It’s taken a while to get this organized, but when you’re essentially homeless, what can be expected? For my own ease, I will recant in separate posts…
Departed from Saskatoon just over a week ago. We lucked out with our luggage being sent through to Iceland for us – we had only two hours to make the mad dash from arrivals to Icelandair check-in and on to the International departures area of Toronto airport and were using sketchy instructions from the woman at the gate. Luckily, once more, few travelers go through that part of Pearson airport and we waltzed through security in a few minutes (I was searched after the lady was coaxed by her counterparts).
Our flights were relatively painless. We brought lunch with us, as Icelandair only provides drinks free of charge. And my apples from the tree at home looked far superior to the 8 euro fruit salad (consisting of melon and a few rouge grapes) the girl beside me purchased. I was a little worried flying Icelandair, but it turned out to be an average three-star airline (yes, just like Air Canada, but instead of the angry, old stewards employed by Air Canada, they were all 6ft tall and naturally blonde).
We got into Reykjavik early in the morning and it quickly became apparent that Iceland does things a little bit differently…
Maybe it was because it was early or maybe because Iceland has been bankrupted and wants as many tourists as possible, but getting into the country was the easier than Canada. Nothing to declare? Just walk right through – the boarder guy may have spoken English, we never would have known.
We took the flybus into Reykjavik and were dropped off at the Bolholt Apartments. During certain seasons the staff desk is rarely manned so you have to dial a number, to find a number to open a box, which gives you a key, which opens another box which has all the keys in it for the rooms. Again, a little different… The apartments were excellent value, came with a little kitchenette, and dry cereal! For about $20CDN per person a night, who can complain!
For all those that have powered through the wordy bits, I will now reward you with… PHOTOS! (albeit, with commentary).
We took the Golden Circle tour in Iceland, which covers approximately 300kms from Reykjavik, into central Iceland, and back. The first stop was the National Park: Þingvellir (your guess is as good as mine on the pronunciation.) Here we saw the convergence of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates , which apparently are moving a rate of 2 inches per year.
If you look closely you will cute, lil, but virtually uninhabited holiday houses. This area was the first site of parliament in Iceland and is also home to the sort of “National Plot”. However apparently only two people are buried here – an Icelandic writer, and another writer, who was supposed to be Icelandic by birth, moved to Denmark (?) and died. Iceland wanted him back when he died, but Denmark sent them the wrong guy, so it is really just some Dane…
The President of Slovakia showed up at Þingvellir to see the tectonic plates, just as we were leaving. His license plate read “1”.
After a bit of a long journey through the Icelandic country-side (resembling that of a mix between the moon and Saskatchewan). We arrived at Gullfoss or the Golden Waterfall (which has a cameo in the Live single Heaven).The area was deceptive, parts of it looked like a Mazda commercial and when they give a toast to Ned in Waking Ned Divine. We had a chance to walk around the area, for a steep drop there were no warning signs or parks installed barriers to prevent you from falling and the country being sued. It was sort of relieving to see a place where people visiting were intelligent enough to not need a sign, barrier, or barbed wire electric fence to know that if you get too close to the edge, you may fall.
We also found Inukshuks!
Cue Saskatchewan moonscape for another 45 minutes and we arrived at the Geysirs (apparently pronounced any other way then “gay-sur” being wrong and completely unacceptable). There were plenty at this particular location but we were focused on “Strokkur”. On this day, Strokkur was particularly active – exploding ~25m every 3-5 minutes. We learned the technique on catching a photo of the geysirs – sneak up and wait. The water will slowly fill up, gurgle, and explode! Showering everyone downwind with hot (100 degrees) and smelly water. Oh, forgot to mention the part to choose your location carefully (I was not showered with hot, eggy water, for the record). A small explosion is usually followed by a large explosion!
This lil guy wasn’t exploding, but he was just a bubbling the whole time!
After our tour we were in dire need of food and rest. Our tour guide recommended a few places in downtown Reykjavik to eat at, one having a whale and puffin menu. We decided that puffins were far too cute an animal to eat, didn’t want any Viking Puffins coming after us, and opted for Thai food instead.
We did need to try some Icelandic cuisine while there; we found a book of “50 Must Try Foods” and in under 48 hours we managed to consume three. The first was delicious Skyr, a yogurt type delight flavoured with indiscernible illustrated fruits that would hold your spoon vertical.
Also ingested was one sip of Maltextrakt – which really is malt extract and disgusting. Those poor Icelandic folk at Christmas time! Not shown was Appelsin, a carbonated beverage that has nothing to do with Apples as I assumed, but tastes of an Orange Crush and vanilla mixture.
There was plenty more to see in Iceland that time did not allow for – while I would not make a point of deliberately stopping in Iceland every time I flew, it was a nice stop (especially for the cheap Icelandair prices). Remember to pack a lunch, be prepared to be at least 6 inches shorter then everyone else, and watch out for this lil noseless guy:
Next stop will be onto London!