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This is the long overdue final posting or our trip! The final few days of our trip were a mix of emotions, and we ran the gamut! Tuesday saw us feeling sad as we dropped our new friends off at the airport and bid them adieu for their journey home. Prior to dropping them off, we got an opportunity to share some more quality time with them wandering through Reykjavik, shopping and trying Icelandic sweets.

We then enjoyed some alone time wandering the streets by ourselves (and a few thousand other tourists).  We wandered down to the building where the historic Iceland Summit with President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev occurred.  The whole world waited while they met.  This meeting was the precursor to the “wall” coming down and the end of the Cold War. We wandered further afield and stopped at a local restaurant recommended by the hotel. Street Lamb Food is a small place close to the harbor where the food was the best we had tasted on the trip. Kathy loved her meal that was somewhere between a gyro and a burrito that was filled with savory lamb and a mix of fresh vegetables. Dave had something similar, but more closely resembled a thick quesadilla that had a different variety of vegetables but still the savory taste of lamb.  Soon we were at our new hotel where we settled in for the night.

The next day dawned early and we headed out to Snaefellsjokull National Park where we drove down a dirt road so that Kathy could see a beautiful lighthouse that overlooked the Atlantic Ocean. Dave got to add some more birds to his life list so it was a win-win all the way around!  That evening was spent just wandering around again, enjoying the beautiful city of Reykjavik.

Our last full day in Iceland saw us first mount a Search and Rescue mission to the airport where we “saved” one of our group members IPhone from the inner sanctums of the Lost and Found Department! Next we headed off to explore the south coast of the island. We headed out to find the bridge that spans two continents, North America and Europe.  Along the way we got distracted and stopped at a trailhead along the road.  We hiked through the black sand, lava rocks, and the cotton grass and ended overlooking the ocean and watched the wave’s crash against high cliffs. It was a beautiful moment and we had the view all to ourselves. Not a single other tourist was willing to brave the two mile hike in and then the hike back…in gale force winds no less. (Not that we were that special.  We had no idea the trail would be that long!) But, it was well worth it!

Getting back on task, we soon found ourselves at the bridge that spans the Mid Atlantic Rift.  Like the Silfra Fissure where we snorkeled, this bridge is in the gap between the two tectonic plates.  We walked across the bridge and Dave remarked on the fact of how many people can walk from one continent to the next? (Okay, people may be able to walk from North America to South America.  And, okay, people may be able to walk from Europe to Asia across the Ural Mountains or River.  And, okay, people may be able to walk from Africa to Asia.  But we’re talking on a small island here people!) The trip back across the bridge brought on the wrath of the Norse Gods and we were suddenly pummeled with torrents of rain and sleet that was propelled along by gusts of wind.

Realizing that we might want to find something indoors to do, we choose to spend the late afternoon wandering around the National Museum of Iceland where we learned the history of Iceland.  The interesting comment from the docent at the center was how WWII, while considered by most an evil war that should never be repeated and they mourn the loss of lives, actually helped the country of Iceland gain independence.  At the time, they were under the realm of Denmark.  However, while the Danish were under Nazi occupation, Iceland decided to declare independence.  In addition, the occupation of Iceland by the US military helped to build infrastructure in the country including roads and airports. This was game changing to help the country on a path of independence.

Well soon it was time to come home….or maybe not.  Buffalo was supposed to get slammed by an historic snowfall and our flight home from JFK to Buffalo was cancelled. While we could get from Iceland to JFK, we were going to be stranded at JFK until the next available flight to Buffalo which was not until 06:30 in the morning the next day. Arriving at JFK almost 24 hours before our new flight to Buffalo, we wondered if this rescheduled flight would go as scheduled. We predicted correctly and that flight was soon cancelled. The next available flight was not scheduled until Sunday at 3:30 pm, stranding us at JFK for 53 hours – IF that flight wasn’t also canceled.

We checked out the TWA Hotel at the airport.  They wanted $350 per night!  While the pain of sleeping at the JFK airport or the $700 for two nights lodging weighed upon Kathy, Dave was more concerned about missing the Bills game on Sunday.  A trip to the information desk gave us a last ditch effort and a brilliant idea. Instead of spending 53 hours at JFK, we flew to Rochester, rented a car, and drove home – just 3 hours after our initial scheduled arrival.   We didn’t see a single snowflake in the air along the entire drive! We also had no snow on the ground in Lockport…………..at least until 07:00 when finally the snow started to drop in our area. But, we made it home, slept in our own bed, played with our own cats, and will be able to watch the Bills game.  Well, assuming they can get the rental car to the Buffalo airport and drive back through the snow and travel bans still in the area!


