#30 Blue Lagoon

One of the experiences on our Iceland tour was swimming and bathing in the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is a man-made geothermal spa set on a lava field which is fed by the water output of the nearby geothermal power plant. The lagoon is as large as a lake with several geothermal hot spots. All in all it was like a massive hot tub except that you could move to warm spots and to hot spots. On the floor of the lagoon was a layer of silica, which felt like sticky mud. Of course we smeared the silica all over our faces like everyone else in an effort to improve our skin. We experienced it in the cold, wind, and rain, which made it even better.

This is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. It is located between the Keflavik International Airport (12 miles) and Reykjavik (24 miles), the capital of Iceland.

Note to travelers: If you are going to Europe and you are flying Icelandic Airways, all planes arrive and depart in their hub, Keflavik International Airport. You can break your trip into two by stopping in Reykjavik, taking a day or two detour to see some of the Iceland sights before continuing your journey to Europe.

 

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#29 Northern Lights

I have seen many pictures of the Northern Lights, ‘Aurora borealis’, but have never experienced them personally.  When we chose to travel to Iceland, we did so with viewing the Northern Lights as one of the main goals.  We chose to go in October because we had a better chance to seeing them.  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate well for us as we had several rainy nights and cloudy nights due to the storms from the remnants of hurricane Matthew.  Finally, on the second to the last day of our tour, we had a night that eventually cleared. After several false starts, finally at 2:00 a.m. we had clear skies. The tour guide woke us up and took us outside the city to get a better view.

The Northern Lights were not as I expected. I expected to see bright green lights moving in waves just like you see in photographs and movies.  This night they appeared as a wide straight line traversing the sky in a color that I would describe as dull gray with a slight hint of green. It looked like smoke from an airplane. However, when photographed with special settings, i.e., low light and open shutter for several seconds, the lights appeared bright green.  These lights would appear for a several seconds then disappear for a few minutes, then reappear again for a short time.

Then the last night we were able to view the Northern Lights again from Reykjavik.  These were much more spectacular.  They did not appear as straight lines, rather as waves. They appeared for a few seconds then disappeared.  Then a new wave of lights would appear somewhere else in the sky.  These were brighter, but still a dull gray, until we saw the pictures.

#28 Glacier walking

I had never seen a glacier before traveling to Iceland. While in Iceland in October 2016, we had several viewings of glaciers as we traveled around the island nation. We stopped at the Skaftafell National Park where we took a guided tour of the Svinafellsjökull glacier.

Normally walking on ice would be slippery and difficult, but with crampons the task was easier. These attachments to our boots dug easily into the ice, making walking easy. Good thing for sure footing because there were dangerous crevasses within the glacier that we needed to avoid.

#27 Meet a celebrity – Book signing

On November 17, 2016, Mary Ann and I went to a book signing for one of my favorite authors, David Baldacci.  Up to that point I had read most of his books – 29 of them!  He talked about his latest book “No Man’s Land”, his writing, and answered reader’s questions.  David is a prolific writer, writing about 2 books a year as well as being involved in film projects related to his books.  (I really enjoyed the book and movie “Absolute Power” with Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, and Ed Harris)

I found it interesting that he auctions off names in each of his book.  The top donors to a charities get their name assigned to a character.  He jokingly said that some people donate extra if he will kill off that person in the book.

Obviously I bought the book because I was looking forward to reading it as well as so he could sign it.  “No Man’s Land” was riveting.  I finished reading it in 4 days – It helps to be retired so I have more time to read!

If you like thrillers, pick one up and read it.