if you have read from our last post before we went off backpacking, we left you with a clip by Sigur Ros which was the clue for one of our destinations. Any guesses and ideas?
Yes! The song has been used in many promos, soundtracks and movie trailers. But when Anna’s friend, Hafiz showed her the DVD of the band home coming concert, “Heima”- everything changed!. The music never felt so beautiful and it’s breathtaking panoramic view really makes us feel like falling in love again for a very first time. Thank you Hafiz. It’s official, music really inspires us to travel…
Oh ya…! “Heima” means “At Home” and the whole concert were recorded at Sigur Ros birth place, that is Iceland. And that’s where we were heading…
This time around, start with the last one which was the main spot, Iceland. Can't wait to show you guys the photos that we've captured. We flew to Reykjavik on our 11th day in UK. The journey by Icelandair took us about 3 hours to get there, Keflavik, Iceland's international airport. The immigration was smooth, no questions asked! Malaysians, we don't need visa! Wooohoo! Since we have already booked everything from home, we just hop-on the shuttle bus to our hotel. Reykjavik Excursions is the top travel agency in Reykjavik, they have almost everything that you're looking for. We arrived at the hotel, Loftleider around 6.00pm in the evening. Nothing much we could do except adjusting ourselves with cold weather(-3C)
That night, we had dinner at the hotel's restaurant. Gosh! It was expensive but perut dah lapar sangat, mahal pun mahal lah! For 1 main course, 1 salad & 1 Coffee (sounds like sorang je makan, actually share tu...) about 5200kr = 30pound = rm150 utk proper meal per person. Tapi normal la for hotel kan?!
After a good night rest, the next day we woke up very early BUT found out 9.00am was like 6.30am in Malaysia. Gelap lagi tu...But by 8.30am, tour bus already picked us up for Golden Circle Tour. What I Like about the tour, it's like reading a history book. The tour guide, Inga has explained quite a lot about what we should know about Iceland. Eventhough Iceland is as big as England, but the population is only 313,000. About 70% staying around Reykjavik, the rest scatter around Iceland also known as island. Sometimes the population can be up to 500,000 due to incoming tourists.
Our Golden Circle Tour (Southwestern Iceland) consists of 3 main stops. First stop was, Pingvellir National Park. The valley is covered in overgrown lavafield, Pingvallahraun. The most important part of this place is the world's great geological boundaries, where North American dan Eurasian continental plates are physically tearing apart. It's like being in the two continents at the same time. This place is also used to be a place for General Assembly or in Icelandic Alping. In 1789, Alping has been replaced by national court and parliament at Reykjavik. Since the population is so small, half of the population turned up to hear declaration of independence from Denmark and formation of the Icelandic Republic on June 17, 1944. It also known as the youngest country in the world because the land was found 1100 years ago compared to other mainlands which were more than 5000 years ago.
Eventhough we only spent about an hour at this place but the cold was unbearable. I think it was -1 or more, the worst part was the wind. But hey, not everyday you're going to be here, right? The view was amazing and breathtaking; I don't think I can forget this picture for rest of my life. One thing that I just discovered, Islanders believe in elves. They even built houses for them and understandable not to disturb those houses. Besides that, they also have many summer homes to be rented and those houses have thermal jacuzzi or tub.
About 45 mins from Pingvellir, our next stop was Gullfoss, Golden Falls hardly fail to impress. Because of the wind was so strong, we didn't go down near the waterfall because we weren't prepared. It was so slippery till one of our fellow travellers almost tergelincir, kalau jatuh tuh tak jumpa dah...Lebih kurang 7km ke bawah...
Nak ambik gambar pun terketar-ketar la...tapi best!!! Kat sini sempat jugak pekena hot chocolate, punya lah yummmmyyy! Buat alas perut. Lepas tu we stop at the Geysir, the famous attraction for Iceland. This area has been active for thousands of years, but the positions have shifted due to earthquake. But why it erupts?, still subject to speculation. Bayangkan bawah bumi suhunya 125C, bila keluar 80-100C tapi tempat kitaorang pijak tu ada ais! No wonder they call Iceland, the Land of Fire and Ice. The active one at that time is nearby Strokkur, normally it erupts every few minutes. Kalau tak ada angin, lagi tinggi pancutannya.
Kat sini, we break for lunch. Tak puas rasanya, keliling surrounded by snow capped mountains. Padahal setengah tu masih aktif. On the way back, we stopped at Skaholt. As early as 1056AD, this cathedral was the largest settlement in Iceland. After the earthquake in late 18th century, the bishop subsequently shifted to Reykjavik. It was restored and reconsecrated in 1963. Ehh, kitaorang pulak bertukar jadi history book..he..he..
