I flew to Iceland three days ahead of my friends so I could explore the area in and around Reykjavik before we embark on the Ring Road.
8/20/16 – Getting Here
I managed to take a couple short naps during my eight-hour direct flight, though my rear and arms went a bit numb thanks to the lack of padding on discount Wow Airlines. Though bare bones (they even charged for water – what’s next, a fee to use the bathroom?!), the plane was clean and got me here safely.
8/21/16 – Walking Reykjavik
The FlyBus dropped me off at 6:30 a.m. I was able to leave my bags, but couldn’t check into my Airbnb until noon, so I went walking, and pretty much continued walking all day long under overcast, drizzly skies. According to my phone, I covered more than a dozen miles, though it didn’t feel that far since I did it in pieces and Reykjavik is relatively flat (by SF standards at least). I walked up to the famous church that looks like basalt columns, down along the waterfront, and through old town. Along the way, I visited all three branches of the Reykjavik Art Museum and sampled my first Icelandic hot dog, a popular fast food here. There is construction everywhere, a mall and hotel near the harbor, and plenty of generic mid-rise apartment buildings. Some are colorful, but many seem quite dull for a town which frequently has grey skies. I ended my day, after getting settled into my tiny room and showering in geothermally heated sulfur-smelling water, with a yummy fish dinner.
8/22/16 – Golden Circle
I rented a car with GPS and drove to see Iceland’s most famous tourist attractions, collectively known as the Golden Circle. The weather was perfect for photography, a beautiful, changing mixture of sun and clouds. I walked several kilometers at Þingvellir National Park where the European and North American tectonic plates meet, got splashed with warm water at Geysir, was awestruck by the volume of water in Gullfoss (“foss” meaning waterfall in Icelandic), and took a stroll around the Kerid crater shortly before sunset on my way back to town.
8/23/16 – Horseback Riding
After breakfast and a leisurely morning stroll, I was picked up in a van and transported to the Íshestar Stables where I went on my best horseback ride ever. The small, hardy Icelandic horses have a couple gaits not commonly found in horses: tölt (same footfall pattern as walk but faster) and skeið (a.k.a. “flying pace”, close to a gallop). Both paces are smoother and more comfortable than any I’ve experienced. Great horses, combined with fun guides and beautiful volcanic scenery made for a wonderful time. In what seems to be typical weather for Iceland, we had a mixture of sun and rain, so the provided raincoats came in handy.