2023 Backroads Iceland Hiking Adventure
June 17-23, 2023
Anne and Stewart French
Kim and Todd Joubert

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June 17, 2023 Saturday - Day 0: Arrival and Reykjavik Exploration
Tonight at the Hotel Natura in Reykjavik, Iceland


As the sun peered over the Icelandic horizon, we embarked on our Backroads adventure, eager to explore the land of fire and ice. Our journey commenced with a delayed arrival at Keflavik Airport from Boston, but the excitement in our hearts remained undiminished. Todd and Kim, fortunate souls, enjoyed a smooth taxi ride at 12:30am to Hotel Natura in Reykjavik, while Stewart and Anne arrived later and had to rely on the FlyBus to shuttle into town, then catch a connector to the Hotel Natura. With the clock nearing 4 am, our heads finally found solace on the pillows, embracing the promise of restful slumber. In the Land of the Midnight Sun dawn arrived with the lifting of of our eye shades to greet us with a gentle glow. We met Kim and Todd at Natura's breakfast buffet. Amidst the lively chatter and clinking of plates, we indulged in a hearty meal, fortifying ourselves for the adventures to come. The coffee, bold and robust, stirred our senses and granted us double shots of energy.

We discovered that the Perlan Museum was very near our hotel, just across the street in the back of the car park and up the hill. We decided to walk. Along the way, our eyes were captivated by the vibrant sight of Redwing birds with their beautiful markings and striking song. The landscape was covered with lupines resembling giant Texas Bluebonnets that reminded us of the Texas Hill Country.

Upon reaching the Perlan Museum, a world of wonders unfurled before our eyes. We ventured into an enchanting ice tunnel, viewed a cliff wall teeming with gulls (and a few elusive puffins), and marveled at the celestial wonders within the planetarium. The Northern Lights, a celestial dance of colors, illuminated our imaginations, while tales of an old lady, trolls, and elves stirred our sense of wonder. A panoramic view of Reykjavik, stretching in all directions, left us breathless in awe.

Bathed in the warmth of the Icelandic sun and with hunger tugging at our bellies, we gathered at the Perlan Restaurant for lunch. The beet salad, barley salad, and tomato soup ignited our taste buds, satiating our cravings for culinary delights.

As luck would have it, our arrival coincided with Iceland's Independence Day, infusing the air with an atmosphere of celebration. Kim's magical ability to summon taxis with a simple gesture guided us to the FlyOver Iceland experience. The sensation of flying, accompanied by stomach-dropping thrills and the sheer magnificence of Iceland's landscapes, left us awestruck. We then strolled through the bustling harbor and downtown where live music permeated the air, igniting our lively spirits. Rainbow Street, a vibrant celebration of LGBTQ pride, painted the town with vibrant colors, while the Fjallraven store beckoned to the shoppers among us (Anne).

Following the directions bestowed upon us by knowledgeable women at the maritime museum ( "one must use the entire mouth to speak Icelandic!" ), we found ourselves at the awe-inspiring Hallgrimskirkja Evangelical-Lutheran church. Its architectural grandeur transported us to a realm of transcendent beauty. The statue of Leif Erikson, a testament to Iceland's rich history, stood tall and proud.

We were standing by the church and Kim raised her hand for a Taxi. One swooped into the intersection, slammed his brakes on, pushed some tourists out and waved to us to jump in. Kim's trusty taxi magic struck again! Super friendly, he whisked us back to Hotel Natura where we gathered in the bar for french fries, sweet trays brimming with delights, and even an accidental shrimp tempura.

With the night settling in, we embraced the tranquility of the Icelandic air, sleeping with our windows open, save for Kim who donned earplugs to silence the chorus of birds that serenaded her throughout the night.

June 18, 2023 Sunday - Day 1: Exploring the Majestic Landscapes of Hengill Geothermal Area and Thingvellir National Park
Tonight at the Ion Hotel

Today marked the beginning of our Backroads Iceland Adventure, and our first day was nothing short of a captivating adventure. Our journey took us to the remarkable Hengill Geothermal Area and the awe inspiring Thingvellir National Park, where we immersed ourselves in Iceland's cultural heritage and witnessed its stunning geological wonders.

