I’m on my G Adventure in Iceland.  November 16-November 24, 2019 I’ll be captive to a mini bus, my CEO and 11 other adventurers from around the world.  I say around the world, but 6 out of 12 of us have come from the US and out of that, 4 people are from Chicago.  The rest are from the UK, Canada and Croatia.  We all have one thing in common that gives us an immediate shared experience and camaraderie.  We all love to travel.

Our G Adventures CEO (Chief Experience Officer) is Oliver.  He is a young German man who came to Iceland years ago to live and work here.  At one point he might have thought it was temporary, but now with a child in kindergarten he says Iceland is looking more like a long term plan.  Oliver is very entertaining and informative when he’s giving us directives, information and advice.  He’s always cracking jokes with a straight face about keeping us in line, perfect plans gone awry, and the weather.

Our CEO (Chief Experience Officer) Oliver is terrific

As a G Adventures Ambassador of Change I’m here to soak in the whole G Experience and bring it back home and share it with everyone.  I’m excited to be here in Iceland, even in blustery winter.

On our first day we all gathered in Reykjavik in the lobby of our first hotel for an introductory meeting.  That’s also the day I went to the Hard Rock Café for dinner, to check off Reykjavik.  I should be nearing about 30 HRC around the world soon.  I’m so thankful someone pointed this one out to me. 

Of Monsters and Men is missing from here. Criminal.

I really wanted to see some Of Monsters and Men memorabilia here, but no, they don’t have a single item!  My waitress said the only thing they have there from an Icelandic rocker is Bjork.  Well who wants to see that!  Unless it’s her outlandish stork/swan costume.  I forgot to ask.  Maybe I should go back and check.  Anyway, I was sorely disappointed.  My waitress said she would pass on my comments to the management and I said yes, please do that.  HRC should pay more respect to the local talent. 

We set out early the next day for a long drive across the southern stretch of Iceland.  It was around 7 hours of driving at least, and along the way Oliver made several stops for sightseeing, photo ops, restroom and food. 

First we went to a geothermal garden in Hveragerði, a hot spring village outside of Reykjavik and our first introduction to the Icelandic daylight time frame.  We arrived around 9:30 AM in the pre-dawn hours of the morning.  It felt like 6 AM in terms of darkness.  The man who met us at the village showed us how they cook eggs in the hot springs water and bake bread in a steam oven outside.  Very efficient and energy friendly. 

Cooking eggs for our second breakfast

The eggs were very tasty.  Perfectly cooked somewhere between soft and hard boiled and if an egg can be moist and juicy, this was it.  (No sulpher so they were not black eggs like the ones cooked in the volcanic hot springs in Japan.) The dark bread tasted kind of like a squaw/rye bread and it was also very moist, but super dense, nearly like fruitcake to me.  They had a little greenhouse in the back with a palm tree, olive tree, and a few other leafy green plants that don’t grow in Iceland without help. 

We piled back into the bus and moved on.  Next up: the LAVA Center was a place to learn about volcanos and the explosive history of this country.  There’s a lot of rumbling beneath the surface of Iceland and everyone says they’re overdue for the “Big One,” just like we say in California. We also learned about the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Oliver led us all in practicing that pronounciation together. I remember those eruptions in 2010 that produced massive clouds of ash and disrupted air travel for days throughout Europe, and had a domino effect all the way to North America. 

Vegan sandwich from the Lava Center cafeteria for lunch.  If you eat vegan there are some wonderful places in the world to enjoy food, and Iceland is one of them.

Next we drove to the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. On the way, Oliver told us that it’s possible to walk on a path behind the waterfall.  But perhaps today’s weather won’t allow it. Then he told us about a secret waterfall called Gljúfrabúi that’s hidden in a cave down the way. But perhaps today’s weather won’t allow it.  Basically he threw out these big teases and then reeled them back in.  When we got to Gljúfrabúi waterfall, it turned out that we could wade in some shallow water, hop like a frog on some rocks, and get across the water flow to the inside of the cave.

This 30 meter waterfall is lit from above by the sky and sunlight that shine down into the cave. The spray is intense and you will get fairly wet so it’s best to be ready.  The water was freezing, but no problem with good waterproof shoes.  Thank goodness no leaks in mine.  The first real water test of my new hiking boots.

When we got to the next waterfall, the very big Seljalandsfoss, it turned out that people were slip sliding their way down snowy rocks to the path behind the waterfall.  Yesss!  Being behind the waterfall curtain was beautiful.  At 60 meters, this very tall waterfall has impressive power and force, especially from behind.  Not as great as swimming behind the waterfall curtain like we did in Malaysia, but incredible still. 

On our way to the next hotel we stopped at the southernmost point of Iceland, in a town called Vik.  My airport transfer driver had told me that vik means “small bay” in Icelandic.  Vik is a low-lying town at sea level.  Most places in the world that lie in natural disaster zones have an emergency evacuation plan that the city practices and Vik is no exception.  Vik’s natural disaster threat is glacier melt flooding.  I’ve never even considered such a thing.  The evacuation plan is that the residents drive up to a high plateau that overlooks the village.  There’s a church and a large parking lot on the plateau and I guess once they arrive they just stand around and watch their town go under?  I don’t know.  Oliver said the people could have as little as 15 minutes to make it to safety in a worse case scenario.

A church on a high plateau
The view from the glacicer melt flood evacuation point.
These formations are trolls. They were making mischief and turned to stone at daylight.

After browsing through Vik’s market and gift store, then walking on a nearby black sand beach, we got back in the van for another hours long drive to our final destination on the far southeastern side.  We started on the road at 8:30 AM from Reykjavik this morning and after our multiple stops we finally pulled into the hotel around 7:00 PM.  Phew!

Dinner tonight is arctic char, the local fish, and lava cake with ice cream for dessert.  What more appropriate place to eat lava cake than in a country of volcanos and lava.

G Adventures is a great way to explore Iceland. From their top notch National Geographic Journeys itinerary (for singles, couples and families), to just seeing the basics, to a trip for millenials, this company has several wonderful trips for people and groups of all types. I’ve been selected as a 2019 G Adventures Ambassador of Change and it’s my privilege to share with you, my experience on this tour and the terrific work that G’s Planeterra Foundation is doing in Iceland. I’ll be posting about my whole trip to give an idea of what a G Adventures tour is all about!

Contact me at [email protected] or find me at www.epicaway.com

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