Professor Sharon

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If you’re only looking at the mountains, you’re missing the fish and agriculture!

August 26th, 2019 · Children, Iceland, Itinerary, Musings, Play, Site Seeing, travel

We began our day at the Northern Light Inn in Grindavik.  We ended our day at the Hotel Borgarnes in Borgarnes.   (A note about the hotel – a good basic place, small, but clean rooms with one of the tinyest bathrooms ever; and a quite good breakfast).

In between, a visit to a family owned fish factory, to a agricultural lecture at the Agricultural Science Center and University, beautiful scenery, and amazing weather.  It was in the 50s, sunny and no wind (we would learn a couple of days later how few days without wind there really are in Iceland).

The fish factory — Stakkavik Ehf” – located in a small village was our first stop.

The fishing fleet

The harbor

Sadly, truly sadly, the fishermen had not brought any fish in that day, so we had to see the processing plant empty.  It would have been amazing to see it in action; but we were too disappointed for the economy of the fisherman that day to feel too badly for ourselves.



They had a couple of short videos to show us both about how the fish was processed; and the lives of the fishermen at sea — I think we all should appreciate our fish a bit more when we eat it!

Floor of the fish processing plant

Our trip to our next stop included a fairly new tunnel under a fjord from there to Borgarnes – about 4 miles – pretty interesting.  I did have the momentary thought about what if a volcano erupts while we’re down there!  Best not to let those thoughts linger when you’re traveling!









After lunch at a country restaurant (sadly, I can’t find the name of it – if I do later, I’ll post it), an amazing location where berries where growing wild all around us (actually, I was to find out that that was true at this time of the year all around Iceland!).   No matter where you go in Iceland, the scenario is always breathtaking!



Then on our way to the Agricultural University of Iceland, where we had a lecture on Icelandic Agriculture.  They are, rightly so, very proud of their history.  Their cows, sheep and horses are of old Nordic origin, while pigs and poultry have been imported; but all imports have strict rules as their animals have been kept separate from other breeds for so long.   The fodder is mostly grass and grass products.  The Icelandic sheep is a north european short tailed breed that they use for meat and wool.  The Icelandic horse is world famous for its five gaits.  All during our visit we were told that they are horses, not ponies, although they are smaller in stature than a horse.  And, no other horses are allowed to come to Iceland, and if an Icelandic horse leaves the island it doesn’t return.

It was interesting to know that pesticide and herbicide use is rare, growth hormones are forbidden as are antibiotics in the feed.  They are working on growing their vegetables in hothouses using geothermal power, as well as automatic diary farms (more on those later as we did visit both on our trip).

While in Hvanneyri, we stopped by the town’s center, looking in on their church, a wool shop and their local history museum.  Really so lovely, and welcoming guides.


The town church

Double thumbed mittens – in the museum display – one side gets wet, flip them around!










And so our day draws to a close, as we drive through more breath-taking scenery to Borgarnes.  A lovely town on the water, with if you remember what I said, the rooom with the smallest bathroom ever (it worked so that’s all that mattered!).  We had time before dinner at the hotel to have a walk about town.

Here it is…..small indeed!










The teacher in me loved this area we found: — the sign says “Play with Rocks.”   The flat area is filled with heavy, yes, real rocks painted different colors.   We saw adults and children over the next couple of days building and moving them around – more pictures in my next post.







We’re still jet lagged, we’re overwhelmed with the beauty before us, the kind people we’re encountering, a Tour Guide who will turn out to be one of the best, and lovely people as our travelmates.   The first two days have whetted our appetites for more of this other worldly island.

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Steam, horses, jet lag and the Blue Lagoon

August 23rd, 2019 · Iceland, Musings, travel

So, we’ve arrived in Iceland!  We left on a Sunday at almost midnight and arrived in Iceland about 9 a.m. the next day (just a bit over a 5 hour flight).  We’re tired, but had at least slept a couple of hours on the plane, but super excited.

We were met by a taxi driver bearing our name on a placard,  who took us, and a couple of other folks about half an hour or so to catch up with the tour.  There were only 23 folks, but everyone, of course, had come in at different times.  After we were dropped off and looked at this beach area for only a few minutes, the bus had to go back to the airport to pick up the last 5 travelers – sadly no taxi was available to fit these last folks and their luggage.


  A statue of the Great Auk stands on the cliffs at Reykjanestá, near the location where the last mating pair was killed in 1844.

