Monday, September 21, 2020

Iceland, Greenland, Denmark, Poland and Kaliningrad

My four partners and our spouses planned a trip to Iceland and Greenland, ending in Copenhagen. From there we went our separate ways. Judy and I, by ourselves, flew to Poland, finished up in Kaliningrad and then flew home. This post provides a basic outline of the trip and then links to blog posts by Judy and I. Judy's posts go chronologically, for the most part, and go for 10 months from July 2019 to the end of April 2020. 

We started on Sunday, June 9, 2019, when we flew from Los Angeles to Montreal on Air Canada, leaving at 11:00 a.m. and arriving 7:20 p.m., a 5 hour and 20 minute flight. After a layover of 3 and 1/2 hours, we took a four hour and 50 minute flight to Reykjavik, Iceland, arriving at 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning. The rest of our group went to Blue Lagoon, but we rented a car and drove into Reykjavik where we visited the outside of the Hateigskirkja and then visited the outside and inside of the Hallgrimskirkja. We ate a traditional lunch across the street at Cafe Loki, which was interesting and pretty good, then walked around downtown a bit, then checked into the Alda Hotel. We then took a taxi to the old harbor with John and Susan where we got into long and warm water suits and took a 3:00 p.m. tour of some off-shore islands and viewed puffins. That evening our group of ten ate at Tapas Barinn at 7:00 p.m., one of the best meals I've ever eaten. It consisted of small plates of unusual and expertly prepared local delicacies, including horse, whale, lamb and salmon. 
     Iceland, Reykjavik  (Judy)
     Iceland: Food  (Judy)
     Atlantic Puffin - Iceland  (Bob)
     Northern Fulmar  (Bob)

On Tuesday, June 11, we went back to the harbor again for a whale watching tour on a much larger boat. We saw a few minke whales and some dolphins, but it was mostly uneventful. For lunch we ate at Ut I Blainn at the Perlan. Following lunch we took a tour of Reykjavik, then finished with dinner reservations at Grillmarkadurinn at 6:00 p.m. I had horse and whale dishes. 
     White-beaked dolphin  (Bob)
     Lesser Black-Backed Gull  (Bob)
     Common Murre - Iceland  (Bob) 
     Greylag Goose - Iceland  (Bob)

Wednesday, June 12, we took the day to do the Golden Circle Tour, which included Thingvellir National Park, the Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir Geothermal Area, a geothermally heated pool in Hveragerdi and dinner at our hotel. That evening we attended a jazz performance at the Harpa beginning at 9:00 p.m.
     Iceland, the Golden Circle Part I: Craters, Thingvallavatin Lake, and Thingvellir National Park  (Judy)
     Iceland, the Golden Circle Part II: Haukadalur Geothermal Field (Judy)
     Iceland, the Golden Circle Part III: Waterfalls and Pools (Judy)
     Fermented Shark or Hakarl  (Bob)

Thursday, June 13, we did a day trip to the south coast of Iceland. We visited a number of waterfalls, including Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss, the edge of a glacier, and the southernmost village of Vik. We returned back to Reykjavik for the evening.
    Southern Iceland I: Seljalandsfoss, Eyjafjallajokull, Drangurrin and Skogafoss  (Judy)
    Southern Iceland II: Solheimajokull Glacier  (Judy)
   Southern Iceland III: Reynisfjara Beach, Reynisdrangar Rock Stacks, Halsanefshellir Cave, and Dyrholaey Lighthouse  (Judy)
     Iceland: Natural Landmarks  (Bob) 

Friday, June 14, we flew from the domestic airport in Reykjavik, about 8:15 a.m., to Ilulissat, Greenland on Air Iceland Connect, arriving about 11:15 a.m. We were driven to Hotel Icefiord, on the south side of Ilulissat, where we checked in and then had an interesting lunch at the hotel, which included dried whale and musk ox. We went out for a guided tour of Ilulissat then later had dinner at the Hotel Icefjiord, which included Musk ox steak. After dinner, I took a walk with John out to the Ilulissat Icefjord for amazing views of that iceberg packed arm of the Arctic Ocean. At 9:15 p.m. we were picked up at the hotel for an evening boat ride in Disko Bay among the icebergs. We didn't get back to the hotel until after 1:00 a.m. 
     From Iceland to Greenland  (Judy)
     Greenland: Ilulissat  (Judy)

