1
SkjΓ³l Camping

Finally, we have arrived in Iceland after a year’s delay! (Jhanet’s passport not being returned from the US embassy in time for our Iceland Trip last year). We had an overnight flight to Keflavik and arrived at 6ish or so. We had a spot of breakfast at the airport, found 10 euros, before taking a very fast, pricey taxi to the Indie Campers pickup depot, \240to get our Nomad Camper Van. Welcome to Iceland.

This way to Iceland

We will have to be mindful of the daylight that we have. The daylight hours in Iceland on the shortest day of the year are 4-5 hours per day (December to January)

Nomad Camper

We headed north up to a trail that had three waterfalls. The first being Bruarfoss. The Bruarfoss Waterfall is a hidden natural gem located in the Western Icelandic countryside.

Brúarfoss may be a small waterfall, tucked away in a remote area of West Iceland. But the magnificent shade of blue-colored water in its rapids is amazing.

Brúarfoss

Midfoss

Midfoss

Hlauptungufoss

Hlauptungufoss is a waterfall in the south of Iceland in the river Brúará.

There are several waterfalls in the river Brúará; Hlauptungufoss is a small one with a height of approx 2 meters. The waterfall is located 1.5 kilometer downstream from the famous Brúarfoss.

Blaskogabyggo Hiking Trail 4.51 miles

After our small hike and not having slept for over 24hours it was time to find a camping spot for the night. We ended up finding Skjol camping in Geysir. They had a restaurant and we ordered a small pizza before parking our van in a field for the night. They were great. It costs about $14 USD per person per night. If you want to plug in than you can add an additional $7(ISK 1000 ).

Camembert, \240blue cheese, chili cheese, oregano, tomato sauce and cranberry jam.

We did have somewhat of a learning curve with the van’s systems.

Getting the heat and electrics working and setting up our cozy home for the week took us a couple of hours then we both crashed for about 12 hours.

Van battles - HEAT (Michelle is much, much colder than Jhanet, indoors, only) I’m sure there are more to come. Stay tuned…

2
Camping Selfoss

Since the sun does not rise until about 11am we had a very slow start to todays adventures. We plan for a relatively easy day to see the sites around where we camped last night. First stop was Geysir! About a 5 minute drive away Geysir Geothermal Area.

Strokkur

Strokkur ("churn") is a fountain-type geyser located in a geothermal area beside the Hvítá River in Iceland in the southwest part of the country, east of Reykjavík. It typically erupts every 6–10 minutes. Its usual height is 15–20 metres (49–66 ft), although it can sometimes erupt up to 40 metres (130 ft) high.

perhaps too hot for a spa bath

Orange(carotenoid pigment) & green \240microbial mats grow at temperatures between 95-138 F.

Geysir sometimes known as The Great Geysir, is a geyser in southwestern Iceland. It was the first geyser described in a printed source and the first known to modern Europeans. The English word geyser (a periodically spouting hot spring) derives from Geysir. The name Geysir itself is derived from the Icelandic verb geysa ("to gush"). Geysir lies in the Haukadalur valley on the slopes of Laugarfjall lava dome, which is also the home to Strokkur geyser about 50 metres (160 ft) south.

We stood there for several minutes, waiting for to erupt, freezing our fingers off and numbing our arms by keeping them in position to capture the exact moment of eruption and Michelle captures this photo by chance.

Research on the deposits of sinter, formed from the dissolved minerals in the hot water, shows that Geysir has been active for approximately 10,000 years. The oldest accounts of hot springs at Haukadalur date back to 1294, when earthquakes in the area caused significant changes in local neighbouring landscape, creating several new hot springs. Changes in the activity of Geysir and the surrounding geysers are strongly related to earthquake activity. In records dated 1630, the geysers erupted so violently that the valley around them trembled.

The we headed off to Gulfoss. The Hvítá river flows southward, and about a kilometre above the falls it turns sharply to the west and flows down into a wide curved three-step "staircase" and then abruptly plunges in two stages (11 metres or 36 feet, and 21 metres or 69 feet) into a crevice 32 metres (105 ft) deep. The crevice, about 20 metres (66 ft) wide and 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) in length, extends perpendicular to the flow of the river.

