Well Peeps, just back from a short jaunt to Iceland. A land of wonderfully nice people who talk very fast and use letters and sounds like nothing that can be found in the U.S. We gave it the good Old American try – when speaking that is and gave many, many Icelanders a great laugh.
The weather was similar to the Northeast’s for the first week of April. This was their spring and I hear that summer starts next week. While walking through the town of Reykjavik, I actually came upon a well routed dandelion and the crocus and other early spring flowers were sprouting. While there we encountered light snow, rain, heavy rain and some great sunny days. We did not encounter (to the naked eye) any of the Northern Lights. Too late in the season and cloudy overhead. On the evening we drove out in what they call a Jeep Tour, using a Path Finder (way to confuse the Americans), we scouted around for areas that were clear. The guides radio between each other from their respective locations in the viewing area. At an area where the Teutonic plates collide – The North American Plate with the European Plate, we stopped and shot some photos. I kept getting a red glare in my shots. Several on the trip accused me of clumsily getting my fingers in the way – I was wearing red gloves. (#redgloveadventure) I offered up my camera for them to shoot the photo and low-and-behold, they too got a red glare mixed in with the clouds. The guides told us that although you can’t see the lights with the naked eye, the cameras can pick up the color coming through the lens. So, although I didn’t see the Northern Lights, my camera had one heck of a time viewing them.
We, my sister and I, did the requisite tourist things, Northern Lights, Icelandic Pony horseback riding and the Blue Lagoon. In addition to these activities, we managed to save on dinners so we could go out and meet the Icelanders at the clubs and have a wine or beer. Food, drinking, hotels, clothing – just about everything is very expensive in Iceland. A liter of gas is 247.50 kr, or $23.00/liter US. Our ‘Jeep’ guide told us that it costs about $135.00 US to fill the Path Finder tank of 75 liters. WOW! Rumor has it they all make good money, so they are quite used to the prices. Sticker shock for fellow travelers!
The Icelandic pony ride was fun, but being a horse person, I knew why the horses looked as they did – shed season. If you did not know, you would think you were being given a flea-bitten old horse to ride. Mangy to say the least. You could view the ponies grooming one another to help ease the itch of the heavy shedding coat. I got a 5-gaited horse on the way out, a nice mare that was used for breeding and she was not a slug on the trail, but keen on listening to my leg commands and cues. She somehow suffered a bloody nose on the trail and the guide of the slower group offered to switch horses with me. I rode another mare back to the barn from our 1.5 hour trip on the lava paths. This mare was only 4-gaited. I wasn’t disappointed at all. This one was much more sensitive to seat and leg commands and wanted to be up front leading. Riding any Icelandic is like sitting on a couch but moving. They are smooth if you know where to place your bum. They ride with a very long stirrup and leg out straight and extended way past the girth and shoulder/hip line – unlike the traditional rider of the Western or Dressage/Jumper variety. A great trip!
On our way home we visited the Blue Lagoon. Luckily we met someone that lived in Iceland and told us to lather up our hair prior to the dip with gobs of hair-conditioner. This helps protect your hair from the drying effects of the mineral water. EVEN with gobs on the hair, I came out and washed my hair 4 times and applied hair conditioner 4 times. My hair after a quick dry was like straw and had this very unique volume to it. I quite resembled the attachment one has on some vacuums that is used to clean either drapes or furniture, bristly, coarse and just sticking out.
From the frigid wilderness of the lagoon location, we barely caught the bus back to Keflavík – the town where the airport is located – a mere 15 minutes from the Lagoon. With about 2.74 kr in change, I left the land of smelly fish, wonderfully friendly people and $10 happy hour wine to come home to the U.S.A. It was pleasant enough to want to return, but next time in summer, say maybe in a week?
Bless, bless, þangað til við hittumst aftur! – As they say in Icelandic.