Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Holidaay part 1 -- Iceland

Iceland is a land of great natural beauty.

Icelandic Air is only airline to serve Iceland and does deals so that you can stopover for three nights on the way to North America without paying extra -- so that is what we did.

One word of caution -- Reykjavik is not as safe as the guidebooks like to say. Some drunk tried to abduct my youngest off the street on the first afternoon we were there. My dh put a stop to it, and luckily held on to his temper. Thankfully, we had no repeats, but it was a bit unnerving.

On the second day, I went horseback riding up on the lava fields with Ishestar. Icelandic horses are direct descendents from Viking horses. They are beautiful -- smaller than English or American horses, with beautiful manes. They have five speeds. At the end of the two hour ride when my legs were numb, I managed to fall off when my horse decided to gallop. Nothing worse than a few bruises and scrapes, and a case of wounded pride. After returning to the hotel for a quick shower (all hot water is provided by geo-thermal and smells of rotten eggs), we went to the Culture house to look at the Icelandic medieval manuscripts. The manuscripts helped inspire Tolkien as well as Wagner and provide the most insight we have to Viking life. We then went to the newest musuem -- 871+/-2 -- a museum devoted to the longhouse than was discovered when a new hotel was being built. It made excellent use of multimedia. Later, we went on a whale watching tour. On the expedition, we saw puffins, minke whale, white beaked dolphin and harbour dolphins. Both type of dolphin had young with them and so put on quite a display -- leaping, twirling and playing. Afterwards, we went to a little fishering shack and ate lobster soup and salmon kabobs while sitting on barrels.

On the third day we went for a walk on the waterfront and then to the National Museum, which was recently redone and is excellent. It really puts Icelandic history in context. The oval brooches taht Viking women wore were much larger than I thought. There was a dressing room where you could try on Viking clothes --including a helmet and sword. The chain mail was hanging up so you could feel how heavy it was. Then we went on a bus tour to Thingvellir and the Rift Valley where the European and NOrth American plates meet, as well the Gullfoss (Golden Falls) waterfall and Geysir after which all geysirs are named. Geysir no longer erupts with any great regularity but the one next to it does -- about every four or five minutes.

On the last day, the airport bus dropped us off at the Blue Lagoon for several hours. We spent the time in the warm salty water, smothering our faces with silica mud, getting a massage from a hot waterfall and generally relaxing. It looks like a James Bond set. The only problem is that the salty water is hard to get out of your hair. And thus, my hair was a bit stiff when I arrived at BWI!

Iceland is a terrific place to visit. There is a lot of development going on, and hopefully none of the natural beauty will be spoilt, but given the amount of the building projects -- I would say the time to visit is sooner rather than later.Even though, sometimes finding a hotel room can be difficult.


Nell Dixon said...

Wonderful pictures and descriptions, Michelle. Thanks for sharing, it sounds fascinating.

Anne McAllister said...

Would love to visit Iceland, Michelle. But ouch, the fall from the horse sounds painful. Glad you're okay. The rest, though, is terrific. Any good Icelandic historical romances in your to-be-written pile? Hope so!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, Michelle - I'm even more determined to get to Iceland now. I can feel some wifely nagging about to start... :o)

Sela Carsen said...

Some drunk tried to steal your daughter?!?! Unbelievable.

The rest of the trip sounds gorgeous. Dh had a TDY there once and was really impressed.

Jessica Raymond said...

How very scary about the drunk... :/ The whale trip sounds absolutely wonderful.

Carrie Lofty said...

Gorgeous! My husband and I have wanted to go whale watching for years. Can't wait for more pics.

Michelle Styles said...

Thanks for the comment Carrie. UNfortunately for some reason, I didn't post as many pictures from Iceland as I had planned.
But it is a totally fantastic place and lingers in the meory.
We are all hoping to return there some day.