Many of these to come

The average amount of water running down the waterfall is 141 cubic metres (5,000 cu ft) per second in the summer and 80 cubic metres (2,800 cu ft) per second in the winter.

Then we continued down to Selfoss to camp for the evening. Made sure to get an extra can of gas so that we stay nice and warm tonight. Since Michelle blasts the heat overnight. Jhanet made some egg fried rice and we’re looking forward to see what tomorrow brings.

We stumbled upon this Elf, whom pledged his protection over us for our trip in Iceland. His name, you ask. He is Snorri, the son of Gryla from Ljósálfar.

3
Camping Selfoss

Trolls, giants and giantesses are essential characters in the Icelandic folklore. Their history is just as old as the history of Iceland itself.

The words tröll or troll and tröllkona or female troll are quite extensive because they refer to all beings which are bigger than humans in some ways and that are malicious to some degree, so even those that are ghosts and wizards. However, the name troll is mostly used about the species that are mostly identified by being gigantic. Other names for that species do exist, such as bergbúar (rock dwellers), jötnar (gigantics), þussar or þursar (stone giants), risar (giants), skessur (giantesses), flögð (shrews), gýgjur (stone giantesses) and so forth.

These names are so prominent that the proper names of trolls seldomly appear. Many names also bear witness to the believe in trolls, both names for things, for example: jötunuxi: rove beetle (literally gigantics’ ox), þursaberg: type of basalt stone (lit. stone giant mountain), þursaskegg: bod sedge, lat. Kobresia myosuroides (lit. stone giant beard), gýgjarpúss: sea squirt (lit. stone giantess mushroom), tröllagrös: type of moss (lit. trolls weeds), tröllajurt plant, lat. pedicularis (lit. trolls plant), surtarbrandur: lignite or brown coal (lit. black′s sword), surtarepli: small knobs on horsetail plants (lit. black′s apple) and place names such as Surtshellir (black′s cave), Trölladýngja (troll′s shield mountain), Tröllagata (troll′s trail), Tröllaháls (troll′s ridge), Tröllakirkja (troll′s church), Tröllaskeið (troll′s heath), Tröllaskógur (troll′s forest) and Tröllatunga (troll′s land).

In the Icelandic stories that still exist about trolls, these beings are described just as told in the Nordic myths. They are both considered to be taller and stronger than humans in general, dumb and wild and then greedy and ferocious. Once in a while it is also said that they know many things unknown to humans and that they are kind hearted and noble and trusty as gold. When something wrong is done to them, the trolls get furiously upset and try to get revenge in the most cruel way; on the other hand they both thank for good deeds and reward it, and often help humans without being asked to. Trolls are said to be man-eaters but there are many examples that they also wanted sexual companionship with humans and to get that they have both kidnapped men and women.

Even though trolls are in many ways dangerously deformed, they always take shape of humans in all basic ways, because it appears so that they are an older race than the humans. The trolls are supposed to have been offended that Christianity was adopted here in this Iceland and have tried in many ways to impede its growing following and they settled nearby where Christianity was adopted and churches built, and if they didn’t have their way like they wanted they tried to drive the humans crazy and to seduce them from Christianity to their own religion. Trolls live in cliffs, mountain ranges and caves and survive on animal hunting, fishing and perhaps livestock as well. Some of them may not see the light of day and turn to stone if the sun gets to shine upon them and therefore they only move during the night. It looks like they are a special species of trolls and have been given the unique name nátttröll (night troll).

Many sayings exist that describe the behavior of trolls and some of them praise them while others blame them for something, just as Snorra Edda says in chapter 31: “People are rightly named after Æsir (the old Nordic gods); people are also named after the stone giants, those names are mostly mockery or derogatory”. In the same way skass (female troll), skessa (female giants) or flagð (shrew) and similar words are derogatory about women and are not used unless about those women that behave as wild beasts in some ways or are bossy.

When one wants to say that someone is looking at something while being stupefied or sheepish it is said that “he stares at it, like a troll at Heaven or clear skies,” and it likely comes from the fact that trolls which are so unfriendly towards Christianity, will never have a chance to return to Heaven. Then there are other sayings that praise the individual, such as tröllatryggð (trustworthy as a troll) and it is said that one is the biggest trustworthy troll when one is loyal or trustworthy, then more sayings exist such as “tröll eru í tryggðum best” (trolls are the best in trust) and “tröll ganga trautt á grið sín” (not all trolls use up their mercy).

