Thursday, October 11, 2007

So, where were we?

Ah yes, Iceland. How could I forget.

Internet access is surprisingly good, even in the remotest corners of this land, so failure to report back more often is entirely down to me. Sorry.

We were last seen lamenting the rain that moved in to blight our last holiday in a long while, the Horse Doctor and I. Since then things have looked up a little, though not before also looking down.

On Wednesday, we picked up a hire car - a little silver Toyota Yaris with no wheel covers - and headed out of Reykjavik in search of the Golden Circle. This is the major tourist route, featuring the ancient parliament site at Thingvellir, the original geyser at Geysir and the majestic waterfalls at Gulfoss. If you look on a map you can see that far from circular, a trip to all three is in fact a straight line. Go figure.

We drove through rain all the way to Geysir, where the big old daddy no longer blows his top except for visiting dignitaries, and even then only with the aid of around forty kilos of soap powder. There is a smaller gusher, however, which goes off at a more acceptable two minute interval. I'd post a little movie, but I've no way of shrinking the video file right now, and don't fancy waiting for a slow connection to upload twenty-seven meg. So you'll just have to wait.

Gulfoss is pretty much a big waterfall, with all the superlatives and stuff that go with it. Given the rain, it was in particularly good form. But the viewing area was downwind, which made photography hazardous.

wet it was, and windy at Gulfoss that day

From Gulfoss we took a circuitous route back to Thingvellir, going by Skalholt to look at the church. Like most churches in Iceland, it's most striking in its lack of features - they go in for very stark, memorable design but not much in the way of embellishment. Something to do with Luther, I believe. Rain punctuated our journey all the way, but eased off when we finally made it to the site of the Althing or parliament, so we stopped and had a wander around until it started to get dark.

Only then did I realise that the journey to our hotel in Reykholt involved the notorious Icelandic gravel roads. These are more pothole than gravel, and explain why the hire car had no wheel covers - they'd only have come off after a mile or so.

Still, we made it safely to Reykholt and our hotel, unlike the poor fellows in a big four by four who, having punctured a tyre, then discovered that the wheel brace they had for changing it didn't fit over the wheel nuts. That's good planning that is.

The next day, today as it is, dawned bright, cold and clear. And then we discovered the downside of a nation that relies on geothermal sources for all its hot water. Showering this morning was a bit like bathing in egg sandwich mix - brimstone and sulphur reek. I suppose on the plus side, nobody ever accuses you of farting in public - it's always the drains. Or even the taps.

We spent the day driving around gawping at the scenery and stopping to get closer to it from time to time, more of which I will post when I've had time to gather my thoughts. This is just a teaser, you lucky people.

And now we are in Stykkisholmur on the Snaefellsnes Peninsular. Tomorrow we head as far west as it is possible to go, to Snaefellsjokul and the place where Jules Verne began his journey to the centre of the earth. If we appear in a few days on Stromboli, then you'll know what's happened.

furry chums

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