tourist spots, sometimes to be pleasantly wrong) and what a cracking boat shot! I wouldn’t keep my dinner down on that. You may like to visit Adrian, who though a photographer in Cornwall, has fallen in love with Iceland and has the most amazing images on his site: http://cornwallphotographic.com/

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    • joannesisco says:

      Wow – his photos are really stunning! Thanks for sharing the link.

      I am SO proud of that boat shot. We were bouncing along like crazy and I noticed people on the other boat taking photos of us. As a joke, I pointed my camera and shot off a couple of photos. How they came out even remotely clear is nothing short of a miracle 😀
      I’ve learned that I can take a LOT MORE risk with taking photos.

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      • Heyjude says:

        Hey, if they are really bad you just delete them! Sometimes you find you have got the shot you never thought you would. Glad you like Adrian’s work. His Cornish photos aren’t bad either 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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