Sunday, December 04, 2016

Iceland road trip - day 10

Friday 23 September 2016

We took our time to wake up and get ready because our road trip was pretty much over. The only thing left to explore was Reykjavik city itself and none of us are big city fans, at least not after a fantastic road trip through the rugged Icelandic countryside

The sight of a rainbow was the first thing to greet us that morning. 

After a breakfast of freshly-baked bread that our hostess had left for us, along with a whole range of spreads, we were all set for our day in the city. Honestly, I had a tough time trying to find things to do. Everything felt so drab after the stunning landscapes we'd driven through over the last ten days. So I decided to focus on kiddy-stuff -- places that Xena would like to go to. 

We started our day at the Reykjavik family park and zoo, a place that many reviews warned me was 'too small to be called a zoo' and was 'more like a tiny farm', but that's exactly what we wanted. 

Our little bunny was only too thrilled to encounter some real bunnies!

A closer look at the bunnies

Different types of pigeons (?)

Guinea pigs

This rooster was creating such a big ruckus it was hard to walk past the enclosure without cupping your ears!

Free-range hen drinking rainwater

There was even a seal enclosure!

We watched the seals play with the ball for a while. 

The seals were going to be fed in an hour or so, so we decided to check out the rest of the zoo and come back for the feeding. 

I was really amused to see this mommy pig with her piglets because I'd just read on Tripadvisor about the farm having 'a very pregnant' pig! 

Hungry, hungry piglets

Xena looks at the piglet curiously.

The first calf that I ever saw was at my dad's village which we had visited during our vacations. It is a pity that the new generation sees their first in a zoo, but hey, at least they see them!

Xena and me next to the cow

Ducks sun-bathing (I think)

Sheep with extra woolly fur

A ram? My knowledge of animals was really being tested because the signs weren't that great.

Check out the horns on these goats!

Icelandic reindeers sighted! Wooohooo!

An Arctic fox -- it would be turning white in a month or two when winter approached!

Pretty birds

Xena with some weird cow structure 

There was also a separate section with insects, amphibians and reptiles, and it was actually quite creepy. 

An iguana!

A closer look at it... yikes!

Okay, if this was a kissing bug, it was an amazing coincidence because we'd just featured kissing bugs in the magazine I work for. 

Other strange bugs you wouldn't want anywhere near you

Stick insects 

Locusts? Crickets?

A fire-bellied toad

A salamander?

The yuckiest toad I've ever seen in my life!


Check out the old skin (centre right) after the snake (bottom left) had moulted!

There was also a carousel, but it was not working. Xena wanted to get on it anyway. 

First on the horse...

...then in the carriage

Soon, it was time for the seal-feeding! The trainer was giving cut fishes to the babies and whole ones to the adults. 

It was quite fascinating to watch the seals being fed. 

There was also a lot of open space for my little pony to run around...

...until she spotted a pony!

An Icelandic pony versus a horse

We had a quick snack at the zoo's cafe. We ordered a sandwich and it was handed to us stone-cold. Apparently, you had to grill it yourself using the portable grill set up in a corner!

Our next stop was Laugarvegur, one of Iceland's oldest and most famous shopping streets, with lots of shops and restaurants. The name literally means 'wash road' as it used to lead to hot springs where people used to take their laundry for washing in the olden days. We found a carpark and decided to explore the place on foot. 

We started off by walking towards the city's best-known landmark -- the Hallgrímskirkja church. 

The church was designed to mimic the basalt lava flows of the Iceland's landscape. It took 41 years to build the church!

Xena and me pose in front of the towering church. 

A statue of Leif Ericson, an Icelandic explorer

The Hallgrímskirkja church is the largest church in Iceland and one of the country's tallest structures. 

We even went inside the church to look at the architecture.

Not that we understood anything, but it was fascinating to watch. 

The ceiling

Next, we set off to go through the streets of Laugarvegur, which were full of quirky graffiti. 

Also, quirky blue bicycles which were not actually bicycles!

Xena poses with a polar bear outside a winterwear shop. 

'Bad Taste Record Store'

The Chuck Norris Grill had Chuck Norris jokes all over the windows. 

Who was first -- Chuck Norris or Rajnikanth?

Yes, this shop was actually called 'I Don't Speak Icelandic'. 

I loved the sign outside this pub!

We popped into a place called Pizzeria just as it was starting to drizzle. 

They customised the pizza for us to make it vegetarian and I have to say it was one of the best pizzas I'd ever had. Same for the jalapeno poppers!

Daddy Voly and Baby Voly making fierce faces

We walked towards the harbour next. 

An old train track and an engine

An auto-rickshaw! Now which Himesh Reshammiya movie was that where an auto-rickshaws randomly turns up in a Western country? Karzzzz?

We also passed by Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, the insanely famously hot dog stand in central Reykjavik that has been serving hot dogs for more than 60 years. One look at the queue and we decided against it. Not that Viv or Xena would have found anything to eat there anyway. 

It was time for Xena's nap, so we headed back to the car. She napped as we headed back 'home' but instead of home, we decided to take a walk around the lava fields surrounding it instead. 
I couldn't believe all of this was an active volcano field at one point!

It was beginning to get cold, so on came the jackets and gloves.

Interesting-looking pebbles in the lava field

I walked ahead of Viv and Xena to take photos. 

I was just thinking that it was already the end of the trip and unlike Viv and Xena, I hadn't fallen yet. My 'muahahaha' came to an abrupt ending as I found myself losing my footing and landing on what Xena likes to call 'the bum-bum'. Luckily, I'd landed on thick grass, so it wasn't too bad. 

Viv and Xena near the beach

We still had some time left before it got dark, so we looked up Tripadvisor to see what else we could do. It pointed us towards the Hellisgerði Park in a quiet street called Hafnarfjörður. 

Hellisgerði Park turned out to be an absolutely stunning and enchanting place. 

There was a twisting path around this pond that took us through lava rocks that makes mysterious nooks all over the park. 

We even found a playground with swings!

And... rabbits on leashes! I couldn't get my head around them at all! I asked the owners for permission to take a picture and they were only too happy to oblige. 

Xena and Viv were meanwhile...

...engaging in some dangerous stunts...

...involving tree stumps. 

They also did some jogging...

...and some hugging. 

I trailed after that, taking photos of all the gorgeousness around. 

I discovered these beautiful (and poisonous, I bet!) berries on a tree.

After we'd had enough of that enchanting little park, we decided to head for an early dinner (we had a super early flight to catch the next morning).

Dinner at Noodle Station...

...followed by ice-cream at Hafis (our hostess' recommendation)

They even had a Lego playing area.

Not that she's a fan of ice-cream (or anything edible for that matter), but she did seem happy with Hafis. 

After the very filling dinner and dessert, we went back to get some rest before our flight the next morning. No one said anything but the depression of leaving this beautiful country was hanging heavy. 

Whenever it got too cold, Xena would say, "Iceland is too cold, I want to go to Fireland." Well, this time, we were indeed going to Fireland. The thought of SIngapore's heat and humidity after 10 days in Iceland was unbearable. But it is what it is, and with a heavy heart, we finished our packing and went to bed. 

Last sunset in Iceland

And there it is, the end of our magical, fantastic road trip in Iceland. 
Till the next holiday, 

PS: We spent a few hours in Amsterdam on the way back to Singapore and I'll write a quick post about it soon. 



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