We gathered in a lobby conference room of Hotel Natura at 9 am to meet our enthusiastic Backroads leaders and fellow guests. Our three Backroads guides were Sofia (the team leader), Remco, and James (baggage handler and gofer). They had three vans to haul us and our gear all around.

There were 20 people in our tour. There were two pairs of parent and adult daughter, Mike & Madeline from Connecticut, and Claudia & Kristin from Deleware & New Jersey, here as a bonding opportunity. A family of four, Nancy, Bill, Jack, and Andy were from Michigan. Ruth and Jon from Maryland, Joanne and Leon from Ontario. Susan and Larry from Rhode Island, Michelle and Peter from Queensland, Australia. And, of course, the four of us. The group's average age was probably in the mid to upper 50s.

We introduced ourselves, made smalltalk, and promptly forgot each other's names, laughing about it. We'd pick them all up on the van rides, the hikes, and the dinners as we told stories and compared notes. Then Sofia and Remco gave us a thorough Backroads briefing about our weeks planned adventures and we loaded up in the vans and headed out to Thingvellir National Park.

On arrival excitement filled the air as we donned our rain gear and covered our backpacks then embarked on our cultural and geological walk. We found ourselves walking between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, a truly remarkable experience.

Our hike continued as we followed the trail from the T intersection, on an out-and-back leading us to a captivating waterfall. The rainfall added a magical touch, making the scenery even more enchanting. Along the way, we were fortunate to explore the historic outdoor Icelandic Parliament area and came across a charming church with a cemetery, serving as a poignant reminder of Iceland's rich history.

As we ventured through the picturesque landscape, we were accompanied by the graceful presence of Graylag Geese and the melodic sounds of Redwings. Their company enhanced the serenity of our hike, creating an immersive connection with Iceland's sparse wildlife.

After a morning filled with exploration, we were ready to savor a delicious lunch at the Ion Hotel. We gathered in the Northern Lights bar to warm up and dry off while waiting for lunch to become ready. The bar had windows on three sides that look over the geothermal power plant, steaming streams, and stark landscape. A delightful buffet awaited us in the restaurant at the other end of the hotel. They offered a variety of culinary delights to replenish our energy for the adventures that lay ahead.

Post lunch, we embarked on the Geothermal route hike, an invigorating journey through rolling hills, covering a distance of 10 kilometers. The challenging terrain tested our endurance, but the breathtaking sights along the way made every step worthwhile. Cascading waterfalls, bubbling mud pots, and the sight of above-ground pipes pumping hot water to Reykjavik fascinated us, showcasing the dynamic geothermal activity in the area.

The striking moss covered rocks, adorned with vibrant green hues, added a touch of otherworldliness to the landscape. We learned that it takes approximately 400 years for this unique moss to grow, a testament to the patience and resilience of nature.

Throughout our hike, we encountered geothermal domes, which unfortunately remained locked (Stewart tested some of them), teasing us with their mysterious allure. However, their presence added an air of mystique to the surroundings, reminding us of the untapped energy that lies beneath Iceland's surface.

Back at the Ion Hotel, we again indulged in the welcoming ambiance of the Northern Lights bar, offering a cozy retreat after a day filled with adventure. This was our first social opportunity so each guest told a little about themselves and selected a word that signalled their expectations on the trip. We would re-visit our words at the end to see how they measured up.

We had a bit of time before dinner so Anne and Todd took the opportunity to visit the geothermally heated pool under the bar. Kim and Stewart opted out preferring to relax in their rooms.

Dinner featured salmon salad, roasted vegetables, and potatoes, succulent lamb, and a warm brownie, we exchanged stories and bonded with our fellow travelers, creating lifelong memories.

The view from the French's room, with people enjoying the pool below and the ethereal landscapes beyond, provided a picturesque backdrop to end our eventful day. We couldn't help but marvel at the beauty that surrounded us, thankful for the opportunity to explore the wonders of Iceland.

