Reykjavik Holiday Diary 3

Friday June 10th

I needed recovery time after the trip to see the puffins (see last blog for more details). I did absolutely nothing all morning, except a quick trip to the supermarket. I realised that many of the vegetables and fruit are grown in geothermal greenhouses. The heat is pumped up from underground, all that the plants need is a bit of light, and tadaah! Icelandic strawberries are a thing. According to my sister, Icelandic chocolate is also a thing, so I bought some to give as gifts when we get home.

We drove to see a recent (2021) eruption at Fagradalsfjall, about an hour from the city. The volcano had been dormant for 800 years, though the geologists had guessed it might erupt when they started measuring new activity. I expect being a geologist is rather an essential job in Iceland. The puffin island has a whole town that was covered by lava in the 70’s, which has now become bit of a tourist attraction. I’m not sure what it must be like, living somewhere that you know is relatively unstable. Perhaps you simply don’t think about it.

As we drove towards Fagradalsfjall I could see the mountain, it looked as if a giant had tipped black oil all over it, lines of black running down the sides. We parked in a grey gravel carpark, and began to follow signs. But the walk to the lava was long and steep, so we gave up.

Drove to where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. This is so not something that I understand—I remember the theory, that the earth is covered in massive plates of rock that are moving too slowly to see, and that when they rub against each other we get earthquakes—but faced with two walls of rock, my head cannot quite link the two. The area looked like a moonscape. More grey rubble.

We saw more hot springs, and a lava cove with great waves crashing onto them. Iceland is fascinating, but there’s nothing cosy about it.

Waves crashing over lava.

Saturday 11th June

Spurred on by the excitement of seeing tectonic plates meeting, Husband suggested we drove ‘The Golden Circle.’ This is named after a waterfall, and is a circular route (obviously) that passes a few major highlights. It’s an 186 mile loop. I worried about whether there would be toilets, and decided not to drink anything all day.

First stop was Thingvellir National Park. (This is an anglicised spelling, as it actually begins with a strange p/b letter.) The park has the first parliament (which we didn’t see) and another rift valley between plates, which was very dramatic and was used in The Game of Thrones. We saw Oxararfoss waterfall, plus some toilets and expensive parking.

We drove across the plain, with snowy mountains in the distance, while Husband muttered about the speed limit. At Haukadalur geothermal field we saw all the interesting hot springs/bubbling mud stuff that we have seen previously, but slightly bigger and better organised in terms of paths and signs. I stayed on the walkways this time. There was also a geyser, Strokkur, which erupted every 10 minutes. It was a large pool of water, steam floating on the surface, and it sort of ‘lifted’ for a moment, before erupting in a giant plume of boiling water. Amazing.

Click on the image to see the video.

We finished our drive at Gullfoss, the ‘golden’ waterfall. It was huge, a great mass of water tumbling into a valley.

There were carparks, with toilets, at every stop, so dehydration was unnecessary.

Hope you have all that you need today. Take care.
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson
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I tried to learn 2 Chronicles 7:14 while in Iceland. How much of it have you managed to remember? Read it again to refresh your memory:


If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.


וְיִכָּנְעוּ עַמִּי אֲשֶׁר נִֽקְרָא־שְׁמִי עֲלֵיהֶם וְיִֽתְפַּֽלְלוּ וִֽיבַקְשׁוּ פָנַי וְיָשֻׁבוּ מִדַּרְכֵיהֶם הָרָעִים וַאֲנִי אֶשְׁמַע 

מִן־הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶסְלַח לְחַטָּאתָם וְאֶרְפָּא אֶת־אַרְצָֽם׃



Reykjavik Holiday Dairy 2

Day Three: A Walk From Hell

Woke early, had coffee, read Bible. Then went for a run (my first mistake of the day).

Grabbed a packed lunch (well, a bag with bread, cheese, a knife, tomatoes and some biscuits). Drove to ferry terminal. We were off to see the world’s largest puffin colony, and I was excited. This was why I had come to Iceland. The tourist shops were filled with photographs of the cheery little birds with their colourful beaks, and plastic models, and fridge magnets. Now I was going to see thousands of them. It was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime event.

On the drive we saw flat plains with mountains in the distance, black rubble, steam rising from the ground, colourful houses, blue lupins everywhere and spectacular waterfalls. There were sheep, and horses, but we didn’t see any cows.

At the ferry terminal, all the cars were parked on an area of gravel, but there were no spaces. A line of cars was waiting to board the ferry, but we were going the cheap route and leaving our car at the terminal. (Second mistake of the day.) Husband decided he would ‘start a new line’ and abandoned car between two rows of neatly parked vehicles. We would return to either a new line of cars with ours in the middle, or wheel-clamps. I hoped it wouldn’t be the clamps.

Caught the ferry from Landeyjahafnarv to Heimaey, one of the Vestmannaeyjar islands. (Do hope that spelling is correct, and don’t ask how they’re pronounced!) We saw black sand, and choppy water. Didn’t see a whale (though I am sure they were there). As we drew into port we sailed close to cliffs pock-marked with white, each one the nest of a sea-bird. It was incredibly windy on the boat.

