Golden Triangle – Gulfoss

Monday, May 13th, 2013 | Posted under Iceland

Iceland’s Golden Triangle is sorta kinda a triangle. It’s really three major tourists sights close to Reykjavik and easily seen in one day. If you missed my post about our first triangle stop at Geysir, check it out here.

After Geysir, we made our way to Gulfoss, Iceland’s most popular waterfall. I have to say that I see why it’s popular. While not as electrifying as some waterfalls, it’s still powerful and dramatic in its beauty.

Gulfoss Iceland

Gulfoss Iceland

Gulfoss Iceland


The long path down to the waterfall’s edge is an adventure enough. Bring an umbrella or be prepared to get wet. As you move closer to the waterfall, the spray feels like heavy rain.

Gulfoss Iceland Pathway


I would also recommend that you wear some sturdy shoes with a good grip. The rocks next to the waterfall are a touch slippery. Okay, fine, they’re…well, scary.  I was not about to keel over into the rapids below. The running joke for Husband J and me had to be the fact that visitors are allowed to get up close and personal with the waterfall. There’s no way that would happen in the U.S. Lawsuit, anyone? Also, is it me, or wouldn’t a rail be good here?

Gulfoss Close-up

Gulfoss From Above

Gulfoss Rocks


Without the protective rail, you do get some good pictures though. Please note my hat, gloves and multiple layers. Husband J’s friend, Mr. G., kept apologizing for the weather, which was apparently colder than normal for late May in Iceland.  I have to say that I couldn’t be happy in a place where 40 degree Fahrenheit weather is normal for May. I’m barely making it through a May full of low 60’s.

TDM Gulfoss

JVM Gulfoss Viking Hat

Yes. We acknowledge the cheesiness of this pic, but my husband is cheesy.

JVM TDM Gulfoss

While Gulfoss is probably not the most awe-inspiring waterfall I have seen, there is nothing like getting so close that you can touch (or maybe jump in in this case?) to make seeing a sight even more exciting.

Have you ever gotten closer than usual to the heart of a tourist sight? Where?

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Golden Circle, Part 1 – Iceland’s Geysir

Thursday, October 25th, 2012 | Posted under Iceland

Reykjavik is totally cool, but much of Iceland’s real gems are outside of its capital city. Since Husband J and I were only in the country for a long weekend, we decided to stick to Iceland’s three most visited natural sights, collectively called the Golden Circle. These natural wonders aren’t necessarily the most scenic or exciting areas to explore in Iceland, but their proximaity to Reykjavik make them easy to get to and see in a day. We had our own private tour, but I’ll explain more about that below.

Our first stop was Geysir.

It doesn’t take very long after leaving Reykjavik for the landscape to change completely. The volcanic rock covered by moss seems pretty eery to me.

Iceland Countryside


When we finally got to Geysir, you can tell that this place is hot. Literally hot. Check that steam…

Iceland Geysir

Iceland’s known for its thermal springs, and the heat from below is the main force pushing water to the surface. By the way, if you’re wondering if English has borrowed from Icelandic, it has. This very place inspired the English word “geyser”.

Before seeing the main geysir, you’ll notice all of these heated pools. Don’t jump in. This is not an outdoor hot tub.

Iceland Geysir Hot Spring


There are two main geysirs that are still (naturally) putting on a show. Unlike Old Faithful in the U.S. that makes sure to erupt on a clear schedule, these geysirs have a mind of their own. People spend several minutes just waiting for one eruption. I read that for several years, the geysirs had stopped erupting at all.

Iceland Geysir


Iceland Geysir

Waiting some more….

Even when you do get to see something, it might not be all that exciting. Patience is totally key here.

Iceland Geysir

I still enjoyed the scenery and loved seeing the mist drift off of the heated pools of water.

Iceland Geysir


If you’re wondering, I have not becoming a blonde man. 🙂 For the first time during our travels together, Husband J and I had a local contact, Mr. G. Husband J met Mr. G. in graduate school. Husband J’s program emphasized international economic and business issues, and there were students from all over the world, including Mr. G who’s a native of Iceland. Mr. G was beyond hospitable to us during our weekend and was our tour guide for the day. Thanks, Mr. G!


While you’re waiting for the geyser, you might as well take pictures.

TDM JVM Iceland Geysir


When an eruption happens, you have to be camera-ready. I felt lucky just to get this small eruption. The smaller bursts of water are usually a sign that a bigger one is coming.

Iceland Geysir Erupting

 So happy the point and shoot got this!

The Big One!

While the Big Geysir is cool (I’m naming it Big Geysir), I thought the rest of the site was worth a quick walk. Many of the small bodies of water were actually old geysers that are no longer erupting or small hot mineral pools. Iceland is all about thermal springs, and there are more than enough spas and thermal baths (both public and private) to experience them.

