Facebook icon

Escorted Tour from Honolulu Iceland: Land of Ice and Fire 2018

Posted By on Oct 10, 2018

Share

Day 1, Sept 17 2018: Departure from Honolulu

We were able to make a smooth departure from Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines – the TSA checkpoints weren’t even that crowded! On to our overnight stopover in Seattle. The inflight meal (which very few domestic airlines have anymore) was simple but tasty – a BBQ chicken sandwich.

Day 2, Sept 18 2018: Seattle to Reykjavik

Thanks to our stopover we were able to get a full night’s rest before departing for the next leg of our journey. We had a late afternoon departure from Seattle, just enough time for a quick trip to Pike’s Place Market by the handy Link light rail.

20180918_092954Rachel the Piggy Bank
the famous Pike’s Place Market mascot

Day 3, Sept 19 2018: Arrive in Reykjavik

Our first day in the Land of Ice and Fire. Thanks to Icelandair, our direct flight from Seattle to Keflavik International Airport was only a little over seven hours. Some of our group members were able to see the Northern Lights out of the left side of the plane! Some others just spent the time sleeping on our overnight flight…

First stop was Viking World for a nice breakfast in a boat:

20180919_075937

Overhead hangs the Viking ship Íslendingur (the Icelander), a replica of Leif Erikson’s ship built to commemorate the 1,000th anniversary of Leif Erikson’s discovery of America. This ship actually sailed to New York from Reykjavik in the year 2,000 – you can go upstairs and get aboard the ship, too.

20180919_075835

20180919_082606

20180919_082737Arriving in New York – Oct 5 2000

Some folks enjoyed the Viking wear…

20180919_084843

After breakfast our first stop was the Northern Lights Center, Aurora Reykjavik. Apparently this is where they keep the Northern Lights.

20180919_102109

20180919_102401

20180919_104237

In addition to giving us some great information about the history and science of the aurora, they also helped us adjust our cameras to take the best pictures of the Northern Lights (more on the lights later!). Then, we were off to the National Museum of Iceland to get an overview of the history and culture of this unique country.

20180919_120347

20180919_120330The inside of a traditional Icelandic home – two to a bed!

20180919_131834The dancing musician sculptures outside Perlan

After the museum we stopped at Perlan – the “pearl” for scenic views of the city and a light lunch. Then, our last stop of the day before heading back to the hotel was Hallgrímskirkja, the Lutheran church that dominates the landscape of Reykjavik with architecture resembling the famous basalt lava columns of Iceland. In front is a statue of the ever present Leif Erikson, the discoverer of America (as Icelanders are quick to remind you).

20180919_133237

Many of the people in our group went out to experience Iceland’s more exotic foods for dinner – whale, horse, puffin, even the famous “rotten shark”.

Day 4, Sept 20 2018: The Golden Circle

Today we’re off to tour the “Golden Circle” – a tour through the most popular attractions near Reykjavik. Luckily, the weather seems to be with us!

Our first stop is Þingvellir National Park. The temperature is around  50 F, but with the wind it feels a LOT colder! Þingvellir appeared as the wildling’s camp in the popular “Game of Thrones” series. The pass to the Eyrie in season four was also filmed here, and the fight scene between Brienne and the Hound was filmed nearby.

20180920_093950

20180920_100826

That cliff in the background is the edge of the North American continental plate – in the distance is the edge of the Eurasian continental plate, so we’re actually standing between two continents. They’re pulling apart a little bit each year, so next year Iceland will be about an inch larger than it was this time.

20180920_105839

Iceland is filled with natural hot springs that bubble right up out of the ground (don’t put your hands in the water!). Here at the Fontana Spa we stop to see them bake rye bread by burying it in the ground and using the natural heat of the hot springs to cook it overnight.

20180920_111925

20180920_111810

20180920_111917

Refreshed with Icelandic rye bread we went on to Gullfoss, the “Golden Falls”, one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland. In danger of being used for electrical power generation in the early 20th Century, the falls were rescued through the efforts of Sigriður Tómasdóttir, Iceland’s first environmental activist.

20180920_122527-EFFECTS

20180920_123850

Nearby Gullfoss is the active geothermal Geysir area, after which all geysers are named. Signs warn you not to touch the water, some of which comes right out of the ground at boiling temperature!

20180920_134523_001-ANIMATIONStrokkur erupts every five minutes or so with great regularity

On the way back we made a stop in Hveragerði, which features a building that is built over the continental rift between the North American and Eurasian continental plates – some of us took the opportunity to stand in two continents at once!

20180920_153230

20180920_154250

Our last stop of the day was the Blue Lagoon, the popular Icelandic hot spring which National Geographic listed as one of the “25 Wonders of the World”.

