Tour Leader: Icelandic Master Quilter Gudrun Erla
United States – Iceland
Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Newark, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Dallas Airports for your nonstop/overnight flight to Keflavik Airport via Icelandair or WOW Airlines. Both airlines will be adding more departure cities and we will update this list as they come on board.
A tour with quilt designer Gudrun Erla Gisladottir to her homeland – Iceland, featuring many of the major natural attractions of this unique country – the majestic waterfalls, boiling hot springs, mountains and glaciers.
Keflavik – Reykjavik – Thingborg - Hella
Arrive at Keflavik Airport in the early morning. Clear customs then take a short drive to Viking World, a museum that features exhibitions about the times of the Vikings – Breakfast is served at the museum. Depart from the museum for Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, located just 32 miles north from the airport. Once in Reykjavik head directly for Hallgrimskirkja, the tallest and largest church in Iceland. A statue of Leif Eiriksson is aligned directly in front of the church, a gift from the U.S. commemorating the 1,000 anniversary of the Icelandic parliament and a tacit acknowledgement that Leif beat Christopher Columbus to North America by almost 500 years.
Your tour will include the Parliament Building, the National Theater and the main seat of government. Visit the harbor area, where older buildings have been retrofitted as boutiques and restaurants. Leave Reykjavik and travel along the main route through southern Iceland. Pass green farmlands where the Icelandic horses will be grazing along the roadside. Arrive in Thingborg and visit the Wool Center, a good source for the genuine Icelandic woolen products. Continue on to the hamlet of Hella and check in to the Hotel Laekur your home for the next 3 days. “Welcome to Iceland” dinner this evening and get acquainted with your fellow travelers.(B,D)
Hella - Thorsmork - Gigjokull Glacier - Hella
Rise and shine-enjoy breakfast at Hotel Laekur. Depart for Eyjafjallajokull, the 6th largest glacier in Iceland, beneath its cap hides the volcano that erupted in 2010 and disrupted air traffic throughout the northern hemisphere. Today you will visit Thorsmork, a hidden valley between three glaciers. You reach this verdant nature reserve by crossing lava fields and glacial rivers in a modified “Monster” truck – a exhilarating but safe experience, a adventure of a lifetime. Thorsmork is a popular place for hikers, the “Ring of Basar” is a easy 1.5m walk. Buffet lunch is served at Volcano Huts in Husadalur. On your return visit Gigjokull glacier with its giant icicle ravines – a good introduction to the “Land of Fire and Ice.” Dinner at Hotel Laekur. Enjoy the outside “hot pot” or the sauna. (B,L,D)
Hella - Gulfoss - Geysir - Fridheimar Farm - Hvolsvollur - Hella
Depart the Hotel Laekur after breakfast for a full day’s excursion that includes some of the major natural attractions in Iceland. Gulfoss is the majestic waterfall that spans the Hvita River, known as one of the world’s most beautiful gorges. A short drive will then take you to the west lakes to the next phenomenon, the “Geysir Geothermal Area”. The Geysir is the first geyser ever mentioned in text; the one for which all geysers are named. Though it rarely erupts the nearby “Strokkur” keeps the show alive erupting every 4 to 8 minutes.