The ferry terminal was slightly confusing, and we weren’t sure where to go, but Husband had the puffin colony marked on Google maps, so we followed the route out of town. (Third mistake of the day.) I knew it would take about an hour—a long but comfortable walk. What I didn’t realise was that the strong wind from the sea would continue, with powerful force, blowing against us the whole way. The cross-winds were immense, blowing me across the road (luckily very few cars) and pushing against me as I struggled up the hill out of town. I thought it would improve as we left the port, but it didn’t. In some places the gusts were even stronger. Every step was a fight. I seriously doubted if I would make it.

Nearly dead. Walking to the distant mountain on the right.

About half way, I informed Husband that there was a distinct possibility that I might die of exhaustion. He checked his map, and said there was a much-less-good puffin lookout a bit nearer than the completely excellent one that we had travelled especially to Iceland to see. He didn’t mention that I had forgotten to bring both binoculars and a proper camera with a zoom lens, but he was probably thinking it. I didn’t have the energy to discuss it, and on I plodded, blown off-course with every step. Husband carried all my stuff, and offered frequent rests, but it was still incredibly difficult. I felt real envy as taxis and mini-buses passed us.

We made it to the lookout shelter. There were lots of puffins, but they weren’t very near, and without either binoculars or a camera zoom, we couldn’t see their bright beaks. It was still fun to see them, and after I had recovered, I was glad that I had come.

Each puffin mates for life, and we saw the couples working together. They made their nests in burrows on the cliff edge, it looked like a rabbit warren, with one puffin standing at the entrance and the other flying off for food. We saw flashes of their rounded tummies as they flew past, and their distinctive black and white feathers. But not really their beaks.

Probably not the best puffin photograph that you will ever see.

After our picnic lunch, Husband (nervously) reminded me that we had booked to go back on the ferry that left in an hour. I made no comment, saving my energy for another walk-from-hell. The wind was no less on the way back, and neither way was it behind us, it simply blew (blew is such a feeble word, it heaved and shoved) across us and around us, pulling at our coats and hats and pushing us when we walked. I staggered back to the ferry, made it in time, and sat, huddled on the deck, every muscle limp. I remembered the car, and decided that if the wheels were clamped, we would leave it, and buy a new one. I was much too tired to negotiate with an Icelandic carpark attendant.

Luckily, the car sat in the middle of a new row of cars. We drove back via Seljalandsfoss waterfalls. I stayed in the car. Husband went to look, and reappeared with a box of donuts (this is why I love the man).

Next we stopped at Hveraldalir geothermal area, and the donuts had revived me sufficiently to leave the car. There was a slightly run-down walkway, and information signs, and a strong smell of sulphur. No one else was there. We couldn’t see where the walkway started, and my legs were too shaky to walk far, so I nipped across the mud. Big mistake. In fact, it was fine, but a short distance further, the innocuous-looking mud was bubbling. A foot in boiling mud was probably not a good idea. (I remembered my daughter had explicitly warned me about things like this, I should have listened.)

All very interesting. We saw steam vents, and boiling mud, fumaroles and pools of boiling water. The sulphur/rotting eggs smell was overwhelming. But a very cool place to visit, and it was free. I stayed on the walkway on the way back to the car.

Dinner at the lamb burger place again, too tired to be creative. Went to bed exhausted.

Thanks for reading. I’ll tell you about our whale-watching trip in a later blog.

Hope you don’t make any big mistakes this week. Take care.
Love, Anne x

The verse I tried to learn while in Iceland was 2 Chronicles 7:14.

How much have you managed to remember? Read it again to refresh your memory:


If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.


וְיִכָּנְעוּ עַמִּי אֲשֶׁר נִֽקְרָא־שְׁמִי עֲלֵיהֶם וְיִֽתְפַּֽלְלוּ וִֽיבַקְשׁוּ פָנַי וְיָשֻׁבוּ מִדַּרְכֵיהֶם הָרָעִים וַאֲנִי אֶשְׁמַע 

מִן־הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶסְלַח לְחַטָּאתָם וְאֶרְפָּא אֶת־אַרְצָֽם׃



Anne E. Thompson
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Running in Reykjavík

While we were in Iceland, we tried to run each morning. I never changed my watch (Iceland is an hour behind of English time) so it was easy to get up early. Iceland is a country of flat plains and steep mountains. The city is built on a hill, and I don’t run on hills. Luckily, our Airbnb was near Hijomskalagardur Park, which was flat, so we could could walk down the hill, do a lap of the lake, and run/stagger home. The park had ducks (always good) and swans, lots of interesting statues, and a view back up the hill of the city. In the distance were black mountains with patches of white snow. Wherever we went in Iceland, there were always black mountains with patches of white snow. Panda mountains.

