News items for tag holiday - Koos van den Hout

2022-07-13 Adding pictures to the reports of our trip to Iceland
I created a flickr album Iceland 2022 - Our trip to Iceland in April/May 2022 and linking to the pictures from the right report was still kind of hard because it's a complicated bit of html with repetitions and chances of errors.

The solution: make the computer help me. The flickr API allows me to fetch data about an album and about the pictures in that album, so I spent an evening writing some perl to get links to all the pictures in the album with thumbnails.

Now most days of Complete reports of our trip to Iceland have been enhanced with pictures.

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2022-06-19 Complete reports of our trip to Iceland
Recently I realized I am quite enjoy stories and videos of travel. As we had our own travel adventure a month ago I decided to write about it extensively as the memory was still fresh and I wanted to mentally relive that trip and get some experience in writing about my travels.

Iceland road sign einbreið brú for a one-lane bridge With some help of the pictures, the list of hotel reservations and checking the maps there is now a complete set of stories of this holiday. I backdated the stories to the days they happened which was for me the logical choice.

The reports per day: In general this was a really good vacation. Iceland has the kind of raw nature and geology I enjoy visiting. The people are really friendly and helpful. Compared to our earlier visits it is clear Iceland is more prepared for visiting tourists without turning into a tourist trap.

Iceland has turned even more cashless than in earlier visits. With a credit card and a debit card you can pay almost everything, even contactless international payments work. We saw a problem with paying with Android pay after a few days so we stopped doing that.

Mobile phone and mobile data coverage is near-perfect along the roads. It's probably a good idea to not rely on mobile phone when you go on inland hiking trails but as long as you are sticking to paved and gravel roads there is lots of coverage.

The first pictures have been integrated, for some days I need to copy more pictures from the camera to flickr to add these to the collection.

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2022-05-08 Trip to Iceland day 15
Our flight was leaving Keflavik International airport at 07:40 so we wanted to walk through the door of the airport at 05:40 and return our car before that time. So the alarm went of at 05:00 and we put everything in the car and drove to the airport rental return area.

Hertz has a huge parking area for returning rental cars so we parked in that area and walked to the return office. The office was still closed so we dropped the key in the key return box and walked to the main airport building. There we used a luggage cart and went to the check-in for our flight back home. The check-in was a bit of waiting but nothing really bad. After check-in it was time to go through the security check and even with a bit of extra checking of our luggage we were past that point fast. We found ourselves in the main waiting area for departing flights with lots of time to spare, so we finally had time to eat some breakfast and get an extra fresh juice.

The flight back was fine, I decided to watch the film 'Rush Hour' from the entertainment system.

Back in the Netherlands temperatures were higher again! We took the train from Schiphol airport back to our house.

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2022-05-07 Trip to Iceland day 14
After breakfast we left the apartments and walked towards the center of the city and the main shopping street. Most of the shops were still closed in the morning. We changed plans a bit and visited the Reykjavík Park and Zoo which was more of a botanic garden.

We tried to hop on a bus to get there but that was the first time we actually needed cash money. Trying to get the app for the Reykjavik bus working with a Dutch credit card also did not work. So we had to get actual money from an ATM to pay for bus trips.

My wife and son went swimming for a while and we went back to the city center, now open.

We walked along Laugavegur, which is the main street of Reykjavik. We also visited the Hallgrimskirkja which is a magnificent church building. Several signs were there to remind the tourists that it was also a house of worship.

The only bit of train track in Iceland - KvdHout on flickr
The only bit of train track in Iceland
We visited the harbour in Reykjavik. It has a bit of traintrack and a locomotive which was used in building the harbour! I think that was the only bit of train track in Iceland.

For an early dinner we found a nice pizza restaurant on Laugavegur.

After dinner we returned to Keflavik. We had arranged another night at the Nupan de Luxe hotel. We set an early alarm because of our flight back the next day. We also packed our bags again with being on an airplane in mind, or rather going through the security check. It was also time to make sure the fuel tank of our rental car was filled completely before returning it the next morning.

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2022-05-06 Trip to Iceland day 13
We woke up in Eldhestar hotel and had breakfast. My wife and son had booked a horse ride for the afternoon, so we had some hours before that started and visited Hveragerði.

The area around Hveragerði has had several serious earthquakes. The library and shops building had an exhibition on the 2008 earthquake with pictures and stories from eyewitnesses. The building that this is all in has a scary detail of its own: during construction a huge crack in the earth was found right between the foundations. The decision was made to not build the 4 floor tower nearby and adapt the building to deal with earthquakes. Still the 2008 earthquake caused damage.

