Heading home

Heshan and I said goodbye his morning.  It is hard to believe how fast this vacation has gone.  

He will do a tour of the golden circle and fly back to Sweden early tomorrow morning.  I am off to the airport now.

Bye Heshan!

I took the city bus, like a pro, to the bus terminal, and caught the airport shuttle to Keflavik airport. I’m now waiting for a while.

I will not be sleeping, camping or cooking though, as those activities are prohibited.  Lucky for me Heshan packed lunches for us while I was sewing zippers yesterday!  What a nice friend. 🙂

We had clear weather for part of he flight….the captain told us when we could see Greenland.

The flight was a wee bit delayed, which made it a scramble to get through the customs lines and get my bag and find the megabus.  I made it though….with no time to spare.

P.s. It is hot here!  I have all my layers on, and I’m dripping.  Lucky thing that vehicles here have AC.


Deadlines Met

This morning, I woke up early, and knit.

What’s awesome is that it fits him well!

Heshan made me food, and I knit.  The yoke is a lovely thing to make, but it takes a lot longer than I had anticipated!  Finally it was finished!  This was just in time to go buy a zipper, and meet Guðrún.

We went on an adventure to find a zipper.  

Yarn stores are beautiful here.

We next washed the car and filled it up with gas.  Car wash stations are free here!

We met Guðrún and explained our situation.  As it takes a long time to putt a zipper in, and we didn’t have any flexibility in our schedule, she was kind enough to sew both sides of the steek and cut the sweater for us.

She showed me how to line things up, and told me to use the smallest zigzag stitch the machine can do.

She cut and trimmed the steek edges, and showed me how to pin the zipper in place.

She has helped many people with their sweaters.  Her sisters in law came to visit while we were there, and they showed one of their sweaters.

I am so grateful to Guðrún for her help, on such short notice.  She said she doesn’t usually have people watching and photographing her work…but it was amazing to see how steeking should be done.

I learned so much this morning!

We went and returned the rental car, 1716km driven!  Thank you Heshan, you are a superstar!

And brought the sweater, and pinned in zipper downtown to sit in a cafe….I sewed the zipper while Heshan caffeinated.

We had a minor incident when the sweater was almost stolen by a troll.

But we managed to make it safely to the church with a sweater that had a zipper sewn in.

We did a bit of a photo shoot.  Heshan had looked at enough pattern books to perfect the hand in the pocket, stare off into the distance pose.

To my great surprise, while we were taking our pictures, I was approached by Alana, a childhood friend from Brownies!  I had just told Heshan that last year I had randomly run into someone in France, and that I was half expecting to run into someone here.

It’s a small world!

The weather

We had big plans to go to Vík, but woke up to such a windy stormy day that we cancelled our plan.  There had been warnings of cars being blown off roads, and I didn’t really want to be near cliffs or waterfalls or at the beach in these conditions.  So I woke up and knit a bit.  Arms are joined on now…it makes lugging it around a bit of a chore, but it is making progress and that’s nice to see.

We went with Connie, one of our hostel room mates, to the town beach which includes a natural hot water bath.  It was a lovely place, and would have been crowded on a sunny day.

But it was pretty empty except for the hot tub!

We enjoyed a relaxing “vacation” day from our fast paced travels.

We ventured into the sea also.  I swam, very briefly, and Heshan and Connie got knee deep.  If they tell you otherwise, it is a lie!

There was a thermal pool in the sea that mixed cold sea water and warm hot springs.  It was a nice relief after being in the sea.  I can now add “Greenland Sea” to my list of places I’ve put at least a toe in the water.

There’s proof of me swimming…and here’s the data for the day.

After lounging at the completely FREE pool, we went to the Perlan.  He water towers for the city which is being turned into a museum, cafe, gift shop, and rotating restaurant.

It was super windy… Connie’s hair flew into the pic!

We wandered to see inside the dome, and gaze at the expensive treats.

The sweater is growing!

We had a lazy afternoon, napping, knitting, making dinner…we called and made an appointment with Guðrún to steek the sweater at 1 PM tomorrow.  That gives me a considerable deadline!  Many thanks to the hostel front desk staff who let me use their phone!

I knit until 2:30AM and did not finish! 

Back to Reykjavik 

Today we headed back to Reykjavik from Akureyri. It was a long driving day, but thankfully there was no rain.

We stopped at the side of the road where lots of other cars were also stopped.  It’s always a good sign that there might be something amazing to see.

There was a beautiful river flowing down there.

We had a snack break and cracked open the yogurt we bought last night.  I was going to be brave and try the licorice flavour.  I think we’ve tried almost every flavour there is by now.  It’s delicious!  I wasn’t sure what to expect from this….what colour would you think for licorice yogurt?  Black?