20180920_172838

The mud from the Blue Lagoon is famous for it’s healing and cleaning powers – we all felt younger after giving it a try!

20180920_173947

Day 5, Sept 21 2018: Southern Iceland

Today we left Reykjavik to start our trip on the ring road around Iceland.

In the morning we had a chance to get acquainted with the famous Icelandic horse at a local stable run by our tour guide’s uncle. Horses were originally brought to Iceland by the Vikings, and they take great efforts to make sure that the lines remain pure – once a horse leaves Iceland it can never return.

20180921_094640

20180921_094705

20180921_094739

This year we had a chance to visit the newly built Lava Centre for some spectacular high-tech interactive displays explaining Iceland’s volcanoes.

20180921_103430

20180921_110044

20180921_105850

Afterwards some of us discovered an Iceland delicacy – licorice ice cream!

20180921_111052

Next stop was one of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss – smaller than some of the others, but we could have the experience of following a path that goes behind the falls (guaranteed you get wet!).

IMG_20180921_122214_474

20180921_115726

20180921_115831

At Skógafoss we got a chance for a nice group shot, but we didn’t find the chest of gold that’s supposed to be hidden behind the falls…

20180921_125446

The nearby black sand beach, Reynisfjara, was one of the filming locations for the epic biblical drama Noah. The basalt columns here were once thought to be the remains of trolls.

20180921_143037

20180921_144812

And then back the hotel for some fresh caught local Icelandic trout!

20180921_193748

Day 6, Sept 22 2018: Jökulsárlón and around the Eastern Fjords

Today we took a cruise on the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, created by the outflow from Iceland’s melting glaciers.  Jökulsárlón has been a setting for four Hollywood movies: A View to a Kill, Die Another Day, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and Batman Begins, as well as the reality TV series Amazing Race.

20180922_113123

20180922_114841

20180922_115429

20180922_115958

20180922_120447

20180922_120439-EFFECTS20180922_110221-EFFECTS(1)

We also got a chance to sample some of the glacial ice – 1,000 years old and absolutely clean and pure!

20180922_121616

20180922_121730

20180922_121723

On our drive around the spectacular scenery of the eastern fjords we passed a lagoon filled with hundreds of swans – they’re a little hard to see in the photo, but the air was filled with their honking.

20180922_142110

Then we got a chance to see the famous egg sculptures in the harbor of Djupivogur Village, one for every type of bird in Iceland.

20180922_161749

20180922_161925

And a chance to check out the frozen sheep’s heads in the local supermarket.

20180922_153124

And then….we hit snow as we passed over the highland road! A bit of luck, snow on the ground is extremely rare at this time of year.

20180922_170215

At our dinner buffet this evening we got a chance to sample a few of Iceland’s more exotic foods, like roast horse and smoked lamb hearts (there had many of the more usual selections as well!).

20180922_183850

20180922_184123

Day 7, Sept 23 2018: Through the Highlands

As we continue over the Icelandic highlands to day we made a stop at the Möðrudalur farm, the highest farm in Iceland, which features a small church built with the farmer’s own hands. Some folks also tried Iceland’s famous “happy marriage cake”.

20180923_110432-EFFECTS(1)

20180923_112353

20180923_110541

Today we made our way to Dettifoss – the most powerful waterfall in Europe, which appeared in the 2012 science-fiction film Prometheus.

20180923_124044

20180923_124851

20180923_131420

We even managed to catch a rainbow over the falls!

20180923_131310

Next we passed through the active geothermal areas near Lake Myvatyn – the bubbling mud baths and sulfur vents in Hverarond – which were once mined for sulfur to make gunpowder. The mist from the vents was used to produce the “blizzard” in season three of “Game of Thrones”.

20180923_142520

20180923_143504

20180923_143859

20180923_143549

And viewed the “kissing trolls” lava formation in the Dimmuborgir lava field which was once said to be a gateway between Earth and the Infernal regions. Dimmuborgir was used as a filming location for “Game of Thrones”, where Mance Rayder sets up his camp in season three.

20180923_160410

20180923_160427

Then back to our hotel overlooking Lake Myvatn for a great dinner of lobster soup and arctic char! A few people saw the Northern Lights later on, but they were only out for a few minutes. This are was the filming location for many of the scenes “North of the Wall” in “Game of Thrones”.

20180923_190236

20180923_190255

20180923_191439

20180923_193256

20180923_200153Skyr (Icelandic yogurt) cake for dessert!

Day 8, Sept 24 2018: Northern Iceland

Today we depart for the Northernmost portion of our tour – we’ll actually be able to see the Arctic Circle at 66 degrees North as it passes through the island of Grimsey.

