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  • Writer's pictureTim Madison

Europe 2024 - Iceland

Updated: May 14

May 3, 2024

Whitby – London, England

 

(The header says Iceland! We have one more day in London in transition. I have to make a new chapter now because this web host forces me to do it!)


Our friend Barbara was looking for Green Man last Wednesday. Instead she found this guy.

Last breakfast at Larpool Hall. A poached egg is requested by both of us at the same time. They are delivered to table simultaneously. Mine is nice! Properly cooked! I win the Cacklefruit Lottery this morning. But alas! CK's could be used at The Open on the practice range.


Today is a travel day. We're in for a two-day process in shifting from Whitby to Reykjavik, Iceland because you can't get there from here. We taxi from Whitby to Scarborough.  A train will get us to York in time to switch to another taking us to King's Cross, London. At Scarborough Station I join the line for a hot drink. The fellow ahead of me barks something unintelligible to the server. An exchange of sounds takes place between them that must be English, but I cannot understand a word. If they were using Spanish, I might recognize enough of it to understand the topic. Not so with these two Yorkshiremen. Totally baffled. When it comes my turn to order from the gent I’m uncertain if I’ll understand him or him me. Suddenly his speech becomes intelligible and all is well. I walk away with my Yorkshire Tea (a proper brew, he says) with a jumble of question marks floating in my head. We have been in Yorkshire for a week and there have been multiple instances of this.  It does feel a little odd that whenever we hear English in Germany we can understand it perfectly.  Here? Good luck.


A cab ride to Scarborough, Yorkshire

Our train from Scarborough to York is neat and orderly.  After a brief wait in York Station we're off again on the next train. This one takes us to King's Cross London.  The train is a little late but not bad.  The ride is smooth and stress free even though all seats on the dozen or so cars are taken.

 

In London, we step out of King’s Cross Station into a light rain. It is just annoying, nothing awful.  From here there’s a 20-minute luggage drag to the Hilton.  We dodge an ugly puddle at a crosswalk caused by a plugged storm drain but other than that, no worries.  After being in the quiet of Whitby for a week the traffic, big buses, crowded sidewalks, and sirens of London are kind of jarring.

 

Scarborough Train Station looks like it's getting some remodel
York Station
St Pancras Station, London

CK has targeted an Indian restaurant for the evening meal, “Taste of India”.  We’re able to walk there.  The food was nice and economical.  I had a very nicely roasted lamb shank in an exotic sauce.  Indian food is all exotic, right?  But it has been so long since I’ve tasted anything containing spices, I stuffed myself.  CK had Chicken Tikka Masala.  She liked it.  A couple sat down two tables away.  They began a brisk conversation which was interrupted once per minute by a server asking them if they would like some Poppadom. On the fourth assault they surrendered and ordered it.  This scene had some comedy potential, but it didn’t materialize.  A clever writer for Saturday Night Live might have been able to hatch a skit with it but not I.  I’m ready to get some sleep. Tomorrow is another travel day.

 

This was our last full day in England.

An after-dinner walk brings us to Virginia Woolf's bust in Tavistock Square

May 4, 2024

Iceland

 

A chafing dish of those strange cooked eggs

We start in London. A wash up, a scarf of breakfast at the Euston Hilton, a luggage drag to the Russell Square Underground, and we're off to Heathrow. These trains seem always crowded. Today is Saturday so there may be fewer commuters.  And it isn't too bad. I only need to hang on the rail for a couple of stops.


This is another transportation day for us which usually means "hurry up and wait".  At least that's what we hope for. Uneventfulness, predictably boring events, short queues, mild weather, catnaps. Any kind of drama will likely put us off our timing. I'm determined to document this moment anyway just to be able to look it up again sometime. Since yesterday the sequence of conveyances have been cab, train, another train, foot, foot, London underground, aircraft, rental car. After all that we're now in Iceland at a place called "360 Boutique Hotel".  The scenery is fascinating in a stark, big-sky kind of way. The sun dips over the horizon at 9:56. There may be light in the sky until midnight.

The tube at Russel Square
If God wanted man to fly he would have made it easier to get to the airport
A big sculpture at Heathrow International
Strapped in and heading for Iceland

We've just enjoyed a fine meal at the hotel and CK had a soak in their thermal pool. We're both kinda weary from two days of schlepping to and fro. Sleep should help.


Our current plan is to circumnavigate Iceland by auto. 10 days from now we should return to Reykjavik. For this leg of our European trip we're literally following our noses, unsure of what to expect. I take that back. We can be sure of encountering place names like Hnaus or Biskupstungnabraut. It's hilarious to listen to the Google Maps lady (we call her Griselda) pronounce them knowing that she is undoubtedly doing it all wrong.


We get two sleeps here at 360.  Breakfast is at 8 am.

Eureka! We found it!
Iceland has this kind of look
Our hotel "The 360"
Nice room, terrific view!
Dining area. Our drinks are about to land
Flashback to 8 days ago! The Goth Paparazzi swarmed

May 5, 2024

Iceland


First morning in Iceland at the 360 Hotel. There's a luxurious rain panel in the shower. My fave! Our weather is cloudy with shower chances all day. This looks like the forecast every day we're here.


Breakfast is a selection of cold nibbles. Scrambled egg and bacon are kept warm in glass cups on a heated tray. The only other only warm item is bread coming out of the toaster. I'm trying a glass of foamy, green vegetable juice made of apple, spinach, ginger, with a dash of cayenne. Spicy. If this doesn't kick-start my system I should check my pulse. Also on the table are olives, tuna salad, and herring pickled Icelandic style, which is a hell-no, thankee. Tony Bourdain wouldn't even eat that. There is cake. CK cannot resist.

A group of 6 French tourists is responsible for the chatter in the room. It sounds intensely important but probably isn't. Two resident dogs roam the room. One is 16 years old and deaf as a brick. The other stares out the window and barks at anything with wings. When it calms down it parks right on our feet.


Breakfast

We aren't moving to a different hotel today. We have a nice car and we're going to use it as there are no walking trails around the hotel. The shore is a 30 minute drive through rolling terrain and flat land. It gets flatter and more featureless as we near the sea. Our first stop is Eyrarbakki. There's a rain squall moving in off the ocean. Seeing storms from a distance is always adds drama to a landscape.


It hasn't arrived yet so we hop out of the car to get a better view of the shoreline. The breeze is blowing a steady 20 knots and there's an icy bite in it. We're OK with this until the rain starts and we retreat to the car after collecting a few snaps.


Thousands of basalt islets extend away from the beach. This looks like a deadly place for a sailor trying to put in. Nevertheless, there is a small harbor that served as the busiest port in Iceland for centuries. Now it is home to only 570 people. Today, the main employer in town is a prison.

