Iceland 2017: Sept 23

I woke up stupidly early again – too many people in the guesthouse slamming doors & spending forever putting their shoes on outside my door (sounds ridiculous: you can’t know how noisy this is until you’ve experienced it at 5.30am.

Eventually I had to admit defeat and get up. Breakfast was on offer at the mothership around the corner – no hot fresh rolls sadly but there was toast and real butter and the usual sorts of meat & cheese and cucumbers (who eats cucumber for breakfast? This is not a thing!) and hard-boiled eggs and so on.

Back in my room I was still plaiting my hair and trying to delay going out in the wind and the rain when housekeeping let themselves into my room. 9.30 is a bit early but I’ll bear it in mind for tomorrow.

I went down the road to the far end of Tjörnin, saw some nice dogs, decided I did need my waterproof trousers on after all (learnt that they’re warm & windproof too!) and went down to city hall where I watched ducks dabbling in the moat. I always like watching the birds in Reykjavik. Tourist information is now in city hall so in I went, only to find a huge relief map of Iceland on a table. It’s so interesting! To see where the mountains really are, to see how flat the south is, you can actually see the line of Laki craters, Herðubreið in the middle of nowhere. It was also very hot inside in full waterproofs.

Walking out of city hall, past the new (new! 1881!) parliament building, there’s not a hint to be seen that the Icelandic government has collapsed in the last week and that for the next month, until the snap election on October 28th, there’s no one in charge. Anywhere else in the world there would be anarchy & riots. Iceland? No sign anything’s wrong. Read about how that all happened for yourself.

I crossed Ingolfstorg, saw that the old TIC is now a boutique and went over to the Old Harbour. Unsurprisingly, given the weather, all the whale watching trips were cancelled bur moored were two actual whalers – whether current or previously, I don’t know. I tried to imagine a dead whale on the steep deck. How would you even get it on board?

The subsequent mental discussion about whaling and therefore the 17th century Danish trade monopoly took me down the road, through the roadworks & into the famous flea market. I’ve never been in there. It’s a lot like Wimborne market with more ring-necked jumpers, lava jewellery and dried fish.

Stopping in all the tourist shops on the way, I headed home. I was being picked up at 1.30 to go to the Blue Lagoon and I needed lunch and to pack. Figuring they were easier to put on damp feet than boots, I wore my sandals and nearly froze to death waiting for the minibus in the howling gale. I enjoyed the effect it had on the bushes, though. The top layer has turned a bright red. The lower layers are still yellowish-green. When the wind blows and the leaves turn, the entire shrubbery changes colour. It’s quite magnificent.

First job at the Blue Lagoon was exploration. It’s been expanded since I was last there. The in-water bar has moved and now the silica mud masks come from a facial bar rather than a wooden crate, there are two new bays and part of the cooling basin has been drained, leaving a kind of white silica beach. Other than that, there are minor changes, like a facelift. It’s not unrecognisable but “there used to be a kind of beach somewhere around here”, “why does this feel more open?”, “I think the bridges are new” – and most importantly, they’ve cleaned the floor! No more don’t-think-about-it sludgy hairy bottom. Very little gravel. It needed doing. I’m glad they’ve done it. I took ridiculous selfies and a greeter took & emailed photos of me too.

 I had a blue slushie and later, to stave off starvation pains, some crisps and the thickest richest hot chocolate ever. But as the evening wore on, it became harder to ignore the wind and the rain, especially as the sky grew darker. Soon, lying on your back in hot milky crackling water, looking at a heavy black sky with your nose & ears nearly frozen off in an outdoor pool, you start to question why you haven’t gone home yet. I gave in half an hour before I planned too, before I punched a tourist who was proudly declaring “Viking was disappointing” (it’s a tiny wool-making village which happens to have a black sand beach and a petrol station, what were you expecting of it?) and “Geysir doesn’t fire anymore. Why would I care about seeing it?” (I can’t even).

There is no clock at the luggage store where you shelter from the weather while waiting for your bus and I’d deliberately left my watch behind. Buses park opposite but you can hardly see what company they belong to, let alone the card destination signs, not in the dark with dazzling headlights on.

We came into the back of Reykjavik, past Harpa all lit up in blues and purples. Much to my surprise, we didn’t go to the bus terminal and get doled out into minibuses for once. Today the full size coach was taking us home, even up to bus stop 8 in the narrow streets around the big church.

I have asked all the gods, Norse & otherwise, for better weather. I may die in the campervan if this keeps up.

One comment on “Iceland 2017: Sept 23

  1. Shelley says:

    Good luck with the van. Keep warm.


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