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Trip Report - May 21-June 4 (first installment...)

Lake Oswego, Oregon
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Trip Report - May 21-June 4 (first installment...)

This will be pretty condensed (edit: ok, it’s not condensed; I’ll have to write multiple reports, ha).

Arrived at 6 a.m. on a Monday. I couldn’t check into my room until 3 or 4, so it was a long day lumbering around the city in a semi-conscious state. Haha As long as I kept moving, I was good to go. One of my favorite things about traveling is seeing what everyday life is like for people around the world. So I tried to go up and down every street, turned random corners to see what was there, wandered residential neighborhoods, snapped photos of anything that caught my eye, etc. I was lucky, too, because Monday was like the warm sunny filling of rain and wind sandwich, so this was a super pleasant day to explore on foot.

Speaking of food: if you’re a vegetarian or vegan traveling to Iceland, don’t fret. I expected this to be way more of an issue than it was. Iceland is a very forward-looking place, they got this covered. And there is vegetarian soup *everywhere*, guys. I ate some any chance I got. Simple and wonderful. I have awesome soup-and-bread memories from Iceland. Is that weird? Well, anyway. I ate at Glo and a good Thai place while in the city; also had good food at Kaffitur.

Also for fellow AT&T customers: I got the International Day Pass for $10 a day (only on days I used it). This meant that my non-wifi phone use was just like I was at home. I used map app every day and sometimes Spotify during long drives and didn’t come close to using up my data. Some social media off wifi but not too much. Easy and it worked.

Day two, I drove to Hveragdi and hiked to the hot springs. The weather was comically bad so I felt pretty accomplished with a tinge of smug at the end. Ha! This was the day I realized the packing suggestions on here were 100% legit. It was a mess out there but my clothes were spot on. Afterwards, I stopped at a restaurant with a geothermal bread bakery and soup buffet. Really hit the spot!

Day three I drove to Snaefellsnes and again the weather surprised me – it was sunny with beautiful floofy clouds (and a little wind but not bad). I got into my cottage and headed right out. I could write a novel about my time on the peninsula, but: the first day there I hiked over to Arnarstapi and back (the lava fields and soft, sponge-y, pillowy moss – other wordly, I’ll never forget the feel of that moss!).

It was early evening by now and I hopped in my car, determined to make the most of this sunny day, fueled by west coast jet lag and the triple espresso I had before leaving Reykjavik. Wheee! Leisurely stops at Londrangar and Djupalonssandur, noting the hiking trail heads at the latter so I could return another day. Got to Kirkjufell near sunset so she was showing off with a breathtaking silhouette; the waterfall parking lot over overly full, so I decided I’d come back on a day when I looped the whole peninsula.

Backtracked to my cottage, stopping at various points to snap pics of the most amazing midnight sun.

This is already long so other highlights: the Vatnshellir cave tour, driving the full loop with stops to climb up Helgafell and a stop at the Nesbraud café for a latte and a pretty amazing maple donut (impulsive donut decision, no regrets!), spent probably an inordinate amount of time sitting and watching irresistibly cute and jaunty lambs with their mamas, a repeat stop at Kirkjufell to view from waterfall side, and a hike/run from the trail at Djupalonssandur (fun aside: from up on the cliffs, I saw a couple in the distance taking wedding photos on the beach; no one else on the beach, pretty neat!). Also another stroll along Arnarstapi with a stop at Gatklettur, etc. I could spend entire days watching waves crash along the Snaefellsnes coastline.

Oh also: one night about 10 pm I was back at my cottage, already in my pajamas and texting with my young son back home. I was googling to see what else I was missing and came across Raudafeldsgja gorge. It was mid afternoon to me, so I swapped out my jams for warm/dry and hit the road. This was probably my favorite thing about my having so many days in Iceland – the ability to be spontaneous!

Anyway, long story short but before arriving at the secret, I went to The Wrong Place. So I hiked up The Wrong Place for a while (gravel off road so not somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be…), the sunset and butt workout making it well worth it, before I embraced the reality that I was at The Wrong Place. The glacier loomed ahead and nothing resembling a gorge presented itself.