Source: Icelandic folk tales and fairy tales, collected by Jón Árnason, published in 1862, 1. volume, pages 181-182.

4
SkΓ³gar Campsite

Today we began by filling up and emptying out the camper van for the first time. Necessary things one must do when traveling around in a camper van. It’s quite a job, especially when you are accustomed to just a tent and the great outdoors. Minimalistic camping has no match on a camper van and all its mod coms. Once full and empty, we hit the road for Kerið volcanic crater. Kerið (also Kerith or Kerid) is a volcanic crater lake located in the Grímsnes area in south Iceland, along the Golden Circle. It is one of several crater lakes in the area, known as Iceland's Western Volcanic Zone, which includes the Reykjanes peninsula and the Langjökull Glacier, created as the land moved over a localized hotspot, but it is the one that has the most visually recognizable caldera still intact. The caldera, like the other volcanic rock in the area, is composed of a red (rather than black) volcanic rock.

The caldera itself is approximately 55 m (180 ft) deep, 170 m (560 ft) wide, and 270 m (890 ft) across. Kerið's caldera is one of the three most recognizable volcanic craters because at approximately 6,500 years old, it is only half the age of most of the surrounding volcanic features.

We were the first ones to arrive (about 10 mins before the tour buses arrived) it was still dark at 9:50am. We hiked around the crater from above and below.

Then we continued south to a small fishing village called Stokkseyri. Stokkseyri is a small town in Southern Iceland, with a population of around 445.

The church of Stokkseyri. It was built in 1886 and is the 7th church to be built on this site.

Þuríðarbúð fisherman's hut

Þuríður Einarsdóttir (Thuridur Einarsdottir), commonly known as Foreman Thuridur or Þuríður formaður, (1777 – 13 November 1863) was an Icelandic sea captain. Unusually for a woman, for over half a century she worked as an increasingly renowned fisherman, first as a deckhand then taking command of boats as "foreman", the term traditionally used for captain in Iceland. She is also known for helping to identify those behind the infamous Kambur robbery in 1827.

The beach in Stokkseyri, offers the most impressive breaker waves in Iceland, but this time it offered the most impressive sunset.

Then we were off to see lots of water falls (I mean a lot!) First up was Seljalandfoss

The waterfall drops 60 m (197 ft) and is part of the Seljalands River that has its origin in the volcano glacier Eyjafjallajökull. Usually you can walk behind this waterfall but in winter, it’s all ice so no go this time. We did get to walk down to Gljúfrabúi waterfall (or Gljúfurárfoss) which is located at Hamragarðar.

This waterfall is hidden in a narrow canyon.

We then headed on our way to Skogafoss but were stopped by our elf. We were instructed to visit one of his past accommodations. Rutshelli.

His favourite hang out.

Little people

He gets the best view from that window

Then we proceeded on to Skógafoss and here we had planned a decent hike well above the falls. \240This took us a few hours and we returned in the dark. What a beautiful hike with more huge waterfalls than you can imagine.

Skógafoss

Skógafoss

Skalabrekkufoss

On the way down, among the dark cloudy skies, a single bright star appeared. Perhaps a satellite.

5
Skaftafell tjaldsvæði

Today we had a little bit of a slow start. It’s hard when it’s pitch black out at 10am. Once we got moving we headed to Sólheimajökull.

(Another night in the sauna camper)

Sólheimajökull is a glacier in southern Iceland, between the volcanoes Katla and Eyjafjallajökull. Part of the larger Mýrdalsjökull glacier. We packed up with some glacier gear and headed out. Once we reached the terminus we cramponed up grabbed our ice axes and started climbing.

This glacier is a very popular tourist attraction, which means many guided groups - which in turn makes finding a route much easier as the guides literally cut steps into the ice for their clients.

We took advantage of these routes until we reached high up on the glacier.

We came across a great cravass which we could walk through. Absolutely beautiful.

Next up was the beach! Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach.

