North and East Iceland

by Colleen Morrow in


We packed up and left Stykkishólmur very early to get a jump on our long day of driving. After getting back to the ring road, we spent several hours in the car heading to Goðafoss, a stunning waterfall. We could see the spray from the waterfall from quite a distance and were able to get very close to the falls for a very good look at them. Despite it being rather dull for most of the drive, once we got to Goðafoss, the sun peaked out through the clouds and we seemed to leave the rain behind us. 

After Goðafoss, headed to Mývatn. As we got closer to the lake - and closer to the volcano - the landscape changed to crazy lava formations, which were really something to see. After checking in to our remote hotel (so remote, they don't need to put a password on their wifi) we wandered around some psuedocraters, which were created when lava flowed into the lake and set off a series of gas explosions, leading to the water under the surface boiled and popped. They were very interesting but the fun part for me was that sheep were sharingo the area and we got to get very close to a few. From there, we went to the Mývatn Nature Baths where we relaxed in the hot water, excellent after a long day of driving.  Then, after some dinner, we hunkered down at our remote hotel to see if the Northern Lights would show themselves.

And they did.

They weren't very bright but it was cool to see them get stronger and then fade, moving across the sky. We went back out for a second look but they seemed weaker so I headed back in for some sleep. But EDP stayed out quite a while and said they got quite strong for a while and he managed to get some red in his photos, whereas before, we were just getting green. 

Today was a bit less driving but we stopped at Dettifoss and Selfoss. Dettifoss is the waterfall with the most volume in Europe and given how much that water thundered over the falls, I don't doubt it. Because it was a sunny but very windy day, we saw several rainbows over the base of the falls as the spray came up the canyon. We then made our way to Selfoss, which we both thought was much better than Dettifoss. Yes, it wasn't as big but it was almost v-shaped so the water tumbled over the edge and into itself. Plus, we could get incredibly close, which was awesome. 

Then, it was on to Seyðisfjörður, driving through mountains to get here. Seyðisfjörður is right at the base of one of the fjords and is a darling little town. Our guesthouse is beautiful with a great view of the bay. Sadly, the wind has kept us off the balcony but we have nice big windows to enjoy the view from. The drive down into the town had amazing views and little waterfalls all over the place. The town has pretty much closed up for winter, though, so there's not much happening but it's been nice to have a little break and just wander and relax. It's off to dinner soon before heading off for a really full day tomorrow - with a hike, checking out a glacier lagoon and nearly 7 hours of driving. Yikes. 

Goðafoss. Not half bad, eh?

Goðafoss. Not half bad, eh?

Selfoss.  Even better, right? 

Selfoss.  Even better, right? 

And this one was just on the side of the road! 

And this one was just on the side of the road! 

And this one was on our way to our final destination for the day

And this one was on our way to our final destination for the day


Reykjavik and West Iceland

by Colleen Morrow in


Iceland is gorgeous.  

After a mostly uneventful flight to Reykjavik (I was just filling out forms for a lost bag when EDP found our second bag on the wrong baggage carousel) we arrived at our hotel very, very late into the night and settled down to sleep right away.

In the morning, we enjoyed a lovely breakfast (I assume the pineapple and cantaloupe were local?) and then headed off to explore the city. We wandered for a while, enjoying the ducks and swans in the Tjörnin before heading up to Hallgrímskirkja, with its gorgeous organ. From there, we headed to the National Gallery before it was time for hot chocolate and a cookie (sandwich, if you're EDP) and a stroll up the main shopping street in Reykjavik. 

After dinner, we tried to catch the Northern Lights.  They had been so active the day of our arrival, they shut the lights off in the city so people could see them better. Sadly for us, we arrived well after that and on our hunting expedition, despite being active, the cloud cover and light pollution in the city made them impossible to find.  

This morning, we headed out for the first day of our ring road trip. We started in West Iceland, stopping only a few times for photos, though the scenery is positively breathtaking at times. The lava fields are incredible and the mountains are beautiful. Our first stop was at Lóndrangar in Snæefellsjökull National Park. There are two enormous rock pillars that are what's left from an enormous crater made out of basalt. Locals say elves use the lava formations as a church. We didn't see any elves but the pillars were stunning. 

From there, we continued driving to Kirkjufell, a mountain that is one of the most photographed spots in Iceland. We followed some sheep on the way there for a bit before they veered off the road for a snack, we thought maybe they were on vacation and heading there, too, but alas, we must have departed before they arrived. The mountain is very different than what you'd expect.  It's a light brown colour and very steep with many small cliff faces as you ascend. The waterfalls by the mountain were also very beautiful, falling over rocks onto black sand. 