Iceland Geysir Hot Spring


Being curious (or crazy. Take your pick), I wanted to see how hot these springs really were. I found a little stream trickling next to a pool and bravely (stupidly?) put my hand in to test the water.

TDM Geysir Hot Spring


It actually wasn’t that hot. Maybe I’d gotten lucky? It was hot enough to warm up my hands from the super cold weather southwestern Iceland was having even in late May, but it was far from scalding.


There’s a warning sign? Ooops….

Iceland Geyser Danger Hot

At this point, I had whipped out my hat and even though it was a quietly beautiful place, I was ready to get back into Mr. G’s car.


Luckily, we got to witness one last eruption. Apparently, the water can go up to 70 meters high.

Icelnad Geysir

This was only stop number one of the three Golden Circle sights that we’d see that day.

Tip: If you want to see the Golden Circle, there are numerous tours leaving from Reykjavik each day. If you want the most flexibility, you can rent a car. Iceland’s roads are excellent, although if you’ll be there during the winter, I’d make sure that the rental car is properly fitted for winter conditions.


Any geyser observers out there? Has anyone been to Old Faithful?


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A Walk through Reykjavik

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012 | Posted under Iceland


Late May was still pretty cool in Reykjavik, and for a capital city, it felt more like a small town. I don’t know what I was expecting when we arrived, but we were surprised at its village feel. Then again, Iceland has a population of approximately 300,000 people, most of whom live in and around the Reykjavik area, so I probably wouldn’t have experienced a bustling city anyway.

After a very expensive breakfast of pancakes and coffee (Yikes on the price!!), we started roaming the streets hoping to stay warm during our walk. We bumped into this guy right here. He’s Ingolfur Aranarson, Iceland’s first resident. He escaped from Norway (dodging criminal charges. Hmm…) and used a pagan ritual to figure out where he wanted to settle on the island. It turns out the gods decided on Reykjavik’s current location.

Ingolfur Arnarson Statue Reykjavik

TDAM Ingolfur Arnarson Statue Reykjavik

Me & Ingolfur

Without leaving the grassy hill where we found Ingolfur’s statue, we turned to our right and saw this super futuristic looking beehive of a building, the Harpa Concert Hall & Conference Center. This is what I envision when I think about Scandinavian design.

Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall & Conference Center

This was one of the few large, modern looking buildings that we’d see around downtown Reykjavik because so much of the architecture around downtown looked more like this:

Reykjavik Building

By the way, our morning was cold and overcast. I had to whip out the hat and the gloves. According to our Icelandic friends (you’ll meet them soon), they were experiencing a bit of a cold snap even though it was still common to have weather in the low 50’s Fahrenheit in late May.

I felt like we were breaking and entering into the City Cathedral; but if the door’s open, the door’s open. We creeped inside.

City Cathedral Reykjavik

We slowly opened the door to discover a beautiful church. Most Icelanders are affiliated with the Church of Iceland, a part of the Lutheran denomination, even if they may not participate very much (if at all) in religious activities (this is according to our Icelandic friends).

City Cathedral Reykjavik Interior

City Cathedral Reykjavik Interior

City Cathedral Interior Reykjavik

A pretty church, isn’t it?

The City Cathedral is actually right on Austurvollur Square, where Icelanders gather for everything from hanging out to protests. It’s a good place for political agitation because it’s also the location of Iceland’s Parliament.

Athingishus Parliament House Reykjavik

Finally, people! We’d barely seen anyone on the streets that morning. Here’s  group finishing up some landscaping work in front of Althingishus aka Parliament House.

Iceland is all about its Scandinavian roots (there’s lots of influence from Norway and Denmark through language and colonial history), and I think of bicycles when I think of Scandinavia. That’s why  took this picture below.

Austurvollur Square Bike

After peeking down a street, we thought, “Oh THAT’S where the pond is!” Tjornin Pond is pretty even if it was an overcast day.

Tjornin Pond Reykjavik

I know it’s just a pond, but the swans and ducks were cute. I had no bread to feed them, which I probably wasn’t supposed to do anyway.

The pond isn’t the only body of water right in downtown. Iceland is in fact an island, and there is a major seafaring, nautical culture here. Reykjavik’s harbor is very much in use.

Reykjavik Harbor

Reykjavik Harbor Boat

So that’s a glimpse of our walk around central Reykjavik.

Have you been someplace and thought, “This is totally not what I expected.”? I’d love to hear about it.

