Icelandic birthday

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpbbWPCMH3s&w=420&h=315] I nteresting - Weird, magical, quiet, quaint, contrasting, weird, empty, expensive, mountainous, cold, weird, Hell.

Not really hell, but our driver took delight in taking us past Hekla, a volcano known as the gateway to Hell and where the expression ‘Oh heck’ comes from. Or ‘Oh Hekla,’ as I will say it from now on.

I couldn’t pronounce some of the street names so we renamed them for easy reference, the favourites being Slipknot (Skipholt) and Trigger Happy Street (Tryggvgata).

C old - I’ve been in colder places, i.e. Montreal in -16c and New York in sub-zero but this is a different kind of cold. Forecast actually says ‘3c but will feel like -3c’. The coldest but one of the most beautiful sights is the waterfall, Gullfuss. Because we are at the top looking down, the cold was biting and we are hit by shards of ice rather ran water splashes. I didn’t fancy going to the bottom of the waterfall but I figured I’ve already had that experience at Niagara Falls. The scenery though, is spectacular.

Because it’s cold, it would be nice to have a hot shower, right? Wrong. Once I’ve had a two minute morning shower, I cannot go back into the bathroom again if the water is running – the smell makes me nauseas, apparently because of the sulfate.

Because its cold, it will be nice to stay wrapped up in warm wintery clothes, right? No. I find myself in a swim suit in the open mountain air before wrapping myself in the famously warm Blue Lagoon water. A surreal experience to be outside in the freezing cold, in warm water amidst the snow topped mountains. It smells but not as much as in a small closed bathroom.

This ‘Golden Circle’ trip that apparently eight companies offer in Reykjavik is arguable the best decision of the week as we drink in so much that Iceland has to offer just by going an hour or so outside the capital. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6EHmWLcG24&w=420&h=315]  

E asy - Everywhere is quiet which means we can move around and get seats in any coffee shop we choose. I still don’t know where the capital city’s population is. All I imagine is Icelanders flying into Heathrow and hitting London. There’ll be more people in one carriage on their train

Wireless in Reykjavik is plentiful and super fast. I imagine because there’s barely anyone in the city.

 L ove - The best thing about the trip is sharing it with someone who loves travel and exploring as much as I do.

A rea - Iceland is huge and along with the freezing temperatures is similar to Canada where a huge majority of the population live in a small chunk of the land. Both countries have vast open lands and some extreme temperatures. The difference is, the cities of Canada, have people moving about in them.

‘Reykjavik is vibrant city with active and energetic habitants’

Iceland Tours

 With a population of 320,000, we expect most of the population to be in the capitol city considering the majority of the country is volcanic or lava fields. Not so. For the first three days we see barely a soul on the main street and we look inside every coffee shop, restaurant, home and office window. Where are the people? Who runs this country? How do they make any money? Why don’t they commute? Why don’t they eat?

On the fourth day, we se more people, presumable as the temperature tripled to 9c. But we count more bods in the one carriage on the train from Gatwick home than we did in the week in Iceland.

N orthern - The most northern part of the world I have been to, previously this was Glasgow but Iceland has more mountains, more volcanoes, more lava fields and more film sets. It felt like we’ve landed in Mars and we have days of being in Star Trek, Total Recall (or was it all a dream?) and especially Lord of the Rings. On our amazing ‘Golden Circle’ day trip we visited Thingvellir National Park, where the General Assembly was first formed in 930. With its little streams, caves, valleys and mini foot bridges, I'm half expecting to bump into a little person. Alas, there is not a gold ring to be found.

The coffee shops however, are excellent. What I read about people socialising over coffee or a beer in the evening is wonderfully true.

D ear - The most expensive place I’ve been to and I’ve been to Paris and indeed lived in London and New York. You know I don’t mind splashing out but I do seek value and £5 for a hot chocolate isn’t that. We had to stick to basics although being a closet vegetarian, I didn’t relish some of the local delicacies. I particularly didn’t enjoy seeing the whale and puffin meat restaurants advertised next to the whale watching tours.

What was great though was the lovely buffet breakfast supplied by our fantastic hotel, Foss Baron. We fill up on ‘make yourself waffles’ every kind of toast, cereal and lots more and then left with a bag of goodies for the road; such tourists. Even better we discover happy hour, or hours, 5-8 in Reykjavik, which means we can actually have a beer without eating into our budget for our next travel jaunt at Christmas.

My Ideal......Airline

Another birthday, another city