In July, 2023 I paired with US Quilt Tours to lead my first tour group across Iceland. As this was also my first time in Iceland, I will say the Tour Manager job was not what I expected. But the group had a blast, I learned a ton and am super excited to continue working with US Quilt Tours!
So, what was it like on an Iceland Quilt Tour?
One thing I love about the United States is we have nearly every natural form of land from around the earth. We have mountains, deserts, great lakes, marsh lands, you name it. Even western Washington state has a rain forest. Even with everything this country offers… we don’t have Iceland.
Iceland is like no other country on earth. Literally. It is the only country that has all 4 forms of volcanoes. In fact, they now use volcanic energy to create electricity!
Iceland is the only country that boasts a pure breed of horse. These majestic animals are directly from the time of the Vikings and the only breed with 5 gates!
Not only did our group get to ‘meet’ some horse ‘neigh’bors at our hotel, but several also got to take a few for a ride at the Icelandic Horse World!
Speaking of Icelandic animals, let me introduce you to the Elkhorn Icelandic sheep. Similar to the Icelandic horses, this unique breed is only found in Iceland. The first time we met these sheep we couldn’t decide if it was an actual sheep or a goat. They literally look like they could be both.
But what amazing wool!!!!
Fun fact: The Icelandic sheep grows 2 types of wool at once. The outer layer is thick and more course. The inner layer is fine and softer.
When the sheep were shorn, the wool was separated and spun into various yarns. The thicker wool was used to make outer layers such as coats and hats. The softer wool was used to make undergarments and things worn next to the skin.
Fire and Ice
Iceland is known as the land of Fire and Ice. And for very good reasons. Our Quilt Tour group landed just a few days after a volcanic eruption began near the capital of Reykjavik. And just a few days after that… we were inside an Ice Cave!
Langjokull is the 2nd largest glacier in Iceland. After riding up the glacier on a modified vehicle, we entered another world. What is it about Ice and light that is so magical?
One of the places I found to be the most interesting was actually inside the Thingvellir National Park. This is the place where there is a literal crack in the earth. And we were walking through it!
Iceland is divided by the Mid-Atlantic Rift; some parts of it, such as the Westfjords and Reyjavík, are on the North American tectonic plate, while others, such as Vatnajökull glacier and the East Fjords, are on the Eurasian plate. Iceland is the only place in the world where this rift is above sea-level, and nowhere can you see the edges of both plates as clearly as in Þingvellir.quidetoiceland.is
Thingvellir (which means ‘the fields of parliament’) was once the annual meeting place of all the Viking chiefs that first settled Iceland.
The institution, called the Alþingi, developed to be a place where disputes were settled, where distant relations could share their annual news, and where criminals were tried and punished.quidetoiceland.is
It was here that the nation decided to become Christian in 1000 AD. Every year the chiefs would meet to keep law and order among the people. It wasn’t until after declaring their Independence from Denmark in 1944 that the meeting place was moved to the capital in Reykjavik.
What’s that Smell?
Another one of the most photographed places in Iceland has a ‘natural’ smell that can rival even the most odorific animal farms in the US. But holy moly… I could NOT stop taking photos!!
Also known as “the Geyser Strip,” Namaskard is located in the northern ‘Diamond Circle’ near Lake Myvatn. It is a truly unique phenomenon where fumaroles and mud springs give the landscape a multitude of colors.
But beware! These are live geysers and fissures that are super-heated from the earth’s core. So stick to the marked paths and enjoy nature’s colorful display!
What About the Waterfalls?
At this point you may be wondering, ‘where are all the waterfalls?’ Well… those, my friend, deserve an entire blog amongst themselves. Click HERE to check out the waterfalls!!
- What is a Quilt Tour and Why You Should Take one
- Who are US Quilt Tours?
- Complete List of Quilt Shops in the US
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