The beach at Eyrarbakki
Eyrarbakki sea wall and squall in the distance

The harbor

Interesting fact according to Wikipedia:

In 985 C.E., Bjarni Herjólfsson, a young merchant, sailed from Eyrarbakki headed for Greenland, but instead reached as far as North America. Upon his arrival in Greenland, Bjarni told Leif Eriksson of his discovery and sold him his boat, which Eriksson used for his own journey to North America.


We take a slow cruise down the main drag to see what we can see, which is mostly individual homes with corrugated metal siding and wood sashed windows. A few Icelandic horses patrol the landscape.


Off to the next village: Stokkseyri. Here we learn something about the geology of this zone. About 9,000 years ago an enormous lava flow moved in from 87 miles away and stopped at the sea. This explains the rugged basalt shoreline. This eruption released unholy amounts of sulphuric acid that could not have failed to affect world climate in that era. We're happy to have missed all that.


Church in Stokkseyri


Fisherman's hut

Somewhere there's a lighthouse but we fail to notice it. Instead we notice a church. It is locked up (lokád means closed) or CK would have spent a good half hour inspecting every part of it. It is picturesque so we make snaps. There's also a reconstructed fisherman's hut from 300 years ago. Not many old buildings survive so we need to be alert for them.


There's funky little diner/convenience store here. CK wants to investigate the possibility of sandwiches to go in the manner of the multitudinous sandwich stands we see in Germany and the UK but I doubt this exists in Iceland. Instead we get one order of cheeseburger fries, + drink to share. $18 US. Red Robin sells a burger plate for more but it is massively excessive compared to this. It wasn't the worst burger, though. It hit the spot.


Our lunch spot
It has a "diner" vibe

30 minutes back to the hotel where we waste no time donning our swim togs for a dunk in the thermal bath. It's a lovely soak. The water is silky with minerals but doesn't feel slimey on the skin. The operators claim the temperature is 104⁰F but that is an exaggeration. It is well short of 100⁰ but quite pleasant nonetheless. The sauna? Hot! I didn't last long in there. After our soak, a bit of a nap which felt delicious in our fully scrubbed state of cleanliness.



Dinner is at 7 again. Tonight there is cauliflower soup, Arctic Char, and peanut brownie for dessert. I'm debating whether or not to disclose the cost. It is, shall we say, "Icelandic". I'm not above using obscure Mexican battles to justify my drinking.  I must ignore the prices if I do so. A cocktail is going to be $22 US. I should stick to beer.



Rain at sunset

May 6, 2024

Iceland

 

We’re up from our 2nd sleep at 360 Hotel.  The weather is going to be a series of rain squalls and sun breaks all day.  We’re going to do breakfast but not before going for a soak in the mineral bath.  We have to walk 30 yards from the hotel’s back door to the pools.  Wind is blowing a steady 15 knots, air temp about 38ºF.  Very bracing.  The water feels much nicer after we’ve been frozen a bit.

 

An hour later we’re at breakfast, scrubbed and sleepy.  Same breakfast as yesterday, cold bits of everything except toast, coffee, and jars of tepid scrambled egg on a warming table.   I’m fine with it because I don’t need much but if I were 18 y.o. trying to get fueled up for a vigorous hike somewhere this could be an annoying situation.  I mean to say, there are some pancakes, but they are tiny and cold.  Bacon comes one piece in a glass jar.  A hungry teen could have eaten the entire supply of scrambled eggs.  Just sayin’.

 

Seljalandsfoss

Our room here was quite nice with a commanding view of a wide plain backed by volcanic hills. We watched the sun play through several rain cells as they marched across the landscape from the comfort of our habitation. The shower was enormous with an overhead rain panel, my fave.

 

Onward toward the next sleep.  The name of the town is so long and tongue-twisty that even the locals shorten it to Klaustur.  Officially, it’s Kirkjubaejarklaustur.  Yep. Fit that one on your business card, Bucky.  As we drive this road we are reminded that we have been here before.  We were here with a bus tour in 2019.  Back then we stopped to look at a couple of waterfalls and a black sand beach.  We plan to do that again just to say we did.


Seljalandsfoss

Our first stop is Seljalandsfoss.  “Foss” is waterfall in Icelandic. Here we see a collection of tourists for the first time since we arrived.  The falls are impressive to behold but there’s an extra attraction.  There’s a path behind the cascading water.  If you want to put up with the spray you can go to the other side for a crazy pic, but you’ll be in for a soaking.  People are doing it, though.  They’re coming out cold and wet.  On a warm day in July I’ll wager there’s a line for it all the way to the parking lot. Today? It’s not for us. 

 

Skógafoss

Our second stop is Skógafoss.  This 200 ft tall cataract has a staircase installed to get tourists up to the plateau for a birds eye view and a look at the river as it approaches the edge. When we were here in 2019 I wanted to climb it but the bus was running on a schedule that didn’t allow me time enough to do it. This time we can go.  527 steps to the top.  We got this. Pix and views galore.

 

Climbing Skógafoss

Top of Skógafoss
The Skóga river as it approaches the falls

Back at the bottom we go to investigate the splash zone at the base of the falls.  At this moment there’s a sun break and we find the rays beaming in at a propitious angle to form rainbows in the mist.  Nice.  BTW, this falls has been used as a backdrop in a number of films and TV productions.  Ask Wiki to name them if you like.

 



On the road we’re hunting for the last roadside attraction we want to revisit from 2019, the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach.  It isn’t hard to find.  We just follow the tourist traffic.  The parking lot is jammed.  Since we were here 6 years ago, they’ve added a café and a charge system for parking.  The parking lot is about 94% full, we figure.  It must be nuts in summer. The weather is nice at this moment which gives us a chance to roam the beach again. Today the wind is stiff and the sea is rough.  Strong surf and bright sun make it quite spectacular.

Reynisfjara


Back on the road and the sun disappears, a rain cell drifts across the horizon, the sun breaks free, and another rainbow pops up on our port side. It’s been a day of rainbows and dramatic light.

 

Another roadside attraction beckons us.  This time it’s a cave, one of many used by Icelanders back in the day.  This one was probably used as a smithy, the sign says.  See pix.

 

Entrance to the cave


We approach the town of Vik.  This was as far as we traveled in 2019.  Beyond this point we are exploring fresh territory. We gas up for our final run to Klaustur.

