Iceland … Sounds cold doesn’t it!
First things first! Iceland, it sounds cold doesn’t it; well that’s what we thought. We visited every outdoor shop going, gloves, hat, jacket, hand warmers, feet warmers and anything thermal had been considered. We didn’t realize how wrong we could have been, even though we had checked all weather sources via the internet and found the average temperature for Iceland to be between 4° to 5° degree colder than our own climate. We never thought we would be standing on a glacier in just shorts, open toed sandals and T-shirt, nor did we think we would be coming back to England with a suntan *laughing*.
From the very first moment we arrived at Keflavik airport and met our tour guide, it was all go. The pace didn’t allow much personal time, which would defiantly be our biggest criticism. Before we even got into the minibus, we were rummaging through suitcases for our swimwear in an open car park. After traveling across, what could best be described as the surface of the Moon, which we later found this to be extinct lava fields, where the moss takes one hundred years to grow; we arrived at the Blue Lagoon.
We visited five different geothermal pools during our entire stay, all varied in range and temperature, the hottest being over 41°.
The Blue Lagoon was an experience that needs to be repeated. This hot milky pool touched all the senses to leave you refreshed in a youthful toning way, where passion equaled the few couples we saw in a fruitful embrace. Many a’ new hairstyle was achieved with the silky mud pack, whilst listening to the whistling hiss of steam rising between hot stones. After a good long soak, you waded out with silica mud still behind your ears to a cool, crisp shower and a sachet of moisturizer.
Our accommodation ranged from motel style chalets to attic rooms with wood cladding and the coziness of a double bed. Many of the rooms, had single beds, all with single quilts and bedding, many of the double rooms also had single beds. The double rooms with double beds would also have single quilts and/or bedding times two. This may seem strange to us, but the Icelandic people can’t understand why anybody would want to share their bedding.
Some of these rooms lacked any form of curtains, considering the average night time in July was only 3hrs of darkness, so a good eye mask came into play. Overall we were comfortable and enjoyed our stay in every room; at one motel it seemed strange to be sleeping, whilst some members of our group, were playing golf on the course right outside of our window at 0100hrs in the morning.
The water comes direct from its geothermal source. When the hot tap is run, it can be extremely hot or when the cold tap is run, that can be bitterly cold. In some of the places that we stayed, the water had an odour of rotten eggs about it, it was perfectly safe to drink, wash or shower, but the sulphur gave rise to a slight twang to the nostrils.
We were prepared with strong hiking boots, good thick walking socks and telescopic sticks, but walking on extinct lava fields was harsh on the feet. All the hikes/walks that I did started on flat grassy meadows, which after a short distance became course, jagged lava fields. Not being a native, who seem to be goat from the waist down, I found that 99% of my walks/hikes were spent with my eyes down and not absorbing the tranquil surroundings.
One member of the group found a new word ‘underwhelming’ which seemed to express what some of us were feeling as we were wondering whether some of the walks/hikes were necessary. The blisters and the fact that I had had nail surgery 6 weeks earlier explain why I was sour, but we had missed a visit and been limited on time with other visits. Although this is only my opinion, my partner enjoyed the hiking, but did feel it was more than moderate hiking, which was what we had chosen in the first place.
The holiday insurance we had seemed to be an Icelandic after thought, because on viewing the documents, we didn’t seem to be covered for climbing up the extinct volcanic crater that we’d already climbed. For some reason, we had to fill in an insurance details form on our second from last day, which enquired whether we were insured for helicopter evacuation! We found that we were not insured for helicopter evacuation, perish the thought if anything had happened.
We went on two boat trips, if there is anything else in Iceland that we wanted to do, it was these boat trips and glimpsing nature at its best. Not only did we see; breeding puffins, cormorants, white tailed eagles and different species of gull. Minke whales gave grace and dolphins’ harvested shoals. Our boat actually trawled the seas for local shell fish; we tasted fresh scallops and sea urchin from the crystal clear water with a glass of Chardonnay. It was absolute heaven.
The food is one of the most important things to mention, but I can sum it up with one word … exquisite! Where ever we ate, the food was bloody brilliant with a freshness to melt any taste buds and dance with your tongue. Fresh lamb with Icelandic gravy and rhubarb jam was beautiful and the local yoghurt ‘Skyr’ is a treat on its own. We tried everything that was laid in front of us and left many a’ table with a full belly. We would advise taking your own English breakfast teabags.
We had bought phrase books but found that the Icelandic people spoke better English than ourselves, with accents and it seemed to put our education system to shame.
One little perk that we had was the tax free shops. You need to spend over 4000kr and then ask for a tax free receipt. You can claim back the tax at the airport or tourist information office.
From a Smokey Bay
So through all the questions, the answers and the blisters, which took us behind the thousands of tumbling litres of water, known as the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, down small worn tracks that lead us to the Gullfoss waterfall, where we could see both ends of our rainbow. On roads that sloped between the fjords and on to the boiling hot gurgling mud pools of recent earthquakes.
Trawling the oceans and stroking the spines of sea urchin and starfish, avoiding the pinchers of Icelandic crab. Filling our pockets with lava rock, that was once an eruption of moulten magma of burping bubbles from below.
Not forgetting the gushing Geysers that evaporate and repeat the cycle every 6 to 10 minutes through all the seasons that inspired many a’ great poet. Preceded by Vikings, who crossed blades and were outlawed, upon the black sandy shores of fire and ice, which is known as Iceland. A land that gave us, more than we had expected, we would sincerely recommend.
Please view our photos; http://www.anthonyhayward.info/page15.htm