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So, I first realised that going from Glasgow to Halifax was possibly cheaper if a stopover in Iceland was added. This grew into a “what about if I stop in Iceland for a week? Never been there”, and then, when I realise that various  other reasons were going to keep me in Glasgow till nearly the middle of July, into “why don’t I just go for a week in Iceland?”.

I first became Iceland aware in fifth grade when I had to research it for my geography class. Remarkable that I now, out of nowhere, I am thinking of going.

Flying to Iceland from Scotland is rather straight forward and relatively cheap. Other than having to get to Edinburgh, an airport I have not flown out of for nearly an age, I was in Reykjavik in a blink of an eye.

Landing at 20:00 and with the sun still high in the sky was weird enough, but deciding to go for a walk in what felt like the late afternoon at 23:30 was even stranger.

Water still and sky clear at midnight.
I just never get enough of sunsets, even if this one lasted for more than thirty minutes.
Even better with the Sólfar (Sun Voyager)
After the walk it was time to have some dinner (00:40). Excellent stout and wasabi nuts.

First day I just spend going round Reykjavik, which is not that big and, if there are no exceptional events going on, does not warrant more than a day or two to be comprehensively explored.

Sólfar, the sun Voyager, is a rather striking sculpture drawing inspiration from the shape of Viking long boat
Harpa concert hall and conference centre.
I spent some time trying to take a picture that had me reflecting in one of the panes, I did not manage, I would have had to be able to walk on water 🙁
One of the main streets with the cathedral at the very end.
Leif Erikson, the first European to try to invade America, quite some time before Columbus and definitely way before the Beatles.
Leif Erikson statue is just in front of the really spartan cathedral which boasts, apparently, one of the best organs in … not sure I remember in what.
As I go around Reykjavik I come to realise how interesting public art is.
And a country that has a monument to disobedience has all my respect.
Ingolf Arnarson statue is located at the top of Arnarholl, a hill at the centre of Reykjavik which will have been seen on TV by many when the celebrations for the return of the Icelandic football team took place. It was full off people Viking style clapping the glorious eleven.
Excellent gates for the pedestrian zone.
Further thought provoking artwork.

One of the main aims of the trip was hiking and for that I have to get out of Reykjavik. The hike I was interested in, and that I will have to go back for was not reachable. The Laugavegur  is a 4/5 days trail in the south of the island, but the access point to the start is still inaccessible due to snow. The alternative has to be going to Thorsmork and focus on day hikes around there, luckily there are a fair few.

On route to Thorsmork the bus stops at Seljalandsfoss and the scenery starts to show the rugged beauty of Iceland.
The bus had to go through a few rivers in order to get to the camp site, the road was really a couple of ruts in the gravel.
A neat map of Iceland with the location of Basar at the campsite
All hikes proved to be really well signposted.
Off straight away in the afternoon.
Looking towards the sea from the top of Valahnúkur
Looking towards the glaciers
Some people are just not afraid of height.
The first of many panos that does not do justice to the scenery.
Me thinks there still a bit of flab that needs to go.
Long distance picture but those are all wild lupins, there are million inIceland

Day two is still a day hike. The situation with the snow prevents longer expeditions but I, with the help of the people at the campsite, decide that the best on offer is the Tindfjöll Circle with the possible addition of the Rjúpnafell peak ( All in all eight hours away with a good six hours on the march and a good 1,000 m delta.

There are some advantages in having a strap for the camera.
First part of the path is in a gully but still quite scenic.
The ultimate destination starts to appear in the distance, Mount Rjúpnafell.
Getting closer but still some way to go.
Snack break hoping not to slide down
If this does not look like it was melted rock once, what does?
Now we’re cooking, and by the way, why did I not come to camp up here?
Believe it or not that is the very top of Rjúpnafell, just behind the backpack. an amazingly pyramid shaped peak
Looking west
Looking east
Closing up on the glacier (you can do this when you have a proper camera)
The rather exposed path back down 😐
One rather disappointing thing about Iceland was that I did not get to see quite as many birds as I was expecting to see, in a Scandinavian country that is.
The views continue to be impressive on the way down as well.
Looking back at Rjúpnafell
And so is great to look downstream with Valahnúkur sticking out at the bottom.

The leg situation is ok, not perfect but just ok. Unfortunatelly I come to the point where choices have to be made now. The camp site people tell me that tomorrow there are going to be winds of 30 m/s (approximatelly 70 mph) at the top of the  Thórsmörk – Skógar pass ( and, as the snow has not melted yet, it is not easy to find the passage between the two glaciers in order to get to Skógar. That being the case I decide to get up early (06:00 AM) and go up and over Útigönguhöfòi. This should make a nice round trip of six/seven hours, sufficient to avoid the bad weather and to catch the bus back to Reykjavik.

Sky still good at 06:20 AM
Can you believe this is the kind of light you get at this time in the morning?
I guess the lave found an air pocket.
Some of the route is rather exposed
And you can see the weather coming over the Myrdlasiökull.
And yet pretty special.
Snow is still there and the route up rather steep.
But on the plateau it’s like being on Mars.
And there is Útigönguhöfòi
And to wrap it up here are all the possible hikes around Thorsmork

Despite having to struggle a bit in the descent, I manage to get to the camp in time to get the bus and, nursing my knees a bit I elect to continue camping at the Reykjavik site. The Summer Solstice festival is on so I am surrounded by screaming and drinking 18 year old kids at the first outing. This mixed with the never ending daylight makes for an excellent combination.

The campsite is great and there is no need to make efforts in getting to know people, everybody is pretty sociable. After settling and cleaning up it’s time to hit the town and sort out what to do for the remaining two days of the stay.

Camping in Reykjavik, among the festival goers.
I’d seen this advertised in the window the other day, soup in bread, well worth a try. On top of that, most beers I’ve had in Iceland are great.
A piece of the Berlin Wall here, interesting the juxtaposition with the Höfði
The Höfði House, former British Embassy, is most famous as the place where in 1986 the Cold War ended.

Lunch and then booking the activity for tomorrow, it’s horse riding. I have wanted to do it for a long time and the fact that Icelandic horses are a tad lower than average gives me the final push. It’s fun and, even if the weather is not spectacular, and I look like a twat in the helmet, it’s something I’d do again.

In the afternoon I get back and go to the local outdoor swimming pool. I strongly recommend it, despite the air temperature being 13º C, once you’ve taken a plunge in the 7º plunge pool, where I resisted a whole 10 seconds, it feels like being in the Caribbean. There are also other plunge pools with water at temperatures ranging between 37º and 44º as well as a 40º sea water pool which, allegedly, does wonders for your skin.

Was on the master to do list so I guess this was as good a time as any to go horse riding.
Icelandic people have a sense of humour!
The final walk to the campsite (11:30 PM) gives me another opportunity to marvel at the beauty of the bay.
One day that might be me.

So it’s the final day in Iceland and with the flight to Edinburgh late in the afternoon I stop at the Blue Lagoon on the way to the airport (the lagoon is conveniently placed between Reykjavik and the International Airport). worth the visit and, if you’re really into skin care, you can truly go to town with the treatments.

Spectacular milky water that smells a bit but is really quite fun to rest in.
Despite the outdoor temperature of sub 10º C you can stay in the water sipping a drink for a really long time before getting enough of it.

So, to summarise, Iceland gets a 9.5 out of 10, the only mark down is that it’s a bit expensive. Regardless I’d say go, I certainly will again, for sure once in the winter, to see the northern lights and once in the summer, further ahead this time, to do the hiking I could not do this time.

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