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Iceland Drive About

Cleveland and Travel
Mark & Yvonne's excellent Icelandic adventure.

Enjoy the highlights of a 16-day self-guided auto tour around entire island, on the 'ring road' Route 1, and side trips into small seaside towns.

See the route and dramatic scenery without the jet lag, in two brief slideshows... Enjoy!



Slideshow Week One

Vatnajokull National Park, "the big glacier", southern Iceland



Slideshow Week Two

Godafoss (Waterfall of the Gods), Bardardalur lava field, northern Iceland.
Godan Daginn!

Iceland..? Yes, Iceland!

Why?! In my past aviation life, I’ve stopped several times in Keflavik to re-fuel, always found it intriguing, and wanted to return. So, Yvonne and I finally planned our adventure.

The time of year was dictated by our goal to see the aurora borealis and the returning whales and puffins. A 16-day self-guided auto trip, April 6-21, we circled the entire country on the ‘ring road’ Route 1. Weather determined our itinerary. We headed counter-clockwise out of Reykjavik because a majority of the clockwise route to the north was closed due to snow and wind on departure day! My GPS logged our location every two seconds and created the Google map.

This may sound ambitious, but the country is approximately the size of Ohio with the population of Cleveland. With 350,000 people, most are related somewhere in their lineage. There is an ‘app’ for Icelanders to quickly determine their kinship, don’t want to be intimate with your cousin, you know.

Situated between the two tectonic plates, North American and European, volcanic activity built the island and supplies 90% of the energy for heating and electricity. A community hot water line services the small towns we passed or stayed in along our route. Yep, a hot water line runs into each house and businesses.

High technology abounds, 97% of households have internet. We were never out of cell/data coverage, but were wise to turn it off when not needed to avoid a surprisingly high bill upon return.

The weather and aurora borealis forecasts were astonishingly accurate. Real-time road conditions were available on the national weather website many with live view cameras.

In ‘Week One’, you will see in our slideshow travel that began in the southwest of Iceland, near Keflavik International Airport and then at visit to the Blue Lagoon, a large outdoor spa that uses 104 degree Fahrenheit water from a geo-thermal electric plant. Next, two of many dramatic waterfalls, which are created by glacial runoff, and believe it or not, on a Wednesday afternoon, at each one we happened upon a wedding taking place.

When you see the weather, it may cure you too of ever complaining again about Northeast Ohio spring that never comes!

Rugged terrain, glaciers, mountains, oceans, rain, snow, sun, repeat :) The people were warm if a bit cautious at first, and the food abundant in delicious fish, no surprise, but perhaps surprisingly cosmopolitan in preparation. We’d recommend it for the more adventurous among you.

Meantime, enjoy an overseas trip without the jet lag…!

--Mark

On to 'Week Two': So………… how cold was it? 

Surprisingly about like Cleveland in early March.

Really? Iceland is almost at the Arctic Circle. (BTW, the Arctic Circle is the point far enough north where for at least one day the sun never sets).


Well, the entire region is heated by the Gulf Stream which brings warm water from south of Florida, along with nutrients that feed the marine life, so abundant in the North Atlantic. The humpback whale image is basically the end of that food chain. Still required survival suits for the whale watch, but the waters were relatively warm.

Our plan was to see the early arrival of puffins and whales and we saw both. Puffins spend their entire life at sea except for the breeding season in the spring. They mate for life and find each other at the same nest site as last year.

Whales usually never come ashore, except on their days off.

Icelandic horses are everywhere and the only breed allowed in the country. Short and stocky a perfect icon for their home. They like to stand with their butts into the wind. Go figure.

You will see some of our typical accommodations averaging about $100 per night including breakfast. Our car, a VW Polo with studded tires, at $25 a day. Great meals from around $40 a plate. We were there off-season.

The final images in our slideshow is of Greenland. Very impressive sight.

Hope you enjoy our slideshow highlights. Be sure to read the captions.

--Mark
 
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