Our first stop was Ásbyrgi canyon – formed from the footprint of Odin’s eight-legged horse. Luckily the rain stopped just as we were walking into the canyon!

20180924_115938

On the way out of the canyon we stopped to indulge in some Icelandic treats – Hákarl (“rotten shark”), Harðfiskur (dried fish) and Brennivín (the “wine that burns”, also sometimes called “black death”).

20180924_121546

20180924_121802

20180924_121926

After a stop in the whaling town of Húsavík we went to see the pseudo craters at Skútustaðagígar on the shore of Lake Mývatn – but the wind was up!

20180924_162742

Back to the hotel, a good steak dinner, and…the Northern Lights! All in all, we had three nights in Iceland where people saw the lights (plus a few glimpses from the plane on the flight over!).

20180924_212857The view outside our hotel

20180924_190755

20180924_193103

20180924_201654Molten chocolate cake with skyr (Icelandic yogurt)

Day 9, Sept 25 2018: Heading West

After a windy night outdoors watching the Northern Lights we departed for the Western end of Iceland, first with a stop at Goðafoss – the “waterfall of the Gods”.20180925_094228-EFFECTS(1)

After Iceland converted to Christianity around the year 999, the lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði threw the old pagan idols into the falls, earning it its name – here’s the story depicted in stained glass in the Cathedral of Akureyri:

20180925_112250

We had a nice dinner of Icelandic lamb at our hotel in Bifröst.

20180925_190956

20180925_193822

20180925_200223

Day 10, Sept 26 2018: Journey to the Center of the Earth

Our last full day of touring, to Snæfellsjökull National Park in West Iceland. In the classic novel “Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne, the heroes find the entrance to a passage leading to the center of the earth in the Snæfellsjökull volcano. We couldn’t find it though…

20180926_112720-PANO

20180926_121207-PANO

20180926_122909

20180926_120745

At lunch in the Primus Kaffi we are warned to avoid kidnapping (apparently the secret is dessert!).

20180926_130521

Then we passed by Kirkjufell, called the “Church Mountain” because of its resemblance to a church steeple, said to be the most photographed mountains in Iceland. At the peak it’s so narrow that you can sit on the edge and put a leg over each side of the mountain! This mountain was used as the “arrowhead mountain” North of the Wall in the “Game of Thrones” television series.

20180926_154050Kirkjufell – the “Church Mountain”

Back at our hotel we had a farewell duck dinner by candlelight.

20180926_191455

20180926_193355

20180926_201323

20180926_190758

Day 11, Sept 27 2018: Heading for Seattle

Departure day! We head towards Reykjavik through the 3.5 mile Hvalfjörður Tunnel that runs 541 feet beneath the waters of the fjord.

First we make a quick photostop at Harpa, the iconic Reykjavik concert hall designed to look like the iconic Icelandic basalt columns.

20180927_103035

20180927_103201

Then, on to the Kringlan Mall, Reykjavik’s largest shopping mall, for last minute shopping and lunch before our flight back to Seattle.

20180927_112841

Dunkin’ Donuts had Icelandic flag donuts! Something to snack on in the plane.

After a seven hour flight to Seattle we check into our hotel for a rest before our flight back to Hawaii the next day. Some folks went to try the soup dumplings at the nearby Din Tai Fung for dinner.

Day 12, Sept 28 2018: Home Again!

Just a short flight from Seattle to Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines. We all made it back safely after a wonderful adventure in the Land of Ice and Fire – but it’s great to be home!

IMG_20181002_181655_197

Posted by Chris Li

Please contact us anytime for information about future tours to Iceland, Japan or around the world!


JTB USA INC. 
Honolulu Office
Tel: 808-979-0111
Fax: 808-979-0100

⇒Search for Cheap Airfare to Japan with JTB USA
⇒Japan Rail Pass – The Best Way to Travel in Japan
⇒Explore Japan’s top destinations with the help of JTB Sunrise Tours

 

 

Related posts:

Ryokan: A Traditional Japanese Experience
Try This, Not That: Tokyo
Nanzenji: Popular Yet Prestigious-- Kyoto's Zen Buddhist Temple
Japanese Proverb, ’’Dobyo ai awaremu'’ ’’Doku o motte doku o seisuru’’ ’’Fukuro-no-nezumi’’
Japanese Horoscope "The Year of the..."
Five Fun Flashy Places in Tokyo
Escorted from Honolulu "Tokyo & Kyoto Spring Break Tour"
Escorted Tour from Honolulu Spring Kyushu, Yamaguchi, Suo-Oshima and Hiroshima
Escorted Tour from Honolulu Summer Kyoto Osaka USJ, Tokyo

Slider by webdesign