Not There

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These were the rules for Iceland.  Once we mastered these 17 steps, the rest was easy.  For instance, while we were in Reykjavik the sun shined and the temperature soared into the mid-50s.  At night, we experienced eternal twilight.

 We mastered the Icelandic word “og,” which means “and,” and felt no misgivings avoiding words such as

Baðherbergið (bathroom)

or even Fyrirgefðu (forgive me).

We rented a car and drove the Golden Circle, like many tourists do:  

We drove to Þingvellir, where the North American plate separates from the Eurasian plate along the mid-Atlantic ridge, and the place where, presumably, the first-ever parliament was formed, the Alþingi, which gathered each year beginning in 930.  Prior to 7 August 2015, none of us could have cared less.  What made any of it interesting at all was because we were in Iceland!!  Flat, mountainous, bare, windy, lava-strewn, wet, sparse, icy, hot and beautiful.

And Icelanders lived there, Norse people who were quiet but friendly and spoke perfect, colloquial, non-accented English.  They loved their Icelandic hot dogs and their municipal geo-thermal pools.  And their ancestors had stopped slaughtering each other centuries ago so that now, even though the then-elected government had destroyed Iceland’s economy in 2008, there was little graffiti to indicate any current discontent on a scale of note.

We drove to Gesir and Strokkur, and watched other tourists as they watched us, while simultaneously we all stared at an enormous hole in the ground until the appointed time when Strokkur erupted and a gigantic plume of hot, sulfurous water rushed toward the sky.  And then we watched again, and kept doing this until we felt the urge to run up a hill.  From the top of the hill, we could still see Strokkur churning out its watery deposit with enough regularity that we cold have set a timer by it (8-10 minutes) if any of us had thought to do so. 

We continued to Gulfoss, (Golden Falls), a waterfall, for which the word “fall” does a grave disservice.  Waterplummet would be better, or waterplunge or waternosedive.  At this point, a Google search is in order so that you can find out yourself about force of water flow, length of drop, depth of crevice, hydro energy, and the efforts of Sigríður Tómasdóttir to save the waterfall from development at the turn of the 20th century.

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On a different day, before we drove the Golden Circle, we visited another big tourist attraction near Reykjavik — the Blue Lagoon.  The Blue Lagoon was an oddity in that it lived up to every single advertisement, flyer, on-line video, poster, brochure, blog post, Trip Advisor entry, in-flight Icelandair magazine article, and web site description available.  Not bad for what began as a waste water dump in a 700 year old lava bed located across the way from a graveyard for horseback riders from long ago.


HORSEBACK RIDERS, LIVING

We had heard about Icelandic ponies, a breed of horse that arrived in Iceland during the 9th and 10th centuries.  These are creatures known for their hardiness, gentleness, surety of gait, and purity of breed.  No horse from another country is allowed to enter Iceland, and horses who leave may never return.  People in Iceland seem to be okay with this, having dubbed the Icelandic horse, “The most useful servant.”

We signed up with Laxnes Horse farm to be picked up in Reykajvik and driven with other equues-oriented tourists to the outlying countryside.  The only reason we mention the name “Laxnes” is because it appears that Iceland’s sole Nobel Prize winner in literature, Halldor Laxness, (Nobel Prize, 1955) named himself after this farm where he spent many a happy hour as a child.  Most likely, you already knew this.

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Reykjavik is a city where you can get around easily on foot.  The coins feature sea creatures.  At the Saga Museum you can see wax figures enduring trials and tribulations of Norse life and hear about the same with an audio guide in the language of your choice.  On Videy Island, out in the bay, you can visit the Peace Tower that Yoko Ono had designed and built to honor John Lennon.  We didn’t find out about this Peace Tower until after we left Iceland.  We also didn’t know that you could fly to Iceland for free if you were proceeding on to (the rest of) Europe, which we were.  (See headrest below.)

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 We did learn, once we arrived in Reykjavik, that Gay Pride would be celebrated while we were there, though not because of us personally.  The word is that around 100,000 people from all parts of the world attend the parade.  As you know, there are around 320,000 people who reside in Iceland.  The result is an interesting question involving mathematics.

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We felt sad when we left for the airport at 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 10.  We hadn’t tasted the fermented shark or the reindeer steak, nor did we participate in the runtur, the all night pub crawl, but we still had a good time.

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