It has been busier than I expected – difficult to get free time and wifi access at same time.
Last night we stayed in a hotel in downtown Reykjavik named Hotel Liefer Ericksson. Breakfast was included in the room rate and was made up of various breads, meats, cheeses, skyr (an Icelandic favorite – a thinner, less sweet yogurt with more protein and less fat), waffles, corn flakes and muesli. Breakfast is a large meal here, it appears.
Anne and I met the rest of the group for the first time at breakfast. All but four of us have separate rooms. Those with single rooms were at Hotel Sunna next door to our hotel.
Here’s the rundown of the group of knitters taking part in this tour:
+Anne from Minnesota – social worker and my roommate
+Dolores from Maine
+Liz from Maine
+Sherri from Britain, but Ohio originally
+Casey from Seattle
+Liz from San Francisco
+Barbara from New Hampshire
+Susan from Chicago
+Veronik from Montreal – one of the designers on the tour
+Ragga from Iceland – our guide
One is in her 20’s, three of us are in our 30’s, two are in their 40’s, and the rest are in their 50’s and 60’s (this was a hard sentence to write, so my apologies to the grammar police).
After boarding a mid-sized tour bus we all set off to our first stop – the Alafoss factory outlet. Alafoss is the most popular brand of Icelandic yarn, made from the Icelandic sheep. The wool is called Lopi and is really unique; the sheep came over with the Vikings and have not been mixed with any other sheep. The wool is very warm but very light. It is a little course but not itchy actually. Everyone in Iceland owns a sweater made of Lopi yarn called a Lopepeysa (lo-pu-paysa) and it is worn as a jacket. The tour includes the yarn to create our own. Ragga will be showing us how to knit one later in the trip.
We all picked out our yarn and the pattern we would use and got back on board the bus to start our trek to the “Golden Circle”. That is the name of the group of sites within a day trip from Reykjavik. I’ll describe them each below.
Thingvellir (not actual spelling due to my lack of an Icelandic keyboard) is the location of the original Icelandic parliament that started around the year 1000. There is an overhang above the valley and it stretches as far as the eye can see, mountains ringing a huge flat valley with several streams leading to a large inlet or harbor with several small islands in it. It was an amazing view – much larger than the photos make it appear. The original settlers chose it because it was large enough for them to camp the two weeks parliament met each year to review the shared laws and settle disputes. It is also the place where the North American and European tectonic plates meet, so there were large, deep crevices, many filled with water.
Next stop was Geysir, for which all geysers have been named. I’ve never been to the geysers in the western US, so I don’t have anything to compare them to, but I found them amazing. It is strange to see so many hot springs and geysers in on area. It seemed like you could’t walk 5 feet and not step in a hot spring. Of the geysers, only one of them was active; it erupted every 5 minutes. There were lots of tourists (maybe 50-100) at the geysers, but Raga said it is much busier in the summer.
The last stop before our hotel was the waterfall at Gullfoss, which means “good waterfall”. Gull is also the name of one of their popular beers. There was another large overlook letting us look over the water below and a path leading right to the top near the water. Gullfoss is one of those wide waterfalls with multiple steps – very powerful and loud. Many of Iceland’s waterfalls are damned now for hydro-electric power, but this was is protected. They get all of their electricity from hydro and their heat from geo-thermal.
We saw all these sites in ONE day! I have more to post about the farm guesthouse we stayed at that night, but will post that tomorrow.