Thankfully it was not black, or grey.

And it didn’t taste overwhelmingly like licorice either…more like vanilla with a hint of licorice.

We are on the ring road now. Highway 1 does a full circle of the country, but if you take this you miss a lot of the beautiful mountain and fjord drives we’ve been doing.  The ring road has some trucks, but not many.  It is a 2 lane highway, that is paved.  This is the first traffic stoppage we had…a bit of roadwork and a signal crew with a car to follow.  I loved that the back of the stop sign had a “go” sign.

We took a pit stop at Blonduos and saw a sign for a textile museum.  Since this is something that I’m interested in, and Heshan is benefitting from, we went to check it out.  Here’s the barbed wire sheep out front.

The museum had a collection of knitted dresses made by a local woman, all out of Icelandic sheep wool.

There was even a wedding dress.

There was a lace making area showing how bobbin lace is made.

And how it was applied to clothing.

There was also embroidery and weaving displayed.  And in the basement was my favourite part….the interactive part.  There was a table with combs, carders, and drop spindles, and a sack of Icelandic sheep fleece.  I showed Heshan how to spin.  He got the hang of it quickly!  Then we worked on knitting.

Again, a quick learner.  We’ve got plans for another lesson or two later.

There was also a loom that we could use.

It felt a little different from my loom at home.  It was fun to try out a different type of loom.

The sweater came to the museum too.

It’s getting bigger!    

We stopped to get some ham (skinka) for our sandwiches.  I was amazed to find yarn in a grocery store!  They sell Lopi here!

I resisted….for now.

We kept driving, hoping to make a stop st the tallest waterfall in Iceland, Glymur, but on a coffee break while looking at trip advisor to see about the walk to the falls, we read things like it’s fine until you get to crossing the rapids walking along a slippery log, or it was well worth it, but one wrong step and it could be fatal, or steep slippery slopes, not suitable for children….at the word “fatal” we decided to take the tunnel and head back to Reykjavik….we’re not crazy.

We stopped to take a picture of a glacier, in the distance.

And when we turned around our car looked like it could be in an advertisement…what an unbelievable setting…everywhere you turn it is so ruggedly beautiful here.

Since the sweater is “almost” done, I have been considering how we will make it a cardigan.  The process is called steeking, and I looked up how to do it.  I showed the sweater too…we found a picture book at the textile museum.

After consulting my knitting expert friends, and a woman at the school next to the textile museum (who has knit many sweaters) it became clear that I needed to use a sewing machine to secure the edges where we would cut the sweater to make it a cardigan.  I didn’t know where to find a sewing machine while travelling….so I emailed the Lopi store, but decided it might be faster to pop in there in the way to the hostel.  To our surprise a sewing machine sat outside the store…is that an omen or what?  

It turns out they have antique machines that are on display….not operational, but the lovely cashier was so helpful, when we explained what we were trying to accomplish, and we showed her the sweater, she said that she was impressed, and that maybe her grandmother could help us.  She called her grandmother, who said that her friend would be a better help.  So the cashier phoned her grandmother’s friend, and got her address and made an arrangement for us to meet her and steek the sweater and add the zipper.  Thank you Lena, you went above and beyond to help us out.  

We were so excited that we BOTH bought more yarn.  Heshan is dreaming up a matching hat with pompom to match the sweater.  The man has a yarn stash after spending a week with me. It’s excellent.

We are now back at the hostel in Reykjavik and taking it easy tonight, and heading south to Vík tomorrow.

Whales….or maybe not….

We had a later start this morning because we got to sleep at around 3 AM after driving back so late and having some food and unwinding a bit.  There was lovely gourmet hot chocolate on the free food shelf so that was a nice treat today.

We walked around Akureyri a bit.  It’s a cute town.

We made some friends…

But had to hit the road to get to Husavik for lunch and our afternoon whale watching adventure.  It was a rainy drive, but that’s par for the course for us.  We have learned to bring rain gear with us all the time.

We went to a little restaurant called Naustid, recommended by Jessica, who made us waffles a few days ago.  It was amazing.  We shared an order of fish soup and surf and turf which was lamb and langoustines (small Icelandic lobster) so in one meal we tasted many traditional delicacies.

We looked around the town a bit before checking in for our whale watching adventure.

The boats we’d be taking are big wooden ocean boats.  But we were told we needed to wait because the water conditions were not certain.  Just before the trip they announced they would be going ahead, but that it would be rough.  We agreed that we’d try it anyway and be brave.

