Sunday, August 26, 2018

Iceland


REYKJAVIK

Last weekend my husband Doug ran the Reykjavik Marathon. I went along to provide a distraction from the rigour he was undertaking. Our son Jason joined us and ran with Doug, a much appreciated source of encouragement.
Doug and typical landscape
 Iceland is hilly and, outside Reykjavik, mountainous. It’s windy. It is a runner’s challenge. For the tourist, it’s a unique natural wonder. And you don’t need a guide to find scenery that will take your breath away.

In the drive from the airport into Reykjavik you’ll look out the window of your car and think you’ve landed on a different planet. What would be fields anywhere else is acres of rocks so rough you can’t just “take a walk.” The island’s volcanic heritage is alive and well in its landscape.

VOLCANIC CRATER

How deep is the water! How high is the rim! We walked around the top, and I worried while two French children, unnoticed by their parents, jumped and played at the edge of the cliff. 

At Kerid volcanic crater
GEYSER
You have to wonder if the geyser is prompted by a time mechanism that transcends our understanding. Picture a group of us tourists standing in anticipation for several minutes, growing restless, wondering...wondering. 
 
Me at Strokkur Geyser
Then a burst of steam shoots 15 feet into the air for about 20 seconds and disappears. The ground is quiet. Another wait. Waiting. Another shot of steam erupts, this one 30 feet. This one 30 seconds. Ohhhh! A collective gasp.

BLUE LAGOON
On the drive to the Blue Lagoon, you see numerous geysers coming from the sides of mountains, some of them little whiffs, some big enough to remind you of a nuclear reactor. We had great weather, about 50 degrees every day. Even at that, walking outside from the locker rooms to the Lagoon in a swimsuit is no fun. 
 
At the Blue Lagoon
The excitement starts when you stick you foot into the water. Ahhh! Must be 90 degrees! Heaven! And the color suggests you’re entering a magic kingdom. It’s more iridescent than appears in the photo.

NATURAL WONDERS
Most of the trees appear to be planted, and there aren’t many of those. However, the birches and firs are perfectly formed, as if Photoshopped. Most of the mountains are bare rocks. Water is everywhere, lakes, ponds, streams. The current is so strong the water crashes into rocks in the streams.


Doug at Gullfoss waterfall

UNNATURAL WONDERS
The food is about the best you’ll get as a traveler. No fast food chains. We saw one KFC, and it was at a service station along the highway. Many coffee houses. Even at a tourist shop I got soup that puts American imitations to shame. It was broth based, unlike the creamy gruel we get.
Me at Bobby Fischer's grave.
BOBBY FISCHER Museum
He became the World Chess Champion when he defeated Boris Spassky in Reykjavik in 1972. He lived a tortured life and died in Iceland. His museum is modest. His grave is a lonely one in a small church yard.

Iceland is an expensive vacation. One night after supper Doug got the bill and said, “Only $80.” It was one of the cheapest suppers we had. But the dishes are prepared to order and the vegetables are fresh. With no evidence of farming (except for the rare greenhouse), the country must import its food. There are sheep and on occasion a few cattle. But not enough to put meat on the table.

I’d love to go back to Iceland. It’s the kind of place you wish you could share with your friends.

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