June 19, 2023 Monday - Day 2: Captivating Discoveries at Glymur Waterfall and Husafell Water Trail
Tonight at Hotel Husafell

Today, we embarked on an exciting journey that led us to the awe-inspiring Glymur Waterfall and the charming Husafell Water Trail. Despite the misty rain that accompanied us throughout the day, we remained undeterred, ready to uncover the natural wonders that awaited us.

After bidding farewell to the Ion Hotel, our trusty Backroads shuttle transported us to the starting point of our adventure in Hvalfjordur, near the majestic Glymur Waterfall. As we set foot on the trail, we found ourselves surrounded by picturesque fields of Lupine and lush grass, immersing ourselves in the serene beauty of the Icelandic countryside.

The misty rain added a touch of enchantment to our journey as we crossed logs and ventured over a flimsy metal bridge. Splitting into two groups, we had the option to choose between a more challenging route leading to the waterfall or an easier alternative. Opting for the latter, we embarked on a hill climb that rewarded us with a breathtaking view of the cascading waters.

Taking a break at the waterfall viewpoint, we indulged in snacks and shared moments of camaraderie amidst the atmospheric conditions. Unfortunately, the fog and mist concealed the waterfall from our sight. In the distance, we could see other guests perched on a high point near the waterfall, reminding us of the vastness and majesty of Iceland's natural landscapes. On the hike back a momentary clearing in the sky granted us a glimpse of the magnificent waterfall.

Adding a touch of celebration to our adventure, Sofia raised a toast with Blueberry liquor at a rest stop, further enhancing the spirit of camaraderie and adventure. A quirky sight on the side of a van proclaiming "Don't stink and drive!" brought smiles to our faces, a lighthearted reminder of the unique Icelandic sense of humor.

For lunch, we arrived at the Bjarteyarsandur sheep farm, where we were treated to delicious lamb and vegetable soups. The accompanying bread provided a comforting touch, and we couldn't help but notice the lamb soup pot wrapped snugly in a wool sweater, adding a cozy and whimsical touch to our meal. A refreshing fruit salad and intriguing dishes like smoked blueberry lamb bruschetta and salmon bruschetta confounded our taste buds, but also showcased the farm's culinary creativity.

We had the pleasure of listening to the farm owner as she shared a captivating video and gave us insights into the history of sheep farming in Iceland. We learned about the annual sheep roundup, a festive event involving thousands of sheep. The unique approach to sheep farming has all the sheep roaming free in the highlands, and where each farm separates their sheep from the combined herd at the roundup. With few natural predators except the Arctic Fox, an astonishing 98% of the sheep make their way home, a testament to the harmonious coexistence of humans and wildlife in this remarkable land. Outside, we encountered three friendly sheepdogs, thoroughly enjoying the attention from visitors, while a whale rib bone served as a fascinating reminder of Iceland's rich marine heritage.

After lunch, we made our way to the Husafell Hotel, where we had the opportunity to relax and recharge. While some of us chose to skip the afternoon hike, others took advantage of the picturesque surroundings to explore further.

Dinner at Husafell Hotel was a culinary delight, with beautifully presented dishes that delighted both the eyes and the palate. Micro greens, asparagus, and dark chocolate with pistachio paired perfectly with a refreshing mint tofu fondant and green sorbet. Another choice was mushroom ravioli accompanied by a coffee pour-over, followed by anise ice cream with custard, offering a delightful blend of flavors and textures. We also savored a pea cannelloni on raw barley, which would later be enjoyed the following evening cooked, showcasing the farm-to-table philosophy of the hotel.

Our server, who happened to be left handed, joined three other left-handed servers and Stewart in agreeing on their enhanced intelligence, a lighthearted and amusing moment of camaraderie.

As the midnight sun illuminated the evening sky, casting an ethereal glow over the landscape, we retired to our rooms equipped with eye shades and earplugs, ensuring a peaceful night's rest. In a lighthearted moment, Stewart finally figured out the bathroom fan as we were preparing to leave, a fitting end to an eventful day filled with discoveries and laughter.

