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London – Day 6

Horseguards

We’re feeling the effects of our extensive hiking about London. This morning we walked to Buckingham Palace and then on to the Royal Horseguards to watch the changing of the Horseguard.

Horseguards

I think this one horse knew I has dined on his cousin in Iceland

Horseguards

Horseguards

We did have some more sunshine so we walked about in the early part of the day taking in the sites.

Big Ben - 12 Noon

Westminster Cathedral

Being tired and it being Christmas Eve we went back to the hotel. And though it was not our intention, we ended up taking a nice nap before heading out to The Grazing Goat where we had dinner reservations. From there we made our way back to the hotel and are wrapping it up for the day.

London – Day 4

Christmas Carols In Victoria Station

Christmas is in the air in London, that’s for sure. Carolers in various places as we move about the city. It’s quite festive and fun.

Today we made our way to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. It’s cheesy, as you might expect, but you can’t go to London and NOT visit 221B Baker Street.

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Even William The Sheepie got in on the fun.

Sherlock Holmes Museum

We walked around the neighborhood and found our way to The Windsor Castle Pub which is the meeting place of the London Handlebar Club.

Handlebar Club - The Windsor Castle Pub

From there we found our way to the Victoria Albert Museum to make up for missing it yesterday.

It is a fantastic place but as usual, not my cup of tea for photography. But I did enjoy seeing it. And I made my best effort to get an interesting photo of the ‘Rotunda Chandelier’ sculpture using my circular fisheye.

Rotunda Chandelier in Victoria and Albert Museum

After running around town during the day we made our way back to the neighborhood near our hotel for a late lunch/early dinner. From there it was back to the hotel to freshen up and then we made our way back to the Tower Bridge and had a nice photo walk down the Thames to the Millennium Bridge.

Tower Bridge

The Shard

Millennium Bridge

A great, but tiring day.

London – Day 3

A BEAR!

Today was the end of our glorious sunshine. Clouds have rolled in, but fortunately no rain to speak of. We took The Tube to South Kensington to visit the Natural History Museum with the intention of also visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Natural History Museum, London

The Natural History Museum is a fantastic building with an amazing collection of animal specimens ranging from insects to dinosaurs. I think the dinosaur exhibit is the most popular, especially with the kids.

Natural History Museum, London

Natural History Museum, London

I was struck by the beauty of the building itself. No tripods allowed, but I found a railing where I could perch my camera and shoot some longer exposure shots which yielded some good results.

Natural History Museum, London

When we left the Natural History Museum it was out intention to go to the Victoria Albert Museum, but we noticed that the Science Museum was right next door so we popped in there for a visit. I was curious to see the newly opened information age exhibit.

There were some very cool displays featuring technology that I was happy to see.

1959 Pegasus Computer

IBM System 360

I will say it is odd going to a museum and seeing technology like the Tandy TRS-80 that I used when it was new as a museum exhibit behind protective glass.

After we were done with the Science Museum we determined that we were a little too beat to try and tackle the Victoria Albert Museum so we headed back to the hotel to rest after having a late lunch. After we rested up a bit we caught The Tube out to Westminster to get some long exposure night shots.

Big Ben and Parliament

London Eye Up close

We walked around and took in the sites and then made our way back to the hotel for some snacks and now for some sleep.

Iceland – Day 15

Blue Lagoon

Today we took the rental car for our last drive in Iceland. We drove out to the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa to swim in the warm, mineral rich waters. The spa is located in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland. The water temperature in the bathing and swimming area of the lagoon averages 98–102 °F.

Blue Lagoon

And let me tell you, it sure feels good!

Look Ma, No Torso

The Blue Lagoon pretty much just another overpriced tourist trap and a lot of people will say that you should not waste your time or money with it, but I wouldn’t listen to them. Cynthia and I had a very good time soaking in the lagoon and would not have missed it for the world. It’s a very good way to unwind after our epic journey around Iceland.

Cynthia and Me @ Blue Lagoon

After leaving the lagoon we drove out to see Perlan (The Pearl), an interesting building on the outskirts of Reykjavik.

Perlan 1

I was glad to see it. There’s a restaurant at the top which is expensive and supposed to be very good, but we decided not to eat there.

