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Day 4. Monday, 1 July. Sightseeing near Reykjavik.

Flemming's daughter Anne has always been keen on visiting Iceland, so she took the airline to Reykjavik and toured around with us for the week we were in Iceland
We hired a car (expensive - US$ 250 for the day!) and did what's known as the "Golden Tour". We visited The Geysir that all other geysers are named after. It only erupts now after it has been primed with soap flakes, but a few yards away, the waterspout called Strokkur erupts every 5 minutes or so as the pressure builds up sufficiently to send a jet of water up to as high as 100 feet. We continued to drive through magnificent scenery to Gulfoss waterfall and later to Thingvellir National Park where Iceland's first parliamentary assembly was held over a thousand years ago. The park also contains Iceland's largest lake and it would not be an exaggeration to say that we were awed by the beauty of the setting, enhanced by the clear evening sunlight. (The sun does not set here until 11 pm in July).

Day 5. Tuesday, 2 July. Reykjavik to Stykkisholmur to Reykjavik. Half an hour each way - IFR/VFR, VFR/IFR.

It's often necessary to file IFR in Iceland as clouds are likely to be encountered at some stage of the journey. CBs are rare at this latitude and you are generally above the cloud layer at 8000 feet. On this occasion, we had cloud beneath us for most of the flight to Stykkisholmur.
It was sunny with a cool breeze blowing as we stepped out of the plane. We walked the mile into town in search of a boat to rent as we planned to potter around the small islands in the bay. There were no boats available so we rented Icelandic horses instead. One of the best ways to visit Iceland is on horseback, but you need to be in training. Our three-hour ride took us through beautiful and varied scenery, always enhanced by the special quality of light that is characteristic of Iceland. The air is so clean that you can see for miles over weird lunar landscapes, volcanoes or simply green fields with perhaps a red-roofed farm in the distance. It was here that we experienced the Icelandic horses' tolt gait: a smooth running walk which is much more comfortable for the rider than a trot.

Day 6. Wednesday, 3 July. Reykjavik to Reykjahlid. One hour ten minutes - IFR.

We had IMC and rain during most of the flight. Fortunately, the ceiling improved as we approached Reykjahlid, normally the hottest and driest part of Iceland in the summer. Situated in north-east Iceland by Myvatn (midge) lake, it is one of the most visited places in the country (in spite of the midges!).
The sun soon re-emerged
and we enjoyed an evening walk around part of the lake which contains thousands of small islands. A typical view would be of ducks swimming in the foreground, some horses grazing nearby, a volcanic crater in the distance and snow-capped mountains at the horizon. Fortunately, the midges kept away from us. We were soon to learn that they are most active in the afternoon.

Day 7. Thursday, 4 July. Sightseeing around Reykjahlid.

We treated ourselves to another expensive hire car and visited the sulfataras - sandbanks that puff out smelly sulphurous fumes. The lunar landscape is also strewn with burping grey mud pots and shrill steam vents. A sign warns you to walk only on brown earth - not white or yellow where the crust is thin - if you do not wish to come to an extremely hot and sticky end.

Day 8. Friday, 5 July. Reykjahlid to Egilstadir. One hour fifteen minutes - VFR.

We weren't able to get any recent weather reports for Grimsey Island (north of Iceland) but decided to head there anyway. We wanted to see the many puffins that it is famous for. Just as we approached the island, we came into some heavy rain showers and both ceiling and visibility were uncomfortable for a visual approach. Not wishing to visit a wet island anyway, we made a 180 degree turn and made for Egilstadir (east of Reykjahlid).
The weather was hot (25 C) and sunny. We booked into a guest house in an old farm. Run by a friendly artist and her husband, and tastefully decorated, we gave it top marks. After a hot horse-ride to Lagarfjot lake, we dined at the farm on smoked lamb, a local speciality.

Day 9. Saturday, 6 July. Egilstadir.

We took our mountain bikes and went for a long ride around the lake. Iceland's largest forest is situated here, pathetically small compared with the average European forest. The growing season is too short for the trees to acquire any stature. In fact, the Icelanders joke that if you are lost in one of their forests, to find your way out, all you have to do is to stand up. Most of the trees in Iceland today have been recently planted in an attempt to replace the extensive forests that existed when the country was first colonized but were cut down to provide fuel.
To reward ourselves for the day's strenuous activity, we dined at the town's only licenced hotel. Alcoholic beverages are not easy to find in Iceland, outside Reykjavik, and wine is not cheap.

Day 10. Sunday, 7 July. Egilstadir to Grimsey. 55 minutes - VFR. Grimsey to Reykjavik. 1 hour 32 minutes - VFR/IFR.

Egilstadir airport assured us that the weather in Grimsey was fine so we decided to spend our last day there. We were warned that landing on Grimsey Island can be hazardous due to the large number of birds flying around, arctic terns in particular, but amazingly they managed to avoid us.
Walking around the island was worse. I was reminded of Hitchcock's "Birds". The arctic terns seemed intent on attacking us and we were advised by a local to carry a stick with the tip above our heads because they always go for the highest point. On a treeless island, branches or twigs were not easy to come by. I had to make do with a thick wooden pole I found lying beside the island's one and only road. The puffins were much more friendly and posed beautifully for our camera. They seemed to cohabit the steep cliffs quite amicably
with the sea gulls and eider.
The wind grew stronger as the day progressed and we prepared to leave. There was no landing fee to pay - just the certificates to prove that we had crossed the Arctic Circle.
Back in Reykjavik, we dined with some Icelandic friends at the capital's newest and most chic restaurant, the "Perlan". Shaped like a dome, it is perched on top of enormous water tanks overlooking the city and revolves slowly as you eat.

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Strokkur erupts every 5 minutes

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The Vatna glacier is in the distance. Great visibility!
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Flemming and Anne by the Gulfoss waterfall
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Arriving in Stykkisholmur
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Horseriding near Stykkisholmur
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Rent-a-horse is the best way to see Iceland
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 Arrival at Reykjahlid
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Anne has always been very fond of Icelandic horses
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We finally found the Loch Ness monster in Myvatn lake
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Arriving in Grimsey Island
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Arctic circle in Grimsey
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Bird protection Grimsey island
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Atlantic puffins in Grimsey
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