I loved the statues, and made up stories about them as I ran. I took photos to show you:

I loved this one. Make of it what you will, but to me it spoke of the burden of having to work in an office.
Woman uses toilet while wishing her husband would go away! (Reminds me of ‘Out by Ten’. Better read a copy if you don’t understand.)
Big hero with big hammer needs to rest on the strength of a gentle woman.
Man with big shield slays the dragon with his sword and rescues the naked woman (not sure why she needs to be naked) while she keeps hold of her friendly ghost. (I don’t understand the ghost either, maybe the spirit of the slain dragon? Perhaps they were friends and the man misunderstood the situation.)

There was also a lovely view of the city, though you can’t see the black mountains in this photo. They’re off to the right.


While running, I tried to learn some more of 2 Chronicles 7:14. How much can you remember now?

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

וְיִכָּנְעוּ עַמִּי אֲשֶׁר נִֽקְרָא־שְׁמִי עֲלֵיהֶם וְיִֽתְפַּֽלְלוּ וִֽיבַקְשׁוּ פָנַי וְיָשֻׁבוּ מִדַּרְכֵיהֶם הָרָעִים וַאֲנִי אֶשְׁמַע מִן־הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶסְלַח לְחַטָּאתָם וְאֶרְפָּא אֶת־אַרְצָֽם׃

Thanks for reading.

‘Iceland is Beautiful,’ they said…

‘Iceland is beautiful,’ they said… ‘Iceland is my favourite country in the world,’ they said… ‘You’ve never been?’ they said, ‘You should plan to visit.’ So we did.

I prepared for our trip by watching Icelandic films, hoping to learn the odd phrase and perhaps see a little of the culture. This was a mistake, as I mostly watched crime films. I therefore stepped off the flight, entered the arrivals hall and was confronted by a line of serial killers holding name placards. Luckily we had rented a car, so avoided all the psychopaths and edged our way to the Avis desk. Avis had queues of people, very little space, and lots of signs about wind (the weather version). Wind is a thing in Iceland.

Known as the land of ice and fire, it should also be called the land of blue lupins. They were everywhere, lining the roads, growing on ancient mounds of lava, covering every hill and plain. Iceland in June is blue. Blue and grey. People told me that Iceland is beautiful, and it’s true that many parts were, but there’s an awful lot of grey. As we drove from the airport the landscape reminded me mostly of the groundwork when a new motorway is being built —mounds of grey rubble. Volcanoes are not tidy, and Iceland was produced by a string of eruptions. I guess there’s no point in clearing up the lava flow, so it sits there, pretending to be builder’s rubble, until the lupins move in to cover it in blue.

We rented an Airbnb in Reykjavik. This turned out to be wonderful, a converted printing works that consisted of one huge room filled with plants and nicknacks, with separate bedrooms and bathroom. It was used in the Netflix series Sense8, though most of the furniture was different.

Reykjavik is more town than city, with mostly wooden houses covered in colourful corrugated iron. It has clean streets, happy people in weird clothes (though to be honest, I think the clothes of most people younger than me are weird) and high prices. Iceland is expensive. The city also has a harbour, and a huge church (which looks like a cathedral) high on a hill, seen above the city. 

A cool church building, towering over Reykjavík.
Pretending to be a Viking, outside the big church.

We were told that in June, it would only be dark for a few hours each night, between midnight and 2 am. This was a lie. I got up in the night to check, and it was never dark. Slightly gloomy perhaps, like a grey day at home, but never dark. I took a photo for evidence…

No streetlights needed: 2am and definitely NOT dark.

The June weather was cold, but not freezing. I needed a warm sweater and a coat, but not a ski jacket (which is lucky, as I don’t own one!) A woolly hat is fairly essential, not so much for warmth but more for hair control. Husband declined repeated offers to borrow a hat, and the hair style wasn’t good. As I said, wind is a thing in Iceland. 

We saw some amazing stuff while we were there, but I’ll tell you about our trips in another blog. Is Iceland beautiful? Beauty is very subjective, and I never really saw past the grey rocks, the black mountains, and the lack of trees. Especially the trees. Most other people have a different view, so I’ll leave you with some pictures and you can decide for yourself.

Thanks for reading. Take care.

Love, Anne x

I try to learn a little more Hebrew whenever I run (it helps take my mind off the pain!) In Iceland I began to learn 2 Chronicles 7: 14. You could try to learn it too?
*Note to Mother: Please learn the English version and we can make another Facebook video!
I will add it to the end of each Iceland blog:

If my people, who are called by my name, humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 

2 Chronicles 7:14

וְיִכָּנְעוּ עַמִּי אֲשֶׁר נִֽקְרָא־שְׁמִי עֲלֵיהֶם וְיִֽתְפַּֽלְלוּ וִֽיבַקְשׁוּ פָנַי וְיָשֻׁבוּ מִדַּרְכֵיהֶם הָרָעִים וַאֲנִי אֶשְׁמַע מִן־הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶסְלַח
 לְחַטָּאתָם וְאֶרְפָּא אֶת־אַרְצָֽם׃

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