Lepas tu, ada satu lagi waterfall yang kitaorang singgah, tapi terlupa pulak namanya...dah lah susah nak sebut mengeja lagi la...Atas permintaan ramai, our fellow travellers nak singgah tengok Icelandic horses, memang jinak...Baru turun je dari bas kuda2 tu dah datang ke arah kami. Anna memang penakut sikit, kuda nak dekat dia pulak elak...Ada ka patut?!
On the way back around 4.30pm, the bus driver took us on different route, so we could see the famous mount Hekla and the recent eruption, Eyjafjallajokull (peh! Harap2 betul ejaannya). Actually they thought Hekla will erupt, ended up the other one!(malas nak eja)
Sepanjang perjalanan balik on the Ring Road, the only highway that we could see, we were fascinated by the view and wondering when could we see a place like this ever again. We arrived at the hotel around 6.00pm and went out again to get dinner. Couldn't afford to have dinner at the hotel again. The best part is our hotel has shuttle service to town every hour, so we really make used of it.
Around 8,30pm, another bus picked us up at the hotel for Northern Light Tour or also known as Aurora Borealis. It took around an hour to see the light, but the places to see this must be very dark, otherwise it will not appear. Unfortunately, we couldn't see anything, waited around an hour in the more than -5C weather. Even chances are very low but it's still a must see tour. If you couldn't see for the fisrt time you can repeat the next day without any charges. Cool!
The next day, our town strolling excursion. After late night tour last night (around 2am, baru tidur) we decided to go slower pace. Started off with the cheapest breakfast we could get, 780kr = 5pound. What I Like about the town is they are very quite and relaxing. It's like nothing to rush for. If any of you guys wanna come here, Laugavegur is the street you have to come and experience. Along this street, you'll see their own label for clothing, cafe, supermarkets, merchandise shop and also many tourist information counters. One of their sources of income is tourism so the city iself is so tourist friendly regardless of the language. Most of Islanders can understand and speak English.
There is a lake called, Tjornin where early in the morning it turns to ice so you can walk on it, but gradually melted during afternoon. Towards the northern end of Tjornin is where Reykjavik City Hall or Radhusid located. At a glance, it looks like the City Hall is floating on Tjornin. Here also a meeting place and you can feed the birds if you want to. We couldn't go to all the museums except for The Settlement. Don't miss to get close to Hallgrimskirkja church, where the only church that we know has a viewing platform. We didn't get it in and we're sure it's a great spot for photo taking.
One thing that we observed, there are a lot of sculptures around the city. The one that I like is Solfar (Sun Voyager) macam Viking ship. If you want to save a few kronur, you can purchase 24hr, 48hr or 72hr welcome card that entitles for museums, buses, thermal pools around city and some other things. But the problem is you won't take buses that often because in the city itself everywhere is walking distance.
For music lovers, Icelandic music scene is something to talk about. It's becoming the country musical export since Bjork and Sigur Ros getting an internationally recognition. Lots of event and festival have been held here, being the Iceland Airwaves Festival as one of the premier annually events since 1999. Kedai-kedai music disini juga begitu banyak mempromosikan keunikan music mereka. Antaranya ialah 12 Tonar which is a small record shop and at the same time a record label for Icelandic indie band. Love the ambiance of this shop, it's very relaxing and you can have a pick of album to listen before you buy them. Not forgetting, they even offer you a special brewed espresso to keep you company. Sempat jugaklah Faizal shopping beberapa "title".
For our lunch and dinner, we had one huge pizza that cost us, 2800kr = 16pound. So next time, bring your own food, biscuits or maggi or whatever you can think of. The reason why we didn't bring because of not sure the custom's regulations! Lagi satu yang agak mahal tapi worth it ialah merchandise macam magnets, keychains, sebabnya kalau tak beli susah nak kirim kat orang untuk beli. Bukan selalu orang datang sini, kan?
On our last day, sempat tengok Videy Island dari jauh, kat situ ada Imagine Peace Tower by Yoko Ono for John Lennon. We were very lucky because the light from the island is specially relight for the memory of John Lennon from 9th Oct till his dying day 8th Dec. Tempat ni malam je boleh pergi (giler sejuk!) atau during weekends. Tapi paling Faizal teruja dapat singgah kat KaffiBarrin, a part owned bar & cafe by Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz. Disebabkan our flight back to London at 4.30pm, after check out terus tunggu Fly Bus ke airport. Dalam perjalanan ke airport pun tak lepas mata memandang, pemandangan yang rasanya sampai bila-bila pun takkan lupa!
Rasanya kalau ada orang ajak ni, mau nak pergi lagi ni. Next time can go different part of Iceland, especially, Northwest Iceland, Akureyri. The most amazing about Iceland is not only about volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, music, language but their Prime Minister's name is on the phone book! How cool is that?! Hello, Mrs. Prime Minister! Johanna Sigurdardottir, means Johanna is the daughter to Sigurdar. Bless! Takk fyrir!