Iceland

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Having read Rich's nice and detailed thread about his visit to the Netherlands I want to do the same with my trip to Iceland. We've been touring the country for 23 days and I've collected a rather large amount of images that I'm still in the process of filtering.

Reykjavik

After flying into Iceland we had a day to spend in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. The city is not even as large as the city I live in at home and so much more relaxed. From our hotel we walked to the great pond in front of city hall but the famous swans were not present.

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We circled back to the harbour area where you have a magnificent view of the new concert hall/theater. It has a honeycomb pattern both outside and inside and the use of various colors would have been more spectacular in the dark. Alas, around mid June it doesn't really get dark so we didn't get to see this.

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Walking along the footpath adjacent to the water we walked to the botanical gardens where a nice collection of flowers can be found.

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Also the redwing can be found in the park, and everywhere in Iceland. We see them in the Netherlands only as a migratory bird.

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Walking back from the botanical gardens we passed the house where Reagan and Gorbatsjov signed the treaty to end the cold war.

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At the end of the day we paid a visit to Hallgrimskirkja, the cathedral of Reykjavik. The cathedral can be seen from almost anywhere in Reykjavik and it is a great point of orientation. From the top of the tower you have a 360 degree view of Reykjavik and it shows how much space there is. No high rises and a spacious layout compared to what I see from my own window.

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All images from Reykjavik can be found here:

http://www.halfje-bruin.nl/2013/07/ijsland-reykjavik/
 
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LyndeeLoo

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Ohhhh...these are fabulous and I love your commentary!!! Please, more when you have time???
 
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ICELAND! One of the places I like to visit and photograph. Thanks for sharing. Love your photos.

Iceland is a country made for photographers but you need to take your time. We had plenty of time to see the things we wanted to see so I had enough time to take pictures. And I know that I haven't seen all the interesting things but we made a decent schedule for the trip so we knew what to expect each day.

We've seen too many busloads of tourists that come in, have 15 minutes to look around, and leave again. This way of traveling is nice as you see a lot of stuff but you won't experience anything.

Also, when time is limited, restrict yourself to only one part of the country. There is enough to see, esp. the West Fjords are spectacular (photos will be posted soon). Again, we've met (on other trips as well) too many people that want to see everything in a single week. And that just don't work.
 

Butlerkid

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Looking forward to your images and commentary!

I am toying with the idea of a trip to Iceland so all the lessons learned will be much appreciated!
 

Rob Zijlstra

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Kees, for a start this looks real fine, but don't let us down! It really looks like you had a great trip and I'm indeed heel erg jaloers!
 
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Wonderful images. Thanks for posting these!

You're welcome and more images are on their way.

Looking forward to your images and commentary!

I am toying with the idea of a trip to Iceland so all the lessons learned will be much appreciated!

I can only say go for it. The best time for a visit depends on what you want to see. We wanted to see birds (my brother is a fanatic birdwatcher) and also the highlands. This means that we had to go in June/July as the roads to the highlands open end of June or sometimes early July. Also the birds start to migrate again in August limiting the window of opportunity.

We think of going again during winter so we can see the northern lights and do some frozen waterfalls. But our travel budget has been severely depleted with this trip as things are quite expensive.

Kees, for a start this looks real fine, but don't let us down! It really looks like you had a great trip and I'm indeed heel erg jaloers!

We had a great trip and I know that better stuff is still to come :wink:
 
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Day 2 - Þingvellir

The day started early as we were picked up at the hotel by the car rental company. After all formalities were done, we loaded the bags and headed for Þingvellir, a small park right on the fault line that runs through Iceland. On the way from Reykjavik we stopped at one of many thermal power plants, situated in barren but surprisingly green lava fields.

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As said, Þingvellir shows large fissures in the earth with some of them as recent as a few years old. Aside from the fissures the park also has an old restored church and a nice small waterfall.