June 20, 2023 Tuesday - Day 3: Canyon Baths & Snowmobiling Into the Glacier Adventure
Tonight at Hotel Husafell

On our way to breakfast this morning a woman pointed at Stewart's shirt and yelled "James Webb Space Telescope" and they did a 2-person wave. Turned out Sue was a physics professor at an Arizona community college. Anne invited her over to sit with us and we discussed JWST, physics, and their Iceland adventure, a 10-day National Geographic tour. We ran into her and her husband Bill several times over the next couple days.

Today we began walking directly from the Hotel Husafell, accompanied by our knowledgeable guide, Olgeir Helgi. As we embarked on our 5.5km hike, we were captivated by the beauty of our surroundings. Along the way, we had the pleasure of observing Harlequin Ducks and learning intriguing tales from our guide. Olgeir shared stories of the Husafell family, the famous stone lifting competition, and the unique Airplane garage owned by the family. Olgeir told us about a music festival reminiscent of Woodstock where the organizer, a Husafell, dropped bags full of money on the front step at a closed bank and went home. When the teller arrived the next day and found them they immediately called the organizer. "Are these yours? How much is here?" "Yes, they are mine. I don't know how much it is. Counting money is your job!" It was a simpler life in Iceland.

During our hike, we marveled at the volcanic rock formations that dot the landscape, showcasing Iceland's geological wonders. Our guide informed us about the two distinct geologic formations in the area: basalt and granite. We learned about shield volcanoes and stratovolcanoes, deepening our understanding of the extraordinary forces at work beneath our feet. Olgeir told of visiting geologist who were particularly fascinated by the rock formations and less so of the Canyon Baths.

With the crazy wind sweeping around us, our guide pointed toward a rock and exclaimed, "Canyon Baths are behind there!" This announcement marked the beginning of our rejuvenating experience. We navigated the challenging terrain, following our guide's lead. The distinct smell of sulfur permeated the air, indicating our proximity to the hot springs.

Upon reaching the Canyon Baths, we discovered two pools, each offering a different temperature. Opting for the warmer pool, we indulged in a relaxing soak, taking in the breathtaking scenery that surrounded us. Changing rooms and showers were available to freshen up after our dip, and the guides surprised us with delightful charcuterie boards, complete with chocolates, cheeses, meats, and an array of refreshing drinks.

Dressed back in our warm clothes, we made our way to Husafell Bistro Bar for a delicious buffet lunch. Fueling ourselves for the adventures ahead, we savored the flavors of local cuisine, energizing our bodies and minds.

Next on our itinerary was the highly anticipated Snowmobile & Ice Tunnel Adventure. A massive Mercedes Benz Sprinter with 46-inch auto-inflating tires transported us to the Langjokill Glacier, where we were outfitted in heavy snow suits, helmets, gloves, and goggles. Equipped with our two-person snowmobiles, we received a briefing on their operation before setting off with our guide, "Aussie", who drove the huge Super Jeep and later led with his snowmobile.

The exhilarating 30-minute snowmobile ride led us to the entrance of the glacier tunnel. Despite the cold temperatures, our snow suits provided excellent insulation, ensuring our comfort throughout the adventure. As Anne and Stewart encountered a small mishap and tipped over our snowmobile, we quickly righted it and continued without any injuries, just a memorable tale to share!

The glacier tunnels, carved by human hands using backhoes and shovels, greeted us with their magnificent presence. Our guide informed us about the meticulous grooming required to maintain the tunnel's integrity, as well as the constant dripping and falling water that contributed to their formation. Along the way, we made several stops, first to pick up cramp-ons so we wouldn't slip in the icy waters, the chapel to pray for our own well being, various crevasses that stretched off seemingly forever, and ice tunnels that led into the dark. There were informative posters that shed light on glacier formation, life within the glacier, and its historical significance.

The guided one-hour tour offered insights into the intricate network of tunnels, displaying GPS errors and the two directions of tunneling. We couldn't help but be in awe of the immense effort and risks undertaken to create this fascinating underground wonder. While discussions about risk, earthquakes, and tunnel collapse added an element of adventure.

