06 Aug 2018

Akureyra, Iceland; Diamond Circle Air Tour

Today we took small plane for a flight-seeing journey today. It is a great way to get a feel for the vast, barren, land that is Iceland. Much seems like it is from some other world, totally surreal. 

Godafoss Waterfall. The green water means it is glacial and is carrying tiny bits of rock and minerals called "rock flour".
Lake Myvatn has a stunning volcanic landscape littered with craters and bubbling mud pools. Very weird.  
You can understand why Game of Thrones chose this location for much of its filming. 
Krafia geothermal power station supplies electricity to Northeast Iceland.
Dettifoss Waterfall cascades from 144 feet and has more water volume than any other in Europe. (It still seems funny to think of Iceland as Europe)
It was a beautiful flight.Too bad it wasn't sunny, but we are in ICEland.

05 Aug 2018

Seydisfjordur, Iceland

This woman has seen better days. Stop it! I'm talking about the boat, not Allyn.

Seydisfjordur, today's port, at the end of an 11 mile of long, narrow, beautiful waterway surrounded by high mountains is known for its old multi-colored wooden buildings and cascading waterfalls even in the town.  

They brought on surprisingly good local entertainment for us tonight. This photo was taken from about 50 feet away with no flash or editing whatsoever. (Love our new teens-weeny camera)

The Kilfabrekkufossar Waterfall was probably the highlight of the tour.

Brekka, known as the Tiniest Town in Iceland, was a fun coffee shop in the small building that houses a restaurant, meeting hall, the school, and has two rooms for rent.

Mjoifgjordur Fjord is like a big reverse mountain formed from heavy ice glaciers.

03 Aug 2018

Heimaey Island, Iceland

Heimaey Island is known as the Pompeii of the North. In January, 1973, with virtually no warning, a new volcano, Eldfell, erupted from underground beneath the small Icelandic island of Heimaey. It was less than a mile from the town of Vestmannaeyjar, which had a population of about 5,000 at the time. Within a day’s time, almost the entire island was safely evacuated.
Eldfell volcano erupted for about six months, covering much of Vestmannaeyjar in ash, destroying several hundred homes, and sending lava flows toward the harbor—at one point raising the water temperature to 111°
A year later most of the people resettled. Archeologists have uncovered many homes exactly as they were at the time, down to the breakfast still being on the table.
Before this trip I purchased Allyn a new Sony Camera RX 100 VI. We are just starting to learn how to use it; so far it seems great. We wanted great photos but didn't want to pay thousands of dollars for camera equipment and lug around 10 pounds. It is tough for a recreational traveler like us to find the right set up in the $1,000 range. This one seems to do it. Can you believe how small it is. That is Allyn's iPhone X next to it.
Full disclosure - We didn't take the top picture. It is from 1973.
The other most popular reason for visiting this island is the Puffins that are so cute. Unlike penguins, even when you walk a long distance you are still way far away from them. The first photo is shows how far away we actually were. Photo 2 is with the attached telephoto lens wide open and photo 3 is just a blow up of a small area of 2. I love this camera.

Iceland is home to between 8 and 10 million Puffins.

Some Puffin facts:
*They change their color during the year. 
*They spend eight months out at sea.
*Each female produces a single puffling every year.
*Each bird has more than a square kilometer to itself, so it is very unlikely that anyone will spot a puffin on the open sea in winter.
*In late spring, thousands of puffins form large colonies on coastal clifftops, coming together for the breeding season.
*Puffins are monogamous. They usually mate for life and a couple can stay together for over 20 years!
*They make burrows (nests), where they lay their single egg. Each year they return to the same burrow.
*The male and female share parental responsibilities, they take it in turns to incubate the egg. It takes 36-45 days for the baby puffling to hatch.
*Atlantic puffins have incredible skills. They can dive to depths of about 60 meters and fly at a speed of 88 km/h (24m/sec) by flapping their wings 400 times per minute. The reason for why they need to flap their wings so fast is because their bones are not hollow so they are heavier than other birds. This is the reason why they can dive down as far as they do.

02 Aug 2018

Reykjavik, Iceland

Although we overnighted in Reykjavik, except for grabbing a burger, and a good sized beer, we did not leave our room due to exhaustion.
 We will catch it at the end of the trip. Even though it is the capital and has largest population by far, the main purpose of this cruise is to get a feel for the area including waterfalls, sea animal watching, lagoons, hot springs, and volcanos.
We will be circumnavigating Iceland for a week on Windstar's Star Pride. Having accommodations for only 212 passengers, they advertise the ship as an "All-Suite Yacht". We have been on a couple Windstar sailings over the years and enjoyed both.
Believe it or not, these are our beautiful accommodations in the very front of the ship. (Not the hot tub).

01 Aug 2018

Iceland, Here We Come

Since poker season is over, it is time to travel.

A year ago Allyn and I came up with the idea of starting our 2018 Summer Europe trip with a cruise around Iceland to try some place new. However it seems like in the last month about 10 different friends have been writing about their Iceland experiences. So, we won't be first, but it sounds like a blast.

Over the last several years we have shied away from United as it seemed their quality deteriorated. We decided to try them again because they had by far the best connection for us and I was able to use miles in exchange for Polaris Class (business).  

What a pleasant surprise. Even their newly renovated terminal in Newark is immaculate and very passenger oriented. They are geared for technology in both the general seating areas as well as the restaurants. I'm surprised humans deliver the food instead of robots. Not surprisingly they still have room to add a tip. I guess the iPad splits it with the automatic checkout terminal.

The Polaris Lounge for Business Class is top rate. Even each restroom is a sign of the times. (They are all individual).

Well there was one issue. We already had over a three hour layover and we were delayed another three hours; ergo all the airport info.

I give solid marks to new business class service. 


PS - Somehow they put me in The New York Times Business Section Sunday.