 

Along the way the landscape goes through some radical changes. We pass some lava arranged in pyramidal structures that look like cairns.  They aren’t, of course, but that is our first impression. This soon gives way to an enormous plain of large, smooth, fuzzy shapes.  We learn that these are lava rocks covered in a particular moss.  This is the Eldhraun lava field from the eruption of Mt. Laki 1783-84. Over 200 square miles of it, the largest lava field on Earth. It caused crop failures worldwide for years and 20% mortality in Iceland's population. Bad weather and crop failures may have contributed to the French Revolution. Apollo 11 crews trained there to prepare for walking on the moon.   

We check in at the Klaustur hotel and take advantage of their food service.  CK dines on roast lamb and I try a risotto and mushroom dish.  It is ok food, no complaints.  That said, we’ve been on the road for a while and I’m beginning to fantasize about some home cooking. 

 

There’s no thermal bath here. Also, this is only a one-sleeper. Tomorrow, we have another roadside attraction to attend.  We even have tickets.

 


May 7, 2024

Iceland

 

Our Klaustur Hotel room is stuffy and overly warm despite my opening a window top panel straight away.  It never really gets dark at night, so we have to pull the blinds.  Iceland is above the latitude of Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada, about the same as the northern entrance of Hudson Bay. The sun sets a little before 10 pm but this seems to have little effect on the amount of light that lingers in the sky.  As you might notice, I’m one who has never been this far north in May prior to now.


A small finger of the Vatnajökull Glacier

Breakfast is an array of items including pickled herring. A starving cat might dip into it if there were one in the zone, but no.  This non-delectable food item remains untouched.  The pickled salmon looked ok but I’m not in the mood for it.  It needs good bread, rice, pasta, a salad, goat cheese, and bubbly. I don’t think of this for breakfast.  More like brunch, I think.  Scrambled eggs were edible but had the form and texture of blown insulation.  Tabasco offered significant improvement here.  There are cold cuts of processed meat that look suspiciously like variations of Spam.  Nobody takes them, either.  I would have been happy with hot oatmeal and dried fruit but there was none. I give them points for having a seriously good supply of decent chocolate chip cookies.  Extra points for not placing them next to the Spam and pickled herring.


Weather today is shifting toward more rain than not, more cloud than sun.  We’re on the road by 11 am.  The landscape is getting more barren, if that is possible.  Near Reykjavik trees and shrubs weren’t that uncommon but out here the only time we see them is near a farm where humans have imported them.  We imagine this to be like the Antarctic with a spot of grass and moss here and there.  Our photo gallery is going to have an enormous collection of basalt specimens.  There is no foliage to block our view allowing us to see sightseeing turnouts well ahead. There’s no driving past a viewpoint then managing a u-turn to get back to it.  We hit them first time, no sweat.

 

To the north and west of our road is the Vatnajökull Glacier.  We only see the lower fingers of it, the upper part being a) too enormous to see without a helicopter and b) socked in by cloud and rain. The cliffs at its edge offer numerous waterfalls to admire, albeit from a considerable distance.  CK sees fantastic shapes in the basalt, guessing they could be inspiration for the elves and trolls that populate the Icelandic myths and homespun superstition.  Some of the Icelanders are serious about them and we are cautioned not to make jokes. The Viking Evil Eye is to be avoided.


The Information Center

Soon, we’re passing over vast plains of gravel where even moss is struggling to get a grip.  CK spots an institution offering information on the geology of the area so we navigate to it.  These plains form between the big glacier and the sea due to periodic floods emanating from the glacier.  Volcanoes surface under the ice from time to time.  Of course, that creates liquid water and gravity takes over.  Cubic miles of water come busting out and down the cliffs churning the landscape and flattening it.  Over millions of years the effect is stunning. In the 90’s a moderate glacial flood wiped out a bridge.  They kept a bit of it on display for everyone to appreciate.  Note: don’t get caught here when this is happening, ok?

Bridge beams destroyed by a glacial flood
Leaves are still struggling to break out

Our main roadside attraction is the Jökullsarlon Glacier Lagoon.  Here a finger of the Vatnajökull Glacier reaches a tidal pool that connects with the ocean.  Icebergs fall off the end and float in the lagoon. It is sheltered from the ocean’s wave action so it acts like a calm lake full of ice chunks. There’s an occasional seal, too. The tourist harvest operation involves old amphibious beach landers obtained from the US Army. We’re loaded onto one of them and set afloat among the bergs for a close-up look. Our on-board Ice Elf gets a chunk of ice for us to examine.  Later she breaks off chunks so we can have a taste of it. All the while, the weather withholds its threat of heavy rain and wind leaving only the wind.  There’s even a sun break and we are thankfully dry for the entire ride.  It could have been far worse. The temps are in the upper 30’s and the wind is a steady 15 knots.  Add rain to that and we’re a boat full of miserable humanoids.


The amphibious craft







Our Ice Elf

Back on shore we’re glad to be dry if just a little wind-chilled.  There’s a coffee shop in the parking lot that sells us hot chocolate.  We need the fortification for the 1 hour drive left to Höfn, where we find our next sleep, Fosshotel Vatnajökull. The room is set up differently.  The shower and toilet are in separate rooms. The sink and vanity mirror are in the sleeping room.  Our view would be superb if the clouds weren’t down on the deck.  No matter. Tomorrow the weather should be spectacular, according to the magic mojo weather app.

 

A view from Fosshotel Vatnajökull before the rain blanked it out

A restaurant is in the hotel.  We need to be grateful for that because there isn’t anything else available for miles.  We have a nice window seat with a view toward basalt cliffs.  They appear and reappear as rain showers pass by. Our meal is salad & chicken breast for CK and shellfish soup & lamb cutlet for me. The soup was excellent.  The best dish I’ve had so far in Iceland.  CK’s chicken wasn’t overcooked, she says.  My lamb was ordered rare but alas…  What’s going on with cooking schools?  Can’t they teach people how to prep meat?  Yeesh…

 


This Ring Road Trip feels like a maxed-out version of taking the long way home.  Tomorrow, we cover more miles and admire more stark arctic terrain.

 

Stay tuned. 

 


May 8, 2024

Iceland

 

Portrait of a coffee fiend

Starting the day at the Klaustur Hotel with brilliant sun lighting up everything, a welcome contrast from the pouring rain that accompanied our evening meal last night. Breakfast is another buffet that I’m not really very hungry for. Coffee, toast, and some fruit will do.  All of our hotel stays have featured some form of coffee bot.  There is no carafe of drip or big thermos jug to pump, only the bot with artificial barista skills.  Often, the cappuccino selection produces mostly hot milk with only the faintest squirt of coffee and even then, only 1/3 of the cup gets hot liquid.  In this case, I punch the espresso button two or three times and then go to the milk jug to lighten it up a bit. In most cases there are 3 or 4 people hovering around it waiting for their turn.  Among them is a clever person who is going to solve the problem of waiting in the queue for a refill by cooking four cups in one go while trying to ignore the hate vibes broadcasting from the gathering crowd. Today’s coffee bot is relatively easy to access. I only wait for one person to cook two orders.  I’m sure the control panel isn’t designed to reflect the image of every schmuck with a look on his face that says “May it please the elves, trolls, and Holy Ones to bring forth coffee from this infernal contraption”… but this one does.  So brilliant if it snapped a portrait of all its customers, then posted them online just to demonstrate its artificial intelligence.

