Reykjavik Holiday Dairy
Day One: Arrival Day
Unpacked our stuff at the Airbnb, then went to find a supermarket. Everything is very expensive, and as we speak no Icelandic, it was quite an adventure. A man overheard us debating the milk, and kindly showed us which one was semi-skimmed (yellow top). I later overheard some Americans trying to find ‘half-and-half’ and mistakenly picking up baby-milk. “That’s breast-milk!” one exclaimed, which made me laugh.
Wandered round the waterfront. The air is cool and clear. There seem to be a lot of tourists, a lot of gay couples, lots of Viking stuff, a lot of pink hair. The painted houses are rather cheerful. They have big blank windows, which I don’t understand in a country that has constant summer daylight (when I would want thick curtains) followed by almost constant winter darkness (when I would still want thick curtains). I find it confusing; the houses and shops look the same. Sometimes I think I’m looking into a café window, and I realise I’m watching a bloke cut his toenails in his lounge!
We ate lamb burgers in Fjallkonan, a buzzing restaurant full of chatty people. Excellent food, comfortable chairs (it matters!) It cost £60 for two burgers, one beer, and a sparkling water. Not a cheap city.
Day Two: Drive from Reykjavik
Terrible night’s sleep due to constant daylight. Need to invest in some eye-masks. Got up 6am, read Bible and had coffee, dragged Husband out for a run.
Showered—it stinks of sulphur. The hot water is pumped straight from the ground, which makes incredibly cheap heating/hot water systems. But it’s smelly. Hoping I get used to it; holding my breath for the length of the shower was a near-death experience. Maybe will buy an oxygen tank and mask when I buy the eye-mask (though Husband is bound to make comments). However, the cold water in Iceland is good, very pure, and perfect for drinking straight from the tap. Don’t waste money on bottled water in Iceland.
Decided to go for a drive as the weather forecast is wet. Driving here is fairly easy as long as you remember which side of the road to be on. Good quality wide roads (not like the warrens of Madeira). There are several gravel/unmade roads, but our hire car agreement doesn’t allow us to use those (for which I am grateful). We drove towards Glymur Waterfall, stopping to eat a picnic lunch on the way. Husband made comments about the bread knife (I don’t like making sandwiches, easier to do it at the time). Ate looking at black mountains with white patches of snow.
Drove NorthWest to Kolbeinsstadhir. (Icelandic is a bit like Welsh, every word is crammed full of consonants.) Stopped to look at some thermal water. It was shut, due to Covid, but we ignored the sign and walked up anyway. There was a hot spring, which was piped, so looked a bit like someone had randomly put a tap in the middle of wasteland. There was steam. Husband was more impressed than me.
We saw several herds of horses. Icelandic horses are a thing. They are classified as horses (though I’m pretty sure they are ponies really) and they’re very pretty. If you remove one from Iceland, it’s not allowed back, which keeps the line pure. Some restaurants serve horse meat, but I like to think the beauties I saw were kept for riding.
We got home about 4:30pm. I saw lots of very flat plains, black mountains, spectacular waterfalls, and thousands of blue lupins. But not many trees. There’s a saying: “If you see three trees in Iceland, you’re in a forest.” Or a joke: “If you’re lost in a forest in Iceland, stand up!” I guess repeated lava flows doesn’t encourage long life for trees, and the earth below the surface is too hot for deep roots. There were trees, but not many, and none were ancient. I still prefer Scotland for scenery.
Dinner at Messinn. I started with a dirty plate, and was then given a sticky menu, so not a great start. But they served traditional fish stew, with potatoes and vegetables and hunks of lava bread. Lava bread is good. It’s rye bread, and the dough is cooked in a pot in the hot ground. I thought it tasted a bit like malt loaf but without the fruit, and it was nice with butter and a cup of tea. But they also chuck lumps of it into their fish stews.
Thanks for reading. In my next blog I’ll describe the most difficult walk of my life, going to see a puffin colony. Hope you have a good week.
Love, Anne x
The verse I tried to learn in Iceland was 2 Chronicles 7:14. Have you managed to remember any? Read it again to refresh your memory:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
וְיִכָּנְעוּ עַמִּי אֲשֶׁר נִֽקְרָא־שְׁמִי עֲלֵיהֶם וְיִֽתְפַּֽלְלוּ וִֽיבַקְשׁוּ פָנַי וְיָשֻׁבוּ מִדַּרְכֵיהֶם הָרָעִים וַאֲנִי אֶשְׁמַע
מִן־הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶסְלַח לְחַטָּאתָם וְאֶרְפָּא אֶת־אַרְצָֽם׃
Another interesting blog full of useful information for those visiting Iceland….
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That’s particularly interesting about the lava bread. My son has just moved to Wales, where they also have lava bread. Except there it is from seaweed, and I suspect not at all like the Icelandic version.
Stinky water – ugh.
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I didn’t know that Wales have lava bread, assume it’s not also baked in hot earth (pretty sure Wales is always cold and damp!) Next time I am there I will look for it.