Exiting the tunnel, we were greeted by the brightness of daylight, signaling our return to the outside world. The snowmobiling journey back down was just as thrilling, with a midpoint stop providing us with a panoramic view from the glacier, a sight that will forever be etched in our memories.

Back at the Base Camp, where we changed back into our regular clothes, we couldn't help but feel a sense of awe and gratitude for the incredible experience we had just encountered. The adventure was expertly guided by the team from Amazing Tours, who ensured our safety and enjoyment throughout.

Our group dinner that evening took place at the Hotel Husafell, where we indulged in a delightful meal. Cooked barley and tender white fish satisfied our appetites, and we couldn't resist indulging in the delectable desserts on offer. Again.

June 21, 2023 Wednesday - Day 4: Bifrost Craters to Forest & Backcountry Waterfall Hunt
Tonight at Hotel Budir

Our day began with a van shuttle to the Grabrock Crater, where we were greeted by strong cold winds and breathtaking views. While the crater isn't as colossal as Crater Lake in Oregon, it still commanded our attention with its imposing presence. Climbing up the steps, we joined the throng of tourists eager to take in the awe inspiring sight. During our drive, Kim excitedly pointed out two dots atop a mountain ahead, which turned out to be the very spot we would later stand upon. Little did we know that a mini-adventure awaited Anne and Stewart, who ended up getting "lost" by lingering to get more photos and then missing the left hand turn at the bottom of the steps. Thankfully, Sofia came to the rescue, shuttling them to the rendezvous point and reuniting our group.

Next, we hopped back into the Backroads van and set off for the Bifrost forest. Following mossy lava trails, we ventured into the secret Icelandic forest, a lush expanse characterized by dense pine trees. As we explored this hidden gem, it became evident that the forest was devoid of mammals, with the exception of the elusive Arctic Fox. The tranquility of the surroundings and the vibrant greenery left us in awe of Iceland's natural wonders.

Our appetites led us to the Hraunsnef Hotel Restaurant for a satisfying lunch. Turned out Todd and Kim were celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary! To make the day even more memorable, we were treated to a special performance by Hanna Mia, a recording artist and former Backroads trip leader. Her angelic voice filled the room, and she even sang an unreleased song and dedicated it to Todd and Kim. Amidst laughter and heartfelt stories, we indulged in delicious food while enjoying the entertaining antics of the geese right outside the windows.

After lunch, a quick van trip took us to a stunning waterfall. The weather couldn't have been more perfect, dry and clear with a sunny blue sky on the summer solstice, allowing us to catch glimpses of the Snaefellsjokull glacier in the distance, a rare sight usually obscured with fog and mist. We marveled at the cascading water, immersing ourselves in the beauty of Iceland's natural wonders.

Our journey then continued to Hotel Budir, where we checked in at the front desk. Eager to capture the scenic beauty, Anne and Todd ventured out with their new iPhone stabilizers, exploring the hotel grounds. Anne, an avid bird-watcher, indulged in some birdwatching by the waterfront.

For dinner, we savored a celebratory meal at Hotel Budir, toasting Kim and Todd's 20th wedding anniversary with sparkling champagne tea from our trip leaders. The culinary delights included tender beef tenderloin, succulent cod, nut steak, pea sauce, and a decadent molten chocolate dessert. The unusually sunny weather illuminated the restaurant, prompting us to secure the best table with stunning views. From our rooms, the vistas were equally spectacular, with Kim & Todd, and Anne & Stewart both enjoying corner rooms offering breathtaking views in multiple directions.

Date: June 22, 2023 Thursday - Day 5: Around Snæfellsness National Park - Exploring Nature's Wonders
Tonight at Hotel Budir

Our day began at Hotel Budir, where the weather greeted us with clear skies, cool temperatures, plenty of sunshine, and a refreshing breeze. After a delicious breakfast at 7 am, we gathered outside the lobby, ready for another day of adventure. Anne, with her love for birds, wandered down the path, hoping to catch a glimpse of the local avian residents.

Before setting off, we fueled up on snacks, ensuring we had enough energy for the day's activities. Sophia, our knowledgeable guide, provided us with the Daily Snapshot, presenting it on a creative whiteboard. With excitement in the air, we loaded into the vans and made our way to the starting point within Snaefellsness National Park.