Here we are with our layers on, ready to go, near the boat.  I know it looks strange to see winter gear in the summer but it’s about 10 C here and colder with wind and near the water.  We got all suited up in extra warm gear when we got on the boat…a survival suit….

The sweater came too, but just for a photo op.

I didn’t take any photos while the boat was moving because holy cow it was rough.  Roller coaster rough, I was looking at the horizon and breathing, and hanging on to the railing.  We all (10 of us) sat at the stern, and tried to avoid the spray.  The waves were wild, and we were getting soaked from the spray coming over the bow.  The crew gave us each a raincoat at one point.  We were headed now into the waves, going up and down rather dramatically, and the salty spray was pretty intense.

This photo was before we were out in the open….this was still tame….it got much scarier!

Just when I was starting to feel a bit sick, the boat turned around and headed back to shore.  We were given the option of a full refund, or another boat trip at 6pm.  We chose the refund.

Here’s most of us at the end of the trip.  Many thanks to captain and crew for making a smart call.

It took a while for my stomach to settle.  I was glad I never got nauseous, but I was a bit uneasy due to the high waves and how much the boat was being thrown around.  Anyway, after taking a break in a cafe we continued on.  Our plan had been to go to the Mivatn baths, which are natural hot springs, and lounge there for a while.  It was far away though, so we checked the web for some natural heated bathing areas.  We found one near Husavík where the whale watching had been.

It was warmer than we’d expect the water to be when the air is 7 C but it was by no means hot. It was just bearable to swim in.  It would have been lovely on a calm sunny day, but of course today was cold, windy, and threatening rain all day.  The sun was behind big clouds, and it gets significantly cooler when the sun’s not shining.

The area is not exactly on the highway, it was in a bit of a gully, and here there are some trees…so we were able to get changed into our suits, and run into the water.  A shock to the system when we were expecting warmth.  Exhilarating!  We had a close up look at the black sand that made up the bottom of the pond, we’ll maybe see more like that in a few days in Vík.  I think it fave our feet a good exfoliating scrub.

We didn’t stay in long.  We were very glad of the car’s heat (it doesn’t have AC, but does have good heat) and heated seats.  We were almost warm and dry by the time we got to Godafoss (again).

Yesterday it was miserable and rainy.  Today we got moments of sunshine!

We climbed down to see it at water level at the bottom of the falls.

It’s like a mini niagara!  A lovely horseshoe waterfall.

We had some snacks.  We compares Icelandic mars bars with Swedish Japp bars..they are pretty similar but not exactly the same.

The weather cleared up on the ride home, and the clouds added a sense of drama.  There’s a cruise boat coming to town it seems.

We stopped at the overlook by Akureyri to look over the city and take photos.

It’s a pretty little place.

Waterfall volcano and more!

The day began with breakfast and a very optimistic plan of what we could accomplish in a day.

Weather reports said less than 50% chance of rain, but boy were they wrong.  Instead of the sprinkling of rain that has happened in the past few days, we saw some serious downpours today.  The first of which was in our trip to Godafoss.

We put our rain pants on in the car…quite the feat! And we set off to see what are apparently life changing waterfalls.

They were beautiful waterfalls.  We could get pretty close to the falls, but it was super wet.  I guess waterfalls are the same even if it’s rainy.

Thankful my gear is keeping me dry!  

We had lunch, or rather, our first lunch, on the side of the road.  We ate in the car, making awesome sandwiches.  Thank goodness for Bonus–the discount grocery store.  We are able to eat enough to keep going on our adventures.

The Pizzu Skinka (ham) is a new thing for us to try…also the Brie, he cheapest cheese we could find that wasn’t processed cheese.

I did get out of the car when I saw three lovely sheep approaching the pair of Swiss men who were eating their lunch.  They were hiking in the rain.

We stopped at the side of the road to look at lava columns.  They were so tall, and beautifully strange.  We didn’t know how they had formed

I love the lichen and moss and plants that are growing on them.

There are lots of pretty little flowers and mosses here.

We went to Dimmuborga, a park to see more lava columns.  We learned about how they were formed.

We walked around the large loop to see a little bit of the park.

It was neat to see how powerful the steam was beneath the lava bed.
There were some caves we could go into.  I think this officially counts as being inside a volcano.

After being in a volcano, we walked up a volcano.

It was a large dormant crater, with a rim diameter of 1000m.

We walked around the rim, taking pictures, and breathing in the beauty.  Some people climbed down into the crater and up the inner cone.  Not sure how they would get out!

We saw a rainbow over the crater.