 

Reindeer near Klaustur Hotel

A brief stop in Hófn

This morning we're going to look in on the hamlet of Hófn. It's on a peninsula surrounded by an enormous lagoon.  Our actual goal is to find a gas station so we can top up this roller skate. We have no idea what version of services are ahead of us or even if there are any.  A full tank lends a level of security to the proceedings. This place is super tidy, neat and clean.  There are several small hotels here and accompanying tourist conveniences although we’re not sure why.  We’re guessing it to be a kind of base for hikers and campers who want to explore the big national park around the glacier.  We find a big sculpture that we can’t interpret but get a snap of it anyhow.  They have set up a scale model of the solar system, too.  The first 5 planets are easy to visit.  After that we’d have to hike for hours to see them all.

 

The metal ball is the Sun, planets are spaced out proportionally to scale


CK touches a fjord
Our faithful chariot


We're covering miles again today in the car, looking for sightseeing turnouts with explanatory displays. The weather today is brilliant, blue sky, clean air.  This could be the best day for seeing the terrain we’ll ever get.  We find plenty of excuses to stop to gawk and get pix.We stop in the village of Djupivogur to look for lunch. For our first attempt we duck into a hotel but the lad who greeted us was unsure if the kitchen could serve us.  Next, I strolled through the open door of a brewpub.  Instead of a busy bistro there was a group of citizens in the midst of what looked like a civic meeting.  Nope.  Next likely spot, yes I see people seated and detect the odor of food.  The menu is: Lamb Soup, Bread with Butter, Water or soda.  There may be a slice of cake, too, if needed.  That’s good enough for us. We pass on the cake.  All the customers were speaking Icelandic except us.  I couldn’t find any name on the place.  It was constructed in 1790.  That’s all I know.

 

Our lunch stop in Djupivogur

Lamb soup for lunch

Our next roadside attraction is in the town of Stöðvarfjörður.  CK is guiding us to “Petra's Stone Collection”.  She spent decades collecting stone that she found interesting.  All these rocks now occupy hundreds of square yards surrounding what was her domicile, now converted to museum.  She didn’t just collect rocks.  The place is also swimming in playing cards, sea shells, handkerchiefs, key fobs, pens, taxidermy birds, and other things.  She was a ‘collector’.  We pay $15 each to walk through. We get a hot chocolate at their shop. The gal behind the counter is a Brit.


Petra's Stones

We’re still marveling at our luck with the blue-sky day which lifts the curtain on a landscape nearly absent of human activity. It is stark and treeless with glorious coastlines, sea scapes, and snow crusted peaks.  As we drive past fjords the road appears to lead us up a rather formidable box canyon.  There doesn’t seem to be a road heading over the hill.  The answer? A tunnel, of course, a long one: Fáskrúðsfjarðargöng.  This tunnel is longer than its name. It takes 6 minutes to travel at 70 kph, or 3.63 miles. It was completed in 2005.


Soon after emerging from the tunnel, we reach Egillstaðir. The landscape changes instantly.  Flora appears again in the form of conifers and short deciduous trees and shrubs. This is the most substantial settlement we’ve seen since Reykjavik.  It has about a dozen restaurants and cafés.  Our hotel tonight (and tomorrow) is Hérað-Berjaya Iceland. Our room is ok.  We weren’t so sure at first. We spent several minutes solving the puzzle sequence that overlies the light switches. Lights and outlets in different areas won’t function unless certain switches are moved on the other side of the room. I will have to rehearse this when I need a light at 3 am. No. I’m too lazy. I’ll use my flashlight instead.

 

CK and I debate whether we should stay at the hotel’s restaurant or venture out.  We haven’t had that choice since, wow, April 30 in Yorkshire. Stay wins. We both order soup, which features sweet potato. Very nice. CK orders pasta with shrimp. I order fish of the day which is salt Cod. I may have deluded myself, imagining a wide variety of seafood choices on this trip. So far, in 4 days, Arctic Char has been on the menu 3 times, halibut once, and shellfish stew once. Pickled herring or salmon doesn't count. I suppose the remote locations limit availability.  My Cod is the only fish choice on tonight’s menu.  I’m not sad about that, though, because it is cooked to perfection.  On the downside, it is served on a plate smeared with a large, greasy portion of something like hollandaise.  I can push most of it away, far enough, to enjoy the fish.

 

Tonight's meal
I dunno. Should I do it?

This is the first of two sleeps in Egillstaðir.



May 9, 2024

Iceland

 

Museum is closed!

There is no darkness, only dusk for a few hours. This is normal, for sure, but also different.  If it sounds like this is my first encounter with the Arctic, that's because it is. Technically, Iceland sits on the edge of the Arctic Circle. We're not even getting the full effect.  Yesterday was our first uncloudy day. Relentlessly sunny is another way to describe it. The intensity of the unblocked daylight enhances the midnight sun effect.  The sunset last night was 9:57 pm. Sunrise is at 3:50 am. When it's time to go to sleep we need to close the blinds. It doesn't help that our hotel room looks west.


The Women's Monument?

The hotel breakfast room is sparsely attended.  This means I can get to the coffee bot without much competition.  This would be true if there were a coffee bot.  No. This hotel has the pumpy thermosy thingy. And it is empty. HA! That’s ok. I’ll do tea instead. The hot water also comes from a pumpy thermosy thingy.  It is empty too.  No worries.  The hotel elves are on it.  I only wait for a couple of minutes.  I’m merely learning that the bot is more efficient merely from the fact that is directly plumbed to a water source. 


CK has done some snooping. She found four activities in Egilisstadir for septuagenarian tourists. The Vok Baths, a pioneer museum, a monument to women, and a metal sculpture of a reindeer on a viewpoint above the town. Today, we'll learn about Viking farming and fishing in the 14th century and then soak in hot water and soak up some alcohol (the spa features a swim-up bar.) That's all we have planned except for maybe a different venue for supper. No driving today except to taxi to our touring activities.

 

A short walk to a viewpoint
An iron reindeer gazes over the town

First, the women’s monument. This is only three blocks from the hotel on a barren piece of rock with a view of the public pool and basketball courts. It is a supremely uninspired stack of rocks with no real shape and no plaque to explain it. We take a pic.

