Sunday, October 18, 2015

Iceland: part FOUR! Einar Jónsson sculpture garden

As i mentioned, Hubby read about free things to do in Iceland, and the sculpture garden behind the Einar Jónsson Museum was on the list.
I have no real info on the museum (we didn't go in) or about any of the sculptures, but we spent a fair amount of time just taking in the detail of the sculptures.
Here's a link to the museum page (should be in English, but if not, you can change the language).
My favorites...
spring
this was my absolute favorite

another very cool one

Christmas
I didn't take a ton of pics but if you like these, you should check out the website. I'd definitely like to go in the museum next time. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Iceland: Part 3...FOOD!

i find it interesting that when people see me for the first time since our trip, it's the same set of questions:
how was your trip?
would you go back?
and...
how was the food?
and, obviously, the first one is just that common courtesy beginner question...the second one is more to get a feel for a need to ask more questions...and the third is the one that makes me laugh.
sure, i like to eat. but i am not a foodie type. i don't go ga-ga over truffle oils and foams and exotic meats and cheeses.  don't get me wrong, i'll try new stuff if it sounds interesting and appealing, but when i sit down to eat, i just want a good meal. here's the thing about food on vacation, though: i don't eat a lot on vacation. in fact, i eat way less. Hubby and i tend to take vacations where we are out in the middle of nowhere for the bulk of our days, so eating remains a simple means for nutrition and sustenance.
Iceland had promises (or threats) of strange things to eat: whale, puffin, shark, horse, reindeer.
along with more traditional types of protein: lamb, beef, and a slew of seafood.
i was not eating anything from that first list.
but, again...we eat when we get hungry and tend to just go where there's food.
that said, i knew i wanted to go to the Lebowski bar. we like whiskey, and really like drinking on vacation (well, also when not on vacation, to be honest), so of course Dillon's whiskey bar caught our attention. a place called Chuck Norris Grill can not be overlooked, especially on our last day when we just need some food in our bellies.
the two nights in Hamar, really left us little choice of eateries, so we ended up eating in the hotel 'restaurant' both nights. it was a bit pricey and i didn't like reading 'foal' on the menu, but what are you gonna do? eat Lara bars and mixed nuts for dinner? no.

anyway, with all the people asking about food, that's what you're getting today...silly food pics.
no...we didn't eat anything crazy, but it was all really delicious. i especially like ordering beef without giving a temp, but getting it cooked to a perfect rare to medium rare. of course, when you order tartar, you know it'll be just right! (sorry, no pic of the last night dinner of tartar...can't find it anywhere.)

on with the show...
(i put a bunch in collages, again, to save space and annoyance. is it better or worse than 13 individual pictures?)

TOP ROW: our cute suite kitchen at our first night hotel, which we did not use. we never went to a grocery store...we only went out to eat. The Lebowski Bar where we had white russians and burgers.
BOTTOM ROW: Dillon's whiskey bar, where the Chuck Norris grill is downstairs. and, a giant Viking Classic (from our last lunch in Reykjavik)
 TOP ROW: our icelandic whiskey that we drank pretty much every evening before and after dinner. The delicious soup and bread from the restaurant at the settlement centre, where they give tours and talk about vikings.
BOTTOM ROW: our yummy first dinner at the hotel in Hamar (Icelandair hotel Hamar). I had the catch of the day (Ling) and hubby had beef, to go along with his mojito and my hendricks martini. breakfast was a buffet with a lot of random stuff.
 TOP ROW: last day in the country, we drove out to take the 1.5 mile hike from Arnarstapi to Hellnar. but...the rain and lengthy drive right after our morning coffee led to the need for a bathroom break. Arnarstapi doesn't have much more than a little restaurant and a gas station. 'restrooms for customers only'...fine, we'll have a drink and wait out the rain and then get on with it...CLOSED! so, instead, we drove to Hellnar, to walk the opposite direction, and grab a bite to eat at Primus Cafe (which was like eating in an IKEA display of tables and chairs). of course, then we decided that time was running out if we wanted to get to the cave tour, so the hike never happened. next time.
BOTTOM ROW: after our late lunch, and the short list of dinner options, we decided to just eat at the hotel restaurant the second night. the menu was the same as the night before. we weren't terribly hungry, so we got soup (the picture is the delicious fish soup, which had the tiniest little scallops, some salmon, and massive shrimp) and the fried calamari. more amazing bread and cocktails.
and the metaphoric cherry on top...
the 'pylsur'
the icelandic hot dog
made with beef, pork, and lamb.
we got ours with everything, of course: both raw and crispy fried onions underneath and a sweet & spicy mustard and 'remoulade' on top. 
a.maze.ing.
'town's best sausages'
and that's about the long and short of our food adventures...not much adventure at all. our last meal, we simply ate at the hotel restaurant (SNAPS), because i had to get away from the drunks at the bar, where we were just going to have some pub food with our drinks.
 
let's  see...we covered a little overview, some scenery, and the food...i wonder what else i can bore you with in my next post?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Iceland: Part Two, ah! the scenery!