11/15/2022 Land of Contrasts


The land of Fire and Ice, hot and cold, and wet and dry – this is the country of Iceland. After a long delay we will catch up on all the happenings. The flight, while not very long, seemed long as it was a “red eye” with uncomfortable seats designed to keep a body awake! We landed in Reykjavik at 6:00 in the morning and confusedly tried to meet up with our “MeetUp” group, get our rental cars, and then get on our way. A long two hours later we were off to visit the Blue Lagoon, a large lagoon fed by hot springs. The cool morning breeze wafted over us as we lazily floated through the hot pool as the sun slowly rose. We enjoyed the time getting to know the people in the group while we floated through the various pools. A short time later we were off on a whale watching boat tour with two others of the group. The goal for Kathy was to see whales frolicking in the water off of the coast of Iceland. Fearing that the only sight she would see would be the masses of tourists huddled in the boat cabin to avoid the cold rain, she was finally rewarded with the sight of some humpback whales and dolphins swimming near the boat.  Catching them breaching was a treat for all of us and we clamored into the cold wind and rain to catch glimpses of the whales.  Next we were off to find our hotel, check in, and get warm and dry.  Arriving at the hotel, we hurriedly dropped off our bags and went looking for sustenance. We had a nice local meal and then went back in the hotel where Kathy fell asleep at 7 pm and did not wake up until morning.

Saturday came quickly and we were up and off to see the Golden Circle in Iceland.  The Golden Circle is a tour route which follows a trail that stops at several locations along a circuitous route.  The Golden Circle gets its name from a large waterfall, Gullfoss, located along the way. The name Gullfoss means Golden Falls in Icelandic. The circle part comes from the route that you follow which is roughly circular.  We saw a couple of waterfalls, hiked around the rim of a volcanic crater that had a blue lake instead of lava sitting in the base, saw a geyser erupt, and then ended up at our next excursion – a snorkeling trip!  We swam in the ice-cold, glacier-fed water of the Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park. The fissure is a split between two tectonic plates.  While touted as being able to “touch” both continents at the same time – Europe and North America – it really is a part of no-man’s land between the two continents.  The fissure split is a fairly wide expanse that is not considered part of the European continent nor the North American continent. But – we did snorkel in the rift between two tectonic plates…in Iceland…in November.  Or should we say “Novembrrr!”  The freezing cold trip included a long process of getting into dry suits and waddling on a short trail over to the start of the trip. The water was cold and crystal clear but had not a single fish or anything cool to look at – but hey! we can say we did it.

Finally out of the water, Kathy breathed a sigh of relief (and gratefully drank some hot cocoa).  Soon we were off to the next stop with our cohorts. We stopped at a waterfall close by and took a stroll up the falls.  We enjoyed seeing the glacial water cascade down the side and almost fall on our feet.  We were that close! The last part of the trip was the drive back to the hotel.  A few of us went downtown to grab a bite to eat and visited the beautiful Church of Iceland church, with the exterior designed to look like columns of lava.

We had another scheduled boat trip to hopefully see the northern lights. A quick dash to buy some local chocolate made at the factory and some ice-cream and soon we were off to get on the boat. We piled onto the boat and waited and waited.  Unlike our earlier boat trip, the only sight we saw was a bunch of disappointed tourists looking skyward hoping to see the northern lights. It was a beautiful star-filled sky, but with no aurora borealis activity.

Sunday came early and we were off to attend mass in a skinny yet tall church where the mass was conducted in Polish. A good start to the day!  From there we came back to the hotel, gathered some items, and were off to explore Reykjavik.  We strolled through the local shops and met for lunch. The most important stop of the day was at 6 pm where we had reserved a bunch of tables at a local American Bar.  The group piled in and with a bunch of “local” Bills fans, we watched the Bills versus the Vikings game. While the outcome of the game was not what we wanted, the energy and excitement of sharing the highs and lows with a large group of people was fun.  Soon we were headed off to the hotel where we settled in to get ready for the next day.

Monday November 14, 2022 came early. We grabbed breakfast and were soon off to enjoy what Kathy considered one of the best days EVER!!  We saw multiple waterfalls, including one in which we got to walk around behind the cascading water in a circuitous route that took us behind the falls.  The afternoon saw us going to an “ice cave” which was an amazing journey through and under some of the glacier Vatnajökull. The trail had us hanging on to a rope at times while we walked alongside a quick moving stream that shot through the glacier and carried the ice cold water along a path that disappears under the black lava beneath the glacier. We got drenched as the water melted from the cave ceiling onto us while we walked along the path. Dave took the opportunity to taste the glacier, sticking out his tongue to take a lick, hoping that it did not become frozen to the ice! Soon, everyone just had to lick the glacier!  No rescue was needed and we were soon off to enjoy the long drive back to the hotel where we eagerly looked out the window hoping for a glimpse of the northern lights.