 

Egillstaðir from the viewpoint

Next, the museum. The sign says it should be open on a Thursday in May at 11 am.  It is not. This is a bust.


Next, we hunt the reindeer sculpture.  We find it on a rocky bluff just as described. It hovers over a car-camping area.  We park the car next to a tourist service.  We have learned to expect to pay for parking any time we are near an attraction, so CK goes into the office to check.  We don’t have to pay but she learns the reason why the museum is closed.  May 9 is a holiday in Iceland: Ascension Day. Back at York Minster our guide showed us a ceiling boss with the carved image of the bottoms of two feet.  This is the last bit of Jesus that the apostles saw as he popped off to heaven.  Ascension Day.


The Vok Baths are next, and we are assured that they are not affected by Floating Jesus Day.  This is a luxurious facility, much different than our last soaking at the 360 Hotel. This one has fancy showers, steam room, 5 pools, a bar, a café, and a cup of tea on the house. Two pools extend out into a lake. Those craving violent sensations can dunk themselves in the lake (which is ice-cream headache cold) as well as par-boil in the 40ºC pool. There’s a brief encounter with a party of 4 from Poland. They ask us to use their phone to help take a group photo. This is my opportunity to ask them for the proper way to pronounce Iga Swiatek’s name. It is “See-An-Tek”.  If nothing else, I’ll be able to take this away from my trip to Iceland, which is another way of saying we spent 4 hours here doing precisely nothing else.  Not true, of course.  We enjoy our second perfectly sunny day in a row.  We may not see another one before we fly home.

 








Back in town, our supper is at a place next door to the hotel calling itself “Salt”. CK has a Caesar Salad which is ok except for an overabundance of dressing.  I see an item described as “Traditional Icelandic Fish Stew”.  I don’t want to go in blind, so I inquire of the server about the fish.  She says it is fresh cod.  Cool.  It arrives in a large ramekin with a thin layer of cheese baked on top. Digging in reveals that it isn’t really stew.  It’s more like a fish and potato pie.  I like it but it is exceptionally bland.  I desecrate it with an olive oil infused with chili pepper.  There.  Fixed it.

 

Back at the hotel, a bus rolls up and disgorges a hefty group of tourists.  I figure I should arrive at breakfast early tomorrow.

 

Tomorrow, we have 4 hours of driving ahead of us. The Myvatn baths are on deck for our plundering.  Doink! The website informs us that the baths are closed May 10 for ‘urgent maintenance’. The term urgent prods our imaginations in unwelcome ways. We are scheduled to soak up their hot water the next day, Saturday.  We’re hoping they get the place repaired for us.  If not, we’ll be wandering the vicinity of Reykjahlið with time on our hands and looking for trouble.



May 10, 2024

Iceland

 

A sculpture in Seyðisfjörður

Breakfast wasn’t the mob scene I thought it would be.  That bus load of folks must be sleeping in.  That’s fine with me.  I had a peaceful cup of tea and toast. The exception having to do with the hotel’s muzak playlist which was obviously put together by a 30- something with a romantic angst running up to the edge of a mid-life crisis. I hope he/she is ok.

 

The sun has fled behind a solid cloud cover. There's no storm or rain. We should be dry for the next couple of days but still enjoying cool air in the low 50’sF. Spring has yet to arrive here.  Everywhere the grass is dormant brown and deciduous trees still have tight buds as they wait for the proper moment to unfurl the leaves. Some of the landscape reminds us of the Columbia Basin in central Washington in August.  Dormant grass, treeless lavascapes.



The Blue Church in Seyðisfjörður

Today we're adding a detour. 30 minutes drive to the east we'll reach a fjord and the town of Seyðisfjörður. Here one can catch a ferry to the Faroe Islands and to Denmark. This is the only port offering these services. No, we're not going to do that. I think I would need to mainline Dramamine and wear a paper bag over my head the whole way. In 1906 the first telegraph line arrived here from Europe making this spot a telecommunications hub until the mid 20th century. CK finds a church!  And it’s open even though it usually isn’t on a Friday in May.  Today there’s a music class.  It hasn’t begun yet so CK gets to visit!  I don’t think she’s had a church to patrol since Yorkshire.  Here we also find evidence of a community recovering from a landslide that destroyed 20 homes in 2020.  Miraculously nobody was hurt. A series of large photo panels tells the stories of individuals who lost homes and businesses.  Finding a store, we stock up on some snacks for the rest of the trip.  There is no lunch stop between here and Reykjahlið, our next sleep.  By the way, here’s a pic of the items we bought in Seyðisfjörður.  We want to remember how ‘Icelandic’ the cost of living is here.  The items pictured came to $64 US.


Souvenir, peanuts, cookies, chocolate bar = $64

CK needs some more supplies so we stop again in Egilsstaðir.  This time it’s a convenience store.  The fellow at the till is an American from Alabama. He’s a pro basketball player in the Icelandic leagues. We had no idea. Some research show that Icelanders are mad about basketball. There’s only 385K population but has over 40 pro teams. Players are paid a salary of between $1,500 and $3,500 per month. The highest paid player gets $9,000 per month. Our friend from Alabama is working this job because his season is over, his team having lost a playoff game recently.  So, there you go!  Basketball is a thing in Iceland.



This road to Reykjahlið runs across a plateau, quite barren, strewn with rock from fine gravel to man-sized stones.  This is the result of an ancient glacier grinding away on it for thousands of years.  If we see any high ground around us we can expect to see waterfalls flowing out of icefields all around us.  We’re passing by literally dozens of them.  CK is full of questions I have no answer to when she sees certain curious formations in the basalt.  We just make up answers if we’re too lazy to Google it. Geology is more fun when you're not a geologist. 


CK spots a curious low structure to our right. We make a u-turn to investigate. We find an example of Icelandic turf structures. There are two sheep shelters and a blacksmith's hut. I'm fascinated by the way turf is used in between the stones making up the wall. Here are some fotos.


Turf house

Turf used between wall stones

Other than the road we see only one other man-made object: stone cairns. There are many of them arranged in a sequence as if marking a path.  A quick Google reveals this to be so.  These cairns were built by pioneers in the 19th century.  We can see why they’d be needed.  There are few landmarks to focus on, especially in foul weather.  We also read commentary by Icelanders complaining that tourists have taken to making their own cairns which have no meaning and can misdirect Icelanders who still may be using the old system.


