We ended our tour at the Golden Circle which included the Geysir geothermal area and Gulfoss (The Golden Waterfall). During the last two days, we noticed that the bus had a burning rubber smell when it was idling. Nothing was mentioned to us about it but people were concerned. The bus driver did not speak any English so it was difficult to communicate with him when you needed something. We were told later that the driver and guide were worried that there might be problems and they hoped to make it to the hotel without an incident. By the end of the trip to the geysir and waterfall, we just had a short ways to go to get to Reykjavik. I did not get off the bus to take photos of the geysir as it was raining and very cold and it was a long walk to meet the bus. Shawn went and he said later that he didn’t get too many photos. In the meantime, some of us were anxious to find a restroom. The bus went to a restaurant/store , gas station area. There was a restroom inside the building but tourists were lined up. So I went to the building outside but we had to wait our turn in the cold. I remember the guide saying that one of the major problems was not enough restrooms were built for tourists and we did have problems finding available places along the tour route. Finally, everyone finished the tour and got back on the bus.
We were all looking forward to our upscale Hotel Reykjavik Centrum. We were within two blocks of the hotel at a stop light when the bus refused to move. We were blocking traffic but there was nothing the driver could do. We jumped out when the guide left and followed him walking the two blocks to the hotel. When we arrived, we saw that the guide was arguing with the reception clerk. Evidently, someone with the same name as one of our tour group had checked in earlier and consequently, our person did not have a room. Finally after much back and forth, they upgraded the lady from our group to a suite. We all got our keys then had to walk back to the bus and get our luggage. It was a chaotic mess but we got our luggage and returned to the hotel. We all were at least thankful that the bus had not broken down in the middle of nowhere. We had a very nice location on the second floor and the room itself was lovely. It was close to dinner time so we just rested then got ready to go to eat in the hotel. It was late by the time we finished so we called it a night and went to our room. There was to be a photo shop class on the Saturday morning given by an expert but Shawn and I declined to take the class. I think they only had about 8 people going to the class.
Shawn and I got up and went to breakfast. It was the same Icelandic breakfast so no surprises there. We left and decided to check out the local flea market. Most of the stores were closed on Saturdays and Sundays. I am glad Shawn and I came a few days earlier and had at least one shopping day in Reykjavik. The flea market was a big disappointment. Not a lot of variety – mostly clothes, books, toys. We wandered around and decided to walk over to the Harpa Concert Centre. We had been there before and had found some things we wanted to buy. We hoped the shops would be open on Sunday. It was a beautiful day – sunny and warm so we enjoyed walking around and exploring the side streets and the few shops that were open. The building was opened so we were happy to look around again.
We returned to the hotel for lunch. It was a set meal and again I, unfortunately, got the vegetarian potato deep fried patty with corn. It was served with French fries. Everyone else had lamb for their meal. Most of the restaurants haven’t a clue about vegetarian dishes. I never saw soy products or any alternative dairy products at all. There weren’t any choices given so I think these patties must have been frozen for the occasional vegetarian tourist.
The guide told us that our farewell dinner would be at a local restaurant. We were suppose to meet everyone in the reception area and walk over to the restaurant. The weather held out and it was a lovely evening. We went upstairs in the restaurant and found all the tables set up for our group. For the first time, the server gave me some choices for my dinner. I chose fish. I think I had fish at least once or twice every day during the two weeks. Even I got tired of fish. They very rarely served shrimp and never any other kind of shell fish. The rest of the group had lamb for their meal. The people at my table were upset because they had had lamb for lunch. Again the lack of organization was apparent. The best part was that the wine was paid for by the tour company. The worst part was that we had to wait and wait and wait between courses. There was only one server for 22 people. The food was all right but the service was miserable. I think everyone was happy when it was time to leave. Some of us had to be up very early to get to the airport the next morning. I think most people were ready to return to the states. The travel pace of staying almost every night in a different hotel and up every day by 7am was hectic to say the least. I did hear that our trip organized by Road Scholar would be the last one offered. They will continue to offer tours but not traveling around the whole country in two weeks. I am happy that we did get that opportunity, though.
A few thoughts about our trip: Iceland is a beautiful country with amazing photographic opportunities. Mother nature has painted a magnificent tapestry of colors with geographic phenomena probably unmatched elsewhere in the world. We experienced the vast volcanic landscapes, breathtaking glaciers and stunning waterfalls. We were regaled with legends and sagas celebrated by the Icelandic people and treated to some amazing local cuisine. We also enjoyed the length of daylight hours where darkness never interfered with evening activities.
The best part was the opportunity to travel around the Ring Road and to see first hand the wonderland of geological extremes. The poor organization, lack of professional expertise, and an over crowded tour bus were irritations along the way but thankfully did not detract from the fantastic photographic experience that is Iceland.
Thanks for reading my Icelandic blog. Hope you enjoyed the adventure!