In 2015, I will be in Iceland twice. The first one, trip #10 to Iceland was a one-week trip with our granddaughters, Kyla age 10 and Payten age 5 and family friend, Audri age 18.
The most notable part of our trip was a special visit with Madame Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, past President, role model, teacher, world leader, and all-around wonderful person.
Sunna, Audri, Kyla, Payten and Madame Vigdis
To start at the beginning, we landed Saturday, June 13th. After getting our bags and the rental car at the airport, we drove to breakfast with Almar and Anna Björk. This has become a tradition in my travels to Iceland and it is a great way to start each visit. After breakfast, they told the girls about the Lava fields and the Huldufólk that live behind their house in Hafnarfjörður.
Thank you both once again, my dear friends.
Learning about Lava and Huldufólk
Afterwards, we picked up a mobile WiFi device at Trawire and this device worked great! Up to 10 cell phones, iPads, Laptops online and it works almost everywhere in Iceland. It saved a lot of Data Roaming charges and I will use this service again. Then we went to see Oddný Kristjánsdóttir to have a final fitting of the Icelandic National Costumes called Upphlutur at her shop.
We visited the Arbær Outdoor Museum and the girls were able to go inside turf houses and see the homes of our ancestors. We stayed at the Sunna Guesthouse in their 2-bedroom apartment for the week. I love staying at the Sunna Guesthouse. It is in a great location away from most of the city noise but within walking distance to downtown. The next photo was taken at 1 a.m. from our living room window.
The view from our window at 1 a.m.
The next day, we went on a big tour. The weather forecast had been cold, rainy, overcast, and windy but thankfully, this weather never came. The outlook for Sunday was awesome. We decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather because the forecast showed this was our only dry day. We first went around the Golden Circle seeing Þingvellir National Park, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge fissure, the Althingi, Drowning Pool, amazing lava formations, hot springs, Geysir, Haukadalur, trees, birds, horses, glacier, Sigríður Tómasdóttir stone, Hvítá, and Gullfoss.
After a weather check which showed the beautiful weather would continue only this day, we headed south and east to see beautiful countryside, horses, caves, trolls, fairies, waterfalls along the way, and made it to Vík and the Black Sand Beach.
Gymnastics on the Black Sand Beach at Vík
Sunday, we slept in, went shopping in Reykjavík, visited some great places to eat and see, plus went shopping. Yes – pylsa, pönnukökkur, kaffi, skyr, ís, and all the wonderful Icelandic food was enjoyed by all. They loved going to the top of Hallgrímskirkja to overlook the city. Audri enjoyed seeing some of the unique buildings such as Harpa, Perlan, the churches, and City Hall, which is in the small lake downtown.
Monday, we went back to see Oddný and get the dresses – they are beautiful. She let Audri borrow a peysuföt and it fit her perfectly. We watched them making fabric with the looms. Afterwards, we went swimming at the Arbær Pool. The girls love their costumes.
Thank you, Oddný, Solveig, and Bryndís. Thank you, Dóra, for the goldsmith work. The costumes are beautiful.
Tuesday we went shopping in the morning and then had a wonderful visit with Madame Vigdís. She is such an inspiration to the girls. I had tears in my eyes watching these two together. The little one came home and told her mom, “Mommy, we went to see the President. She is really nice and gave us juice and yummy treats. We talked in Icelandic and she smiled. She is my friend and told us to not be shy.” So adorable!
Thank you Madame Vigdís and Auður for making this happen. It was such an honor and so very special to have this memorable visit with the girls.
Madame Vigdís adjusts necklace on 5-yr-old “Western Icelander.”
Tuesday afternoon, we went swimming at Laugardalslaug – the second pool event of the week. Both were great and the girls loved the fact that the pools were not filled with heavy chlorine. Wednesday was June 17th – the Icelandic National Day and a bucket list event. We dressed up in our costumes and joined the throngs of people on the street.
We arrived early and found a place near the fence so we could see the procession and program.
June 17th Celebration in Reykjavík
Oddný’s husband and daughter were our guides for the day – thank you both so very much. They made sure we made it to each location for photos in the ‘Secret Garden’ with the Fjallkona, Oddný, and the goldsmith for our costumes – Dóra Jónsdóttir.
Later we went to a special brunch and photo shoot of the Icelandic National Costumes.
Icelandic National Costumes on June 17th Celebration in Reykjavik.
It was a fabulous day and I could post another 5000 words and 500 photos to explain the entire day. In the late afternoon, we were invited to a Snorri Program event at Halldór and Anna Bjorg’s home. He is the President of the Icelandic National League in Iceland (Þjóðræknisfélag Íslendinga) and the Snorri Program plus a great friend to the ‘Western Icelanders.’ It was wonderful to see some old friends and meet some new friends – especially the four Snorri’s that were sponsored by Icelandic Roots.
4 Snorri Awards were given in 2015 by Icelandic Roots.
2 are from Canada and 2 are from the USA.
I was so happy to see my dear friend Julie. She first went on the Snorri Program in 2012 and then returned to Iceland in 2013 as the Fulbright Scholar for Icelandic as a Second Language. She is staying in Iceland again this year and will continue her studies with a joint grant from Fulbright and Iceland’s Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs. The girls totally loved Julie and it was such a great experience for them.
Thank you so much, Halldór, Anna Björg, Ásta Sól, and the entire ÞFÍ for the fun visit and especially for the Snorri Program!
The weather never turned as bad as predicted so we were able to do all the planned activities. For this, we are very thankful. On the way to the airport, we stopped at the Blue Lagoon.
For the opportunity to visit Iceland with our granddaughters, I am truly blessed. For the assistance of Audri and her love of Iceland, I am very pleased we chose her to come along. I know she was the perfect choice and will be a leader in our Icelandic communities in the future.
My only regret on this trip was missing visits with many dear friends and family members. I would have loved to see each of them but this trip was for the girls – for their enjoyment – for their memories. I will return in August and will fill my itinerary with special visits, dinners, and coffee with as many friends and family as possible. There is never enough time but that is why I return to Iceland time after time.
We had to leave on Thursday after a much too short tour of Iceland. The girls were great the entire time and were easy to have along. We left happy, excited, and full of memories. We left honoring our Icelandic ancestors who made the difficult decision to leave their homeland forever – to take a chance on a new land and new opportunities – to say goodbye to family and friends – to get on a boat and sail away from everything they ever knew and away to the unknown. We celebrate our Icelandic heritage and are so thankful for the connections with our cousins in Iceland and the ability to travel and see the place our ancestors lived.
Takk fyrir, Ísland! Sjáumst!
Thank you, Iceland! See you!