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ltownsend2008

ltownsend2008

I am not a robot

Apr182013

Tour/Activity

Whale Watching including Gullfoss and Geysir Express Tour from Reykjavik

Reykjavik, Iceland

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

So, you're probably not going to see a whale leaping out of the water making a giant splash, nor a puffin close up like in the photo. You will see some backs with fins and lots of porpoise backs with fins closer up. If you are thinking Sea World in Florida then you have the wrong idea. However, this is a fun trip if you like boats and being at sea.

The tour guide is very enthusiastic "11 O'Clock MINKY WHALE!!!" and tells you a lot about whales and the area so you should be interested in this.

They offer free sea sickness tablets at the bar and unless you 100% know that you won't get sea sick then please take one as soon as you board as it can be very very choppy! Also make sure you have a strap for your camera as you will get thrown about! Saying that unless you have a "proper camera" with multi shot then there's not much point. Just enjoy the trip instead.

They offer you warm snow suits at the beginning so there is no need to be cold. Bring good gloves and proper shoes. There is an indoor lower deck with bar, middle deck with roof and open upper deck. Toilets on board are as to be expected of a boat.

They come around giving our blankets on the way home which is nice.

We saw two Minky backs and a collection of porpoise backs. It is exciting scanning the water looking for them. Like some cold wet version of "Where's Wally".

Didn't see puffins but it isn't the season. Don't expect too much Come back in the summer to go to Puffin Island.

So if you like boats and don't get sea sick then do this. If you want to see and meet animals then try a horse riding trip instead as this was awesome! If you have kids then just visit the zoo!

Apr162013

Tour/Activity

Blue Lagoon Spa Roundtrip Transport from Reykjavik

Reykjavik, Iceland

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

(45 min drive from Reykjavik)
REMEMBER! This is a taxi service and NOT lagoon entry as well! You need to pay to enter, 5300 ISK and if you want to rent a towel and robe its 12 euro (of course you can pay in ISK). Please don't be an idiot like all the people arguing that their entry fee is included in the tour price. It isn't. And the staff are really nice so just expect to pay and go in! It's worth it.

You get a blue electronic wristband for the lockers and can charge your drinks to it so you don't need to take money in. Prices are standard. There's a bar in the middle of the pool that you can swim to. The water is plenty warm enough on a 6 degree day too.

You need to take your shoes off first, then find some place to change and faff about making the locker work. Then shower "with your clothes off" says the sign! If you are a girl then you should use the conditioner before going in the water or your hair will be dry for about three days. They recommend you to do this.

At the back of the pool there are bowls of silica mask for your face for free. There is a floatation massage area too, you pay at the reception. There is a very steamy steam room if you decide that you aren't hot enough too! Some staff members come around taking your photo with an iPad and email it to you (for free) with some Blue Lagoon advertising jargon.

A fancy restaurant and a cheaper cafe with fruit pots 500ISK and various sandwich type things for 600-900ISK and oat cookies!

There's obviously a gift shop selling Blue Lagoon products, pricey but good gifts if you're family are into that kind of thing.

Oh just remember that when you're finished in the shower at the end then dry yourself BEFORE going to your locker to get changed or someone will yell at you and you will be standing there have dressed and awkward!

Its a bit pricey, 30 quid ish? But hey, you're on holiday and its a nice outing. You only need about 3 hours there unless you want to be a prune. Some nice pics to take outside too

Apr152013

Tour/Activity

Day Trip from Reykjavik: Glacier Hiking and Ice Climbing on Iceland's Sólheimajokull Glacier

Reykjavik, Iceland

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

This was amazing! I am a rock climber anyway but have never climbed on ice. It's about 3 hours from Reykjavik. You get given crampons, helmet and ice axe. You should bring a good coat, waterproof trousers and high ankle walking boots. And water!

We did a short walk and then some ice climbs. The guides set up anchor points at the top and ab down. They be-lay you, you climb up and they bring you down. You don't have to climb if you don't want to. It isn't a difficult climb, everyone managed to get to the top and there were all sorts of people.

Afterwards we went on a longer hike for an hour or so, be careful and walk where the guide tells you unless you fancy one leg falling knee deep into ice water. Maybe bring spare socks?!

The hike isn't hard is you are a walker but if you just sit about in an office all day then you might struggle. Our guides were Snorri and Gulli and they were really good, fun and knew lots to tell us. Found a small ice cave and ate an icicle! Why not?!

