From mountains to waterfalls and more, Deb and Terry McCann recently returned from Iceland where they were awed by the experience.
Retired teachers from Beloit, they have enjoyed travel adventures for many years. But travel was severely limited this year due to the COVID-19 virus spread.
Iceland, however, was still allowing tourists, so that became their destination in the fall of 2021.
“It’s about 20% smaller than Wisconsin,” Terry said of the tiny country.
Still, the McCanns, along with friends Martha and Pat Barlow, filled two weeks with the sights and sounds of Iceland.
While they have been on guided tours and on their own, this time they decided to also do their own trip. Martha Barlow was the organizer arranging the logistics, the McCanns said.
“People shouldn’t be afraid to plan their own trips,” Deb said.
Of course helping make the trip a success is that Terry drove the couples all around Iceland. An experienced driver beyond the usual, Terry has his own limo service in Beloit and is used to driving people places just about every day, he said.
To get into Iceland, they had to have a negative COVID-19 test and they wore masks on the roughly six-hour flight.
After landing in the capital city of Reykjavik, they headed for the popular Blue Lagoon, a huge thermos bath carved out of rocks.
They spent two days in Reykjavik visiting an art museum, the Perlan Ice Cave and more.
“Most people do the golden circle tour of Iceland,” Terry said.
That includes the geysers, volcanoes and the national park, for example.
But the McCanns and Barlows wanted to see more. So they headed out on their own.
“We went about 800 miles on Ring Road, the only road that goes around the entire country,” Terry said.
They lodged in bed and breakfast spots and hotels along the way.
And after getting out on the road, they saw country scenes, churches and farms as well as small villages.
One of those small villages was Husavik, the oldest village in the country and known for whale watching.
It’s also where a Netflix film was made and the Jaja Ding Dong Bar was featured.
The movie was “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.”
They enjoyed visiting the bar.
As they toured the countryside, the couples were amazed by the geography the came upon, especially the waterfalls and geysers.
“There are 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland,” Terry said.
“The natural geography is beautiful,” they said.
There’s also the uniqueness like the Icelandic horses.
Most horses have three or four gaits. But the horses bred in Iceland are unique to the world.
“They are 100% thoroughbred and they have a fifth gait, extremely rare,” Deb said.
Part of the advantage of driving themselves around was that they could stop anytime and view the various sights.
They went geocaching, saw colorful rainbows and visited a lava maker.
As for food, there was a lot of fish and beef in the restaurants, but food was also costly, the McCanns said.
Terry added Iceland is famous for its hotdogs.
At night, the travelers played cards and rented a portable YFI, they said.
When they were almost full circle on the road, they did have to turn around and head back, however, due to high winds, Terry said. The road was blocked off for safety reasons.
Viewing the geysers, waterfalls, mountains and grazing lands were among Terry’s favorite parts of the trip.
“It was beautiful,” Deb said.
As for the Icelandic people they encountered: “They are a proud, patriotic people,” Deb said.
When the world was a different place (before the COVID-19 pandemic) the McCanns traveled extensively across their own country as well as globally. Some of those places include: France, England, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Japan, Taiwan and Russia.
“We walked the wall in China,” Deb said.
And they are not done yet.
In May, the couple is planning to go back to the Netherlands and also visit Belgium, they said.
On their bucket list: Viet Nam.
Of Iceland, they also said: “We would definitely go back.”