We also saw a storm approaching

And there was nothing we could do but watch it come.  We hunkered down in the edge of the crater, and ate bananas while the rain and wind came.  Luckily it was short lived, but we were not wearing rain pants, so we got a bit soaked and cold.  We were wearing hats and mitts which helped a bit.

After walking down the volcano and getting dry pants on, we had our second lunch, which was a repeat of the first.  

We were heading to a waterfall but we got totally sidetracked by steam rising from the ground. We saw cars parked, so we joined to investigate.  The rock was volcanic, like most rock here is, but it was the colour of bricks, bright red.  We hadn’t seen this colour before.

The steam was billowing up and felt warm and wet, like standing in the dryer vent.

There were lots of lovely little flowers.

Our next stop was a surprise!  We rounded the bend and saw boiling mud and sulfur vents.  It was a very stinky place.

Mud pot that is bubbling and burbling.

It was a vile smell….like rotten eggs.  So pungent I almost couldn’t go near the steam.

We stopped at the side of the road to see some solidified lava flow.

Then we continued on to Dettifoss the waterfall we had planned on seeing.

It was gorgeous.

We walked around to see Selfoss as well.

We ate our yogurt and cookies and sandwiches and drove back.  We got back to Akureyri at 1am…and it wasn’t really dark yet.  Or this is the darkest it gets.

We are having instant noodles for our second dinner/midnight snack,

Stykkishólmur to Akureyri

Our day started with breakfast and a sweater sleeve.

 We then went for a walk in the harbour of Stykkishólmur in the cold rain.  It was probably only a few degrees above Zero with wind chill.

There were really tall cliffs

We climbed up the stairs to see a light house

There are a lot of islands here…maybe even a thousand.

We drove a lot today!  It rained most of the day.

We had one incident with sheep today….while approaching a single lane bridge over a blind rise we came across a car stopped because a flock of sheep were parked on the road.

We learned how to clean the back window today…that was pretty important on the gravel road today.  

Luckily the rain cleaned the car over the course of the day.

We stopped in a small port town to find a bathroom.  We found that along with some delicious home made waffles with home made rhubarb sauce and home made chocolate sauce, and whipped cream! Yummmm,.

We found a guidey woman named Jessica who told us some great advice about whale watching in Husavik, and a good fish restaurant there.  She also taught us what sound some Icelandic letters make. Þ sounds like a strong unvoiced th, like “with”, and ð sounds like a voiced th, like “the”.  It makes trying to say place names a little easier when you can sound them out.

We drove around many fjords today.  We had great views of mountains, valleys, and ocean.

We are not sure why all these little hills are topped with a rock….there are too many for it to be manmade, but it is a curious thing.  If anyone knows, please let us know.  Captain Clare, my geographer…what do you think?
We stopped for snacks and to stretch and take pictures.

Someone’s getting excited about his sleeves!

We drove up above a few villages today to see all the colours and how they nestle into the valleys.

We are a bit sore from all the walking yesterday and all the sitting today, so we were excited to get to Hofsós and the pool there.

Rules about swimming in Iceland. (We were warned by the guidey Jessica)

1. Take off shoes and leave them in the front of the change room.

2. Pick up a basket, like at a grocery store.  Put your belongings in it and leave it on a bench.  Hang coats and bags up on the wall, like you did in your kindergarten cloakroom.

3. Take off your clothes.  All of them.

4. Leave your towel in a cubby in the next room.

5. Walk into the shower room.  There were about 6 showers lined up in a concrete room. Shower with lots of soap.

6. Put your bathing suit on.

7. Go swim.  Don’t bring your towel with you or you look like a foreigner… 

The pool here is special…it is an infinity pool!

We already looked like foreigners so we went with it and posed the sleeves at the pool too.

Heshan had a bit of a swimming lesson today!  What a place to learn!

We drove through some steaming lands…they had a guest house with hot springs here!

We saw goats being rounded up today!  This is not a goat-free day!  They ran across the road in front of our car.

There were a few photo ops when the rain stopped.

We drove group clouds at one point today.

Here’s another small town we saw from above.  It was so lovely a selfie was called for.

We stopped for gas and had ice cream to celebrate a successful swimming lesson.

When the sun came back we captured it!  We had a lot of sun after our swim.  It was a really enjoyable ride to the hostel tonight.

We don’t know much about Akureyri yet, but the stop lights are heart shaped, so that bodes well.

We found our hostel.  It’s a really lively place with a bar in the lobby, and a night club next door pumping the bass.  There is a large group of high school students from Toronto and Ottawa here…we shared the table with them while we ate our dinner at 11pm.

It’s now midnight and we should get to sleep.  A big day awaits tomorrow.

P.S. for those following the sweater, both sleeves are now done,