To the north-east of Hveragerði is an area with lots of geothermal activity which can be hiked easily.

Geothermal activity around Hveragerði - KvdHout on flickr
Geothermal activity around Hveragerði
We also visited the geothermal park inside Hveragerði. According to the descriptions some parts of this park have changed as a result of that 2008 earthquake.

In the afternoon was the horse ride. My son and wife had a great time with very easygoing Icelandic horses. I decided to drive to the coast and have a look there. It turned out this was a non-tourist area so the coast was just some harbour areas and industrial fish handling.

After all that it was a relatively short drive to Reykjavik. We wanted to visit the city the day after so we drove to our place to stay. We went from driving on the 2-lane ring road near Hveragerði to huge highways near Reykjavik. But with only 1 serious correction we managed to find our apartment: Stay Apartments Bolholt where we made dinner and went to bed somewhat early.

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2022-05-05 Trip to Iceland day 12
We left from Lækjaborgir Guesthouse and started driving along the ring road again.

We stopped in Vik for a visit to the local souvenir shop. When we visited Vik in 2006 it was very rainy and cold so we were looking for warm gloves. The gloves were found in a small shop. Between 2006 and 2022 this small shop was replaced by a huge store with all kinds of Iceland souvenirs. And they still had gloves, but we had brought our own.

Along the coast were some great views. The erosion of lava rocks is very interesting.

We stopped at Skógafoss Waterfall which is so high the last 50 meters before the fall you're already walking in a big spray. There is a path to climb to the top but we decided against it as it's quite high up.

We stopped at the Lava centre in the afternoon. The Lava centre has exhibitions around the very active volcanoes on Iceland including reports on the 'famous' Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010. Outside of Iceland it mainly made the news for causing massive disruption to air travel because of the ash that was in the air which made flying impossible. The Lava centre had the Iceland side of the experience which was with disruptions everywhere due to ash falling down all over, and people who looked out the window to see if the rumbling volcano had changed and seeing the first explosive eruptions.

The Lava centre has a lot of explanations on how volcanic eruptions work and how certain influences can change them completely. And it turned out the person behind the cash register in the entrance also had extensive knowledge of volcanoes so we chatted with them about our views.

The Lava centre also has an observation deck where you can see a few of the big volcanoes of Iceland in the distance. But due to rain and thick clouds there was nothing interesting visible.

Electricity pylon near Hveragerði - KvdHout on flickr
Electricity pylon near Hveragerði
In the afternoon we continued our drive and ended up at Eldhestar hotel. Yes we visited that hotel before. We wanted to get back there so my wife and son could go horseback riding the next day. The Eldhestar hotel is close to the city of Hveragerði so we drove over there for a nice dinner and an evening walk.

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2022-05-04 Trip to Iceland day 11
We had breakfast in the Framtíð Apartments cabin and got going again. The Framtíð hotel wasn't staffed very well as there wasn't someone available to return the cabin key. Eventually a cleaning person showed up and took our key.

This day was again going to be a long drive. The Iceland ring road is quite close to the Atlantic Ocean here in parts. The ring road is also close to the mountains and glaciers, there just is not a lot of space for the road here.

The weather was warmer and with a lot more sun than the day before. We were glad to have sunglasses while driving and on stops we could do with less layers.

Amfibious vehicle leaving Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon - KvdHout on flickr
Amfibious vehicle leaving Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon
Bridge between Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon and the ocean - KvdHout on flickr
Bridge between Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon and the ocean
Iceberg in Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon - KvdHout on flickr
Iceberg in Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon
Ice from Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon - KvdHout on flickr
Ice from Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon
Iceberg in Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon - KvdHout on flickr
Iceberg in Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon
The main attraction for the day was a visit to Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon where we parked and got a ticket for a tour on the lake. After we got the ticket we walked around looking at all the beauty from the side. This is a lake filled with ice and water from glaciers on one side and the water flows out to the ocean on the other side. This water flow is quite strong, making me think about the amount of ice entering the lake. There are also seals in the lake. The underwater ledge between the lake and the ocean keeps all the predators out that hunt seals. That ledge is also the reason the bridge in the ring road over the water flowing out to see is not threatened by the ice. Icebergs with 90% of their volume under water first have to break and melt to small sizes to leave the lake.