Well, my last post promised a follow up with our day trips outside of Borgarnes. But, when i started going through the pictures from the camera (yes! i finally managed to muddle through the inner workings of the computer and save my imprisoned images!), i was again just so mesmerized by the scenery just getting from Reykjavik to Borgarnes (and then to Hamar, where our hotel was), that i couldn't just keep those beautiful images from you!
So...get ready for some landscapes!

the view from the city
the weather really does change without much notice. you can be looking at dark clouds ahead, but turn left or right and see sunshine...no doubt, the reason for all the rainbows! SCIENCE!

to get from where we were, to where we wanted to be...we drove through a tunnel ...we were underwater 
the amazing scenery...i just couldn't get enough!
More cool things...
top row: a black sand beach in Borgarnes
bottom row: a kirkja (church) and a cool sculpture (Borgarnes)
...and, the amazing view from our hotel patio...
standard sort of hotel (single floor rooms only), but with a cute little patio out to a couple hot tubs. our timing for hot tubbing allowed us to have our own private tub. also, the other guests were old bus tour people, so they weren't really into it, i guess.
I really don't know how long it will take me to share the whole trip with all of you, but i sure am enjoying re-living the trip. I'm gonna leave the next post topic as a surprise...because i don't know what I'll decide to share when the time comes!
Hope you all are enjoying the pics...honestly...they don't do the place justice.

Monday, October 12, 2015

My trip to Iceland: Part One

Here we are, back in the real world...we've said our good-bye's to the dwarfs and trolls and elves of Iceland.
What a beautiful place! 
What a strange language!
What a nice vacation.

I'll just get right to it...this won't be one blog post.  It will be a few.  In fact, I am going to start reliving my trip, now, but will have to do it again when I can figure out how to get the pictures off my digital camera and into this new (often maddeningly frustrating) computer.  That's where the good pics are.  What you're about to see now, are just off the ol' iPhone.
So, without further ado...
Iceland: Part one
driving into Reykjavik at about 6am, their time (4 hours ahead of EST)
 happy to have found a place for some breakfast.  Icelanders don't tend to eat breakfast out, and most businesses don't even open before 9, I'd say.
Blue Lagoon. Tourist trap? perhaps. Worth it? definitely. We decided to go with the time change and just jump right into tourist mode.  after spending a couple hours soaking in the thermal hot pot, we finally checked into our hotel after a 22 hour-ish day of travel.

This is a toilet, water closet, bathroom, restroom...whatever you wanna call it, it was the funkiest outhouse I've ever seen. 
After a quick nap in our cute little 'apartment style' hotel room at Hotel Fron, we hit the streets for some wandering...
HARPA is their entertainment venue, i guess you'd call it. They have concerts there. These bike ramps were gone the next time we walked by (a few days later). Cool building, Sits right over the water.
We really liked this sculpture...depending on the angle, it looks like many different things. Of course, i think it's meant to be a viking ship, but i saw a fish, bug, sea creature. What does it look like to you?
 When it came time for dinner, I already knew where i wanted to go. As soon as i had read (during all of my research pre-trip) that there was a place called The Lebowski Bar, it was a no-brainer.
White Russians, great burgers, and Caddyshack on the big screen. Throw in the Icelanders drinking beer at the end of the bar and laughing their asses off over the movie...pretty great first dinner in Iceland!

Just a couple doors down from the Lebowski Bar is a 2-story joint: downstairs, where the food comes from, is the Chuck Norris Grill and upstairs is Dillon's Whiskey bar. We had after dinner whiskeys, and met a guy from Kentucky...drinking beer...in a whiskey bar. 

So, that was day one, in a nutshell.
The next morning we headed out to Borgarnes and Hamar. Two little towns that need each other. We stayed at the Icelandair Hotel Hamar, but drove into Borgarnes for all other neccessities (food, gas, to try to get into the one store that was recommended, by a local, to visit...it was never open when we were there.) 
Up next: 2 nights in Hamar/Borgarnes= day trips to Stykkisholmur, Grudafjodur, Snaefellsnes and it's Vatnshellir cave, and the amazing beach at Djupalonssandur. (forgive the improper spelling/accents...i don't have an Icelandic keyboard and am not savvy enough to figure that out.)