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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Iceland Day 4 and Day 5


Church next to our Hotel at dawn

        Our fourth day started by walking around the hotel area. We were directly across from a harbor which today was smooth as glass. There were a few Glaucous Gulls flying around and I spotted a Common Murre inside the harbor area.


Common Murre in Harbor


We found this heart near the hotel

          Today we headed back to Thingvellir National Park for some snorkeling in the Silfra fissure. Chris and Max were heading into the 34 degree waters in a lake that supposedly has the clearest water in the world. In the Florida keys you have an underwater viewing distance of about forty or fifty feet. In this lake the view is an astounding 300 feet.


Almost Ready


All set to go

     While snorkeling they were between the tectonic plates and able to touch both continents, Europe and North America at the same time underwater. 


Max touching the continents

Chris doing the same

         After a successful snorkeling tour we headed into the capital city of Reykjavik.  Our first stop was the celebrated Hallsgrimskirkja. This is a Lutheran church in Reykjavík. At 244 ft tall, it is the largest church in Iceland and among the tallest structures in the country. It is known for its distinctively curved spire and side wings and was completed in 1986. The first time we tried to enter the church we were denied access because there was a funeral in progress so we had to return later.



        Once inside we paid to go to the top of the tower where we could view the entire city of Reykjavik. 

View of inside the church

Bell Tower

View from tower of Rainbow Road

Reykjavik from church tower

Rainbow road from street level

          Before getting to Iceland we had this crazy idea of learning a few words in Icelandic. Well as you can see from the street names above this was a lot more difficult than we had planned.

         Setting out to our next stop was just a short ride to the ocean. We stopped to see the Sun Voyager which was a stainless steel sculpture of a Viking boat and then drove past the Reykjavik Concert Hall, Harpa, which was a nice modern building with honeycomb windows.


Max at the Sculpture of a Viking boat named the Sun Voyager

Harpa Concert Hall

            The following stop was the one I was waiting for in the city. We went to Tjornin Lake located near city hall and several museums. But my interest was on the lake itself. Waterfowl! I wanted to get some close-up photos of the swans and other ducks. So we took a walk around the lake and I started snapping pictures.

Eurasian Wigeon

Whooper Swan

Glaucous x Herring Gull

Black-headed Gull

President of Iceland's Office

Graylag Goose

Tufted Duck

Interesting Sculpture

Distant photo of Common Gull - lower center bird with yellowish legs

         After this we headed back to the hotel for dinner and after dark we went to the Blue Lagoon, a popular spa destination featuring an outdoor lagoon with mineral-rich waters in a lava field. What's so special about the Blue Lagoon in Iceland? It's most famous for its steamy mineral-rich water and soft white silica mud, both of which have healing effects on the skin. Locals and visitors have long enjoyed the benefits of bathing in the Blue Lagoon and spreading silica mud on their skin, and scientists have even studied its curative powers.
The Blue Lagoon is a bit of a tourist trap and will make a hole in your budget but I really enjoyed it.


Blue Lagoon Spa

         The water is warm but not hot like a hot tub. You must shower before you enter the water and then you can enter by going outside in the cold air or by a tunnel that leads directly into the warm water. I was the only one stupid enough to take the freezing cold outside route but the spa quickly brought me back to consciousness. With the paid admission you get a drink while in the spa and a silica facial mask. The water was so nice we stayed in for about 2 1/2 hours looking for the northern lights again and enjoying the warmth. Sharon and Chris closed the placed down.

Enjoying the spa

Silica face mask

Party Time - camera kept fogging over

        Our last day we headed back to the Keflavik peninsula, which is where the airport was located and we stopped at the Kvika foot bath. It was a natural pool but the water was so hot I couldn't stick my foot in, so I went birding along the shoreline.


Great Cormorant

Black Guillemot

        Down at the lighthouse I was able to get a couple more life birds. There was a large flock of Eurasian Golden Plovers and a Common Redshank. The other life bird I found was a European Shag (Cormorant) which I was unsuccessful at getting a photograph.

Eurasian Golden Plover

Common Redshank

Ruddy Turnstone

Any guesses?

Common Redshank again

Grotta Island Lighthouse at end of Keflavik Peninsula

         Out flight home left at 4:30PM and we got to Denver at 6:30PM. The time zones were very helpful and in our favor. The actual flight took about 7 1/2 hours.

        The mystery bird above is a Purple Sandpiper. 

        It was a short but wonderful trip. Would I go back again. Yes indeed, but I have other places to go first. So, maybe someday.


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