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Iceland and Greenland 2005: [Day 1] [Day 2] [Day 3] [Day 4]

Sunday, June 12, 2005: Our original plans were to leave Indianapolis on Friday and arrive in Reykjavik early on Saturday. However, a cancelled flight and bad weather forced us to leave a day later and connect in ... Scotland!
We decided long ago that even if all you see is the airport, it still counts as being there (we were three time veterans of Japan that way prior to our first actual visit), so we both added another country to our list. We got to see the lovely green hills of Glasgow through the window of the airport terminal. (Ten years later, we spent a day in Glasgow!)
Finally, 36 hours behind schedule, we arrived in Reykjavik. Little did we know that our adorable red rental car had a dead battery.
The nice Avis folks gave us a jumpstart (but not a different car... insert ominous music here...) and instructions to let the battery charge for at least 20 minutes. We left the airport and headed out for a nice Sunday drive.
With a cold soda and delicious prawn cocktail potato chips purchased in Scotland, we were ready to enjoy the Icelandic scenery.
Debbie had spotted lupines near the runway as we were landing, and was giddy to find the roadsides covered with lupines. In our garden, lupines are only in bloom for two weeks, so we were very pleased with the timing of our visit.
We made our way through Keflavik to find our hotel, then we headed out to Garður to see the lighthouses. At this point, we had been driving for over 30 minutes.
The old lighthouse is out on the point. This is a view of the new lighthouse looking back from the old lighthouse. It was here that we met the very nice German retired school teachers from Düsseldorf who were kind enough to give Tom a lift into town when we returned to our car and the deadest battery ever.
The nice teenage girl working at the Esso station could not find jumper cables, so she called her cousin across the street. He drove back to the lighthouse with Tom and jumpstarted our car. He refused payment and we will always be grateful to him for his kind help.
We headed right back to the airport and got our car replaced, then checked into our hotel. Heading out again, we passed a Antonov 124 Condor, which Tom insisted that we photograph.
This is a landmark on the map that Avis gave us, and we passed it many times on our journeys.
Also listed on the maps are the very few forests in this area. Believe it or not, this little grove of evergreens was on the map. We heard that if you ever get lost in a forest in Iceland, just stand up.
Our destination, the Blue Lagoon, was easily visible in the distance, because it is located right next to the geothermal power plant spewing steam.
The terrain in most of Iceland is volcanic. Lichen and moss eventually grow on the lava, forming an eerily beautiful landscape.
After a short drive, we arrived at our destination. Our little apple mascot friend, Orchy, joined us as well. Look for him at the bottom of this photo.
We donned our swimsuits and relaxed for an hour in the warm, mineral-rich water of the Blue Lagoon. The air temperature was approximately 60 degrees F (15 degrees C), and steam was rising from the warm water at all times. There are small bridges, grottos, rocky beaches, and a waterfall to explore. We didn't bring a camera in with us, so we got this photo from the main building.
After our soak, we explored the area of the Lagoon which isn't open for bathing. There are trails around this area, and the scenery is unreal.
Iceland has many beautiful birds, including these little guys, who also seem to enjoy the Lagoon.
As we left, we paused for one final shot.
Next, we decided to follow the south end of the peninsula. We learned later that roads with three digit numbers contain sections that are not paved, such as this one.
In addition to the ubiquitous lupines, we spotted these plants fairly often. We think they are sea thrift, or armeria plants, but we're not sure.
Our next stop was the Bridge Between Two Continents. The North American and European tectonic plates meet at this location in Iceland.
As you cross the bridge, a helpful sign alerts you when you are straddling two continents. It's a mighty, mighty feeling indeed.
All of the science behind this is conveniently summarized in this charming display next to the bridge.
Under the bridge is a long chasm filled with sand. As you can see, we were the only visitors. Even though we were there at the start of the high season, we often felt like we had the entire country to ourselves and we never felt crowded by other tourists.

All over Iceland, you'll find stacks of stones. These piles of stones are believed to appease the hidden people and to bring good luck.

We returned from our sightseeing and had just enough strength to enjoy dinner at Rain, a restaurant in Keflavik which overlooks the bay. Exhausted, we returned to the Hotel Keflavik and collapsed. We were able to sleep even though it was this bright out at 11:00 at night.

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