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broodings from the burrow

November 18, 2011

kids’ day out: iceland day four
posted by soe 11:12 pm

On Thursday, we managed to find ourselves a restaurant frequented by Icelanders, rather than aimed at tourists. You can tell because the menu was entirely in Icelandic, which necessitated asking the woman at the counter to help us decipher it. (English is mandatory in Icelandic schools, so everyone speaks it here.)

After a delicious, healthy, and vegetarian lunch, Rudi and I ventured down into Langardalur Park to explore. We passed by the nation’s Olympic training facilities and headed around back, where we wandered through the Botanic Garden. We saw flora from around the world, a pond where one could feed ducks, and then stumbled through a garden to discover this sod house.

Traditional Icelandic House

Short of a round door, doesn’t it look like a hobbit house? No wonder this is a nation that still believes in magical peoples.

Then it was off to the zoo/petting zoo/farm animal collection. The Iceland zoo is a tiny little place and it’s probably fair to say it’s cramped and old-fashioned in the space it gives its animals. However, we were there and it’s hard to diss adorable animals.

We saw seals, who, when they dive, like to swim upside down.

Sea Lion

The highlight was definitely the arctic fox exhibit. Arctic foxes are one of only two mammals native to Iceland. All others have been imported through the years. One fox was a bit spooky and eventually sought refuge behind some rocks, but this guy looked up, checked out the weird people speaking gibberish to it, and then put his head back down. Doesn’t he look so soft?

I'm Napping

We found the zoo cat in the cow and pig barn.

What? Every zoo doesn’t have a cat?

Well, they should. This cat and one of the calves were clearly pals, as the calf just could not keep its eyes off her. I’m sure she was disappointed when the cat wanted to escort us to the sheep and goat barn.

Rudi Pets the Zoo Cat

We explored the family amusement park, which was a little spooky in its deserted, childfree winter state. However, we still took the chance to play.

Rudi Falls Off

On our way to the pool, we came across this site.

Old Laundry and Hot Spring

Turns out it’s where the hot spring used to surface. It used to house the pool and also served as a laundry facility.

The visitor passes we purchased gave us free entry into the city’s geothermal pools, so that’s how we spent the rest of the afternoon. No photos allowed there, but trust us that hot pools — whether for lounging or for paddling around in — are absolutely lovely. (They also have a fantastic three-story slide that was totally awesome.)

Anaestu grosam

After a vegetarian dinner in this fantastic restaurant run by two lovely women, Rudi and I caught a cab across town for some storytelling.

Cocoa and Cookies for Bedtime Stories

This fall, Icelanders invited visitors to explore the non-touristy side of the country via Inspired by Iceland. One of the options while we were here was to hear bedtime stories read by a local actor.

We were delighted to discover cookies and mugs of cocoa waiting for us when we arrived. We settled in and Felix soon took his seat and began reading to us.

"Once upon a time..."

He read a children’s story to us, then one of the Sagas, and concluded with the first chapter from a novel by Haldor Laxness (Iceland’s lone Nobel Prize for Literature winner). It was a perfect way to pass an evening.

We concluded the evening at a low-key cafe/coffeehouse across from where we had dinner, the most adult thing we’d done all day.

Check out some more pictures from our day here.

Category: travel. There is/are 3 Comments.

Ok, hearing about how much vegetarian food you’re finding is really making me move Iceland higher on my list – I was sure all they’d have was fish!

The fox! Awwwww!!! So fluffy!!! And zoo kitty!!

I think this has been my favorite day of your trip so far 🙂

Comment by Jenn 11.19.11 @ 8:07 am

I have wanted to go to Iceland, ever since living in England 11 years ago and hearing it was a weekend getaway, and had those spas. Your post is an absolute delight to read. I so want to go now!!!

How lovely that you got to hear an author reading, too!

Comment by Susan 12.03.11 @ 7:44 pm

PS that picture of the house – it does look like it’s for hobbits, doesn’t it?

Comment by Susan 12.03.11 @ 7:44 pm