There are ham and cheese and salad rolls at lunch and Icelandic doughnuts nom nom. If you're a fussy eater then bring some snacks. Also pack some snacks if you might want a boost during the hike.

I won't tell you what you get to see but the formations and views are beautiful. I don't want to spoil it. Definitely worth the money when compared to the other tours you can get.

On the way hope we stopped at Skogafoss waterfall which is stunning, it often has a rainbow running through it, bring your rain coat, its splashy! If you work out the angles well then you can get your photo taken standing at the end of the rainbow!

We also stopped the the farm where they first spotted the Eyjafjallajökull erruption in 2010 and reported it to the media (who didn't believe them!). Lots of the farm was damaged but they have turned this unfortunate event into a positive and attract tourists and have a visitors center and information signs.

Best trip of the tour and worth paying 100 whatever quid for!

Apr142013

Tour/Activity

Golden Circle Classic Day Trip from Reykjavik

Reykjavik, Iceland

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

I think that we chose to do this tour on one of the windiest days possible, it was a bit like aim your camera and hope you get something as you can hardly open your eyes, however it was still a nice trip. You get on and off the bus A LOT!

So you first go to the National Park. Very rocky and scenic, this is where the tectonic plates are split and where "Law Rock" is. Good camera moments.

Next, Gullfoss. It is worth going right to the bottom of the Gullfoss waterfalls but take a waterproof jacket (lots of spray) and allow extra time if you find walking stairs and slopes hard. At the cafe you can get 100ISK or so off the soup with your tour ticket. They have other things like panini's (veggi too) and gateaux's and cheese cakes. Also a gift shop, toilets- usual kind of thing. If you have some spare money then go and find the poster about husky "dog sledding" on the wall by the toilets. It is near Gullfoss but not well advertised in Reykjavik.
So you also get to see the Geysirs, as it was a windy day they only shot up about 10m and drifted off to the side. If you get caught in the spray then wear a rain jacket and prepare to be blasted with the sulphate type smell! You will find yourself standing about with 100 tourists holding your camera and staring at a pool of water and waiting for something to happen for 10 mins or so which is rather amusing. Good site to see though. I recommend just shooting a video and getting still shots from it instead of taking photos.
You get to visit a village with a nice church for about 10 mins. Nice if you like churches, stained glass windows are pretty.
What is best described as an old volcano hole, where the volcano once stood, very nice blue water is now there.
And the geothermal power plant at Nesjavellir, here you can pay 500ISK to "experience an earthquake" in a museum type thing. There is a cafe eith a sign saying "we are happy today! Therefore offer you a beer and a cheese muffin for only 1000 ISK". What more could you want?

Apr122013

Tour/Activity

Northern Lights Night Tour from Reykjavik

Reykjavik, Iceland

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

Right, let's get this straight so no one else gets as confused as we did. First off don't expect to see lights like you do in pictures and postcards. This is how the camera see's the lights which is NOT the same as how the naked eye sees the lights. A camera lets in a lot more light so is able to collect more colour for the image. If you see lights like in the photos then you are very very lucky indeed! What you will be looking for are "bows" or "electrically charged" sections of the sky. You might see some cloudy night time rainbows or some pale green swoops. Of course this is still a nice experience.

I tried this trip four times to try and get some good photos. The first night we saw a very pale "bow" and on the way home a green streak that was apparently rated a 5 but we couldn't get out the coach. The second night was cancelled. The third we saw nothing at all. The fourth night was the best as we went to a family run hotel in a field. They had hot chocolate and waffles, ping-pong table and seating area so this was a much more enjoyable trip. Previously we had only the coach to keep warm on and stopped for an hour at a service station to wait for it to get dark.

If you are patient, bring lots and lots of warm layers and BRING A TRIPOD then you will have a much nicer time than everyone else. You can not take photos just holding the camera or balancing it on the floor/your knee/friend's head. You need to have a camera that will let you set manually or have at least a 10 second shutter speed.

Go with the expectation that you won't see anything but it will be nice if you do and just enjoy the ride, then you won't be disappointed if nothing happens. Don't sit on the bus and complain that it's late and cold and boring and you didn't see anything. Nature is unpredictable and you need to respect this!!

On the plus side the tour guides are very enthusiastic, helpful with setting up your camera and have a lot of things to tell you and share with you.

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