Saturday, August 3, 2013

Hello from Iceland!

Now that I am a little more awake, it is time to provide a real update!

We flew out from Saskatoon at ~11am on August 1. No hitches, except Gilles got selected for a random bag check. We were very lucky in that the gates for each layover were very close together, and out baggage got put right through. Our first layover in Toronto went with only a minor hitch, a 30 min delay - we went from one small plane to another small plane. Even though we were flying Air Canada (who I have only heard horrible things about), I cannot stress how much nicer the seats were than on United. I actually had room to stretch my feet and breathe. The Halifax airport was quite easy our departure gate was about 100 yards down from our arrival gate!

IcelandAir was very accomodating to the fact that it was a late night flight. We each received a complimentary pillow.

(Apologies for the sideways photo).

Everything was very straightforward once we reached the airport. The signs were all in Icelandic and English, meaning that we could read them. First we went through something called 'Passport Control' which was sort of like customs - they checked to make sure your passport is valid. Then we went to claim our bags from the carousel (which were already there), and then we went to "customs". We had to choose door left or right, where the left door is 'I have something to claim' and the right door is 'I have nothing to claim.' We took the right door and were led right into the lobby - no customs personnel there or anything.

It also took only a second to book a shuttle from the airport to the hotel, a process that we found quite amusing because the shuttle dropped of a woman at a place called 'The Loft', and then was like 'okay yours is really close we are almost there - and then drove all of five feet and dropped us off! We dropped off our baggage and then were off for the day! (at this point it was about 7am and we couldn't check in until about 1:30pm (originally 3pm).

We spent the day walking down the main streets in Reykjavik, and perusing the shops, buying some of our souvenirs right away. We knew we needed to get to bed when we attempted to watch a film about the volcanoes of Reykjavik and both paid more attention to trying to stay awake than the film itself.

Finally, we were able to go to the apartment - it is a cute little thing, and we were upgraded from a basic studio to a deluxe studio, which was a nice surprise.

Part of the upgrade to deluxe means that we have a washing machine and a dishwasher! Talk about roughing it ;)

We went to bed shortly after we arrived at the apartment - 3pm here, 9am at home. We had been up for almost 24 hours at that point. (Okay, Gilles had been. I got an hour or two on the plane). We slept on and off for 17 hours.

Ironically, despite that fact, we slept through our alarm. Luckily a noise from outside woke us up at 8am, 30 minutes before our shuttle was due to arrive. We hopped out of bed and rushed around like madmen trying to get ready in time to avoid missing our shuttle.

We were taken in a little bus from our apartment, where we changed to a greyhound bus for the 45 min ride out to Blue Lagoon.

Once there, we hopped onto a smaller bus out to what I can only describe as a garage, where we put on our overalls, helmets and gloves and got ready to go on a buggy ride.

The ride was great - we had a very informative and enthusiastic tour guide, and were able to stop at a few different points along the way to take pictures and learn about the areas. Our tour guide even brought us fresh hot chocolate and donuts made by his grandmother.

This was our first stop, a cliff on the edge of the ocean. It was absolutely gorgeous.

We could see people at the bottom of the cliff, cleaning. It looked as though there may have been a semi-recent oil spill.

The island in the photo above is only reachable once/year, and only by permit. Our tour guide told us a story of a company that wanted to put a camera out there to track the birds. They set out to put it up, but didn't realize they had it pointing the wrong way. It was pointing to the sky. The next year when they went out to adjust it, they realized it was covered in bird poop. They had to bring it back to clean it. As a result, it took them three years to set up their camera.

The buggy we rode in, with our tour guide sitting on the back.

The oldest functional lighthouse in Iceland (sorry about sideways)

The tectonic divide, where the North American and European plates are separating, at a rate of 2 cm/year.

The ground beneath our feet.

Geysir :)

The wind today was comparable to an exceptionally windy day in Saskatchewan.

After we completed our buggy tour, we were dropped off at the Blue Lagoon, where we enjoyed the naturally heated (geysir) saltwater pool and silica mud.

Water bar :) Unfortunately, not all-inclusive. What was neat though was that you "paid" using your admission bracelet and then they scanned to see how much you owed to it at the end of the day.

All of the rocks were stained white, and were very slippery. We assume that this is because of the salt, as my chin had turned white after 4 hrs of floating around too.

A silica mud mask. Apparently it makes you look 10 years younger. What do you think? Do I look 15 yet?

The geysir heating the pool.

It would appear that their slushies were mis-labelled :)

A wonderful, massaging, artificial waterfall.

That's all for today! See you tomorrow!