Sunday, January 15, 2017

Gleðileg Jól (Merry Christmas) from Iceland

Happy New Year Readers!

Icelandic Countryside
Dan and I traveled to Reykjavik for Christmas and to London and Winchester for New Years. It was an amazing trip and we are so grateful we were able to enjoy such a fun adventure together.

Icelanders are very into the Christmas spirit and have 13 Yule Lads that are goblins who come down from the Mountains in the 13 days preceding Christmas and leave presents in the children's shoes (if they're good or rotten potatoes if they're not). The Yule Lads themselves are a bit mischievous and have funny names such as: sausage-stealer, window-peeper and the one who arrived the same day as us:

Ketrokur or Meat-Hook who steals meat with his hook
They were hiding all throughout the city and at night you could see them lit up on the sides of buildings. In the photo below if you look closely you might see one of them hanging from the side of a building.

Can you find the hiding Yule Lad?
After arriving in Iceland we thought it would be a great idea to go for a dip at the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is a giant geo-thermal hot springs where they give you complimentary mud mask facials with the mud from the springs. It was beautiful - we were there for sunset so we got to experience the Lagoon in the dark too which was surreal and quite peaceful. After returning from the hot springs we walked through the city and got to enjoy the special parade down the main street where people walk with candles in celebration and anticipation of Christmas Eve celebrations the next day. Another tradition they have on the 23rd is to eat and cook very stinky putrefied skata (a fish related to shark). We could smell this wafting out of some of the restaurants - we did not partake!

Dan in front of the Blue Lagoon

We stayed at a cozy apartment in downtown Reykjavik that was on the main street and walking distance to museums, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and shopping. On Christmas Eve we took a Golden Circle Bus tour through the beautiful countryside. Our first stop was to see the original Geysir where the word "geyser" comes from. This particular geysir has been dormant for a while but when it goes off it shoots about 300 feet in the air. There is a nearby smaller geyser that goes off every 5-7 minutes. Dan shot a video of it here:



It was beautiful while we were at the geysers as the sun was just coming up for the day.

Sunrise around 11:00 am in wintry Iceland

The Original Geysir
 After the visit to the geysers we got back on the coach and took a ride to the majestic Gullfoss waterfull where we did some hiking and enjoyed the views.

Gullfoss Waterfall
There is a stone statue dedicated to a woman, Sigríður Tómasdóttir, who fought to preserve the natural waterfall and its beauty at a time when they were trying to exploit the natural resource.




We capped off our Golden Circle tour with a trip to Thingvellir National Park to see the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where you can see where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are drifting apart. We did a nice bit of exploring there and enjoyed the beautiful wintry scenery

Hiking along the Tectonic Plates
While we rode along in our bus we saw lots of Icelandic horses out in the countryside. The Icelandic horses are special because they have five natural gaits, whereas most horses only have three or four, The Icelandic horse's unique gait is called "Tölt," which is very smooth - so much so that it's said that you can hold a glass of wine on the horse without spilling. Pretty cool :).

As we headed back into the city our lovely tour guide led the bus in a carol of Silent Night as Christmas Eve is the very special night in Iceland. Their tradition is they all eat dinner at 6 pm when the church bells toll and then open presents after their feasts. We exchanged our stocking stuffers after we ate our meal that night too.






3 comments:

  1. Sounds like a magical trip - Merry Christmas to you both!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great Blog, is the England adventure next/

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for sharing your Iceland trip. What a cool time of year to visit!

    ReplyDelete

Analytics