So we load our luggage from the taxi into the bus which we would be in and out of for about 10 days, driven by a fabulous driver whose name I sadly forgot to write down.  The Icelandic language is quite challenging and if you have any doubts – have the person write the word – as Icelandic, to my English speaking ears, sounds nothing like it looks like on paper!



Our first destination after all travelers are picked up at the airport is the Blue Lagoon and then a local hotel, just near it for the first dinner and night of sleep.

On our way to the Blue Lagoon, we stop to see some steaming hotsprings (see the previous blog post for a short video), see a geothermal plant and the first of many horse sightings:

The beautifully painted round structures are hot water storage units that we would see often in the countryside.


There are over 80,000 horses in Iceland.  Many as well in other countries.  I’ll tell you more about these animals in a future post as we went to a horse farm for a visit and a demonstration of the famous horse (just don’t call them ponies!).






Finally to the Blue Lagoon!  Well, this is bound to upset a few gazillion folks who find the Blue Lagoon a must.  I’m not a hot tub person, and from way back when we signed up for this tour, I was pretty certain I might not experience it.  To be open about it, I asked opinions of Facebook pages devoted to Iceland advice and some other folks who did enjoy it.  My husband and I decided to not take the plunge, so to speak.

The Blue Lagoon.

It is indeed a gorgeous site — full of people kind of gorgeous.   Rick Steves says that it’s “arguably Iceland’s most famous attraction.”  It’s only 45 minutes from Reykjavik so lots of folks do it on a stopover or a part of the last day or first day, just as we were doing, when they arrive or depart.  Folks soak and enjoy the thermal and truly milky-blue water.  Part of the beauty is indeed the water’s color.    You need to have reservations, so if you do want to try it, be sure to do that ahead of time.

It is set among rocky lava scenery — the moss of which was grey when we arrived.  It rained over night and the next morning the fields of grey lava was gorgeously green because the moss had turned green with the water – that was amazing!

The Lagoon is young and came about in the 1970s when they drilled for hot water for heating.  The water wasn’t good for pipes, it’s salty and have a high mineral and clay content; but they used it for a heat-exchange system.  The silica clay gives the water its texture and, of course, sunlight, gives the water its blue color.  They fenced it off, and began to charge admission , etc.  Today, you pay, get some towels, condition your hair, shower and off you go.  There is a bar and a mud station if you want to put the clay on your face.

So, my experience?  As I said, I’m not into hot tubs, so we got a coupon for a free drink from our tour company.  There’s a sweet cafe, an open air patio next to and one floor up  – we took a drink and sat and watched.

My shock — it looked like a big pool, not a wild setting in the lava fields!  The online and social media pictures made it look, to me, as though it was open in the wilds of the lava – nope!  Totally walled in, with cement steps and railings and full of people.  And, no shade, unless you want to stand in the water under a foot bridge in the middle of the Lagoon.  So I was completely okay with not going in.

After we sat for a bit, we went back outside, where more of the water is surrounding the official pool and buildings and walked around there a bit.  Although we didn’t have the time, and would have needed a map to do it the first time, we were told that you could do about a 20 minute walk to/from the Blue Lagoon to our hotel.








This first picture on the left is the lovely walk and nearby water outside the official pool and buildings.  The center photo is the walk from the parking lot to the entrance, and a shot of folks in the Lagoon from the patio area for those not going in.  If you aren’t going in, you cannot go inside the walled off area – bathers who have had showers only.

We were ready to get some dinner and shut eye by now.  So back on the bus to our first hotel of the trip, the Northern Light Inn.

We end our day finding this wonderful bulletin board in the lobby.

  “So much of who we are is where we have been.”

Indeed.  So, I didn’t go in the Blue Lagoon – the thing about travel is you can so often choose what you want to do with your heart and mind and allow yourself to take in experiences that fill your soul.

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Where is Iceland?

August 21st, 2019 · Education, Food, Iceland, Itinerary, Lesson Learned, Musings, My Goals, Reading, Teaching & Learning, travel

Iceland — do you know where it is?  What do you know of it?   I’m always first to admit that my geography knowledge is sorely lacking!  The benefit to me when I travel is that I finally figure out where in the world that place is located!

So first, go here and check out the map of countries:    Then, click on Iceland – I’ll give you a hint, on the map it’s orange and it’s in a very cold part of the globe!