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After this we continued to Snaefellsness Peninsula in western Iceland. With a little detour we also visited both Barnafoss and Hraunfossar. These waterfalls are quite different where Barnafoss is just a small waterfall but Hraunfossar is formed by water flowing over a layer of earth that doesn't allow water to seep through. This causes the water to flow as waterfalls over a distance of about 1km in the Hvita river.

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Coming back from the waterfalls we passed a few harlequin ducks sitting in a small stream. Again, rarely seen in the Netherlands but here a "common" sight in fast flowing streams.

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Album link: http://www.halfje-bruin.nl/2013/07/ijsland-thingvellir/
 

Butlerkid

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Kees....Wonderful images! I'm enjoying the armchair visit to Iceland!
 
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Day 3 - Snæfellsnes peninsula

We continue our Iceland tour with a visit to the Snæfellsnes peninsula. There are a few interesting places to visit. First stop is an area with lots of small lakes and this should give us some nice birds. Instead we were tracked by a few sheep.

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While driving the views are awesome with great expanses of water but also several mountains can be seen.

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Next on the route are Arnarstapi and Hellnar, two small villages with some cliffs that provide a nesting ground for many birds.

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In the harbour of Hellnar we found a pair of Oystercatchers with three chicks.

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Continuing we drove along the coastal road and we had a great view of the Snæfellsjökull vulcano (1446m). Usually it is covered by clouds, so we were lucky to see the top.

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Near the town of Grundarfjördur we came across a nice waterfall and the pointy mountain Kirkjufell.

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We finish the day in the town Stykkishólmur. This is a small town with a nice harbor and we will be going by boat tomorrow to our next stop.

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Album link: http://www.halfje-bruin.nl/2013/07/ijsland-snaefellsnes-schiereiland/
 
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Day 4 - Látrabjarg

On this clear and sunny day we took the ferry from Stykkishólmur to Brjánslækur. Calm seas and a nice breeze made it a wonderful crossing. The ferry makes a stop at Flatey where you can get off the ferry to wander around the small island and take the next ferry to continue your trip. We decided that we skip Flatey as we wanted to see the bird cliffs at Látrabjarg in the evening.

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After arriving in Brjánslækur we continued out drive along the coast until the road starts to climb across the mountain range. It is all a barren landscape but after crossing the pass we come to a nice bay.

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From the bay we start our detour to Látrabjarg where we arrive late in the afternoon. The number of birds is not too high but more and more are coming back from the sea. At its peak about 1 million birds nest along the 14km long cliffs. The cliffs are about 400m high and you can walk along the edge but you have to be careful not to step into holes created by the Puffins for nesting.

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Puffin
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Razorbill
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Kittywake
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We probably walked about 3km of the cliff edge until we had seen enough birds for one day. We returned to the car and drove back to our hotel.

Album link: http://www.halfje-bruin.nl/2013/07/ijsland-latrabjarg/
 
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Day 5 - Entering the Western Fjords

Although Látrabjarg is part of the western fjords, the drive today totally overclassed the puny little mountains we saw yesterday. We drove from out hotel near the Látrabjarg cliffs to the town of Ísafjödur, gateway to the western fjords.

During our drive we saw a nice little waterfall but when we parked the car and started to walk to the waterfall we were attacked by the Arctic Terns nesting in the meadows along the road. These birds are very protective of their nests and it is good to be prepared: bring an umbrella or large stick as they attack the highest point.

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After crossing another mountain pass we came to the Dynjandi waterfall, largest of seven cascading waterfalls. This waterfall is about 100m high and 50m wide. Total height of the seven waterfalls in about 250m.

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From the base of the waterfall you have a nice view over the bay.

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The road to Ísafjödur continues to follow the coastline of the fjords with an occasional pass to cross over. The last part is a 7km long tunnel right into the bay where the town is located. The mountains are about 600m high here so the town won't see the sun for about 6 weeks in winter.

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The next three days Ísafjödur will be our starting point for several excursions into the Hornstrandir nature reserve.

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Album link: http://www.halfje-bruin.nl/2013/07/ijsland-westfjorden/
 

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