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No Dusk, No Dawn

ICELAND | Monday, 20 June 2011 | Views [1099] | Comments [1]



I took the Golden Circle tour with Reykjavik Excursions today.  This is the most popular day trip in all of Iceland so it was a giant bus and I heard some Americans among the crowd.  Very loud Americans with very loud kids but they were still better than yet another loud constantly kissing European couple sitting in front of me.  (Why???)  Our tour guide was pretty funny; he was giving a brief history of Reykjavik and Iceland in general.  Notable facts: the Icelandic Krona is the smallest currency in the world, Reykjavik's domestic airport is located really close to the city center because Britain built it there during the first World War and after they, the U.S., Canada and Norway finished using it after WW2 it was gifted to Reykjavik (because it's very hard to take an airport with you), and there are volcanic eruptions and “tourist eruptions.”   Also Icelandic people are 7 kgs heavier than they were since the '60s.  Here's my guide's explanation for why single men weigh less than married men: when single men get home from work and open the fridge, they see nothing exciting there so they go to bed; when married men get home from work and open the bedroom, they see nothing exciting there so they go to the fridge.  

We started our day visiting a church that is home to the Bishop seat.  Then we went to Gulfoss – a giant waterfall that seems catered for photo ops for tourists.  The bus parked and then we walked for 2 minutes to get an immediate view of the entire waterfall.  There was a separate path down below where you can get really close and get sprayed.  Surprisingly few barriers, which is good to get a really good photo but you better not stand too close to the edge or it's a pretty long drop.  Then we went to the Geysir geothermal area (the origins of the English word “geyser”) and one of the geysers was erupting at a pretty consistent basis of every 4-8 minutes.  I managed to get out of the way just in time after it erupted to avoid the giant sulphur fumes that swept out from the geyser.  Finally we headed to Thinghvellir National Park, site of the world's oldest parliament at over 1000 years and also the location of the rift between the European and North American tectonic plates.  The trip was good but a little too family-friendly; I was hoping for a little more excitement but this was very general sightseeing and not a lot of time to get out and walk around the whole area.  I did get a lot of good pictures out of the day though.  Also there were a lot of tourist shops and some of the goods are so ridiculously cheesy that I feel like I have to load up on souvenirs in Reykjavik before I fly back to America.  Luggage fees be damned.

When I got back to Reykjavik I started wandering down Laugavegur – the main street in the city with all the pubs and restaurants.  I walked all the way down into the city center but didn't find anything that looked good so I turned around and then found this hole in the wall place called Svarta Kaffid that offered a good view of the street outside.  I ordered a mushroom soup served in a giant bread bowl and it was superb.  There's something really rich in the cheese and butter and other dairy products in Iceland that makes them taste extra good.  I don't think I was eating that much in London, but in Iceland I am definitely putting on the vacation weight.  My stomach certainly enjoys it!  I also ordered a tea and the waiter came out with 2 wooden boxes so I could pick the one I wanted.  Not being a drinker I have to say I really like these pub/cafe/restaurant combinations.  Not only is the food good but you can order fancy coffee/tea drinks while everyone else orders alcohol.  If they had more of these in the U.S. I'd definitely go out more.

Finally I went sit by the water to watch the (non) sunset.  Last night I looked out my hotel window after midnight and it was still very bright outside.  Then while I was sleeping the sunrise woke me up around 3 a.m..  It doesn't gets dark here but there are varying degrees of brightness and the sun was blasting through my 2 hotel curtains and I had to use a sleepmask (for the first time ever) that I bought specifically for Iceland because I could not sleep otherwise.  I had packed a flashlight in my luggage and now I have no idea why I even thought to bring it.  It's a bit odd.  I think I would get more out of the constant daylight if more places were open later.  I wish there were some giant outdoor public gallery or something.  Some bars and pubs are open late obviously but with the sun never going away it seems like you're just drinking in the middle of the day, which is a little depressing.  I was listening to other tourists losing track of what day it was and now I'm running into the same problem.  Since I've never seen the night it kind of feels like this is all one really long day.

Tomorrow is whitewater rafting, which I'm really looking forward to for a bit of adrenaline.  I'll also have to find other activities to book for Friday and afterwards.



I like food descriptions and breadbowls.

  Louise Jun 22, 2011 1:30 AM

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