As I mentioned, we were with a tour with Road Scholar for about 10 days, then on our own for a few days at the end in Reykjavik.   We flew out of Logan and into Reykjavik (their capital – more on that at a later date).  We were picked up there by the tour company, enjoying the famous Blue Lagoon on our first day, spent some time in the south, then began our trip up to the Western Region, through the northwest region into Akureyri (their second largest city) and parts of the Northeastern area, before flying from Akureyri back to the Reykjavik area where we finished a couple of days there mostly seeing what’s known as the Golden Circle, making a nice round trip.

We land at Reykjavik Airport!

Where to begin?  When I’m finished with a trip, I know what I’ve learned and have impressions of the people, the food, the weather, and all of that — how to recall what I had hoped or thought I would experience at the beginning?

I thought there would be little English, that the land would be like the moon, that I was concerned that a volcano would erupt while we were there, and I’d heard there were many sheep, special horses and a lot of yogurt!  You can thank that on the recent influx of Skyr into American markets!  (This link is just to one company – there are several companies producing it on the island – and it was enjoyable to try many – more on that later as well.)

Our first look at a hot spring: Hot spring. (click this for a short video)

More sights on our first day as we adjusted to it being the next day when we arrived, meeting new people, and wondering what lunch would be!

The first of many Icelandic horses (do not call them ponies!) we were to see, and eventually meet.

Our lunch stop included a boat on dry land – never did learn why…

Why do you travel?  I travel for many reasons, one of the most important being I’m a curious person.  I want to know more and I want to make connections between what I think I know, what I know and what I’m learning.

So, next entry I’ll tell you more about my experience at the famous Blue Lagoon and some other first experiences on my trip!


Nearby to our lunch stop as well…


I read a lot before I travel.  I do believe that this is one thing that separates me from many tourists.  I read novels, murder mysteries, travel memoirs, and travel books such as Rick Steves (personally, I think he has some of the best out there).  There are always Facebook interest groups – this was one that I found particularly helpful.

Here’s a couple of the books I read — good reads whether or not you’re going to Iceland!

“Letters from Iceland” by W.H. Auden and Louis MacNeice. 1937

I’m just reading this — a travelogue of sorts. If you like Auden’s poetry, you’ll enjoy more of this. There are some fascinating old pictures in it, and information about an Iceland that I’m sure is a bit different than today! And, a great map in the back – the driveable roads are very few – he did a lot of his exploration on horseback.

“Butterflies in November”. Audur Ava Olafsdottir. 2004. A memoir of life after a divorce and visiting parts of Iceland with someone’s child. A fun read.

Burial Rites. Hannah Kent. 2013. My favorite so far. Historical Novel set in 1830s about Iceland’s last execution of a murdurer — really fascinating and incredibly well written. I don’t know if the tour goes there, but a plaque marks the spot of the execution at a place called Pristapar.

Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland. Sarah Moss. 2012. A professor and her family spend a year in Reykivik. teaching and living. A fascinating look at being an “outsider.”




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Iceland! We went, we experienced and we want to tell you all about it!

August 20th, 2019 · Education, Iceland, Musings, Site Seeing, travel

Every trip I think, actually I set out determined and certain that I’m going to blog while I’m on the trip — and every trip, well, almost every trip, I don’t!   Somehow the thought of organizing photos, my thoughts and interesting reflections is hard after a long day of travel, so my good intentions go by the wayside.



So for those I promised a look at Iceland, stay tuned here for more.  It was a magical place.  Many see or experience much more of the countryside than we did;  however, we came home with an impression of a warm, welcoming and proud people with an astonishing history.

Before I left, I’d been thinking about the many blogs and Facebook postings I follow that often talk about how much you can “do” in an hour, or don’t go for more than an afternoon to this city because there isn’t much to “see.”  When we were traveling, I was again struck with how often I watched people see something, take a selfie with it or of it and move along.   Did they see it?  Probably, although maybe that’s debatable.  Did they experience it?  Probably not.  That’s what I’m thinking alot about as I unpack from this trip.


These guys were taking turns taking pictures of each other as the geyser erupted. Neither actually stood and watched it erupt without picture taking….is that seeing or experiencing?



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Gonomad — a great travel site!

January 6th, 2019 · Itinerary, travel, Website of the Week

I’ve really liked this site for some time, and now I get to brag that one of the two pieces I’ve written for it was amongst those chosen as a top 10 for 2018!   Thank you, Gonomad and your readers!

Here’s the story – be sure to read all 10 of the articles.  And, check it out more often!  They have a nice twist of the usual here’s where to go and what to do travel stories, as well as the postings appeal to all ages.

Travel more in 2019!


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