Perlan 2

After this we headed back to town to return the rental car. We tallied up the mileage and the grand total was just under 2,000 miles driven during our epic journey. Cynthia commented that many of those miles should count double due to the road conditions in some parts of the country. I would have to agree.

procar

It was kind of sad walking away from Thor (Cynthia named the car “Thor”). That car served us well and was our home away from home as we traversed those those winding, up and down and sometimes wretchedly bumpy roads of Iceland.

We’re winding down now. We have one more day in Reykjavik before we fly home. It’s bittersweet. We have had a great time, but we are tired and ready to come home.

It’s also worth noting that Reykjavik is a bit of a disappointment after all that we have seen and done in Iceland. We hope to wring a little more joy out of the trip tomorrow, but it might just be a day of rest and getting our luggage sorted and ready for the flight home.

Iceland – Day 12

drivingday11

The Scenic South Shore

Hunkubakkar to Hróarslækur – 128 miles

It was bound to happen. Our weather luck ran out. Rain, rain and more rain. Our first scheduled stop was Reynishverfi. An area on the beach with cliffs full of nesting birds. When we got there, there was a howling wind that that was doing its level best to knock us down. We made our way to the beach and the wind was blowing so hard that the rain was stinging my face.

Reynishverfi

Even with the foul weather, it was an interesting place. And there were thousands of birds, including puffins. Sadly, the rain was so bad we could not easily take photos.

We moved on to Dyrhólaey, a few miles on down the road and things started to clear a bit and we saw a rainbow over a church.

Random Rainbow

We thought that might be a good sign. But when we got to Dyrhólaey it was raining again and the wind was still blowing hard. We spotted some puffins that were pretty close to the car park, but the wind nearly blew the camera out of my hands. I managed to get a few photos before calling it quits.

Puffins @ Dyrhólaey

Puffins @ Dyrhólaey

We moved on to see the Skógafoss waterfall. The rain quit for awhile and we had the opportunity to take some photos before having some lunch. I should point out that even though the rain stopped, the spray from this waterfall kept us and our cameras quite wet.

Skógafoss Waterfall

Skogafoss

From Skógafoss we moved on to see the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. This one has the added coolness of being able to walk behind the falls for a view from the other side. The rain was falling intermittently, but again…this waterfall was spraying mist everywhere so we were still getting quite wet.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

After taking our photos we pressed on. The weather remained iffy and we contemplated our options. As we were trying to decide what to do we found ourselves caught up in a most unusual traffic jam.

htj2

htj3

About three dozen horses being herded down Highway 1, Iceland’s main road! Of course we needed photos so when we could get ahead of the horses we pulled over and took some.

htj1

Horse Herding On Highway 1

Horse Herding On Highway 1

Horse Herding On Highway 1

Horse Herding On Highway 1

At this point it was getting late so we made our way to the hotel and checked in. Tonight we rest in anticipation of tomorrow’s tour of Landmannalaugar.

Iceland – Day 11 – Part 2

Glacier On Mountain

It was like night and day. One minute we’re under gloomy skies and rain, the next minute we’re under blue skies and blazing sun. The Icelanders will tell you “that’s Iceland!” with a big smile.

It was amazing to see the glacier topped mountains sparkling in the sun.

Vatnajökull National Park

Vatnajökull National Park

As we drove along we noticed a small village called Hof. We decided to explore and we were sure glad we did! We found this cute little church there

Church at Hof

Icelandic Church Interior

The next major stop we were looking to make was the Svartifoss (Black Fall) at the Vatnajökull National Park in Skaftafell.

We found the park and got out of the car and ditched our winter coats as it had gotten quite warm.

The sign at the visitor center said the hiking trail to the waterfall was just over a mile long and went about 500 feet up the side of the mountain. We were optimistic and eager for the challenge!

Cynthia and Me hiking up to Svartifoss Waterfall

It was a rather strenuous hike. We had to take lots of breaks, but we eventually made it. And I would say it was worth it.

Svartifoss (Black Fall) - Skaftafell - Vatnajökull National Park in Iceland

After we climbed back down the mountain I was about as sore and as tired as I have been in a long while. We found our way to the hotel, check in and had dinner. Lucky for me there was no Internet so rather than process images and update this blog I got to collapse in a heap on the oh so comfortable bed and sleep and sleep.