A mere .3 of a mile away, I found the gorge. :eye roll at self:

It was still snowy/icy in there so while I was dressed fine for it, I didn’t venture too far up. Especially because it was close to midnight by then and not a single soul anywhere (or so I thought…). Still it was awesome and one of the few times that felt vaguely GOT-ish. I was expecting a dragon to fly out of one of those nooks or crannies. I'd love to go back again and hike further up.

Best part? Walked back down to my car and headed home. As I turned out of the parking lot onto the ring road…..saw a single goat lounging just off the road, seeming to enjoy the beautiful mild evening and sunset as much as I did. If I were prone to anthropomorphism, I would imagine he was keeping a look out for me (perhaps a tad concerned by my false start at The Wrong Place). 😉 Gave him his space but got a pretty great photo of him with the spectacular mountains in the background.

Well this is really long – I’ll post this for now and write separate reports for the rest of my trip.

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Cologne, Germany
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1. Re: Trip Report - May 21-June 4 (first installment...)

Great report! Thank you :-) I really enjoyed reading it and am looking forward to the next installment.

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2. Re: Trip Report - May 21-June 4 (first installment...)

Thanks for sharing!! Really enjoy the detail and don't ever worry about it being too long! Useful info. Look forward to rest of installments!

Arlington Heights...
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3. Re: Trip Report - May 21-June 4 (first installment...)

Awesome report--looking forward to our trip to Snaefellsnes area! Thanks!

New York City, New...
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4. Re: Trip Report - May 21-June 4 (first installment...)

Thanks for the report. Just a question. Isn't it not allowed to walk over the moss??

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5. Re: Trip Report - May 21-June 4 (first installment...)

Oh, this is a terrific trip report! Thank you for sharing. I look very forward to reading the rest of your adventures.

Gardabaer, Iceland
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6. Re: Trip Report - May 21-June 4 (first installment...)

Nice report.

I'm a bit surprised you saw a goat as they are not common at all, about 99,9 % sheep vs 0.01% goats in Iceland. Goats also tend to stay near the farmhouses and are nowhere in this "free range" business.

Are the landowners at Helgafell still charging people for the visit ?

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@bigwawao:

"Isn't it not allowed to walk over the moss??"

- It should be banned because footprints don't disappear and the moss breaks up leaving open wounds in it causing erosion. But to feel the texture by hand while not standing in it might suffice most people. Causing damage to nature in general is prohibited by law in Iceland.

Edited: 13 June 2018, 05:34
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Iceland
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Lake Oswego, Oregon
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7. Re: Trip Report - May 21-June 4 (first installment...)

Rikki you may be right - in fact when I got home I started googling and zooming in on my photo to see if I could tell which it was, or if there were even goats on Snaefellsnes. As I said, I didn't encroach on his space so I wasn't terribly close to him.

I ended up reading a really good article about how the Icelandic goat is endangered, and learned about the goat center in Haafell (wish I'd discovered this in my research - I would for sure have reached out to them to see about arranging a visit).

Obviously I could be wrong, but for whatever reasons I ended up concluding I had seen a lone goat.

This was the article I read, found it in my phone search history:

https:/…

My history is cracking me up. "how to tell the difference between icelandic sheep and goat."

Bigwawao: I did not step foot on the moss and don't recall ever being in a position to do so? There are ample opportunities to touch it gently without stomping on it, many of the walking/hiking trails recommended go right by long stretches of the lava rocks with moss. I can't recall the name of it, but I also drove to the yellow/white sand beach on the peninsula; the road in is windy and has all these little rolling hills buffered by the lava/ yellow green moss landscape. It was like being on another planet!

Rikki is right but also I can't imagine feeling it and then wanting to step foot on it. It's special stuff.

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8. Re: Trip Report - May 21-June 4 (first installment...)

Oh and yes I paid a small fee to climb up the hill at Helgafell!

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9. Re: Trip Report - May 21-June 4 (first installment...)

There's a restaurant in Washington DC called "Tail Up Goat". Not sure why, but it's based on a phrase that helps you differentiate between a goat and a sheep. If the tail goes up, it's a goat. If it hangs down, it's a sheep.

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10. Re: Trip Report - May 21-June 4 (first installment...)

I think the confusion was that you said “hiked” and then a few words later “the feel of that moss.” I know I also wondered if you meant that it was soft underfoot. Thanks for making it clear!

Wonderful, evocative trip report. Love you use of words....

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