Our hike began along the mesmerizing black sand and rock beach, where the landscape gradually transformed from sand to pebbles, to river rocks, and finally to rugged lava rock. Kim took on the task of lifting a rock on the beach, and others followed suit, attempting their luck. The lava rocks were adorned with cream-colored moss, creating a striking contrast against the dark surface. As we trekked along the cliff tops, we were treated to rolling hills, panoramic views of the Greenland Sea (North Atlantic Ocean), and the dramatic cliffs and fields adorned with lava rock. Sheep dotted the landscape, and remnants of shipwrecks added a touch of history to the surroundings.

Our journey led us towards an active lighthouse, offering us a moment to refresh before continuing our mile-long trek to the magnificent Troll Rocks. Along the way, we witnessed a mesmerizing sight, the cliff face teeming with gulls and other shore birds nesting and taking flight. Rolling hills and breathtaking vistas continued to captivate our senses as we made our way to the slender and modest lighthouse, which never seemed to grow any closer!

After our invigorating hike, we indulged in a well-deserved lunch at Gilbakki Cafe in Hellisandur. The fish and veggie soup warmed our bodies, and the cozy dining room on the upper floor provided a pleasant ambiance. We relished the delectable desserts and coffee, energizing us for the rest of the day's adventures. Outside, we observed kids engaging in civic gardening and even discovered an inflatable, pool-sized bouncy playground, adding a playful touch to the surroundings.

Our post-lunch shuttle took us to Kirkjufellsfoss, where we embarked on a leisurely walk. Following the directions to the White House with the red roof, we found ourselves at a picturesque waterfall. As we strolled along the ridge, we were treated to charming views of Grundarfjordur, a pretty little town overlooking the ocean. We admired the quaint church and encountered the local fauna, including sheep, horses, and various bird species. A memorable moment unfolded as a tern playfully bothered the horses and the curious German tourists encountered a fledging creature, sparking their desire to help.

Returning to Budir, we were accompanied by rain, which added a soothing soundtrack to our evening activities. Our storyteller led us to the historic Budakirkja, a black church over 170 years old. We learned about its fascinating history, including its multiple reconstructions. An interesting tidbit arose during the conversation, highlighting that support from spiritual leaders was granted when asked by a man but denied when requested by a woman. Ultimately, permission was obtained from the King of Denmark, and an intriguing comment was posted on the front of the church. Our storyteller also regaled us with engaging tales about trolls, a favorite of their daughter, and shared a captivating story about elves and their elusive nature.

To celebrate our shared experiences and the sense of belonging we had cultivated throughout our journey, we enjoyed a "Going Home" reception, where we raised our glasses and toasted each other with Skol! Laughter filled the air as we savored a delightful group dinner, served family-style with a plethora of delicious food to satisfy every palate. The soothing sound of rain on the windows provided a peaceful backdrop, creating a serene and relaxing atmosphere.

As we reflect on the events of Day 5, we can't help but feel grateful for the incredible moments, stunning landscapes, and shared laughter that have defined our Backroads Iceland Vacation.

June 23, 2023 Friday - Day 6: Rainy Reflections and Farewells - Memories of Backroads Iceland Vacation
Tonight at Airport Marriott

As our Backroads Iceland Vacation draws to a close, we find ourselves on Day 6, embracing the rain-soaked morning as an opportunity to reflect on the remarkable journey we've had so far. With a cup of steaming coffee in hand and the gentle patter of rain on the windows, we allowed ourselves a leisurely morning to savor the final moments of this incredible adventure.

The weather, cold and rainy, influenced our decision to skip the horseback riding and hiking activities. Instead, we chose to appreciate the tranquility of our surroundings, taking in the sight of horses on the beach just outside our windows. Anne, ever the nature enthusiast, indulged in some birdwatching from the comfort of our room, spotting Common Eiders, Arctic Terns, White Wagtails, and Meadow Pipits.