From there, we headed into Stykkishólmur, a charming fishing village. We wandered up to Súgandisy, a basalt island with dramatic views of Breiðafjörður, the bay. It's amazing how the quickly the landscape changes, we could see lots of islands and fjords and they all seemed to be different. 

Tomorrow, we head towards Mývatn. It's a long driving day so we'll be at it early. Sadly, the cloud cover tonight is worse than last night so there's pretty much no chance of seeing the Northern Lights tonight. Cross your fingers for us that tomorrow is better! 

Sólvar sculpture, along the waterfront in Reykjavik

Sólvar sculpture, along the waterfront in Reykjavik

Somewhere along our drive today. I think maybe just outside of Borgarnes? 

Somewhere along our drive today. I think maybe just outside of Borgarnes? 

The pillars at Lóndrangar  

The pillars at Lóndrangar  

The waterfall at Kirkjufell

The waterfall at Kirkjufell


Ice Ice Baby

by Colleen Morrow in


Yep, we're heading to Iceland! Cause, you know...  It's not cold enough in Canada, we need to head to a country where Canadians buy hats in the summer to stay warm (true story - a friend was there earlier this year and needed buy a hat cause the wind was so cold!)

Technically, we're going to Copenhagen for a weekend with a one week stopover in Iceland. Icelandair offers this AMAZING option where you can do a stopover of up to 7 days in Reykjavik for no additional cost. A couple of days after we got back from Bavaria, we found a super cheap flight from Toronto to Copenhagen on Icelandair. And we booked it. So now, we're heading to Copenhagen for a weekend with a really long stopover in Reykjavik. We do not plan to stay in the airport the entire time we're there, though.

Like our Bavaria trip, we're renting a car and heading out to travel Iceland's ring road. If you aren't familiar with Iceland, it's a pretty small country and it has this one highway that runs around the entire country. It's the ring road. And it's pretty popular as a road trip. 

We're starting in Reykjavik, where we're taking a day to check out the city before picking up a car and heading off on an adventure filled with waterfalls and lava tubes and volcanoes and fjords and black beaches and caves and lighthouses and geysers and national parks and more.  We're crossing our fingers that we'll get a chance to see the Northern Lights but it may be a bit early in the season for it.  It's not uncommon for hotels for have Aurora alarms to wake you up if the lights are out and we do have one hotel that's quite a bit out of the way so it wouldn't be affected by light pollution.  Keep your fingers crossed!

After our road trip in Iceland, we're popping over to Copenhagen for two days.  Copenhagen is known for their food scene so I think it'll be a tasty couple of days. We have a food tour booked that takes us through one of the food markets so it's a pretty safe bet that it will be.

A lot of the planning is already done, which is good because the trip is just around the corner.  All of the hotels are booked, the car is rented, the itinerary is in good shape.  Now it's just the last minute details like laundry and picking up headlamps and learning Icelandic.  Can't be too much trouble, can it?


Bout of Books

by Colleen Morrow


You know how sometimes, you're reading a book and it just reminds you of a particular song so much that you have to stop, put your book down and choreograph an interpretive dance reflecting your book's plot to that song?  No?  Yeah, me neither...

Anyway...  

Seriously, though - sometimes, you can't help but connect a book and a song in some way.  After listening to Goo Goo Dolls on the bus in high school while doing my reading for English class, I can never hear Black Balloon without thinking of Orwell's 1984 (it's a good thingYouTube didn't exist when I was in high school - that video is TERRIFYING.  And very late 90s) .  And even though Anne's Theme was composed for the mini-series, whenever I see my set of Anne of Green Gables books, the song floats into my head (p.s. who else is SUPER excited to see what happens in the CBC/Netflix adaptation?!)

So, you tell me what connections you have between a book and some music.  Anything goes, really.  Some suggestions to get you thinking:

  • Rename your book with a song
  • Give a lyric that sums up the plot of your book
  • A song or album that is forever associated with a particular books in your mind

Post your song connection anywhere you are talking about Bout of Books and post the link here.  Please remember that I have to be able to see your post so make sure your account isn't private.

 

Really, anything goes...  If you can find a connection between a book and a song, as long as you say what the connection it, you're good.  Post the link and be eligible to win a book of your choosing, up to $10 USD from Book Depository (which is a just under $13 CDN right now!) 

Just remember that you need to be an official Bout of Books participant, having previously signed up earlier this week and limited to one entry per person.  This challenge will be open for 24 hours only and is open to anyone who has an address that Book Depository ships to.  The winner will be chosen randomly using a random number generator and will be verified and contacted on Saturday morning.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond, at which point, a new winner will be drawn.  

UPDATE:  Congrats to Darcus @ Rainy Days and Pajamas for her winning entry.  Hope you enjoy your book!