Iceland is an almost otherworldly landscape - a volcanic island in the far north Atlantic with quaint coastal fishing villages, mountains, geysers, geothermal hot springs, waterfalls, glaciers, and black sand beaches. We have been drawn back to this magical landscape three times, most recently during the last week in April. Each visit seems to expand the list of places we want to see. In past trips we had stayed in Reykjavik, but this trip the itinerary was planned to shorten driving distances, see new places, and to allow time to explore anything that caught our eye.
The main international airport in Iceland is Keflavik, about 30 miles from the capital city of Reykjavik. We stayed in a hotel near the airport for the first couple of days and explored the peninsula that the airport is on. The coastline has lighthouses, fishing villages with tiny harbors, boiling hot springs, and is the place that the North American and Euro-Asian tectonic plates meet up. You can walk from North America to Europe and back (most of Iceland is on the North American tectonic plate.)
On my bucket list was to ride the ferry to Vestmannaeyjabaer on the Island of Heimae. Back in 1973 much of the city was destroyed by a volcanic eruption. The island is dominated by two volcanos, with a sheltered harbor and Nordic fishing village. The island is small, you can drive every road on the island in a couple of hours. The far south end of the island sits atop cliffs that puffins nest in, and are buffeted by fierce winds off the north Atlantic. (Puffins are small and very fast, I saw one, I wasn’t fast enough with the camera.)
The next day we drove to Geysir and checked into the amazing Hotel Geysir. The word geyser comes from old Norse, one of the first documented geysers in the world is across the street from the hotel. Six miles north of Geysir is the spectacular Gullfoss waterfalls. We had been to Geysir and Gullfoss before, but we wanted more time to explore.
The next day, our plans changed like the weather (a Jimmy Buffett reference.) We awoke to a landscape covered in white, a few inches of snow had fallen overnight, but the roads seemed clear, and we headed off the Vik, about 100 miles away along the Atlantic coast. To put it mildly, I drove into a blizzard. We checked the Drive Safe Iceland app on my phone and while roads had not yet officially been closed, driving conditions were hazardous in the direction we were going and clear and dry in the opposite direction. At the first opportunity we turned around and headed back to Keflavik and rethought our plan. The next day we visited the Viking World Museum and spent the afternoon floating in the Blue Lagoon. The following day, we had lunch in a diner so local the menu was only in Icelandic, and then it was time to fly home. Time truly flies when you are having fun.