Drive on to Fridheimar Farm, an amazing greenhouse and horse breeding complex. Tour the greenhouses to gain insight into the uses of geothermal heating in Iceland. Savor a delicious lunch then enjoy a horse show that provides insight into the remarkable Icelandic horse breed. The final destination today is Hvolsvollur, a small town, the scene of Njal’s Saga, the masterpiece of the famous Icelandic sagas. You are invited to participate in an ongoing project here where the goal is to sew Njal’s Saga in tapestry form. Return to Hotel Laekur for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Hella - Seljalandsfoss & Skogafoss Waterfalls - Skaftafell National Park
Depart Hella after breakfast for southern Iceland. Todays visit will include Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls and the Skogar Folk Museum. Lunch break in Vik i Myrdal, the southernmost village in Iceland. Continue driving east across the vast Myrdalssandur glacial plain where the immense Vatnajokull, the largest glacier in Europe will offer spectacular views. Arrive at Jokulsarlon a glacial lagoon that is 1500 deep making it Iceland’s second deepest lake. Enjoy a amphibian boat excursion where you sail among the icebergs and enjoy this unique scenery. You may be lucky and catch seals sunning themselves on the floating ice. Overnight at the Hotel Skaftafell located just outside Skaftafell National Park. (B,D)
Skaftafell Ntl Park - Reynisfjara - Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar)
After breakfast enjoy the environment of Skaftafell National Park where the glacier is literally on the doorstep of your hotel. Enjoy a 1-1/2 hour walk through the park with a expert tour guide or a more adventurous glacial hike (optional) of Falljokull. Take the short drive to Kirkjubaejarklaustur, a small village that has been shaped by catastrophic natural events that has created a stunning landscape. Lunch then depart for Reynisfjara with its black sand and crushing waves one of the most photographed attractions in Iceland. Board the Herjolfur ferry for the short sail to Heimaey, the largest of the Westman Islands. Check in at the Hotel Vestmannaeyjar. (B,D)
You have not been to Iceland if you have not been to the Westman Islands, a archipelago of 15 islands – off the beaten path of most tours. The isalnds were formed by submarine volcanic eruptions 11,000 years ago; the youngest island island is Surtsey. The biggest island, Heimaey is the only permanently inhabited one and is the home to appx. 4300 people. Your tour tour guide today is Pall, once the mayor of Heimaey. Visit the Volcano Museum and the lava fields. Lunch at Canton Restaurant then have a afternoon of leisure with no program. Optional horse ride on Icelandic horses is available at Lyngfell farm. Visit Brothers Brewery for a fun lecture about the brewing of beet…followed by a tasting. Good beer, good cheer with a welcoming atmosphere. Dinner tonight at the “900 Grillhouse”. (B,L,D)
Westman Islands- Selfoss - Reykjavik
Today take a exciting excursion by boat around Vestmannaeyjar. With a excellent view from the ocean you can view the cliffs teeming with puffins and other birds. Surtsey, a newly formed volcanic island with a rugged lava coastline and colorful caves will also be in your view. Depart by ferry to the mainland, upon arrival transfer to Stokkseyri a charming fishing village renowned for its magical lobster soup. Proceed to Selfoss, Gudrun Erla’s home town. Enjoy meeting family and friends of your fearless leader, a excellent opportunity to experience how Icelanders live.
Continue to Reykjavik by shortest route and check in at Hotel Arnarhvoll located across the street from the Harpa Concert Hall. Your location is in the heart of the city with restaurants, shopping and nightlife on your doorstep. Remainder of day is at leisure. (B,L)
Reykjavik - Free Day
Credit: GE Quilt Designs
Breakfast at the hotel – morning at leisure without a program. There is lots to choose from on how to spend your free day. You may visit the Whale Museum, the Museum of Iceland or attend a concert at the Harpa Concert Hall. (B)
Reykjavik - Quilting Workshop
Breakfast at hotel and morning at leisure without a program. Early afternoon transfer to the Hotel Midgardur where there will be a Quilting workshop in their conference room where our Gudrun Erla Gisladottir will teach the class. The class will include both the American group as well as Icelandic quilters who will all mingle and learn together as Gudrun gives her instructions in both languages, English and Icelandic. Sewing machines will be provided and shared. Gudrun will bring her latest creations of designs and quilts that have not been seen before.
After the workshop attend a Quilt Show & Tell in the hotel. Show will feature quilts made by Icelandic quilters, quilts brought by tour members and quilts designed and made by Gudrun Erla. After the show attend a “Farewell To Icelandic” dinner served at Islenski Barinn, located next door to your hotel. Tour members and Icelandic Quilters will participate – about 40 guests are expected. (B, D)
Reykjavik - Return to the United States
This is your last day in Iceland. After breakfast check out of the hotel Arnarhvoll for the Reykjanes peninsula, where both the Blue Lagoon and Keflavik Airport are located.
Upon arrival at the Blue Lagoon (optional) we will spend two hours enjoying the lagoon and the adjacent facilities. the rent of towels is included with your admission. For those that do not participate in the Blue Lagoon visit you can have a few more hours for shopping or take a last walk through the pretty city of Reykjavik before departing for the airport and your flight home. (B)