03 June 2015

Iceland on our minds

We left Iceland a few days ago, but it's still in our minds.  We absolutely loved it there.  We woke up super early Friday morning (4:00am) walked to Hotel Cabin, thankfully in a bright windless morning.  The sun was up full blast and the neighborhood was silent.  Just breathtaking! 

4:45 am video 

5am video while waiting for airport shuttle

At the airport the boys husteled me into buying them Legos and other fun things for the plane.  

I was super excited to film a child safety video on some of the things the kids and I do to keep them safe. 

On the flight from Iceland to New York. We were knocked out asleep for the whole flight.  

Since we've been back though we can't stop talking about Iceland and how fun it was.  All of our friends and family start off all the comment with "OMG you guys looked so happy"

Here are some pic and videos for our time there that didn't make the previous posts 

Video of the Rift Valley where the tectonic plates meet under Iceland

28 May 2015

Traveling with kids money saving tip: cook while traveling

Today's money saving tip is to cook while traveling.  This is a great way to save money but NOT buying prepared food for multiple people all the time. 

Dude was my camera man! 

Pingvellir National Park and Öxarárfloss waterfall

Next up after the waterfall was Pingvellir National Park.  This park actually straddles the euroasia and America tectonic plates you can see the rift between the he two and according to the guide it drifts apart 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) each year, and has literally ripped Iveland in half!  The movement of these two palates in the root of most of their earth quakes and volcanic eruptions.  It's basically the birth source of Iceland.

By the time we arrived to the next stop the in the park my boys were knocked out... Rolling heads and drool knocked out.  Zane barely woke up when I tried to get him to the next hike.  During an a poroacg I could see a waterfall in the distance and wanted to see it up close the boys begged me to stay in the bus with the friendly tour guide and a few of the senior citizens we'd made friend with.  After much thought, rules, and reassurance I let them sleep under many grandma and grandpa's watchful eyes.  I took off to the waterfall full speed to make sure I got back to the kids without too much stress in either of our parts.  
I used these legs full stride and took that hike like an Olympian.  When I arrived at the fall tucked in a cliff lined gully I was not disappointed. 

Although much smaller it was a special treat only for those willing to take the path through the gully. 


It wasn't until I started this post that I learned the name of this hidden waterfall, Öxarárfloss.  Legend has it that the falls were created when Öxará river was diverted around 930 AD to provide drinking water during the assemblies.  During mideval times, executions were also carried out there. 

After getting my pix, I hauled butt back to my boys.  Therms were safe and sound in grandmas' and grandpas' care.  I took them to the visitor centre' bathroom as others started boarding the bus and within minutes we were all on our way back to Reykjavik.  We got dropped off at our pick up point.  Bid farewell too all our new senior friends from California and Germany.  

Now we are back in our apartment chill axing and I'm cooking Icelandic ramen noodles for dinner listening to Icelandic radio (mostly American music).  This was a great day!  We are all happy. 

Gulfloss waterfall

At the Geysir stop we ran in quickly to eat a buffet style lunch and use the bathroom.  Whether your traveling with children or not, NEVER pass up a chance to use the bathroom, and if your in Iceland to also get tissue for your runny nose and eyes! Yea, the wind makes your eyes water here!we then got back on the bus for another 10 minute drive to Gullfloss waterfall.  

Glacier covered mountain over Gullfloss

I decided to stop by the shop to buy stamps forms postcards and mail them off before going to the waterfall.  The whole bus and other bus loads of people were rushing there and I wanted to go after them so we could take our time and not have to fight for views and pictures. 

My plan worked well first we took pic of the waterfall sign then headed down the loooong stair case to see this magnificent sight. 

I didn't really understand from the picture that the waterfall was 2 tiered. So when I actually saw it I was captivated. 

Look at the valley the the second tier falls into. That's a glacier to the left. 

Another glacier on the right on the cliff.

Pictures of us at the top tier. 

Shot out to my Zane my professional photographer 
But let me end this with a selfie 

Video of Gullfloss waterfall.  You can see in the first clip that I could only see the top tier.

There was a long dirt path to bring you right to the cliffs overlooking the falls. 

Strokkur Geyser and much more

After the horse farm we drove another 20 minutes to slopes of Bjarnarfell mountains.  The original geyser in this area was named "Geysir" having all others this Icelandic name worldwide.  Although the original is no longer active just meters away you'll find Strokkur which faithfully erupts every 7-10 minutes.  Before we could even make it to Stokkur we saw a few more interesting hot water pools.  Stream was coming out of the ground from so many random
Spots but they were rooed off to protect the over-zealous tourist.  First we saw streams of flowing water, marked off with signs warning you not to touch.  Then we passed Litli Geysir.  This little bubbling pool of boiling hot water was adorable.  The wind was cutting through us though.  At that point Zane cleverly asked me "why did they name this country Icekand when it clearly should be named WINDLAND?!" I laughed so hard because he was RIGHT!   Next we saw Strokkur Geysir thank goodness we were upwind when she erupted! 

Here's a video of their first 3 eruptions, one was a double eruption:

Another eruption:

Right beyond it was the twin pools Blesi and Blazer . One clear and the other powder Icelandic blue.  The colors were stunning.  The vivid soft blues of Iceland that I see in the water and distant sky is like no other color blue that I've ever seen. Bwe've been calling it Icelandic blue.  This pool has a sign saying the temperature is 80-100°C. 

