– Reykjavík, Iceland –
Mark still had conference work to do this morning between 9am and noon, so I spent my free time stretching and doing crunches and things to get a halfway decent workout. I didn’t have enough room to bring any running gear in my luggage, so my exercise today was limited to what I could do in the hotel room. I was still pretty tired, so I didn’t mind too much.
I took my time, and had a leisurely morning. Mark wrapped up his meeting just after noon, so we met back at the hotel room when he was done and had some lunch at a noodle bar here in Reykjavík, which was pretty good, overall. We had to watch pretty closely that they didn’t put fish sauce in our food, since it came standard with all of the noodle bowls, but it was otherwise a very easy vegetarian meal.
We also visited Hallgrímskirkja, the famous Lutheran church here, which we weren’t able to get into when we were walking around yesterday. It was closed when we arrived. Today, the organist was practicing his music. They had a sign up about not bothering the organist, which I thought was kind of funny. It was almost like he was an animal in the zoo. “Don’t bother the organist. He bites!” That’s not really what it said, of course, but a girl can dream. Sometimes I think funny warning signs would work better than serious ones, because people would be more likely to read them. But maybe they wouldn’t be able to take a non-serious sign seriously? I am not sure. Maybe if I add a few more instances of the word ‘serious’ to that last sentence, it will make more sense. And then you might take it seriously.
From the church, we walked a bit around downtown Iceland, including over to the Harpa, which is the concert hall. I haven’t included a picture, but you can find one on the photodatabase or google, if you’d like. It is an interesting building. The weather today has not been as nice as previous days, and it has been misting pretty heavily, and almost raining at times. We were getting a little damp on our walk, but nothing serious.
We stopped by the coast as well, where we ran into what I can only describe as viking art. It is a lovely sculpture made of stainless steel called Sólfar, The Sun Voyager. You can see how delightful the weather was in the background. There was also a gentleman fishing off of the rocks right in front of it, which I found amusing. I guess you can fish anywhere you please here. Why not? Where else are you going to find food? I do hear they grow decent tomatoes in the greenhouses outside the city. I guess you could trek inland if fish doesn’t suit your fancy. Maybe a sheep instead?
After our visit with The Sun Voyager, we trekked back towards our hotel and the bus station, where there’s a rental location for Budget/Avis cars. We thought we had a rental there at 3pm, but when we arrived, they told us they were closed, and wondered why we’d even come to that particular location in the first place. We assumed (incorrectly, it turns out) that our car rental came from the only place we’d really seen for it. The location actually turned out to be over by the domestic airport, so the (very kind) gentlemen at the rental agency stuffed 5 people (the two of us and three of their staff) into a tiny car and trucked us over to the right spot across town. It was genuinely very nice of them, especially in the rain.
Once we finally had our car (which we bought the extra insurance for, because roads here are crazy) we made a spur of the moment decision to drive inland, where we knew there was a waterfall that we wanted to see sometime during our trip. The drive took about 1 hour and 45 minutes, which didn’t sound terrible.
We were also pretty well abandoning our previous plan, which was to swim in the local spring-fed pools. The weather was foul, and you have to shower and soap off with all the other tourists (and without your clothes) before and after you enter the pools, then walk out in the cold (in your swimsuit, thankfully) to get into the water. We aren’t prudish exactly, but being American, we are pretty unaccustomed to disrobing and showering with a bunch of other people, so I decided that I wasn’t too disappointed in the weather situation.
As soon as we left the capitol region, we started seeing snow along (but not on!) the roads. It doesn’t take too long at all for Iceland to become totally rural. We didn’t drive through any large cities once we left the Reykjavík area. We saw a few small towns, which I think is what most of the rest of the country is like. Still, the drive was gorgeous, even with all of the rain and fog. We might’ve missed seeing some mountain vistas along our drive, but we did catch our first glimpse of Icelandic Horses, and the lava fields were pretty neat, as well.
Like I mentioned before, it wasn’t a long drive to the waterfall. When we got there, we bundled up in our coats and trekked down to what we thought would be a nice waterfall, but it turned out to be absolutely stunning. The waterfall was enormous, and you could walk up close enough to the falls to practically reach out and touch them.
I’ve noticed here in Iceland that they are much more casual about security signs and fences than we are back home. I guess they figure that if you are stupid enough to venture past what security measures they’ve provided, then you deserve whatever you get. This massive, two-tiered waterfall that fell many feet down to the water was basically just roped off with a bit of twine. It does make for better photographs, I must say. I’d also like to point out that Mark and I are still very much alive, which means that we obeyed the scanty security signs like good little tourists. We’ve heard from locals (at dinner last night) that many tourists are not as clever, and natural selection does take a few of them every year.
While we were standing next to the waterfall, we thought spray from the water was getting us wet, but it turned out that it was also raining pretty heavily. It was impossible to tell where all of the water was coming from. Mark was only wearing his regular jacket, but he’d thought I would be cold, so he suggested that I wear my raincoat, too. I’m glad I did, because we were both completely soaked by the time we made it back to the car. My chest and head were still dry, since I had my raincoat, but Mark was not as lucky. His coat was pretty damp, and both of us were now wearing decidedly damp jeans.
Our Hyundai POS (that being the Piece of Shit model, since I’m not actually sure what sort of car it really is) does happen to have heated seats, however, so we were able to warm up relatively quickly, even though it took us longer than that to dry out entirely. In fact, Mark has his coat parked in front of our radiator right now to dry it out for tomorrow. Ah, weather.
Originally we’d planned to stop at a large geyser nearby on our way back down to Reykjavík, but with the rain and the cold, and our wet clothes, we decided to forgo the trip. It was only about 4 miles back down the road, but you had to walk over to it, and neither of us relished the idea of crawling back into our rained soaked outdoor gear. We will see more geysers later, I think. If not, it was still an experience worth skipping, I can promise you that.
We took a different route to get home to our hotel, and it took us through slightly different territory. We stopped once to see a little crater lake (since the rain had slackened), but it cost money to climb up to look at it, and we decided that wasn’t really worth the effort. We didn’t have enough cash on hand anyway, and we didn’t want to use our debit cards just for something like that. The whole of our drive (minus a bit of road that we missed) is actually called the Golden Circle Tour, and it is a very popular bus tour from the city. Some of Mark’s colleagues are taking it on Sunday, and a few others on Monday.
We stopped in the town of Selfoss for dinner. It didn’t really have any restaurants that we thought would have any vegetarian food, so we picked the largest grocery store in town and purchased some pre-packed veggie sandwiches and chips for our dinner. They were egg and avocado sandwiches, which you don’t see too much at home, and they were pretty good for what they were. We also bought some skyr for our breakfast tomorrow, because I think we are starting to develop an addiction. Yogurt when we get home is not going to feel the same.
Tomorrow, we are taking a 6-7 hour tour on Icelandic Horses with Lauren, a friend of ours from Mark’s office. I am so excited about the gaited horses. I just can’t wait.
– Trip Total : 4,199 miles –