The time has come to share our last day in Iceland. We took it easy with some sightseeing to try to make our relaxing vibe from the Blue Lagoon the day prior last a little longer. I’m a fan of lighthouses and with miles of rocky coasts Iceland has many. Garður light house isn’t the most impressive but it looked interesting in the pictures I’d seen online and it was a short drive from where were were staying near the Blue Lagoon so we decided to check it out.
It sits out on a long jetty with it’s bright colors in contrast to it’s surroundings. We learned that it was once considered the best lighthouse in the country because of it’s low statue so mist wasn’t a problem. But it was often damaged by the surf in this location so they later built a second taller lighthouse a bit further in from the point. The bottom room of the old lighthouse has since been converted into a small pub, but it’s only open in the evenings and we weren’t staying that long.
The newer light house looked like it had been transplanted from New England and reminded me of the many lighthouses along the eastern seaboard of the US. As we were investigating the base of the light house we noticed some signs in the small entry way. The signs were thanks from the US Coast Guard for three local fishing vessels who helped rescue the crew of the USCGC Alexander Hamilton when it was torpedoed and sunk while assisting the disabled Navy supply ship, the USS Yukon south of Iceland in 1942. It was amazing to travel half way around the world and discover a USCG connection after the Hubs had retired from the Coast Guard just a few years earlier.
We wandered the shoreline taking in the old light house from a distance as a storm brewed off the coast. And almost as if to signal that there are still guards on watch, an Icelandic Coast Guard helicopter flew over head.
As we left the point, we spotted this cute little farm, with simple architecture and an amazing view of the ocean. There’s not many places where you can live on a farm with wide open spaces and still be next to the sea like this.
A bit further we spotted a church and pulled in to check it out. There was this building in front of the church which was being remodeled inside. The trim work on the outside of the building was quite ornate and it’s proximity to the church made us wonder what the building had been used for. We soon found a sign that explained it had been the residence for the church leader, and was used for special functions.
Beyond the church we spotted a trail leading by a field of horses and decided to investigate. The horses weren’t much interested in us since we didn’t have any treats for them, but they were still willing to pose for some lovely portraits.
The walkway out near the coast was well manicured and had obviously been designed to encourage enjoying the view along the coast line. I walked back toward the light houses for a bit, but we were getting hungry so we decided to head back to the car and head out.
As we were leaving town we spotted this strange rock garden, which had several uniquely carved and decorated rocks. We didn’t find any signs to describe what the place was used for but there were several electrical stations so we assumed that it was a spot for outdoor concerts and performances.
We made the short drive back to Keflavik where we would spend the night and fly out early the next morning. We both got a kick out of the construction trucks that were driving in this area and how different they are from the bulky American rigs we’re used to.
We paused at the pull-off near the airport to get a shot of the rainbow structure. It’s amazing at night when it’s all lit up. I didn’t get a chance to get that shot due to weather but it was still interesting to see up close.
We ended up in the heart of Keflavik along the coast and found a nice Thai restaurant for lunch. After lunch we looked around a bit and found these large ogre statues guarding the shoreline. The Icelandic people are fairly superstitious and have several of these figures throughout the country. There was a sign about the history of these figures and how a local kindergarten class had pushed to build an area where visitors could come up and see the ogres up close as well as see the view they were guarding.
Down the shoreline I spotted this interesting looking structure and decided to wander down to see what it was. I was imagining all sorts of options as I rounded a small marina to get to the building.
Then I saw these giant foot prints on the walkway leading there and was even more intrigued.
As I got closer I realized just how big the structure was and noticed a sign next to the door indicating this was Giganta’s home.
Still not sure what to expect I stepped inside and found out Giganta is a large ogre who apparently loves children. Many of the signs in the house were in Icelandic so I couldn’t fully understand all the details of her being here but I did gather that a local author had written several stories about Giganta and her friend who convinced her to move from the mountains to Keflavik. Giganta apparently loves children, and not because of how they taste.
Giganta sat sleeping in a large rocking chair behind a wall. She snored and tooted a bit but didn’t seem to stir at all as I took in her home.
There was a small tree nearby that had been decorated with pacifiers for some unknown reason but they were certainly a pop of color against the dark stone walls of the cave.
I bid farewell to Giganta and headed back toward the ogre statues where I’d left the Hubs with the vehicle. Along the way I spotted this whale fin bone and anchor. I’d seen whale vertabrae in gardens before but never the fin used this way.
We decided to find another nearby light house, which required investigating some industrial areas along the coast, but we finally found our way to it. It wasn’t as impressive as the Garður light houses and there wasn’t anything else to see here so we decided to head to our last stop – the Viking World museum.
Along the way I made the Hubs pull over so I could get a shot of the Icelandic version of Walmart, called Bonus. We saw this funny inebriated pig’s face everywhere during our stay and chucked every time.
In the same parking lot were these fun light figure poles. It took me a second to spot them but once I did I had to smile.
Along the way to the museum we spotted another group of ogres watching over the city. We couldn’t find a way to get closer to these ones so I settled for a shot from below their hill.
As a fan of the show Vikings I knew I wanted to make a stop at Viking World. The main attraction is a full size viking ship that was recreated and sailed on a voyage to celebrate the millennial celebration of Leifur Eiríksson’s journey to the New World.
The ship is raised above the main area of the museum, so you can see it from all angles and you can even go aboard by walkind down a ramp from the second floor. Having worked on ships the Hubs was quite impressed with the design and craftsmanship. I was in love with the look of the textures in all the little areas.
My favorite feature was the carved dragon head at the front of the boat. It reminded me that we were heading to Scotland the next day and had Loch Ness on the scheduled. 🙂
I’m a fan of Greek and Norse mythology so I also enjoyed the exhibition about the Norse Gods that depicted the major story lines of the characters and how the Vikings worshiped them.
There were several other exhibits about Viking life and travels. The custom to bury their dead by boat pyre has always intrigued me because it seems so romantic and symbolic. Getting to see a display of such a scene was pretty cool. Honestly if that was an option today I think that’s what I’d choose for myself.
It was also interesting to learn about how the Vikings had interacted with the Inuit people during their travels. I never really thought about those two groups meeting because I always think of Inuit in terms of Alaska and forget that they spanned the arctic circle, including the north eastern coast of North America.
There were carvings on display from the various Inuit tribes that were very similar to the ones we see from the tribes in Alaska.
As we left the museum, we spotted another ogre statue across the harbor. It seemed fitting here guarding the entrance to the area near the museum and the Viking vessel. Mixing the old traditions and beliefs with the new and modern is something Iceland seems to do quite well.
The last must see item was the Viking sword statue. I wasn’t sure exactly where it was but knew it was near the museum, so we drove around a bit and finally spotted it in the middle of a roundabout! I had the Hubs pull into a neighborhood so I could hop out and get a shot of it.
We found dinner in town and then headed back to the guesthouse hotel near the airport to rest for our early morning flight to Scotland. It had been a wonderful few days of unique sights and exploring Viking country, but we were certainly ready for castles and highland life I love from Outlander. I’ll be sharing those adventures soon so check back next week to hear about them!