Homer's Travels: Iceland: Day One

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Iceland: Day One

It's amazing, with all the travel we've done, that we would've had more issues.  Our luck ran out this trip I think.

City Hall Christmas tree.
First of all our flight, scheduled for the evening of the 26th of December was canceled and rescheduled twenty-four hours later.  This would be a rather major setback for a couple reasons.  First we would miss our first tour.  This was not a huge issue since it was a short tour and could easily be rescheduled.  The second issue is, instead of starting out slow and giving our bodies time to adjust and get rested, we were thrust into one of our more aggressive tours with very few hours of rest.  So this is how our first day went.

We arrived in Iceland at 6:30am.  Neither of us slept on the plane despite having tried really hard.  There were two ways to get from the airport to our hotel located in the central city area of Reykjavik.  You can take a taxi for a low $145 (!!!) or you can take the flybus which costs $35 per person.  Not a hard decision really.  We got on the comfortable bus, rode the forty-five minutes to the bus terminal, and transferred to a smaller bus to take us to Bus Stop 1 (BS1).

The lake behind the City Hall which would be a landmark for us helping us navigate.
This picture was taken at noon.
BS1 is located in front of city hall and is an easy one block walk to our hotel the Reykjavik Centrum.  We went in to check in.  We were too early to check-in (even though we were supposed to be there the day before) so we had our complimentary breakfast while our room was prepared.  The lady at reception said she would get us when the room was ready.  Back in the lobby we waited about a half hour before I got up and asked about our room.  The lady said follow me and took us to our room.  WTF why didn't she come to get us when we were sitting right in front of her?!?

Our awesomely located hotel picked by the Wife.

Our room was a spacious efficiency apartment in an older building next door to the actual hotel.  We had to be on a tour at noon so we had about an hour for a nap.  Half way through the nap the phone rings and we discovered that the tour scheduled for the next day was cancelled. *sigh*  The Wife and I were slightly relieved since we were already exhausted and we had seven hours of tours ahead of us.  Getting up early the next morning would have killed us I think.  When the tour company called us back a half hour later offering to get us on an identical tour with another company we respectfully declined the offer.  We would have accepted the offer if we'd had that more relaxed first day that was lost by the cancelled flight.

Our whale watching boat.
We returned to BS1 and were picked up my our first tour - Whale watching.  We checked in and boarded our boat.  It was an overcast, windy day in Iceland.

We did see the sun today ... sort of.
About the days.  This time of year the days are short.  How short?  Twilight starts around 9:30am and the sun actually comes up over the horizon at 11:00am.  The sun stays very low to the South until about 3:00pm at which time there starts another hour or so of twilight.  So the actual day is four hours long and the light - what there is of it - is only about six hours.  This messed with my head ... a lot.

A composition I took of a humpback whale.
Back to whale watching.  The seas were a bit rough this day.  It didn't take long before our ship became the USS Vomitorium.  I would say about half the guests were upchucking.  The Wife and I managed to keep things down.  We did see humpback whales.  That is when we weren't being hit in the face by windblown sleet (damn that sleet stung when it hit your face).  We decided that we were all whaled out and it would take a lot to get us out whale watching again.

An example of what we saw leaving and entering Reykjavik harbour.
We returned to Reykjavik and back to the hotel for a brief freshening up and some food before we caught another tour bus to take us to Fontana hot springs.  When I think of hot springs I think of some natural pool full of geothermally heated water.  Fontana is actually several swimming pools full of geothermally heated water.  Iceland's famous Blue Lagoon (we didn't go there) turns out to also be man-made.  We ate dinner at the spa and spent some time soaking in the pools.  Each pool was of a different temperature with the hottest being around 104℉ (40℃).  The water from the inlet was too hot to stay in for too long.  I'm not much of a soaker so we got out before most of the other tour people, got dressed, and ate a snack.

One of thirteen Yule Lads projected (in full motion) around the city.  This one is on the city hall.
Part of the Icelandic Christmas stories.
Back on the bus we went in search of the Northern Lights.  My hopes weren't very high since on the way to Fontana we'd driven through windblown snow showers.  Despite this we found some clear patches and we did see some Northern lights.  The bus moved around a few times looking for better conditions but, conditions not being ideal, all we saw were pale green smudges that could have been mistaken for wispy clouds.  I still managed to get a few pictures but the Wife and I are not removing "see the Northern Lights" from our bucket list quite yet.

The green smudge of the Aurora Borealis.

We returned to the hotel after 9:00pm and the Wife and I were exhausted.  We thanked the gods for the tour cancellation for the next day and fell into a deep sleep.

Pictures can be found in my 2018-2019 Iceland Google Photos album.

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