Canada - Lake Peyto
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Canada - Lake Peyto
Western Canada
August 11, 2017
Azores - Church Chapel
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Iceland - Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall

Day 1 - Reykjavik

After an early morning flight we arrived in Keflavik raring to go (kind of!). Our bags were flung into the boot of our hire car and we were off into Reykjavik to explore. A quick stop at our favourite bakery, Sandholt, for danish pastries and coffee and we were free to wander around the streets of the most northernly capital city in the world which appeared to just be waking from its Saturday evening slumber.

We went window shopping down the main thoroughfare of Laugavegur, climbed the steps of Hallgrimskirkja Church for a great view of the city, marvelled at hexagonal panes of glass in the Harpa Concert Hall and visited The National Gallery of Iceland for our culture fix. For lunch it was time to grab a stool at Icelandic Street Food for delicious lamb bread bowls.

It was then a 2-hour drive north to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula which was to be our home for the next two nights. Along the way we stopped at numerous waterfalls hurtling their way down lush, green mountains and the beach near Arnastapi famous for its lazy seals. We had a very cute apartment in the fishing village of Olafsvik and arrived in time to see the second half of the local kid’s football match. It was a late dinner and an early night to catch up on some sleep.

Day 2 - Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Today was time to explore the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. We headed to the south coast to hike the fabulous coastal path between Arnastapi and Hellnar passing amazing rock formations, caves and thousands of nesting kittiwakes along the way. The skies were grey (Iceland is currently having its worst summer in over 100 years) but the views were still spectacular. After hot chocolate and cake we embarked on our second hike of the day up the Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge with it’s accompanying Icelandic saga of men being flung from cliff heights and daughters being pushed onto icebergs and sent to Greenland. Gripping stuff.

After lunch it was time to head to the colourful fishing village of Stykkishólmur for our boat cruise to the Breiðafjörður Islands. Along the way we saw cormorants, puffins and a lone sea eagle but the highlight was the trawling of the sea floor for scallops, sea urchins, crabs and starfish. The scallops were freshly prepared for us to enjoy whilst the kids helped the star fish find their way back home.

It was then on to the local geo-thermal swimming pool to sit in steaming hot pools before enjoying freshly made pizza and the long drive back along the coast to Olafsvik. A fabulous Icelandic day!

Day 3 - Kirkjufell & Journey to Akureyri

It was time to say goodbye to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and head east towards Iceland’s capital of the North, Akureyri. Our first stop was the iconic symmetrical mountain of Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall before we embarked on the endless gravel road along the north of the peninsula. Iceland has very few road signs so we may have taken a rather circuitous route but needless to say it took rather a long time. Eventually we were spat out at a spot that came as a complete surprise (in a good way!) so we celebrated with lunch at the Hvammstangi Seal Museum which must hold the record for the smallest museum ever! Quite literally one room but a very informative one it has to be said.

We arrived in Akureyri 5 hours after we set off to be greeted by our beautiful log cabin by the fjord. The kids were straight in the hot tub and the BBQ was lit. Happy days!

Day 4 - Mývatn Lake

Today was the day I was looking forward to the most as it was jam-packed full of geographical delights! We headed towards Mývatn Lake just east of Akureyri where volcanic activity is literally off the scale. Our first stop was the Hverir geothermal area with its boiling mud pots, steaming fumaroles and Technicolour soil. It felt like we had landed on Mars albeit with a sulphur stench that ferociously abused our nostrils. We next drove up to the top of the Krafla caldera for breath-taking views of the vivid blue Viti Lake before heading back down for an amazing lunch at the cow shed café.

It was then time to take the southern loop around Mývatn Lake stopping at Grjotagja Cave with its beautiful azure blue water, Hverfjall Crater, one of the best preserved circular craters in the world and Dimmuborgir (also known as The Dark Fortress) with its mammoth lava rock formations. Despite our best efforts there were no troll sightings. It was then time to hit Mývatn Nature Baths (the north’s equivalent to the Blue Lagoon) for a whole hour of hot pool bliss (although still accompanied by the sulphur stench) before checking out the mesmerising Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters.

On the way home, it was a short hike to view the magnificent Godafoss waterfall before a late dinner in Akureyri. A fabulous day!

Day 5 - Akureyri

Today was a day for chilling! After three pretty full-on days with lots of miles under our belts it was time to stay put, have a mosey around town and sit in the hot tub. We ventured into town for lunch, wandered around the pretty botanical gardens, watched the planes land on the runway in the middle of the fjord and enjoyed lots of coffee and cake! It was then time for our daily trip to Bonus to play a guessing game with the BBQ offerings (fingers crossed not the famous Icelandic rotten shark) then back along the fjord to our little log cabin.

As we cooked dinner the kids amused themselves watching the Icelandic guy in the next cabin change into his swim shorts on the outdoor deck with rather a good view of his bottom. Lots of giggles ensued so I’m pretty sure he won’t be doing that again in a hurry!

Day 6 - Siglufjörður & Husafell

It’s official – the sun has finally arrived in Iceland! And what a difference it makes; landscapes that were already impressive are suddenly epic; glistening blue fjords, snow-capped peaks, lush green mountains and vertical waterfalls all emerging from the mists.

Today is a travelling day so we packed up our log cabin (after a final dip in the hot tub) and headed off to explore the stunning Troll peninsula – such a fab name! After a slightly bizarre tunnel experience, basically a single lane 5-mile tunnel with two-way traffic (what fun we had!) we emerged at the northern tip of the peninsula near the gorgeous little fishing village of Siglufjörður which quickly shot to the top of my favourite places in Iceland. The sun was out, pretty cafes dotted the harbour and there was a play park and beach volleyball court (naturally) next door. I could easily have spent a whole week here! Alas we only had time for lunch.

It was then a long drive west towards Husafell with brief stops at dramatic canyons, gushing waterfalls, quirky churches and hot dog stands until we arrived at our hotel with its stunning view of the Langjökull glacier. We would be seeing a lot more of that in the morning….

Day 7 - Langjökull glacier

Today is the day we go into the glacier – quite literally! After a warm sunny day yesterday, it was time to wrap up warm for freezing temperatures. We boarded a snow truck that apparently used to transport missiles in a previous life and edged up the glacier towards an ice tunnel at the top. This was to be our route into the heart of the glacier. We followed underground tunnels to discover ice chapels, ice bars and ice auditoriums and were treated to an impromptu Icelandic folk song by our guide. It was all pretty cool!

It was then time to warm our toes in the heated pool back at base camp before checking out the spectacular Hraunfossar waterfall and Surtshellir Lava Cave. Finally, it was time to head south towards Reykjavik for our early morning flight home in the morning.

Iceland, despite the weather has been totally magical from start to finish. It has been like visiting another planet. This country is a living, breathing geography lesson, a dramatic landscape of volcanoes, glaciers, lava fields, geothermal geysers, mud pools and majestic wildlife and we are blessed to have experienced them all over the last 7 days.

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