sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

November 15, 2011

hallo from iceland!
posted by soe 8:58 pm

Greetings from Reykjavik!

Rudi and I took off from Dulles late Sunday evening for Iceland and arrived here six hours later at 6:25 in the morning. The plane ride offered a chance to watch a view short films and tv shows from Iceland and to nap a little bit in preparation for the day ahead.

I am always surprised by customs in European airports. I didn’t speak a word to the guy who looked at my passport and kept waiting for us to go through the “real” immigration gate. I remember thinking that in Paris, too. Can you imagine that happening in the U.S.?

After getting our passports stamped, we headed out to the lobby to buy our bus tickets to the Blue Lagoon. I’m not sure if the girl who sold them to us was surprised we were willing to hang around the airport for three hours until it was time for the bus to depart or because it was raining, but she seemed to be.

We passed the time in a cafe, with hot drinks and reading material. (I’m now a hundred pages into Arnaldur Indridason’s Jar City, a police procedural set in Reykjavik.)

Volcanic Rock

Eventually, though, it was time to climb aboard the bus. Dawn was just barely beginning to brighten the clouds (at 9:30) as we drove first through the deserted American naval base, past a car engulfed in flames (no idea what happened there), and then through otherworldly lava fields en route to the world-famous Blue Lagoon.

Power Plant

The Blue Lagoon is overflow from the local power plant. Okay, that’s not quite true. The local geothermal plant uses the water first to create electricity and then the water ends up at the Blue Lagoon, where people believe the therapeutic powers of its silica-rich waters will help to cure a variety of skin ailments. I’m not sure about that, but it sure helps to make you feel relaxed!

Outside the Blue Lagoon

Okay, that’s not entirely true either. It might make you feel relaxed if the gale-force wind weren’t kicking up waves in your calming pool waters! It actually was kind of funny, because they warn women to try not to get long hair wet because it does funky things to it, but I don’t think there was a single woman in the pool with dry hair. Or a dry face. Or who hadn’t swallowed bucketsful of salty water. And I can tell you that the deckside lifeguard was decked out in full-on storm gear, like a fisherman. And the lifeguard stationed in the building’s second floor (so he can see all parts of the pool) has a window equipped with a windshield wiper. But the water was roughly 50 degrees warmer than the air temperature, so it did still feel luxurious to be able to paddle around in it, even as the equivalent of a Nor’Easter swept over us. Rudi and I stayed in more than two hours before climbing out and scrambling quickly inside.

The bus ride up to Reykjavik was a little harrowing between the winds and the unpaved, curving roads. I was really impressed with the bus driver’s skills.

We checked into our hotel just as sun was arriving in Reykjavik, so we only stayed long enough to put our stuff down before we were back out the door and following a footpath that led to a road that ran into the harbor.


Although we did not find a cafe along the water as we were hoping to, we did find a multi-use trail and we walked along it heading toward town. We passed some sculpture and a lot of lava rocks.

I had gotten a few yards ahead of Rudi and I turned around to see what he was shooting, when I noticed something else cool:

Rudi and the Rainbow

Yup! A rainbow! Can’t help but be a good omen for our trip, right?

We walked along the water as far as the Solar Voyager, the statue designed to recall the nation’s Viking heritage.

Solar Voyager Sculpture

Then we decided it was time to find a hot beverage and a bite to eat. The wind was strong and we were tired!

We ended up in a nice little chain cafe where we could eat croissants and drink tea and coffee with a view of the water.

As the sun was setting, we figured we’d better head back to the hotel. As we were walking along, though, we passed this cool-looking, but obviously empty house:

Hofthi House

Turns out, this is Hofthi House, where Reagan and Gorbachev negotiated the end of the Cold War. How cool is that?!

We rested for a while and then headed back out for dinner later in the evening. We went to Icelandic Fish and Chips where we had — you guessed it! — fish and chips. Quite tasty! We then walked a bit around town, found the Occupy Reykjavik park (far less impressive than Macpherson Square, but still nice to see), and ended the evening at the big bookstore in the center of town which was open late to serve us tea, coffee, and dessert. We’ll be heading back there to pick up some reading materials and cds, I suspect, before the trip is over.

Imagine Peace Tower

And so concluded Day 1 in Iceland.

More photos of the day available here.

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