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Posts from the ‘Travel Iceland’ Category

ICELAND: SIX DAYS IS NOT ENOUGH (Part 2 of 2)

Retracing our drive after sleeping in sadcar, luck brings a sunny day, where the tops of mountains and snow-covered volcanos revive our senses. We ride through the golden circle which reveals hot spots and the Great Geysir, the original geyser from which all others get their name.

Gullfoss

The main attraction, though, hides a few miles away down a canyon hidden by the landscape. The double-cascade waterfalls of Gullfoss greats us with a rainbow.

Moss covered lava rock

We sleep in a hostel this night, as the coastal winds make conditions too hostile to pitch a tent. Another clear day in the morning gives us views of moss-covered lava beds that resemble a crowd of dancing elves in the distance.

Sea shore

Fjords divide the North Atlantic’s shores with craggy tips.

Lunch

After lunch, we drive a dirt road in search of what Anthony Bourdain calls, “the worse tasting food of my life.” At the small Bjarnarhofn farmstead, the scent of ammonia surrounds a small museum dedicated to the Greenland Shark. Icelanders cut the meat of this toxic mammal, store it in an uncovered wooden box, and allow it to ferment in its own juices for about 4 winter months.

Fermented shark

Then, the meat is hung and air-dried for a few more months. Voila – Hakarl, a delicacy for special occasions, ready to eat. The bittersweet of transforming toxic into edible. Most folks cannot get past the smell of rotting flesh and the aftertaste, but Mare and I actually like it. Go figure.

Camping Iceland

Eventually, we pitch tent in the town of Stykkisholmur, next to a golf course that boasts a midnight tee-time. We eat Icelandic hot dogs, drink beer, and stare at mountains from our picnic table. Oh yeah, Babe, that’s what I’m talking about.

Basalt

Before leaving the next day, we take a 3-hour boat tour around basalt islands, which ends with dragging a chain net on the bottom to retrieve scallops and sea urchins. They treat us to the freshest possible sushi, cut live from the shell.

Sushi

One last tent camp back on the grounds of Reykjavik City Hostel, where I donate a signed copy of my novel, Broken Collar, to their library. We enjoy another splurge meal, this time of blue mussels and minke whale filet, which resembles a grisly T-bone steak.

Whale

Let’s stop at the Blue Lagoon on the way to the airport.

Blue Lagoon

From a distance, the Blue Lagoon looks and smells like the Coke Plant in a steel mill, minus any dirt in the air. Strap on an electronic bracelet, shower with busloads of naked Europeans, and then wade into clouded heaven.

Blue Lagoon

Walk in warm/hot milky white water tinted in blue. Step on lava rock smoothed with silicon mud. Not heaven, probably Purgatory, since bodies wade around wearing skimpy bathing suits…go up to the bar for a drink and pay with your bracelet. Yeah baby, give me Purgatory!

Mare in Blue Lagoon

Mud up the face for a deep cleansing, relax and then relax more. What a perfect way to prepare for a midnight flight to St. Petersburg. No doubt, six days is not enough! Takk fyrir Abundant Universe! Ron Mitchell

ICELAND: SIX DAYS IS NOT ENOUGH (Part 1 of 2)

A Nordic language version of the song, “Counting Flowers on the Wall,” serenades Mare and I. We’re sipping Gull beer, at a harbor side café in Reykjavik, Iceland…the northernmost capital city on earth. The Fish and Ships Festival is in full swing, “Sailor Day,” honoring Iceland’s fisherman who are vital to this volcanic country of 330,000 people.

Sailor Day

Things are very expensive here, so we rent the cheapest car we can find from “SADCARS.” Then we pitch our tent, with hope of seeing as much as possible in 6 days. After stocking up at a grocery store, we devour one of Iceland’s most popular foods…the hot dog, which is served on a bed of crispy fried onions. There is no tipping at all in this country, and no need to exchange currency, as credit card use is the norm. That truly simplifies life.

Hot Dog

We bed into our tent, and our body weight keeps the tent from blowing away in the harsh wind, on these nights that see no darkness. In the morning, a drive to the town of Hveragerdi gives us our first dip into a geothermal hot pool.

Road

While driving the two-lane road, rain pours with fog, and clouds shroud the mountain tops. Outside of the sulfur smelling geothermal hotspots, the air has no scent.

Landscape

We pass farmhouses that snuggle next to the bottom of mountains which provide shelter from the storms. Waterfalls fuel their fields.

Icelandic Horse

Green pastures thrive in this volcanic soil (there are 22 active volcanos in Iceland), providing life for countless sheep and Icelandic horses. Grey glacial sand deserts interrupt the agricultural areas, along with infinite moss-covered lava fields.

Sheep

Towards the town of Vik, the sight of Skogafoss waterfalls blows our mind with its river-wide might. On the shores in the town of Vik, volcanic spires surge out of a flat, black-sand shore.

Skogafoss

After passing two glaciers, we stop at Jokulsarlon, a geologically young lagoon full of icebergs. It’s fed by Vafnajokull – the world’s 3rd largest icecap, after those in Antarctica and Greenland.

Vik

The beauty of this lagoon moves Mare to tears. I simply think about how I cannot purchase ice for my small cooler. No store in this entire country sells ice. Thankfully, beers stay pretty cold at “Iceland room temperature.”

Jokulsarlon

Splurge time, Baby. After a 10-hour driving day, we stop in the town of Hofn, famous for its lobster. Dinner of langoustine tails at the Humarhotnin Restaurant rewards us.

Lobster

But the splurge is so expensive that we decide to sleep in our little Sadcar. Sneaking into a parking place by the harbor, I have to piss, but do not want to draw attention. It never gets dark and I cannot sleep in this small vehicle. So, I watch the fisherman come in with their catch, one after another, late into the night. Around midnight, I finally, sneak a pee.

Hofn harbor

At seven o’clock the next morning, those same fisherman come back and do it again. Really, really rugged folk, those Sailors.  Sadcar is no place to sleep. Can’t wait to get back to tent. Takk fyrir, Abundant Universe!     Ron Mitchell