Part of Hvervir geothermal hotspot

Our last roadside attraction is a geothermal hotspot called Hverir in Icelandic. This word bears a strong resemblance to the Spanish verb Hervir, meaning ‘to boil’. Which is very appropriate because here we see steam vents and pools of boiling mud and black water.  The smell of hydrogen sulfide is present but not overwhelming.  There’s a charge for parking and we see a fair number of cars.  I see motor homes, too, and hope nobody is silly enough to let their pet dog loose here.  Some deadly areas are roped off but not well enough to keep a curious dog out.

 








Dinner is at the hotel.  It turns out to be the only place in town. The menu features two main dishes: Lamb and Arctic Char. We've seen this very selection about 4 times in different eateries. It's just what's for dinner out here in the Icelandic hinterlands. At least there's no Minke Whale, horsemeat, or Puffin.


This hotel (Berjaya) has a hot soak option!

May 11, 2024

Iceland

 

Never gonna happen!

In the wee hours of May 11 there is a forecast of an extra fizzy Aurora Borealis due to solar coronal mass ejections 2 days ago. CK was out walking after dinner last night where she met some other travelers who were quite excited by this. I suppose that's natural and I'd be getting up at 2 am for it, too, except for two reasons. A) The sky is solid overcast, B) darkness isn't happening right now. Dusk is as dark as it gets. My guess is chances of seeing Aurora B in these conditions are about zilch. We're in Iceland and can't see the Northern Lights even when they're on blast right on top of us. There's irony for ye. 

 

Myvatn lake- Here the photos on the walls of the hotel offer evidence of trout fishing! Up to now, on our somewhat pampered odyssey across Iceland, this activity has not been announced or promoted anywhere. That changes here in Myvatn. A river, Laxa, drains the lake. There are various lodges one must book into to access one of the 'beats'. There are fish in the lake, of course, but I haven't discovered a lodge on the lake yet.  Guides will equip a fisherman and provide escort for 4 hours on a river for $500 US. Fishing season is July- September. I'm also finding out that bringing one's own fishing gear to Iceland would be a majestic pain in the keister. It would all need to go through a disinfection process at the airport. There's a two hour wait, 20 minute procedure, $50 per person. Staying in a fishing lodge on a river is another level of "Icelandic" pricing appropriate for corporate lawyers and hedge fund managers. A week for two is touching $10K.  I think Patagonia is more reasonable but I’m not going there, either.  Trout fishing in Iceland is one of those bucket list boxes that will remain blank.


Hofði

After breakfast we hop in the car to visit a spot called Hofði.  This looks like a camping area during the summer season.  There isn’t much to it but a pleasant morning walk on some black sand paths among deciduous trees that look a long way from leafing out.


Dimmuborgir

Our next curiosity is Dimmuborgir.  Here the Icelanders have made an attraction out of a series of small canyons snaking around various pillars of basalt. There's a fairy tale legend about these rock piles having to do with trolls. Foreigners don't connect with that very well, so I guess it's all about the wonders off nature if you aren't Icelandic. This location catches my interest for another reason. No matter which direction we look we see old volcanos. There are dozens of them.  Once upon a time this place was a raging hellscape and may be so again.  A check of the location of the mid-Atlantic ridge shows that we are right on top of it here.  Makes sense.



CK explores a cave


Myvatn Natur Baths - A spa that takes advantage of a thermal hot springs.  This reminds us of the Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik but smaller and without certain refinements. The water is warm and silky with minerals. Also blue due to silica. I like the fine gravel bottom. Feels nice to grind my feet in it.  We see people here from all over the world: India, Poland, Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Germany, Norway, NYC, Toronto, Japan, China.  Iceland has been doing a solid job of promoting itself worldwide. We are in the North Icelandic sticks and the chatter around us sounds like we might be in London.

 

Another spa experience!


This place doesn't have electronic bracelets. They have a swim-up bar but purchasing a drink is clumsy. One must purchase drinks in advance, which is impractical or bring your credit card to the pool. Their Point-Of-Sale system needs updating. People are clutching cell phones, holding them out of water as they proceed with their spa experience. One woman with beer in one hand, cell phone in the other, and a child clinging to her neck presents a likely image. I wish I could have photos of everything I see out here. It would be hilarious. We are among those who are too cautious regarding the safety of our phones. One slip into water and that would be the end of them. We still get fotos. We just don't take the phone into the pool.



Cell phones and beer!!

As the afternoon progressed, more tourists arrived. Some of them came to drink beer and socialize. We're becoming aware that the hot spring bathing culture in Europe is more than just a treat that one might indulge in while on vacation. Clearly, many of these folk do this regularly as part of their lifestyle.


Later, back at the hotel I'm in the bar practicing my horrible Spanish with a young bartender from Valencia. She doesn’t know the classic Martini so I help her with the recipe. It wasn't on their drink list just like New Zealand! Nobody understood it there either. Ye gawds, a Martini is the easiest cocktail in the Solar System.



Dinner was the same as last night. Not much variety here, ya think? In the lobby I ask the lady at the desk about the lake next to us. She says yes there are fish but it is all privately owned. There is no public access. And there's the answer to why I see no sport fishing going on.  Must be some awesome trout out there. That's OK. I can't afford it anyhow!

 

CK ends her evening hunched over her laptop finalizing our last moves in Iceland. Yay CK!

 

Stay tuned.



May 12, 2024

Iceland

 

This bunch looks like the bad guys from Raiders of the Lost Ark

At the Berjaya Hotel in Reykjahlið my breakfast is coffee, fruit, and toast. Of course there are eggs, bacon, cakes, cookies, ham, cheese, mysterious spam-like material, croissant, potatoes, beans, and wicked pale sausages that look suspiciously like the sausages that were there yesterday which nobody touched.  I need to skip all that.  I’ve been grazing my way through Europe like a cordless Hoover and the caloric intake is adding up.

 

Don't be a hálfviti

Weather has deteriorated by comparison to the past two days. Today the cloud is solid, low, and tight on the horizon. All the volcanic peaks we could see yesterday are now behind a misty curtain.  Our road takes us through a wide spot in the road named Laugar.  Not much there except for a big-ass waterfall, the Goðafoss, Waterfall of the Gods.  The legend says that in 1177 an Icelandic Chieftan decided to go Full Monty Christian and, in a fit of missionary inspired righteousness, he pitched all his ex god-idols over the falls and JC was his man. I suppose they are still down there.  The spray from the falls kind of makes its own weather as we get to the prime viewing spot.  Wanting to stay dry we get our pix and scram.  Downstream there’s time to linger and admire the thunderous power of cubic miles of water in a gravity-powered hurry.

 







 Our road takes us up over a ridge where we get into the bottom of the cloud deck.  The fog is thick but not so bad that we can’t see.  This experience makes it clear, however, how bad visibility can get.  There are no guard rails on many of these mountain roads.  We feel a little queasy seeing nothing but space over the edge of the road as we’re turning through a hairpin.  The lack of guard rail challenges the depth perception a bit and the fog makes it worse.  Fog clears as we descend into the next valley.


