We finally arrived at Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, a day late and a few dollars short. It was around 5:30am local time, and we couldn’t wait to get to our room so we could dump our luggage and join the day-long excursion.
Of course, things didn’t quite work out that nicely. The Viking representative who was supposed to meet us at the airport for a ride to our hotel was a no-show. After much hand-wringing and trying to find a contact number for them, we finally gave up and paid a van service to take us to the hotel. Unfortunately, believe it or not – wrong hotel! Somehow, someone at Viking had booked the entire group at a different hotel and communications got tweaked between them so that folks were not notified.
Fortunately, the receptionist at the “wrong” hotel was well aware of the problem, and she was nice enough to call the “right” hotel just down the street and tell them we were on our way. Off we went, dragging our luggage down the middle of the street to the Radisson Blu. It was great to get some exercise after those long flights 😦
By the time we got to the “right” hotel and dropped our luggage in the room, we had missed the excursion. We were quite (actually very) unhappy about that and asked the receptionist if she could contact the Viking tour director and let them know we had just arrived. The very helpful woman was able to do it, and to our surprise and Viking’s credit they hired a cab to drive us from the hotel to catch up with the group on their second stop – an 80-mile one-way trip. Glad we didn’t have to pay that taxi bill!
Viking has made a couple of errors in setting up this trip for us, which is highly unusual. We’ve always had zero errors and great service, and we hope they aren’t heading in the wrong direction. It seems to be the refrain these days – lack of workers and the travel services trying to catch up with a big surge of travelers. The new normal?
On the plus side, the cab driver was awesome. He spoke excellent english and gave us a wonderful tour during the 130 kph (that’s about 80mph for y’all) trip to the pickup spot. He even stopped at a grocery store to help us buy local goodies at a bakery and some excellent smoked trout that he recommended. What a super guy he was, one of the many friendly and helpful people we met while in Iceland.
We met up with our tour group at the Lava Centre, and the rest of the day was uneventful as the beautiful and seemingly endless open landscape began to relax us.
The Lava Centre is an indoor space that serves well on rainy days like the one that welcomed us. It’s dedicated to the unique volcanoes and geology which make volcanic activity a fact of life here. There was a film about volcanic the activity that has occurred since 1900, but no narration – although the footage made you feel as if you were there.
One result of the volcanic activity here is several black sand beaches. The black sediment on Reynisfjara beach has been formed by boiling hot lava from the currently dormant volcano flowing across the beach, then cooling and solidifying when it hits the cold water.
If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones (I think I will start watching when we get home), then a visit to Iceland should be on your list. Starting at season 2 and moving forward, Iceland was the main shooting location for scenes that took place north of the Wall. Featured in the opening scene of season 8, episode 1 is Skogafoss Waterfall, one of the many impressive waterfalls in Iceland.
These were the two waterfalls that we stopped to visit on this excursion. Iceland is a country full of impressive waterfalls, thousands of them according to our guide. They are a result of the mountainous landscape, huge glaciers, and lots of rain and snow. Lucky for us, the next day’s tour promised a stop at the most impressive one of them all!
Once back at the hotel (we didn’t like the Radisson Blu at all), we unpacked and then went out for an excellent seafood dinner before going back to shower and collapse for a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow we have to pack again for the move to our next hotel.
We missed some of the things we wanted to see in Reykjavik due to our late arrival, but we promise the next few posts will show that things are much better now and we’re having a blast at the next few stops!