Reynisfjara is not the only black-sanded beach in Iceland, but it is probably the most iconic. As an island simmering with volcanic activity, some of Iceland’s beaches have black sand because the sand is ground down from black volcanic rock formed when lava cools and solidifies. In the case of Reynisfjara, the famous Katla volcano erupted centuries ago and, when the molten hot lava clashed with the freezing cold North Atlantic Sea, black rock was formed and eventually eroded away into the shimmering sand you see today. The result is beautiful black sand stretching for miles of coastline.

Apart from the black sand and towering sea stacks, the other geological phenomena of Reynisfjara Beach are the basalt columns. The twisting hexagonal shapes look impossible and like they must be man-made, but they are actually formed by cooled lava, just like the black sand. Stacked against each other, the basalt columns look like stepping stones and twist into the form of a cave which looks like a troll dwelling.

This is the only time I(J) took my eyes of the sea. These breaker waves can be very sneaky and increase in size in a second.

I instructed Michelle to watch the sea, whilst I take this photo. Eyes always on those waves.

Never seen black beach sand. It doesn’t even stick to your hands.

A few people did get caught out by a sneaky breaker wave.

We then stopped in Vik to another black sand beach Víkurfjara before visiting the local church.

Vík í Mýrdal Church is a stunning, white-washed church located in Vík, the southernmost town in Iceland. It is built in a beautiful cliffside area and offers magnificent views of the nearby Reynisfjara beach and Black Sand Dunes. The church boasts vibrant grass on one side and rocks on the other, making it a unique sight. We were not able to get in today because it was rather late in the day. We then drove to Skaftafell Campsite to park up a go to sleep before tomorrows adventures.

6
Camping Selfoss

Woke up to extremely heavy rain so we decided to head east to see what we could see. The scenery we are driving past I’m sure is amazing but the low lying clouds are obscuring everything. We ventured down a dirt track to get a glimpse of Falljukull glaicer.

Falljokull Glacier

After we dove back into the van literally, we came across this amazing little church just down the road. Hofskirkja

The thick blanket of grass atop this church spills toward the ground, making it look as though the roof is melting into the landscape. Burial mounds concealed beneath the surrounding greenery seem to bubble toward the surface, creating the illusion of earth rising to swallow the building whole.

Hofskirkja

This fairytale-like building is the last turf church ever built in Iceland. Hofskirkja was originally constructed in 1884, though it was thoroughly restored in the 1950s. Unlike some of the country’s other turf churches, this one is still a practicing parish.

The church is made from a timber skeleton surrounded by sturdy stone walls. It’s capped by heavy stone slabs draped in a cloak of greenery, which helps keep heat from escaping into the often raw, chilly air. When viewed from the back, it looks as though the building has begun to sink into the lumpy terrain. This is because the church is partially buried in the ground, allowing the earth to act as natural insulation.

Turf buildings like this one once peppered Iceland’s villages. Using layers of dirt and grass to protect structures from bitter cold winters was a common practice throughout the region. It was particularly useful in Iceland, as the country’s early Nordic and Celtic settlers felled many of the island’s trees, leaving future generations with little available timber.

But the turf trend began to wane in the 20th century, when concrete took over as the building material of choice. Now, there are only six turf churches left in Iceland, all of which are protected as historical monuments.

We then continued east and as were we headed along route 1 the weather got colder! Roads became extremely icy and that was it for us. After a couple slides from the van, we decided to abandoned going east as the weather was forecasted to get much worse.

Slippery, Icy road, surrounded by snow, that literally appeared out of the blue, after a small bend and hump in the road,

The hike we planned for tomorrow is a no go with the storm approaching. We made it back to our previous nights camp ground and emptied and filled up our camper van before heading back towards Vik. We currently don’t have a formulated plan, except for stop at anything interesting along the way. We swung off the road to get a look at the worlds largest lava field.

The other formulated plan is get propane. Michelle needs heat tonight in the van. :)

Lava rocks covered in moss

The impressive Eldhraun lava field is the biggest lava flow in the world. It occurred during the Laki eruption of the late 1700s. The enormous site, which is 565 square kilometers (218 sq mi), is where the Apollo 11 crew trained for their moonwalk.

Jhanet wanted to stop back at the black sand beach, Reynisfjara to see the storm surge. Pretty impressive, the red warning were up.

On our first stop, the amber light was on. Today, it is RED, high hazard. Do not go beyond the sign.

Black sand is apparently very hard to see in the dark

I (J) won’t go near this shore. Those breakers are roaring!