A tunnel through the mountains

We’re stopping in Akureyeri.  Here is a much more substantial town.  There is an art museum, cultural museum, motorcycle museum, and CK’s fave, a church. We don’t have time for the zipline adventure.  No matter. CK would never go for it.  Actually, we skip everything except the church.  CK pokes her nose inside, even though it IS Sunday, and interrupts a Mother’s Day confab of mothers.

 

The official Akureyeri welcome delegate

Lunch in Akuyeri.  CK has fish and chips. I choose a salad with beef and dressing on the side, please.  The plate they put in front of me is more like a bowl of greasy shredded beef accompanied by 4 cherry tomatoes and12 leaves of lettuce all anointed with globs of mayo. A thimble of oil by the bowl represents the dressing. Apparently, mayo is not considered salad dressing in Iceland. I don’t know what this is, but it isn’t a salad. With road food, ye take yer chances.  Sometimes it’s a win, other times not so much and there’s no use complaining.  It was $65 for the two of us and we only had water to drink.


Our lunch spot
First time we've seen horse on the menu outside of Reykjavik

Don't have time for a detour to Húsavik and its hot seawater spa. That would take us way off our route and put us behind the 8-ball schedule-wise.


Arriving at Hofsstaðir
Elf House?

We push on to our sleep for the night, Hofsstaðir Guesthouse.  Our room has a sweeping view of the broad Sauða river delta that empties into Skagafjörður Fjord which is part of the Arctic Ocean. This is a first!  We have never set eye on the Arctic Ocean in our 7.35 decades of existence. We’ll see if CK can get her finger in it tomorrow. A herd of Icelandic horses are grazing the dormant grass in the pastures around us. There can’t be much in it for them but somehow they manage.


We have time before dinner to run 15 minutes down the road to investigate Saudarkrokur (English translation Sheep-River-Hook, having to do with its location). I’m not sure what we were expecting, but we weren’t particularly charmed. It seems like an industrial spot.  We gas up.  Wind chill is in the mid 20’s, I’d say.  BTW, the weather report suggests snow tonight and tomorrow morning.

Saudarkrokur

The system always goes slow when you're freezing

Back at the Hofsstaðir Guesthouse we get some supper.  The menu is small, for sure, but it has good stuff.  CK gets a shrimp starter and I go for their Birch Leaf Soup.  We both have the cod for mains. NO broccolini!! YAY!! The fish and shrimp were as fresh as can be and prepared perfectly although I had to ask them to keep the sauce on the side.  My last cod order some nights ago was smothered in hopeless goo.  I needed to get ahead of that possibility.  Over chocolate cake and Birch ice cream I catch myself staring across the river delta to the west thinking about a sunset.  Reality jerks me back to my senses when I remember that the sun isn’t setting for another 3+ hours. I asked our server why tourists come to the hotels in this area. He said they are doing what we’re doing, The Ring Road, not horseback riding or fishing as I would have guessed.


Hofsstaðir

Tomorrow we’re on the road again.  CK did the sightseeing plan.  It will be a surprise.



May 13, 2024

Iceland


There was snow in the forecast for overnight but thankfully this did not occur. So far only cold rain and steady breeze. A clammy day ahead. We have some hours in the car and miles to go. CK has some sightseeing planned.


The room was comfy. Great view except for the cloud blocking the mountain peaks. The facilities are nice but the hot water must be coming from far away.  I wait 5 minutes for shower temps to achieve something more than tepidity. This Hofsstaðir Guesthouse has something like 45 habitations which is a puzzle.  The dining room could not seat more than 30 people.  And the space for the breakfast buffet setup was crowded just for the 10 people there this morning.  At the peak of summer, this could be an awkward stop.  We weren’t inconvenienced at all but only because there weren’t many guests.


At the breakfast buffet


We're heading toward Húsafell. The website promises a fancy hotel with geothermal water for soaking. We'll see. Internet vs Reality is always a fun matchup.

 

Our road is clear of traffic, as it has been the whole trip.  I’m becoming adept with the cruise control in this Hyundai Tuscon. Some of the rain hitting the windshield is white and chunky. The road is free of ice and remains so even though the car’s computer keeps reminding me that there may be icy conditions.  This car will talk to us if it gets annoyed enough. Once we made a turn in a village that confused it.  A rather loud female voice announced very sternly, “Turn into a wrong way has been detected. Please alter your route.”  There is much about these new model rigs we don’t grok.  It took me a while to figure out how to turn off the automatic lane correction feature, you know, the one that grabs the wheel and fights you for it.  I hate that one. Speaking of which, we have spotted about 4 cars that left the road in the past week. One was rolled onto its side. The others were simply nose down in the tundra. Were they also fighting a computer for control of the steering wheel? I wonder, ya know?  These AI bots could kill ya.

 

We stop for a hot chocolate break

Yes!  There is a town called Bifrost!  Sorry to report that isn’t the burning rainbow bridge that leads us to Midgard but hey, it’s a real place on the map in Iceland.


Later in the afternoon the weather pulls back the cloud to reveal more highland which improves the scenery for us as we get closer to our next sleep. CK says there’s a geothermal sensation up ahead.  This is Krauma, geothermal bath & spa.  We aren’t here to use their facilities, just to gaze at their very active hot fountains.  Over a stretch of about 50 yards there are a dozen small pools fizzing over with actual boiling (100C) water. We try to get pix but the steam is just too much. I’ll post something but the photos don’t convey the screaming hot violence of this thing.  There’s also the thought of something much hotter lurking somewhere below us.  CK spots a food option next to the parking lot that sells us lamb soup and bread.  We have a seat in a green house set with picnic tables.  It has geothermal heating, too, and the temp is somewhere close to  90F in there. We’re having a sauna along with our snack.  Yikes.

 

Krauma's hot water

 CK has targeted another roadside attraction, the Hraunfossar. Here we see a swift river below a basalt wall gushing with water.  It’s like dozens of underground rivers are exiting all at once in the same place.  We’ve never seen a waterfall like this one. This is unique.  This tourist attraction also comes with a wind chill somewhere in the high 20’s, a proper contrast to our recent greenhouse experience.  We count our blessings that rain is not included.  The wind promotes brevity in our stay here.

 

Hraunfossar


 Arriving at Húsafell Hotel we’re quickly convinced that the posh presentation on the website was accurate. The vibe here is all Scandanavian Modern. Our first contact with reception and staff is polite and efficient but snobbish and pretentious as any pencil thin mustachioed bellhop in the Milan Il Duca (a place we’ve never been, of course).  Moving into our rooms features a fight with the door.  If we leave it just a little ajar, which is its default position, an annoying alarm goes off until we lean on it.  In future we’ll all have to learn to be smarter than these automatic systems.  We have time to check out their geothermal pools before hitting their restaurant.  CK loves it.