The tour on the lake was with an amphibious vehicle, first driving a bit over land and entering the lake to continue as a boat. We had a guide who seemed to make a set of standard jokes on the tour and they were a bit predictable and not so funny. But the views were great and the information we got was fine. Eventually global warming will put an end to this lake as an attraction.

We also walked across the ring road to the 'diamond beach' which is a black beach with lava sand where the smaller blocks of ice land on the beach after floating through the Jökulsárlón channel.

Fjallsárlón glacier lake - KvdHout on flickr
Fjallsárlón glacier lake
After the tour we stopped at the Fjallsárlón glacier lake for coffee. That lake also had tours, but in big rafts with people in survival gear.

We passed the Skeiðará Bridge Monument on the ring road, which is where a glacier flood once took out the bridge in the ring road. When we visited in 2006, we had to cross the new bridge. This time I was really surprised, the whole Skeiðará one-lane Bridge has been replaced by the road next to the side of it. I guess the increased traffic made the one-lane bridge delay traffic too much and the cost of rebuilding the road when the glacier flood happens is lower than the cost of rebuilding the bridge.

Our place for the evening was Lækjaborgir Guesthouse. Like other places we had received an e-mail with a door code to get in after payment via and we never saw a person handling things. This was a studio apartment so there was one not too big room with table, a small kitchen and the beds.

For dinner we went to Fosshótel Núpar. In Iceland there are a lot of 'Fosshótel' places which doesn't mean they are using Free and Open Source Software, but Foss is Icelandic for waterfall.

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2022-05-03 Trip to Iceland day 10
Snow on our rental car - KvdHout on flickr
Snow on our rental car
When we looked out the window to get from the building where our room was to the building with the breakfast buffet we noted a fresh layer of snow had fallen. Everything was covered in snow, including our rental car.

For days we saw weather reports stating that there would be precipitation on this day, but we didn't expect it to be snow. Because of this weather forecast we planned to drive for a large part of the day and get to the eastern part of Iceland.

At breakfast it wasn't as busy as the day before, we saw only a few persons in the guesthouse.

After breakfast we started driving. After a while the snow returned, sometimes with hail. As the road got to higher elevations more snow started falling. Heaps of snow started to form on the road and we saw a few plow trucks trying to clear the road. Eventually snow dunes started to form and we had to slow down seriously to keep driving safely. It was very cloudy but with the completely white landscape due to the snow I used sunglasses while driving to see as much detail as possible.

We stopped at Rjúkandafoss waterfall where the cold had turned a lot of the spray into snow and ice. This helped for special views, but it was very cold and we took extra layers of clothing outside.

At one of the higher mountain passes we saw a house on the map right next to the road. We wondered who would build a house so far from the rest of civilization so close to the road, since most houses in the remote areas are far enough from the road, probably to reduce road noise. As we passed this house it turned out to be a refugee shelter in case you got trapped in a snowstorm or something, right on the edge of the road. We did not expect such a shelter next to a major road. I guess the weather can be really bad!

In the afternoon we stopped at Fossardalur waterfall and took some pictures there. This stop wasn't as cold as the earlier waterfall stop of the day. Interesting (to me) was an old bridge next to the road which looked like it was the original path of the ring road.

At the end of our drive we got into Djupivogur and we saw lots of caribou grazing on the local sports field. They migrate from coastal areas in winter to higher in the mountains in the summer, I guess the caribou thought winter was just ending. I agree there after the snow and hail. It was a big herd, with clearly a few large animals acting as leaders for the rest of them. We stayed at a safe distance, we weren't sure they might get annoyed if we got to close. Eventually they all moved on to other fields.

At the end of this drive we ended up at Framtíð Apartments, Djupivogur. This turned out to be a wooden cabin near Framtíð hotel (we had to pick up the keys at the hotel). The cabin wasn't isolated very well so I was glad there was heating in the main area. It turned out the heater in the bathroom wasn't working so it stayed very cold there. I reported this problem to the front desk and they brought an electric heater to solved this problem. The cabin did have a great view of the harbour at Djupivogur.

We had dinner at the Framtíð Hotel. Our cabin had a bedroom with two beds and a sofa bed in the living room. But that did mean we had to 'build' the bed in the evening and revert it to a sofa before breakfast the next day.

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2022-05-02 Trip to Iceland day 9
First we had breakfast at the guesthouse, which was included. It was reasonably busy at the breakfast and we chatted with some tourists from the United States of America who turned out to be from the city of Las Vegas in Nevada. When they asked if I had ever been in Las Vegas I told of my red-eye flight in the US in 1997 between Michigan and San Fransisco where I had a stopover in Las Vegas in the middle of the night and the daylight saving time in the US started during walking around the airport in Las Vegas which was very weird. And even in the Las Vegas airport you can gamble! It's fun to recall old travel stories.