Saturday, June 15, we switched to the Hotel Arctic in the morning, on the far north side and beyond town, due to a previous schedule change we'd made (we liked the Hotel Icefjord better even though it is not rated as well). Then we took a long walk into Ilulissat on our own and ate a forgettable lunch at Cafe Iluliaq. After lunch, we took taxis back to the hotel and then were picked up for another boat trip into Disko Bay to view icebergs again, about 3:30 p.m. After getting back to the hotel, John and Susan joined us for the evening. First we took a taxi to eat dinner at Restaurant Mamartut, with reservations at 6:30 p.m. Then about 8:00 p.m. we were picked up for a 60 minute flight with AirZafari to view the Ilulissat Icefjord and the Greenland icecap. The rest of our group went kayaking in Disko Bay. 
     Greenland: Hotel Arctic and Walking through Ilulissat's "Downtown"  (Judy)

Sunday, June 16, we took a six hour boat trip north to the Eqi Glacier
and back, leaving about 10:30 a.m. and getting back about 4:30 p.m. We ate dinner with our group at the Restaurant Ulo, in Hotel Arctic, then we, along with Mark and Lori, were picked up by AirZafari for a flight over Disko Island and back, to make up for our scheduled AirZafari flight in Kangerlussuaq which had to be cancelled. 
     Greenland: Eqi Glacier  (Judy) 

Monday, June 17, from 9:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. we had a guided walk out to the Ilulissat Icefjord, jammed full of ice and huge icebergs. Then we all met for lunch at Restaurant Mamartut which opened early for us so that we could eat and make it to the airport for our flight out. It was an amazing lunch with whale, musk ox, caribou and locally sourced seafood. At 2:40 p.m. we flew on Air Greenland to Kangerlussuaq, arriving at 3:30 p.m. We checked into the Hotel Kangerlussuaq, in the same building as our arrival, an old Danish Air Force Base, then took a bus shuttle to Rokluben restaurant, on the shore of Lake Ferguson for a dinner at 5:00 p.m. Unfortunately we had a set menu, but I was able to also order some Musk ox tartare. Around 7:30 p.m. we were picked up at the restaurant by a giant four-wheel drive box with windows and a cargo truck front. We drove the longest road in Greenland, 20 miles into the interior to the Greenland ice cap, which took about 1 1/2 hours with lots of bumping around and a very stiff ride. Then we walked onto the gritty ice cap, spent a couple of hours, and drove back to our hotel, arriving around 12:45 p.m. 
     Greenland: Kangerlussuaq  (Judy) 
     Eating Muskox  (Bob)
     Barren-Ground Caribou  (Bob)
     Arctic Hare  (Bob)

Tuesday, June 18, we spent the morning in and around the Kangerlussuaq Airport, then had a 1:10 p.m. Air Greenland flight to Copenhagen, Denmark, arriving at 9:30 p.m. after a 4 hour, 20 minute flight. We spent the night at the AC Hotel by Marriott Bella Sky, Copenhagen. 

Wednesday, June 19, we had an 8 hour guided tour in Copenhagen, which included walking, biking and riding in a canal boat. That concluded our tour with the other four couples. At 11:00 p.m. Judy and I flew on SAS Airlines to Gdansk, Poland, arriving at 11:55 p.m. We took a taxi to the Ibis Gdansk Stare Miasto Hotel where we spent the night. 
     Mute Swan - Copenhagen  (Bob) 

Thursday, June 20, we were picked up by a guide about 10:00 a.m. for an hour drive to Malbork Castle. A guide at the castle then gave us a tour inside. On the way back to Gdansk we started to drive to the Port of Gdansk to get a view of Westerplatte where the Germans invaded Poland. It was raining hard so we had her take us to the hotel. Late afternoon we ventured out of the hotel into downtown Gdansk.