Húsafell's hot water

Of course the restaurant is fancy-shmancy and pretty much empty.  All the customer service belongs to us and two other tables.  For some reason, the muzak is blurting out Nashville pop country with a little 70’s and 80’s soft rock mixed in.  R. Crumb’s cartoon comes to mind.  Hey, I found it. CK skipped the ‘starter’ but I went for it. A trout dish with beet juice served on a piece of crockery designed to make it look like more food than it was. The trout was soft smoked and quite flavorful, not so smokey as to kill the taste of the fish.  It was topped with crispy Nori.  I liked it.


Smoked trout, very nice
The 'main'

Both CK and I ordered the lamb ribs. This also arrived in the manner of haute cuisine, cosmopolitan capital of the world style, an obsequious offering to financial diplomats who aren’t really hungry.  I gotta have a picture of this, too, just for the blog. There’s an item made of barley, pork, and potato that is awkward to deconstruct but tastes nice. The other item is the lamb. Ye gawds. Lamb is high quality meat.  It is difficult to ruin it but that’s what happened here. This lamb did not have a worthy end.  It was mushy, overcooked, and flavorless.  Strange. I’m guessing that the Húsafell cook left this unfortunate piece of prime animal flesh in the sous vide way too long. I also didn’t want to leave it on the plate, totally wasting Mr. Lamb’s contribution to man. I had to summon a mental image of the most excellent Rack of Lamb we enjoy at Le Paon in Palm Desert to help me.  We managed to get this version down the gullet, avoiding an explanation moment with our server. Our dessert arrived in time to save a bit of the evening. I’m not sure what it was but I liked it.

 


S t a y t u n e d



May 14, 2024

Iceland

 

Húsafell Hotel

The day is bright and sunny here at Húsafell Hotel, appropriate for our last day of this trip. We complete the loop today with a 2 hour drive to Reykjavik. Some years ago, when we learned about this route it immediately appealed to our heavily modified senior citizen sense of adventure. You know, the idea of touring a bleak, volcanic landscape, a mixture of ice and fire, hopping between comfy hotels, eating both good and lousy food, trying to pronounce impossible words, plundering hot spring spas along the way? It seemed like cool thing to do and one of our more creative ways of burning through some cabbage.



And this was my first experience with the Arctic midnight sun effect. It messes with my sense of time which messes with my sleep patterns which were already a mess without the help of a sky that won't be dark.  Soon I'll be adding jet lag to the formula. I can feel an unspecified psychosis building. It may require quantities of wine and naps at awkward moments. To be continued.


Borgarnes

Meantime, in the neighborhood of the Keflavik airport, Iceland's freshest volcano has taken a chill pill. The officials figure it's just building up steam for another blow but not yet. This offers us an opportunity for one last spa soak Wednesday morning at the Blue Lagoon, which is also in that area. BL has been closed when the Grindavik volcano has been active, but it's open now.  This will make up for being cheated out of our spa plan today which was supposed to be Hvammsvik Hot Springs. Somehow, the management there selected today to close for maintenance. It looks like this is the only day they close the entire month. Bad luck.


Back to today’s road trip. CK is navigating us to the town of Bogarnes where there is a sort of museum. The Settlement Center offers a gift shop with Icelandic crafts and two walk-through displays with audio guides.  The first is a synopsis of how Iceland was discovered and settled in the late 9th and early 10th centuries.  This could be the only country that has this kind of information available.  Prior to that, no humans had ever lived here. The second display was all about one of the Icelandic Sagas, that of Egill Skallagrímsson. Even though the recorded guide was in English, I still didn’t quite understand the importance of this story. Egil was basically a murderer and a poet.  Out of control violence on one hand, sensitive and thoughtful on the other, although when some of his poetry was quoted I became convinced that one has to be Icelandic to appreciate it. 

 

“Here I am at the hearth

Of my host, Yngvar The Generous,

who grants Gold to heroic men;

Free-handed fosterer,

You'll find no three-year

Babe among bards

More brilliant than me.”


Icelandic art



Little Egil gets a poetry lesson?

Perhaps it was because he was troublesome enough to become the enemy of Erik Bloodaxe, the King of Norway and his Queen Gunnhild, said to be a Finnish sorceress. Anyhow, this 10th century Icelander made a name for himself despite or because of being a thunderous pain in the ass.

The Settlement Center also has a café.  Lunch for me is another lamb stew. CK plunders a buffet.


This is Queen Gunnhild according to Egil's Saga
Our lunch spot

In Reykjavik we stay at the Center Hotel, our usual bolt hole right on the noisy central plaza. I go for a beer. The bartender looks like Mágnus Headsplitter, a barrel chested, tattooed gym rat. His scruffy beard and hair tied up in a top-knot makes him appear totally out of sync without a battle axe in his hand.  I want his photo but I’m afraid he’ll eat my phone up to my elbow.  He sells me the beer and I escape unharmed.

 


An hour later CK comes to collect me for our final supper in Iceland.  We are going to The Cellars, around the corner from the hotel. We immediately like the vibe.  The restaruant is below the street, obviously once used as a storage space. The staff greets us in Icelandic but instantly switch to English when they see our puzzled expressions. I order a fish soup and their fish of the day plate.  My soup is served in a hand crafted ceramic bowl that is a work of art all by itself.  I’m including a foto. The soup is excellent.  CK orders lamb and it is 100% improvement over Husafell’s version.  My fish plate is perfectly done as well. Dessert is sorbet brilliantly served on a block of ice. There is annoying pop music at first but soon it is stifled and replaced by live music.  Piano tunes float through to the dining room from the bar. CK is transported.  She declares that this is our official go-to restaurant in this town, henceforth.


My wonderful soup bowl
Piano man at The Cellars

This is the end of the Tim and Christine’s Iceland Ring Road Adventure. Tomorrow we are up early to catch a 7:30 bus to another spa soak at the Blue Lagoon before boarding a flight to Seattle, 3622 miles away. Unless something remarkable happens that requires commentary, this blog will be going dark for a while.  It may fire up again in 2025 if we decide to travel again.


Thanks for following along.  I hope it was entertaining.  Ciao!


Post Script: In 10 days I never saw a sport fisherman. And there was never any weather bad enough to discourage any steelhead fisherman I know. If you're a fly fisherman looking for action in Iceland, try this: fishpartner.com 

Looks like a deal, but I don't know how it works exactly.




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