Video of Blesi and Blazer with Stokkur erupting, yet again, in the background:

This pool here was the original (now dormant) Geysir.  It's always so disappointing that camera can't catch real beauty. 

Here is the last eruption of Stokkur before we had to get out of the wind and cold. 

So here is how here geysers work. (By the way geyser- English, Geysir- Icelandic).  There are vertical vents, like pipes, underground.  The water at the bottom of the pipe comes into contact with hot rock and boils, expanding upwards while cooler water at the surface of the geyser forms a sort of lid, trapping the rising water.  Eventually so much pressure builds up that the geyser explodes skyward.  In the videos above you can literally see Stokkur blow it's lid!

Fridheimar tomato greenhouse farm, horses, and toilet paper 3 videos

According to the guide Iceland is the land of greenhouses and they depend on them to feed the population in such cold weather.  The tomato greenhouses that we visited was soooo cool (well warm really, but you know what I mean).  The owner was there to greet and educate us.  They also had a little restaurant to get sandwiches, pastries, tomato soup, and other tomato products.  

Iceland tallest trees at the greenhouse farm entrance. 

Info on the farm- in several languages 

Here is the owner talking about how they don't use pesticides.  There are two reasons why.  First there aren't many bugs in Iceland due to the cold.  Second they have a "good bug" here that eats the "bad bugs" he makes sure he has a phletora of the good bug in his greenhouse.  He also has many bees in the greenhouse because the tomato plants must be pollinated.  He says "the male bees are kind of lazy because they are always too busy looking for a new queen... Just like men!" He got a good laugh from that one.  

Close up pix of bees in the box. 

Baby tomato plants

Tomato video:

After looking at the tomato a we went outside to the horses, I was surprised how much the kids enjoyed them.  Dude was his typical brave self ready to meet and pet the horses. Zane got a good selfie with a horse in his phone.  He hasn't sent it to me yet though. 

Fun with horses: 

Before leaving the farm I used the bathroom and LOL because the toilet paper is so different from the U.S.  My host mother in Costa Rica use to trade me that American women use a ridiculous amount of toilet paper, she asked if we also eat it, because it's impossible to go through a roll so quickly.  She's right we do use a lot and Iceland reminded me of that when the toilet paper dispenser only offers a small McDonald's napkin size quantity.... I had to pull out like 45 of them to give the American comfort that I need from toilet paper.   Here is yet another video of me filming in a foreign bathroom! 


Golden Circle your with Reykjavik Excursions

Last night we went to sleep at midnight (9pm EST). It was a struggle to stay away but we made it.  The kids fell asleep immediately.  Once they were asleep I got up filled out the post cards and booked a tour to "the golden circle" for today.  I booked through Reykjavik Excursions tour company.  It cost 9900isk for me and children 0-11 were free!  Woohoo! So far the kids have been free, thank god, you know my budget be tight!!! (Yes.. It BE tight!) there were many tours that looked great like a glacier adventure on snowmobiles, it was crazy expensive though (the kids weren't free) and I didn't want to add to the fierce wind by gliding on a glacier with the elements kicking our asses!  Dude is too young for whale watching so that was also out.  I boat tour through glaciers at Jökulsárlón glacial Lagoon looked nice, the kids could go free but it said to bring rain gear and warm clothes.  The pix looked like you were inviting the glacier to attack you with aggressive coldness.  I think this is something I can do with the boys when they are like 20 yrs old, if they still want to travel with me. So that is how we decided in the Golden Corcle tour.  From what I could tell we would see an amazing waterfall and a geyser and the trip was from 9am- 5pm.  Little did I know that it was much more than those 2 things.  
I booked out pick up from a nearby hotel.  I almost panicked when I saw the tour company only picked up from hotels but on the list a saw "hotel cabin" and remembered that as a bus stop 3 blocks from our apartment so I crossed my fingers and named that as our pick up spot.  
After we woke up we got dressed in many many layers.  I could hear the wind beating at the window and blowing the  layers of curtains inside the house.  I could only imagine the wind abuse we'd suffer once we got outside.  We left the house at 8, pick us was at 8:30. It took us about 4 minutes to walk to hotel cabin.  I was soon relieved and happy to see others tourist waiting in the lobby to join the same tour.  They bus got to us about 8:50.  We drove to the main BSI tour terminal switched buses.  We grabbed some quick snacks then got in our bus to Golden Cirlce.  Dude and Zane got chips and powerade,  I got a cheese and garlic sandwich (only in Europe is this a choice!) and it was delicious!! I still have bottle water from the plane ride that I stashed... Yea I took like 5 bottles while we were deplane get.  Ok back toniceland... After getting our snacks we got on the bus with the English Dutch speaking guide because the English French was full.  We took seats toward the back of the already full tour bus and as I looked around I was convince that only about 7 people (including U.S. 3) were the only ones under 60 years old! The guide introduced herself and we were off.  Dude quickly ate his chips and fell asleep almost immediately.  Zane was up and looking around in amazement,occasionally checking US sports info over the bus's free wifi.  

We learned so much about Iceland.  First we passed over he colcano rift.  Iceland was formed by volcanic eruptions, and crossed over to tectonic plates.  It's inky 1% forest and most of he trees are very small.  The joke here is that if you ever get lost in the forest in Iceland- "just stand up"!  After about an hour and a half drive we arrived at a greenhouse tomato farm.  It was so much more interesting than I would have thought check the next post for pix and videos! 


Short Icelandic pine forest.  LOL!