After a relaxing morning, we packed our belongings and gathered box lunches to enjoy on the van during our journey. It was time to bid farewell to the captivating landscapes of Iceland and make our way to the Keflavik Airport, our next destination. Splitting into three vans, two heading directly to the airport and one to Hotel Natura, we embarked on a three-hour drive through the Icelandic countryside.

Our drive was interrupted briefly by a stop at a midpoint to relieve ourselves, where we encountered the full force of the Icelandic winds. It was howling! Then onward to Keflavik Airport where we said goodbye to everyone flying out this evening.

We arrived a bit later at the Marriott Hotel which is adjacent to Keflavik Airport, checked in and settled into our rooms. With the day drawing to a close, we gathered in the bar area, enjoying a light dinner as we reminisced about the countless memories and experiences we had amassed throughout our adventure. Determined to capture every detail, we diligently recorded our recollections, ensuring that these cherished moments would forever remain etched in our minds.

June 23, 2023 Saturday - Day 7: Homeward Bound - Reflecting on Backroads Iceland Vacation
En Route from Iceland to Boston, Boston to DFW and Austin

It is with a mix of excitement and a touch of melancholy that we embark on our final day of the Backroads Iceland Vacation. Today, we bid farewell to the enchanting landscapes of Iceland and begin our journey back home to Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin, Texas.

As the sun began to rise, we rose early to ensure a smooth transition to the airport. Opting for a taxi service, we made our way to Keflavik Airport, our departure point. Despite the bittersweet feeling of leaving this captivating country, we couldn't resist the shopping opportunities available at the airport. We browsed through the stores, selecting a few Icelandic souvenirs to bring home as tokens of our unforgettable adventure.

Passing through passport control, we made our way to the Iceland Air Lounge, a comfortable haven for breakfast while sipping on aromatic coffee and lattes. The lounge provided a peaceful respite, allowing us to reflect on the extraordinary experiences we had over the past week.

Todd had an interesting experience going through Passport Control and Security. He writes -

An SSSS mark on your Boarding Pass is an experience! Intimidating full search of all your carry-ons and swabbing of feet, hands and waistline. Had to power up the computer, ipad, phone and camera for agents. One agent doing all the pilfering and the other agent leaning in the doorway giving you the stink eye! The whole process took maybe 15 minutes while Kim was waiting after clearing the checkpoint. I guess if you are going to get detained in a foreign country, Iceland would be at the top of my list.

Our first flight of the day took us from Iceland to Boston. The journey was smooth and uneventful, allowing us to relax and reflect on the memories we had made. Upon arrival in Boston, however, it was time for us to part ways. Kim and Todd caught a connecting flight with Delta Airlines, bound for Austin, Texas. With hugs and heartfelt farewells, we wished them safe travels. "Say Hello to Lovey when you get home!" Meanwhile, Anne and Stewart's journey continued as they boarded an American Airlines flight to Dallas-Fort Worth.

With a mixture of exhaustion and fulfillment, we touched down in our respective cities, ready to embrace the familiar comforts of home. We couldn't help but feel a sense of gratitude for the awe-inspiring beauty of Iceland.

As we conclude our blog on the Backroads Iceland Vacation, we extend our heartfelt thanks to the dedicated guides, fellow travelers, and the captivating landscapes of Iceland that made this journey an experience of a lifetime. The memories we've created will forever hold a special place in our hearts.

Safe travels and until we meet again!

Anne and Stewart French

Here are a few random thoughts about our trip.

A big Call Out to OpenAI and ChatGPT! Stewart used the rough bullet points Anne, Kim, Todd, and he generated during the trip to prompt ChatGPT to write each day of this blog. What you are reading is what it generated with some serious edits.

Hark, fair ChatGPT, we offer thee our praise,
For thou hast aided us in this writing phase.
With words of wisdom and guidance true,
Thou hast helped our thoughts bloom and accrue.

So, with gratitude, we extend our heartfelt thanks,
For thou hast aided us on writing's banks.
May thou continue to lend thy wondrous aid,
As we journey forth in this blogging crusade.

Fair ChatGPT, we raise our virtual quill to thee,
And bid thee farewell until we meet again, shall it be.