Sorry for not posting this yesterday – I could say it’s because my work computer wouldn’t let me log in, but let’s just blame it on trolls instead, because trolls are a thing in Iceland. They supposedly live everywhere, but I found their populations to be congregated mostly inside gift shops.
Anyway. Day 2. We started out by eating a metric ton of Smjor, naturally, for today was our big 12-hour long tour through geysers and waterfalls and broken engines, oh my!
We were picked up at the hotel by our trusty guide Stefan (“You can call me Ste-fan, or Ste-fan, or however you want to say it,” he told us. Stefan was a pretty chill dude.) So Stefanupagus started up the old van, drove it out of Reykjavik, and immediately steered us STRAIGHT INTO OBLIVION.
Let me start by saying there is not much in Iceland to begin with. I don’t mean that as an insult – it’s just that once you leave the city, this is what you’re left with to stare at out your car window:
Right, Will and RJ?
So then we stopped at Þingvellir – oh yes, let me explain. That letter that looks like an emoticon sticking its tongue out is called a thorn. It’s pronounced ‘th’, and Icelanders like to Þrow it into as many words as Þey can.
So Þingvellir is notable because it is where the very first parliament was held, when a bunch of vikings got together to decide how to govern their land and also that from now on the official uniform would include pointy horned helmets. In addition, Þingvellir is the valley where the Eurasian tectonic plate and the North American tectonic come together (or rather, are splitting apart, a few centimeters a year), plus it contains a lovely lake that some people like to go snorkeling in in the dead of winter – a fact that you should take note of, because who in heaven’s name would do something so clearly batshit?*
Þingvellir is also where Stefan told us we would be able to go on a half-hour-long hike, and our entire tour group laughed in his face because the skies were raining down snowflakes the size of my fist.
From there we kept driving and — OH MY STARS LOOK AT THE PRETTY HORSES WAITING ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD FOR US TO PET AND LOVE THEM!
I will talk more about these guys in tomorrow’s post, but for now I’ll just say that Icelandic horses are a small, sturdy, delightful breed of horses that are made of pure sunshine and have a remarkably high tolerance for Americans who act like this:
If Will tries to tell you I made him do that, he is a LYING WHORE.
After the horsey-squealing faded, we drove to Gullfoss, a bigass waterfall. It’s so big, it’s two, two, two waterfalls in one. And, as it turns out, is incredibly difficult to photograph in a blizzard. But let’s try anyway, shall we?
The waterfall was cool, but I think we can all agree that this sign was even cooler.
In an effort to make sure we still had fingers and toes (because we sure couldn’t feel them anymore) we headed into the Gullfoss gift shop for lunch, and proceeded to have the hands-down BEST meal I had in Iceland. It was a traditional lamb stew called kjötsúpa, though in my opinion it should be called CrackCocainesúpa. And I don’t have a picture of it, which I regret more than anything because I’d really like to blow it up to poster size and put in my office à la Ron Swanson so that I may gaze at it fondly whenever I want to. Instead I got these photos of a geyser, at a place with the truly inspired name of: Geysir.
Which was nearly as exciting as it looks. That is to say, not very. There were some other geysers in the vicinity that shot hundreds of feet into the air!…every decade or so. However, the Geysir gift shop had a giant Viking teddy bear with a treasure chest full of tinier Viking teddy bears, so that provided some suitable amusement.
After that we headed to the Laugarvatn Fontana, an outdoor menagerie of hot tubs, steam baths, and saunas, all perched on the edge of a lake. And lest we forget, it was still snowing. Here is a picture of me thoroughly enjoying said hot tub, courtesy of my friend RJ, who is not my husband, which made this awkward for everyone.
Because Iceland really messes with your ability to tell time, we left the spa roughly five days later (or in real human time, an hour and a half) and headed to Lindin, reportedly one of the best restaurants in Iceland. As you can see, Will and I couldn’t have been more thrilled.
Chef and owner Baldur Öxdal Halldórsson, who was awesomesauce, came in to tell us all about the impending deliciousness, and he was pretty spot on. Perfectly cooked lamb (noticing a theme?), something called a potato hamburger, and finishing up with what was bandied about as “the best chocolate mousse in the world”.
After THAT, it was time for our Northern Lights tour! Because, you know, that was the whole point of going to Iceland in the dead of winter. We might lose a nose or two to frostbite, but dammit, we’re going to see some Northern Lights!
Well, not only did we not see a single Northern Light, but as we drove back toward Reykjavik in utter defeat, the van broke down. In the ceaseless blizzard. Luckily another tour bus that was part of our group happened to have enough room for us, so we piled in and – get this – just abandoned the van (and my favorite water bottle, dammit) for the mighty winds to sweep up, fly it across the lava fields, and presumably carry out to sea. And this might have been a semi-happy ending, were it not for the unimaginable agony I was in for the hour-long drive back, as I had to pee so badly I very seriously considered begging the driver to pull over so that I may urinate into the snowy Icelandic night. Alas, I chose to wait it out, resulting in what I’m sure was the oddest, most ecstatic groan the Reykjavik Natura hotel lobby has ever had the pleasure of hearing.
Be sure to stop back later today for: Vikings! Vikings! Vikings!