Saturday, January 31, 2009

The South Sea Tour

I was much better prepared today for the cold having yesterday's experience. Today was much more comfortable and warmer. Sylvia's son, Hilmar, had a pair of heavy rubber rain boots that fit me alright that I was able to borrow. LIFE SAVER!

Today, we went on the South Sea Tour. It was awesome! Once again, I took a whole bunch of pictures. Don't worry... I won't post all of them... just most of them. :) I also have a tour brochure next to me so that I can tell you what all the names of the important stuff are. Gummi has a cold and wasn't able to be our guide. Instead, we had Sóla. She was really nice and very good.

Our first stop was a short stop to look at a glacier. Of course, all you can see is the snow covering it... This is the only stop that I don't know the sites name. Mostly because it was a spontaneous, let's look at this, stop. The farm that you can see in the picture is actually the largest dairy farm in Iceland.

"What is that thing in my eyes? The sun? Is that what it looks like? I'd almost forgotten!" LOL

The next stop was of a waterfall. It is called Skógafoss. I apparently took a picture of the mountain next to it before the waterfall since all these are in order.

Here is the actual waterfall.

Here is Xan standing on some frozen ice. I never get the guts to do it. :(

These next two shots were taken in the city, Vík. We stopped there for some lunch since it is one of the few places out anywhere.

We went to the Black Sand Beaches next. Obviously, they are named after the black sand uniquely found there. It was really weird to have snow right off the beach.

I particularly like this shot because it has the ocean, the black sand, and the snow. :)

All the sand and rocks were black. It was kind of eery...

I was the only one who got to play in the water. Aren't rubber boots fantastic?

These boots rock!

We also got to go onto a glacier, Sólheimajökull. The ride there was better than Indiana Jones at Disneyland. Yeah, that awesome! It was snowy, bumpy, icy, and some pretty steep hills that our bus had to prevail through. My favorite part of the ride was when we got stuck in the middle of a particularly tricky hill. We finally made it up to the top and there was a sudden 40 meter drop of a cliff right in front of us. All 16 passengers, minus Xan, screamed in terror. Don't worry. Our guide knows these roads inside and out and knew it was coming. We were expertly steered along the edge until the road moved to a safer distance away. Good times! Here is my attempted shot of the edge from inside the car. The bottom edge of the river (as it appears), is actually the edge of the cliff.

Here is the glacier... covered in snow.

I touched the glacier. :)

This is another waterfall we stopped at. It is called Seljlandsfoss.

There is a trail that goes behind the waterfall. Xan has a picture of him from two years ago when it was summer and there was no ice... but he was determined to make it behind the waterfall again, ice and all. I was standing by watching anxiously trying not to envision his eminent death. LOL

If you look really closely, you should be able to see a faint picture of the moon in the sky. Unfortunately, all the mist from the waterfall made my camera lens a little too misty to get a clear shot. But, it was really pretty.

This was a shot of the nice sunrise on the way back home. I am not used to seeing this much sun! Normally it is too cloudy to see it even when it is up. :)

Man... fantastic tours, but I am wasted right now. I'm really glad we got to do these tours, though. Now, I know what to recommend to all of our visitors in the spring. :)

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Golden Circle Tour

Today was a very long day but was well worth it. It started at 7:00am. Gummi, one of the members of the branch here, has been working in the tourist industry for decades. He had two extra seats in his van for today and tomorrow and Xan and I were happy to go along. I took A LOT of pictures. And I'll take more tomorrow!

Today we did the Golden Circle Tour which takes you to 3 big sites along the same road: the parliament place, the waterfall, and the geyser. Xan will most likely correct me with the places proper names shortly. :)

The first stop was to Iceland's largest lake.

I think this photo is a good illustration of what most people would think Iceland is like.

Then we went to the place where the first parliament was set up back in 930 AD. All of these buildings were built since the 20th century, though. The old stuff is gone.

The Law speaker would stand with his back to the village and shout into this cliff. It would echo back so that everyone could hear him.

Then we went to Gulfoss.

It is a giant series of waterfalls.

This is Gummi.

When the sun is up high enough then the whole place is filled with rainbows due to all the mist rising from the waterfall. :) We only got one today...

And now, of course, we have the geyser. I was freezing cold at this point so I only got two photos. My dad will most likely be able to take a ton better shots when he comes with his sweet camera so... if you want better shots, you'll have to talk with him after he visits us.

On our way back, we stopped by a giant explosive volcano. Completely dormant... but its left a nice crater behind. Gummi told us that there have been concerts held in it while the performers preform on rafts and the audience watches from the sides. LOL.

And now, a section dedicated to my dad, the chemical engineer who works on power plants. We took a tour of one of the new hydrogen power plants. Don't worry. I'm loaded with all sorts of brochures to give you when I get back. And yes, we'll take you here when you come. They let you see all sorts of stuff. This was a computer interactive screen that let you see the process in treating all the water here. Basically, in a nut shell, the use the water to produce electricity and water for the entire city safely and naturally.

And my last photos are from the parking lot.

The tour ended around 6 pm. Was the day over? NOPE!

Tonight, we had a fireside. The Danish mission president and his wife are here on their monthly visit to Iceland. He acts as the 'Stake President' for the branch. Our speaker was Elder Kraussé, I'm pretty sure I spelled that wrong. He is a member of the 70 and is currently serving in Germany and is French. Very funny guy with a big smile. We finally got home around 11:00 pm after all the chattering afterwards.

And now it is almost midnight and I need to sleep so I can do it all over again, only new places to visit and thankfully no evening agenda. :)