Stopped by this church on our way back to the main road.

In 1929, the Church was built and solidified Vik's status as a community. With its red roof and wooden frame, the Reyniskirkja Church is a classic example of an Icelandic church.

If you’ve been to Iceland over the Christmas period you might have seen cemeteries and gravestones decorated with lights. This is because remembering loved ones is a big part of the Yuletide season for Icelanders.

The weeks leading up to Christmas Eve, families will come together at the graves of their loved ones and place on them a candle or decorate them with electric Christmas lights, to pay respect and to show that they are remembered and missed.

7
W2M6+6F8 Camping Selfoss, Engjavegur, 800 Selfoss, Iceland

Woke up today to a full on blizzard, van was shaking due to the 30-40mph winds, snowing sideways intermixed with sleet. Wonderful - so guess we’ll go hiking in the Reykjavegur Valley. The name of the valley, Reykjadalur, means Steam Valley and you will understand why when the valley opens up after the hike. The valley is filled with hot springs and mud pools, and there is even a hot river in which one can bathe!

We had a break in the weather while we were hiking up the valley. It’s about 3km to the bathing hot springs area. During the hike up you see boiling hot pools and steam rising throughout the entire valley. \240With the snow and winds it was quite a dramatic place.

The Reykjadalur valley is part of the Hengill area, but Mt. Hengill last erupted some 2,000 years ago and is still active.

We reached the hot springs area and either side had boardwalks to have easy access to the river. We talked about jumping in but the 40mph winds and snow were quite the deterrent and furthermore we forgot our towels.(Michelle purposely left them):)

She said she’ll get into a private hot spring, found a couple, but still, no go.

We had planned to hike well past this area and as the weather deteriorated we continued up the valley.

Walked away from this, dripping from the steam.

Immediately above the river you will find Klambragil gorge and a beautiful hot spring area with a fumarole and boiling hot springs and mud pools.

Click on the video above

At this point we could head back to the trail to continue our hike but decided to go off piste a bit. We continued up the gorge and topped out via a narrow rocky gully. Why follow the well packed & marked path.

Once on top we slowly made our way back to the trail and continued on.

Warming up my hands

Founds some chains to help us up some steep bits, much to my relief(Jhanet). Since I do not trust my feet one bit on this white slippery stuff.

Once we came down from the heights we rejoined the original trail past the hots springs again

Throughout this entire trip we keep seeing this really bright star. Finally checked it out on an app I had and it’s no star, it’s Jupiter!

Almost back to the van, super windy and being pelted by sleet and snow for rest of it

Jhanet making tea for us to warm up after our long hike

Trail map route in green

We headed back to the same campground we were at last night as tomorrow will be our last day in Iceland before heading to England. We stopped by the large church in Selfoss to checkout the lit up cemetery and Christmas lights.

I(J) think the lit up graves are nice, Michelle finds them creepy.

Another day of wonderful sights and experiences. Michelle is ready for her warm van. :)

Today is our last day in Iceland. We woke up packed up and emptied out the van. We had one last potato and Jhanet went to the campground kitchen and made fries for breakfast along with our last veggie sausage and eggs. Yum

On the way out of Selfoss we captured the smiling lights.

We then headed to a small seacoast village of Eyrarbakki. It was about 10:30 in the morning and the wind was crazy with sideways rain and hail. Amazing dancing Christmas tree sighting

Play video

The village is a small fishing village…..

The excitement Jhanet exhibited upon seeing this giant lobster was indescrible. She immediately turning the van around!

The we continued along the coast before turning off to see if we could make it to a large lava tube I had read about. Arnaker

If only

We dropped the van off with no problems and headed to the airport

That’s it for Iceland this time. We will be back again most likely in the spring or summer so we can access the interior. What a wonderful country. I’ve been here many times and it never fails to impress. We just boarded our Iceland flight to London for the next few days.

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65 Whitelands Ave, Chorleywood, Rickmansworth WD3 5RQ, UK

We made it to Kate and John’s house at about 9pm last night and we knew they were going to be out so I retrieved their keys from the neighbour, Moyra. We broke in and made ourselves at home. Their cat Smuge made us very welcome.

