21.07.2015 - 25.07.2015 12 °C
Already into our fourth day in Iceland and everywhere you look there is something to go "wow" at. We have perhaps been spoilt for waterfalls and they are now getting like European churches, Northern Territory gorges, and Pommie ducks. The pick of them though was Gullfoss falls. This was special and not just cause I could spell AND pronounce it, but it was huge. Rated in the top 7 worldwide for beauty. Hraunfossar falls were not far behind it as there were falls everywhere being spat out through volcanic rock. Very spectacular.
We saw Glymur Falls which required a three hour trek and it stood at 196m. The trek is officially listed as "demanding" and my Fitbit said we did 113 flights of stairs. When these Scandie nations say a walk is three hours, they mean it. In Australia I reckon if it is listed as three hours return, that includes 30 minutes in the coffee shop before you start and the 1 hour in the bar after it. This walk was 3 hours and it was pretty full on with ropes to hang on to in places and a decent river crossing.
Another thing that attracted my attention was the total lack of signs saying, "Do not go past this point. Death might kill you!" There was nothing and the drops were hundreds of meters, which is cool but it just goes back to some countries (like Australia) dumbing everything down to the lowest common moron.
And while I am on treks and cliffs, what is it about climbing that the Scandies have. I guarantee you, if there is a hill, they'll climb it. We can see cars parked at the side of a nondescript hill next to the road and we are thinking, where have they gone? Sure enough you'll look up and there will be a couple of walkers. There are hills and cliffs and views, and stunning scenery and then there are, well hills. Why do we need to climb it? Even the bloody sheep climb them to graze in dirt and lava rock rather than the plush vegetation below.
Another "wow" is guaranteed to come out of your head when you pick up a menu or walk into souvenir shop. Souvenir coffee mugs $22. Chicken Nuggets and Chips $25. I know that no one does nuggets like Icelanders but really? Knocked back the Tenderloin (of horse) last night not because it was horse but because it was $50. $50 and Horse only go we'll at a race track and that isn't the tenderloin it is usually on the nose!
This brings me to the Ando Burger Index. The world renowned measure of burger affordability. $15 for an Iceland hamburger, and that is a hamburger, bun and sauce. Cheeseburger is $17. Bring your loan documents if you want tomato, onion, egg or exotics such as beetroot.
Average Icelandic monthly wage: ISK 292894 ($3,000 AUD) Plain burger is $15 ABI = 200
Average Australian monthly wage: $3,396 AUD Plain burger is $8 ABI = 424.5
When we arrived in Iceland at midnight, it was as though it was 4:00pm Melbourne. There was the odd street light on, probably because they need to check if they're working for winter, but you didn't need any artificial light. It was as they say, clear as day.
This of course has issues when you are well, at a bar. We had dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant on our first night, as you do in Iceland, and wandered past a bar on our way back to the hotel.....at about 10:00pm. I can say now that it was 10:00 pm because I know that now, but everything around you at the time says it is 5:00pm.
Louisa went back to the hotel but Jacinda and I made some friends at the local bar and we learnt Icelandic over three beers in 2 hours. Too easy.
It was sort of the perfect storm;
- First night in Iceland
- Iceland has some of the best beer in the world
- Good banter with some locals, who I think we're more interested in Jacinda but what the heck we learnt their alphabet.
But deciding to go home when the sun goes down is a bad plan in Iceland in summer. As everyone knows, I am the first to bed when the sun goes down, but this Iceland longitude thing caused me to get in a bit of trouble....for the first ever time. Another "wow" moment.
Another thing about Iceland. There is NO ice! No fridge in the room, and no ice. We found out that 3* accommodation does not include a fridge here. A little frustrating when you had planned to try and avoid the Icelandic menus and have a reserve of cheeses, meats, breads and salads for lunches etc. of course the odd cold beer after a long drive would be nice, but not here. Not to worry, we'll soldier on in NoIceland.
Another thing. Iceland has a population of about 250,000 and 103,000 sq km to hold them in. They plan well in advance here and being wary of a massive increase in population and the resultant housing sprawl, they have built their airport 46km from the city. How cool is that? Up here for thinking.
They are also ahead of their times when it comes to museums. I asked a guy behind the bar if there was a Viking museum of some type. He had no idea....born and bred in Iceland, but there was a Penis Museum across the road. I suppose there are priorities and it is not for a humble tourist like me to intervene. Anyway, I can now put a tick in the museum box and get on with my holiday.
We dropped in to Blue Lagoon, literally, on the second day where the lagoon is a not so chilly 40c and we swam around for a few hours. Putting silica mud on our faces to rejuvenate and cleanse our faces probably scared the crap out of a few children but it was pleasant....can't say that the $21 salad roll was as I ran from the cashier for my life!
Well this is where our Icelandic alphabet lessons over a few beers at the pub comes in handy. We headed off to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula on day 2 and this was a lovely place with magnificent views of massive mountains leaping from the sea and fishing villages scattered along the coast. We stayed at Grundarfjörður which is a lovely fishing village, and by chance, was celebrating an annual festival. The whole place was up and about and a lot of the kids were coloured blue, red, green or yellow. Louisa asked a girl in green why she was green and she appeared to have no idea. I suspect that was due to lingual misunderstanding.
When we walked around the village later, it became clearer. The village was divided into sections, each coloured blue, red, green and yellow. Some houses had gone to an extraordinary extent colouring their gardens and houses the colour of their area. Blue area was the best.
After four days of driving a left hand drive vehicle it is fair to say I have mastered it. I have taken to it a lot better than most other drivers though as they are forever coming at me on the wrong side of the road. It ain't that hard guy!
Off to walk a glacier tomorrow. Perhaps there is ice in this place.....