Day 4 – Riding a Dragon
On our fourth day in Iceland we visited the Laxnes Horse Farm just outside of Reykjavik for a two hour horse riding adventure. Laxnes Farm is own and operated by the Jónasson family and they are dedicated to the quality of life of these horses.
Icelandic horses are characteristically small, stocky, and strong and almost looking like large ponies. All of the horses had course full manes and tails. They are breed with a double coat which keeps them warm during the winter months in Iceland. Many Icelanders credit the horse for the survival of the Icelandic people.
We shared a beautiful ride through the mountains with our horses. Cooper was riding Dreki, which means Dragon, who was super chill.
Juliette riding her horse stjörnu (Star)
Day 5 – Journey Into A Glacier
This unique tour took us to the north, our GPS sent us through a “shortcut” that turned out to be a 3 hour drive on a gravel road. It was a beautifully bleak route with occasional boulders blocking our path. We were a bit concerned that our rental car wouldn’t survive the trip! Later, we found out the landscape we traveled through is called the “cold valley” and it was where outlaws and murders were sent as punishment. If they could survive 3 years out there they were allowed to return to the community. Think about that: 3 years out there is either a life sentence or the death penalty depending on how you fair.
When we arrived we got in a special retired NATO vehicle that was designed to carry missiles. This missile transporter now transports tourist over glaciers to show them the danger of global warming. Did you notice the pneumatic hoses leading to each tire? Believe it or not the driver is able to control the inflation of each wheel with a tablet interface to regulate the tire traction with the glacier ice. Which means at certain moments of our trek we were quite literally gliding along the snow and ice of the glacier #intotheglacier
We were on top of the Langjokull, the second largest in Europe. At the top we came upon an entrance to the largest man-made ice tunnel structure of its kind. Inside we learned that 80% of Iceland’s water comes from glacier and about 60% of the U.S. water comes from glacial sources. The glaciologists estimate we only have 100 more years of glaciers on this planet due to the warming of the atmosphere. They also told us that this glacier may completely melt away in 50 years.
This tour was very special and we both enjoyed it as a once in a lifetime experience.
Since there was still light out (the sun sets at 11:30pm!) we drove over to the hydro-electric plant near Deildartunguhver Geothermal Area. The Deildartunguhver Hot Spring, the centerpiece of the geothermal area, is the most powerful hot spring in Europe and the one with the highest flow rate. The boiling water it produces emerges at 97 °C and is used for heating the houses in the area via a pipeline to places far away such as Borgarnes, 34 kilometers away and the town of Akranes, 64 kilometers southwest.
Day 6 – Viking Sail, Blue Lagoon, Anniversary dinner
On our final day in Iceland, we celebrated our wedding anniversary. In the morning we took a private viking ship out onto the harbor in hopes of seeing puffin. Luckily, there were still some families enjoying life on a small island nearby and because we were on such a small boat we were able to get closer then the larger Puffin tour boats.
While on the boat we learned about the history of vikings from an Icelandic historian. Iceland was uninhabited until 874, until viking explores from Norway and the British isles discovered the land in the ninth century. Christianity wasn’t established in Iceland until 999 under the Norwegian king Olaf Tryggvason. We learned that the Sagas of Icelanders, also known as the family sagas are highly honored stories that were passed down from generations and covered all of the historical events that took place in 9th, 10th, and early 11th centuries.
After our boat ride we traveled to the most visited touristy attraction of our trip the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. Located right next to the airport the Blue Lagoon is a spa, pool, and restaurant/bar. We bought tickets that included a free algae mask and alcoholic beverage. The facilities felt very luxurious and relaxing. They have a strict hygiene policy, so be prepared to take a shower before entering the warm, rich mineral lagoon water.
The water temperature averages 99-167 °F, and once you enter there is a swim up bar and little hut that holds different types of skin masks. We spent the afternoon relaxing and recounting some of the places we had seen the days previous both feeling melancholy about it being our last day. Cooper started getting very pruney, so we took that as a signal to head out to make our dinner reservation.
We had reservations for dinner at the Fiskmarkadurinn, or Fish Market. The restaurant is highly rated and when they heard we were celebrating our anniversary quickly brought champagne with strawberries to our table.
We ordered items from their tasting menu: smoked puffin, whale, and salmon (YOLO). We also met a lovely couple sitting next to us that were traveling from DC. They were also celebrating their last night in town and it was nice to share some of our stories with them.
In conclusion, our trip to Iceland was phenomenal. I want to return again and see other parts of the island as well as the Northern lights.