Jhanet headed to bed and I stayed up until Kate and John arrived back home at around midnight. We chatted a bit before we all went to bed. The next morning we visited and decided to go for a hike in the Chiltern’s.

The Chiltern Hills are a chalk escarpment in the UK northwest of London, covering 660 square miles (1,700 km2) across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, and Bedfordshire, stretching 45 miles (72 km) from Goring-on-Thames in the southwest to Hitchin in the northeast.

AONB (Area of Outstanding Beauty) - 883sq/km in which Kate the Head of Landscape for the Chiltern’s Conservation Board.

The Ridgeway National Trail passes through a surprisingly remote part of southern central England. From its start in the World Heritage Site of Avebury, it follows a ridge of chalk hills in a north-easterly direction for 87 miles (139 Km) to reach Ivinghoe Beacon lying to the northwest of London. Popularly known as ‘Britain’s oldest road’, The Ridgeway still follows the same route over the high ground used since prehistoric times by travellers, herdsmen and soldiers.

Of course had to stop at a pub along the way for a snack (Chips, Halloumi Fries & Prawn Cocktail)

Walking in England is muddy work so booties required before going into the pub is a must!

9
65 Whitelands Ave, Chorleywood, Rickmansworth WD3 5RQ, UK

Today Kate & John took us to Oxford for a few hours before John’s show tonight. They both were graduate student at Oxford University and that is where they met and got married. We got a fantastic tour down memory lane.

Bridge of Sighs

Keble College

Oxford University Museum & Pitt Rivers

Keble Chapel

https://www.monkeyfists.co.uk/

Our friend John plays the Base and sings. What a great show! Listen below for and example of our amazing evening

Monkeyfists: Your local landlocked shanty band

We are all about the fun of the foot-stomping, galleon-storming, carousing, roustabout lark of playing live the songs that brought together the crew aboard ship under sail and steam. We seek some of the authenticity of old sea songs, shanties, folk songs and drinking songs.

Many are up tempo, and filled with profanity, lewdness and the raw and salty language of the old days. Others are contemplative, balladic, but just as rousing. We also throw in a few twentieth century songs now and again! 

Click play above

Click play above

10
Oberstraße 71

Today was mainly a travel day to Germany. We had decided to head to near Frankfurt to visit some Christmas markets. We stopped at Tesco to start our English shopping on the way to Stansted Airport. We loaded up on Tea and Hula Hoops, this was shop one of two.

We landed at Frankfurt Hahn the picked up our car and head to Rüdesheim am Rhein. Rüdesheim am Rhein is a German winemaking town in the Rhine Gorge. It lies in the Rheingau-Taunus-Kreis district in the Regierungsbezirk of Darmstadt, Hessen. Known as Rüdesheim, it is officially Rüdesheim am Rhein, to distinguish it from Rüdesheim an der Nahe.

Located in the Rhine River Valley, Rüdesheim, aka Rüdesheim am Rheine, is classic Germany famous for medieval castles, terraced vineyards, timbered architecture, gothic churches, and of course, the Rudesheim Christmas Market. It’s a beautiful part of the country and part of the Rhine Valley UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We decided to go all out for our dinner spot. 70’s theme dinner in every way. Including the live music.

Baked \240

11
Oberstraße 71

Today is Christmas Market Day. First we got some breakfast at our local bakery. Then did a quick walk around our town in the day light before we headed off to Wiesbaden.

You don't have to strain your eyes to check the time on this colossal clock. The clock face, which is surrounded by a charming woodland scene, dominates the front of a store. 

In the mid-1940s, Sergeant Fred Stern of the New York Police Department approached his uncle, Emil Kronenberger, with an idea: to build the largest cuckoo clock in the world. 

Kronenberger owned a souvenir shop in Kaiser-Friedrich Square in Wiesbaden, Germany, a tourist region known for its spas and home to a large American military presence following the Second World War. Stern convinced his uncle that such an attraction would be appealing to American patrons, both servicemembers and tourists alike.

The two set to work, and it wasn't long before the clock was erected at the entrance of the shop. Measuring over 15 feet tall and nearly nine feet wide, it easily caught the eye of all who passed by. In the 1950s, the clock was named “World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock” by the Guinness Book of World Records, though it has since lost that title.