Friday, June 21, our guide picked us up for a tri-city tour of Sopot, Gdynia and Gdansk. She then took us to the Gdansk Airport for a 1 hour, 15 minute flight to Krakow, Poland on Lot-Polish Airlines, leaving at 6:30 p.m. and arriving at 7:45 p.m. We'd previously arranged for a transfer from the Krakow Airport to the Hampton by Hilton Krakow. 
     Poland: Walking Tour of Gdansk  (Judy)    

Saturday, June 22, we were picked up by a shared-driver for a trip to Auschwitz, then Birkenau, where we joined tours led by local guides, then were transported back to Krakow where we toured the Salt Mines, also led by a local guide. Afterwards we had the driver drop us off to eat at a restaurant, which was not open, but then found Kuchina U Doroty Restauracja where we ended up eating three times. 
     Auschwitz - Birkenau  (Bob)
     Western Jackdaw  (Bob) 
     Poland: The Wieliczka Salt Mine  (Judy)  

Sunday, June 23, we took a private-guide walking tour of Old Town Krakow and the Jewish Quarter. 

Monday, June 24, a private guide drove us to Zakopane, Poland where we spent most of the day. 
     Poland: Zakopane  (Judy) 

Tuesday, June 25, we arranged to be driven to Czestochowa for a guided tour, led by one of the priests, to see the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. When we got back to Krakow we took a 3.5 hour food tour of Krakow. 
     Poland: Czestochowa  (Judy) 
     Poland: Eating in Krakow  (Judy) 
     Food in Krakow, Poland  (Bob)

Wednesday, June 26, we arranged for a transfer to the airport for a flight on LOT-Polish Airlines, leaving at 8:55 a.m. and arriving in Warsaw at 9:50 a.m. We were picked up at the airport by a private guide and driver and driven to Treblinka Extermination Camp, a 1.5 hour drive from Warsaw. Afterwards we were taken to Warsaw where we checked in to an apartment we rented in the Old Town Marketplace, the center and oldest part of Old Town Warsaw. 

Thursday, June 27, we met our private guide for breakfast, then spent the morning on a tour of Old Town Warsaw. We had lunch with our guide, then did the guide's Jewish history and Warsaw ghetto tour. That evening we had front row seats at a Chopin concert. 
     Poland, Warsaw: Royal Palace  (Judy) 
     Poland: Jewish Warsaw  (Judy) 
     Poland, Warsaw: Chopin  (Judy) 

Friday, June 28, we met with our private guide and visited the Jewish cemetery and the Polin Museum, which is a history of the Jews. We flew out of Warsaw on LOT-Polish Airlines at 4:25 p.m. and arrived in Kaliningrad, a Russian oblast, at 5:30 p.m. Our private guide picked us up at the airport and went to dinner with us, then took us to the Hotel Kaiserhof.
     Papa Beppe's - Kaliningrad  (Bob) 
     Edible Frog  (Bob) 

Saturday, June 29, our private guide gave us a morning tour of Kaliningrad, then dropped us off for lunch and we got a different tour guide that drove us out to the Curonian Spit, followed by a meal just off the Spit and a visit to Zelenogradsk. Our guide then dropped us off at the airport.
     Parmesan - Kaliningrad  (Bob)
     Red Crossbill  (Bob)
     Central European Boar  (Bob)

We flew out early Sunday morning, June 30, at 2:55 a.m. on Aeroflot-Russian Airlines, arriving in Moscow at 5:45 a.m. After a 6 hour layover, we took Aeroflot-Russian Airlines, leaving at 12:10 p.m. and arriving in Los Angeles at 2:25 p.m. 

1 comment:

  1. AMAZING trip. I would love to go back to all those places, but my first choice would be Poland.