The journey continues tomorrow.

The Road Goes On And On

Iceland – Day 11 – Part 1

drivingday10

The Glacier Lagoon & Skaftafell National Park

Hofn to Hunkubakkar – Drive 125 miles

As I suspected, the morning proved to be quite gloomy and overcast. Our decision to visit the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon the previous evening proved to be a prudent one. It was raining and foggy when we left our hotel and proceeded west. As we came down the mountain the fog began to clear and by the time we reached Jökulsárlón again it was still a bit rainy and very overcast.

We decided to pull in and have a look anyway. It was still cool to look at. We went inside the gift shop and got a coffee. As we waited the rain stopped and I decided I was going to take the zodiac tour on the lagoon that I had booked before we left. Cynthia decided to stay in the car and read a book.

When you go out on the zodiac they provide you with a thermal suit and a life jacket.

Zodiac Tour Of Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon,

They can fit 10 tourists on a boat and they run two boats at a time. The gathered us up and put us in a bus and drove us to where we would board our boats.

Zodiac Tour Of Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon,

It was a good thing Cynthia opted out. She would have hated this.

Zodiac Tour Of Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon,

Zodiac Tour Of Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon,

Zodiac Tour Of Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon,

The boat takes you right up to the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier which is where all the icebergs that fill the lagoon come from.

Zodiac Tour Of Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon,

We stayed out on the lagoon for about an hour and it was really something to see. The tour guide/boat driver was friendly and knowledgable about the site and seemed to enjoy telling us all about the lagoon.

Since the sky was overcast there was much more blue coloring to the ice than there would have been if the sun was out. Still, I can only imagine what this place might look like in the bright light of day.

Zodiac Tour Of Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon,

Zodiac Tour Of Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon,

Zodiac Tour Of Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon,

When I got back to shore I found Cynthia and we moved on. There was on place I wanted to check out as I had heard about it from researching this trip. The Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon which was a few miles west of Jökulsárlón. I had read that if Jökulsárlón was too crowded or the boats fully booked you could get a tour on Fjallsárlón pretty easily. When we found it, there was hardly anyone there and sure enough, if we had wanted to go on another zodiac tour we probably could have without much of a wait.

It’s not quite as pretty as Jökulsárlón, but it’s still amazing.

Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon

We took some photos and then moved on. As we drove west the sun began to come out. Things we looking up for the second half of our journey. I will write about that in the next post.

Iceland – Day 10

drivingday9

Egilsstaðir to a guest house a few miles north of Hofn – 166 miles

Today we would be driving through the scenic East Fjords of Iceland.

The Road

This morning it looked like our weather luck might have run out. It rained all last night and was raining when we hit the road. Once we made our way a little to the east things started clearing up and we were left with dramatic skies full of interesting clouds.

Moody

We took every opportunity to stop. Sometimes to meet animals

Cynthia Makes A Friend

Sometimes just to take photos of interesting road signs.

Reindeer Crossing

I had thought we were done with tunnels in Iceland, but it turns out we had two more in store for us. The first was Fáskrúðsfjarðargöng which was 3 1/2 miles long and the second was Almannaskarðsgöng which is a little less than a mile long.

Cynthia has gotten pretty used to them by now. She still hates them, but she keeps her good humor.

We made good time toward our final destination and stopped in Djúpivogur for some lunch before driving the final hour to our hotel.

Tomorrow we’re scheduled to drive on to the west along the south coast, a route that will take us past the glacial lagoon at Jökulsárlón. Since the weather was so good today and it wasn’t all that far to get to Jökulsárlón I decided to go out there this evening. Just in case the weather tomorrow isn’t so good. I would hate to miss it.

Jökulsárlón

The place is fantastic. The glacier has partially melted and retreated and this has created a glacial lagoon. When ice from the glacier breaks off it forms icebergs in the lagoon.

Jökulsárlón

These icebergs then make their way out to sea.

Jökulsárlón

Many pieces of the icebergs wash up on the shores of the black sand beach and are ghostly to behold.

Jökulsárlón

Jökulsárlón

Jökulsárlón

We hung out for a few hours taking photos and then made our way back to the hotel.

Tomorrow we push further west and suspect we’ll drop in on the glacier lagoon for another visit.