Not Dampfnudel but Germknodel (not quite as good but not bad either)

The Mainz Christmas Market, an annual highlight in the heart of the city of Mainz, is a festive event that takes place from the end of November until December 23rd. Its origins date back to 1788, making it one of the most historic Christmas markets in Germany.

Known for its vibrant history and cultural diversity, the city of Mainz provides the perfect backdrop for this enchanting market. It takes place at three main locations: the Marktplatz, Höfchen, and Liebfrauenplatz. These sites are surrounded by iconic buildings, such as the Mainz Cathedral, which enriches the market with an impressive and atmospheric setting.

The market extends across several streets and squares in the heart of the city, with each area offering its own unique goods and attractions. Visitors can discover a variety of stalls offering traditional Christmas items, crafts, and gifts.

Vegetarische Bratwurst (we had 2)

Today we had one last day in Germany. Our flight leaves tonight at 10 something so we have the full day to tour some more sites and Christmas markets. We started by finding an Atlas Obscura museum in Rüdesheim. The Siegfried’s Mechanical Museum. This museum contains more than 400 self-playing musical instruments. The building call Bromserhof is a 15th century knight’s residence, right above the Drosselgasse in Rüdesheim am Rhein.

We arrived slightly after 11 and unfortunately we missed the first tour - so do we stay or go? We strolled a little around the Christmas Market, had a bite to eat and decided to stay. Good thing

Click play

Everything in here is completely mechanical and dates between late 1800’s to early 1930’s when the production of all of this type of entertainment became obsolete.

Click play

Click play

After the amazing mechanical museum we heading off to our first Christmas Market of the day. Worms

This market was quite small and had a slightly strange feel. We walk around quickly then headed to Heidelberg. I remember being in Heidelberg when I was 16. All I remember is a bridge and a river. Found it! What a wonderful city.

Then we headed back to the airport but was able to hit one more market in Mannheim. There was a massive water tower right in the Center square

The Water Tower (German: Wasserturm) is a well-known landmark of Mannheim, Germany. The water tower was built from 1886 to 1889 on the present Frederick Square (Friedrichsplatz) by Gustav Halmhuber. The tower, which is 60 meters high and 19 meters in diameter, was Mannheim's first urban water tower. It initially had to meet with the required standards as a drinking water supply while maintaining steady water pressure. After the construction of the higher Luzenberg water tower in 1909, the Mannheim water tower served as an aboveground water tank until 2000.

12
SG8 8QL

Arrived quite late to Diana’s, of course she was up waiting with the biggest hug for Jhanet. We chatted for a little bit then headed off to bed.

Our only plan today was to visit with Diana. We decided to head into Saffron Waldron to pick up a few items at Waitrose and then to have cream tea.

This evening we went to the Red Cow for dinner and then listen to some carollers who arrived at the pub around 8pm.

Travel Day back to the US. Hopefully we will see something of the volcano….

This is all we saw coming in

Oh well we will have to search out another active volcano on another trip. Travel home was uneventful - just in time for Christmas

Our pup was glad to have us back!! Can you see the excitement?

On the evening of 18 December 2023, a volcanic eruption occurred at the Sundhnúkur crater chain north of the town of Grindavík, Iceland,with lava spewing from fissures in the ground. The intensity of the eruption and accompanying seismic activity decreased early on 19 December, with lava seen spreading laterally from both sides of the newly opened fissures. The eruption was described as the largest in the Reykjanes Peninsula since the beginning of eruptive activity in 2021, and was visible as far away as the capital Reykjavík, 42 kilometers away. The eruption ended on 21 December 2023, after the Icelandic Meteorological Office said no lava was erupting after a flight over the volcano, but clarified that it was "too early to declare the eruption over." Sundhnúkur is a crater row and currently active volcanic fissure that is part of the Reykjanes Peninsula rift zone.

We flew out of Iceland on the 15th and back in on the 22nd - Just missed it!!!!!

The eruption was preceded by an intense earthquake swarm in the Eldvörp–Svartsengivolcanic system that began on 24 October 2023, caused by a magmatic intrusionunderneath the area. The frequency and intensity of the earthquakes dramatically increased on 10 November, with 20,000 tremors recorded by that time, the largest of which exceeded magnitude 5.3. An evacuation was ordered in Grindavík, and large-scale subsidence in and around the town is reported to have caused significant damage