We left for a daytrip from Eldá Guesthouse, Reykjahlið for a drive around Myvatn, the mosquito lake, and surrounding areas. Beforehand we thought we would maybe rent bicycles to get around Myvatn but with temperatures around 0 degrees Celcius it was too cold for that option so we stuck to the rental car.

Our first visit was to Krafla Power Plant which is a huge geothermal energy based power plant. The use of geothermal energy means they do vent some sulfuric acid gasses all the time. So we drove on the road through the powerplant with the windows closed and the ventilation set close to the outside world and we only stopped on a viewpoint high above the powerplant where you don't smell it that much.

Icy rope in Krafla Lava Fields - KvdHout on flickr
Icy rope in Krafla Lava Fields
Krafla Lava Fields - KvdHout on flickr
Krafla Lava Fields
After that we stopped at the Krafla Lava Fields. Those were still partially covered in snow. We saw areas with a thick layer of snow and areas with steam coming out of small cracks close together, which looks strange when you're not used to living in a geothermally active area. Some of the sand-coloured rocks in the area had black surfaces, which is for as far as I know due to bacteria living in the hot steam!

In the afternoon we walked in an area with very special volcanic rock formations. This area had walking paths, including one for experienced walkers. On the tourist scale we seemed to be experienced walkers with mountain shoes, so we were able to leave the paved walking paths and walk the more interesting paths.

In the evening we made dinner in the kitchen available in the guesthouse.

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2022-05-01 Trip to Iceland day 8
We left from Sunnuhlid houses apartments. There is a toll tunnel in the ringroad from the Akureyri bay to the east but Sunnuhlid houses is so far to the North it is easier to take the old route around the mountain. We could see why the tunnel was built: the old route was a high and winding route through the mountains, which could be difficult to keep open in winter conditions.

Húsavík parking lot with Mylady Landy - KvdHout on flickr
Húsavík parking lot with Mylady Landy
We went along the roads to Húsavík and stopped there for some shopping. In the parking lot of the supermarket I saw a Land Rover Defender with Dutch license plates and had a look at it. A man showed up who turned out to be with the Defender so I complimented him on the nice vehicle and we had a chat. He was there on a longer visit to Iceland and had seen even more types of weather than we had until that moment: from serious freezing temperatures to sunny and hot days. They came over on the ferry to Iceland. If you have more time the ferry Denmark / Faroe Islands / Iceland is the way to get there, but the complete trip to these three places is about a week of travel time.

The owners of the Land Rover Defender also maintain a website with stories, pictures and videos of their trips: Milady Landy.

Northernmost point on our trip - KvdHout on flickr
Northernmost point on our trip
On road 85 we came to the Northernmost place on our trip so we stopped for a picture and a screenshot of the GPS. North 66 degree 12.0852 minutes West 17 degrees 02.8633 minutes.

We drove to the Ásbyrgi Visitor Centre where we got an explanation about the very special area there, now filled with waterfalls. This area looks like a huge trench in the landscape, created by a massive flood from a glacier flood event hundreds of years ago. People made rope bridges over big obstacles in the landscape to get goods from one place to the other.

Low temperatures near Ásbyrgi - KvdHout on flickr
Low temperatures near Ásbyrgi
We drove to Ásbyrgi itself which is a park with some lakes and forested areas. It was getting colder, we had to put on an extra layer and walk through snow. We stopped for lunch on the way back out of Ásbyrgi and the road information sign outside on the 85 road was showing -2 degrees Celcius temperature. Lunch options were somewhat limited, the first of May is a holiday in Iceland.

We went South along road 862 and visited some of the waterfalls, Hafragilsfoss, Dettifoss and Selfoss. Those are big waterfalls with large open areas and it was windy, so it was really cold!

We arrived at Eldá Guesthouse, Reykjahlið in the afternoon where we booked for two nights. For dinner we went to a nearby pizza restaurant: Daddi's Pizza which had a nice selection of pizza. I drank a beer from Einstök Beer Co. because I remembered that name from the Reykjavik grapevine youtube channel we followed to see the latest on the eruption of the Fagradalsfjall volcano in 2021.

Weather conditions changed a lot during the day: we started with sunny weather near Akureyri but we ended with freezing temperatures.

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