Iceland - our first stop
My latest journey is to Iceland for two days, then off to Rotterdam, Holland to pick up our Holland American cruise ship for a trip through the Baltic Sea.
It is all new to me except for St. Petersburg in Russia, a city I rate as the most colorful, historic and culturally rich I’ve ever experienced, so I am looking forward to my second visit there.
We flew to Iceland business class on Iceland Air with our friends Claire and Mel Shulman. The lounge where we waited before boarding the plane got us off to a great start. The room’s beautiful design of wood, glass and rich vibrant red and blue upholstered chairs was very soothing after a tense morning of last-minute packing, saying goodbyes and tying up loose ends at the office.
The lounge offered a full bar, sandwiches, juices, coffee and snacks, so we actually had lunch there before boarding the plane at 2 p.m.
I was amazed at the quality of the food on the plane too. For dinner, Stu and I had a veal roast in a delicious mushroom sauce, diced saut/ed potatoes and a little bundle of carrots.
Luckily, I ate it all because when we arrived in Iceland at 7:30 p.m. New York time, it was close to midnight there. All the restaurants were closed. So we went to bed eating the snacks from the JFK airport lounge.
Our hotel Keflavic near the airport was very modest. In fact, our room wasn’t large enough to hold our luggage. It was rated a four-star hotel, but it seemed more like a one star. The rating system is quite different in Iceland. By asking, we got a junior suite that was more spacious. They didn’t charge extra, so it always pays to ask!
We had flown over Greenland, really an ice-covered country, which we saw clearly from the plane through cloudless skies to a really green land - Iceland.
The terrain is flat with lavender plants called Alaska Lupine bordering the roadsides. Some A-line style homes dot the landscape.
We began our adventure in Reykjavik, the capital at the mouth of the harbor on the west coast of the island country. Although Iceland is now a republic and an independent country, its history dates back to the Vikings Eric the Red and Leif Ericson, invaders from Norway. Denmark took over the country in 1662 and ruled it as a colony until 1944 when they gained independence.
One-third of the 350,000 residents of Iceland live in Reykjavik. Iceland is the least populated country in Europe according to our tour bus guide. The 60,000 square miles (Queens is 117 square miles) is mostly uninhabited.
Along the tour, we had lunch near the famous geysers. They shoot up from a bubbly pool every 10 minutes.
Since we were only in Iceland for one day, we took an eight-hour bus tour to see some of the country’s natural wonders. We stopped at the Gulfoss Waterfall, the Hot Springs area, Thingvellir National Park and the Kerio Volcanic Crater. The great Atlantic rift in Thingvellir Park, a UNESCO Heritage site, is clearly visible. It is slowly pulling Iceland apart along Tectonic Plates.
Stu always had a passion to spend the longest day of the year in the land of the midnight sun, and we were in Iceland on June 21, which is the summer solstice.