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Baejarins Beztu Pylsur – Iceland’s Must-Try Hot Dogs

Friday, July 27th, 2012 | Posted under Iceland

I know….I went all the way to Iceland, and I had hot dogs. I couldn’t resist, and I don’t think you should either. Baejarins Beztu Pylsur is a national institution in Iceland, and it has to be a stop you make while in Reykjavik. Even former U.S. President Bill Clinton has been there. He’s got a hot dog named after him! By the way, don’t order your hot dog with just mustard like he did.


Baejarins Beztu Pylsur Parking Lot

Hopefully, you won’t encounter a long line, which can form from out of nowhere. There’s only one picnic bench for seating, so be prepared to stand in the parking lot and eat.

Baejarin Beztu Pylsur Sign


I like that these hot dogs look deceptively simple.

Baejarins Beztu Hot Dog with Everything


While it may look like there’s very little going on with these hot dogs from the outside, just know that the “Everything” hot dog has a lot under the hood (or the dog?): Ketchup, remoladi (an Icelandic mayonaise-like sauce), sweet mustard, and both fried and raw onions.

Baejarins Beztu Hot Dog Close-up

Actually complicated

I say that this hot dog looks deceptively simple because until you bite into them, you don’t recognize the flavor complexity. There are savory and sweet notes mixing with smooth sauces and crunchy onions. Plus, there’s also a big, crisp, flavorful hot dog in the middle.  The hot dog actually includes lamb, which gives it a more flavorful meaty taste than just pork or beef dogs. This is the perfect late night snack, early lunch, lunch, dinner or whatever you meal you want it to be.

Also at  300 Kronas (around $2.50 USD based on the exchange rate), this is most likely going to be the cheapest meal you’ll eat in Iceland. The food prices there are a little scary, but that’s for another post…..

Do you like visiting local food “institutions” when traveling? Where has been your favorite? Do you have a favorite local place that you frequent in your hometown?

Baejarins Beztu Pylsur

Tryggvagata 101 @ the corner of Posthusstraeti

Reykjavik, Iceland 

Happy Weekend!

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Weekend in Reykjavik – The Highlights

Monday, June 4th, 2012 | Posted under Iceland

My crazy spring of travel finally ended a little over a week ago. Husband J and I headed to Iceland for a long weekend.

Now before you think I’ve gone a little crazy, let me tell you that Iceland isn’t as far away as you think, especially for those of you living in the Northeast United States and Europe. A little over 5 hours going west from New York City, and you’re in Los Angeles or San Francisco. You go 5 hours in the opposite direction, and you’re in Reykjavik, Iceland. 🙂 This was Husband J’s idea and not mine. When HE says, “Hey, let’s go somewhere!”, what am I supposed to say? No? BWWAHAHAHA. Not happening.

I know he really enjoyed our trip there, and I think a little peek at Iceland made me realize that I miss traveling in Europe. HOWEVER, it also made me realize that I don’t miss the EXPENSE of traveling in Europe. Since it’s a far from tropical island nation of about 320,000 people, Iceland imports many goods, and food prices are not cheap.

That being said, I will say that Iceland is a beautiful place and a really pleasant travel destination. Its great roads, natural beauty, art scene (which I didn’t really take advantage of), geothermal spas, nightlife (we old folks missed that, too), and wonderful food offerings really make for a cool place for a quick visit. Plus, with a language that I was going to butcher anyway (and most times didn’t even both to try to pronounce), many, many people I came into contact with spoke accent-less English. I found out most kids there learn four languages simultaneously.

You could easily spend over a week making a circle around the country (the interior is pretty desolate), but even 4 days will give you a nice introduction to it. Here’s a little of our experience in Reykjavik and the parts of the countryside close by that we visited. No Bjork sightings though (Actually she lives a few minutes away from us in Brooklyn).

The interior of Hallgrimskirkja Church in downtown Reykjavik. The exterior is even cooler. 
A Baejarins Beztu Pylsur hot dog. One of the most famous restaurants in Iceland is a hot dog stand. I’m not even kidding. 

Iceland is literally a hotbed of geothermal energy (no pun intended). One of the hot springs at Geysir

Hiking Esja, 15 minutes from downtown Reykjavik. It’s a long way up, but the views are worth it. 

A statue of Ingolfur Arnarson, Iceland’s first resident, in downtown Reykjavik 

Icelandic food is about fresh seafood (and lamb). Cod and grilled lobster from Sjavargrillid (Seafood Grill)

Husband J says to me last night, “No more trips for awhile, right?” I’ll have to think about it, dear. 🙂 Just kidding…well, not really.
Any Iceland lovers out there? If you were to go to Iceland, what would you want to see or do? Glaciers, wildlife, shopping, going out ’til dawn…..? 


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