Well, we made it to Icleand! So far, so good!
The flight was great- saw the most amazing sunset of our lives, and then the most amazing sunrise- blood red skies over a desert of clouds. The man sitting next to us was an Iceland native who currently divides his time in Spain and California. A mathematician by trade, he shared a number of stories with us as well as a math lesson in how to figure out farenheit from celcius.
Flying in over Iceland was amazing- steam from hot springs mixed with the clouds and the land was empty and rugged for miles. There’s so much steam rising from the volcanic ground that the man who discovered Iceland called it “Smoke Land,” or Reykjavik.
My kiddo didn’t experience any of her usual airplane sickness- in fact, she was all smiles. When we landed she said: “I can’t believe I used to get sick. I think I was just scared. You’re right, mama- mind over matter!” Also, I felt nary an ounce of my usual fear of flying!
Once we were through customs (easy, peasy, just a smile and a stamp, 1,2, 3!), we took a bus from the airport to Reykjavik. We had purchased our tickets online from the States and printed up the ticket, which made the process very smooth. The bus let us off on the side of a strange, wide highway in the middle of what seemed to be nowhere. I asked the cutest Icelandic bus-driver-man I could find (swoon-worthy!) for directions to our street and he pointed to the highway. “That way,” he said, eyeballing our luggage with a cocky grin. “Bonne chance!” (For some reason he seemed to think we were French?)
The kiddo and I walked along the highway with our baggage on a concrete path that soon wound through a marshy bird-filled area (a nature reserve, or so it seemed from the Icelandic signs!). Occasionally a bike whizzed by us on the path. One guy nearly fell off his bike turning to get a glimpse of us as we meandered through the reserve with our luggage. Indeed, people driving by in cars laughed at us- apparently most people take a taxi from the buses to their accommodations?- even the police slowed down to point and laugh at us as they drove by. Living in a place like New York, where it’s easy to feel lost in the crowd, the kid and I aren’t accustomed to being on display! We laughed so hard at the novelty of it all that I thought I was going to pee my pants. Seriously. It might have been partly due to the jet lag, but ultimately I think it was the police who unleashed our laughter!
Eventually the highway narrowed and we found ourselves walking along lovely apartments. Beautiful wooden doorways, colorful painted exteriors, all placed neatly along the cleanest little streets imaginable. Finally, we found ourselves in front of where we’re staying, a beautiful place next to the sea…
Our AirBnB host, Halla (pronounced “Hat-la”), greeted us at the door and gave us the tour of her beautiful home. Beyond a set of double doors, a balcony overlooks both the city and the water. Our room is amazing- an attic oasis filled with skylights, an uber-comfortable nest of a bed, and oddities/trinkets picked up from Halla’s travels around the world.
Halla had smoothies ready for us and also treated us to salmon, Icelandic yogurt and muesli. She gave us a map of the city and took a lot of time telling us some of her favorite Reykjavikian haunts, including one of the many neighborhood salt water swimming pools/spas where she had learned to swim when she was a little girl.
Halla then asked my little girl if she’d like a free massage/healing before settling down for a nap. Oh yeah- did I mention that our host is a massage therapist and a tour guide? She works as a healer all over the world- she recently came back from Thailand and India, where she worked with many children. Anyway, my kiddo jumped at the chance, and climbed onto Halla’s massage table where she received a massage “to make her nap ready.” It must have worked, because my girl is still sleeping like a baby!
After my girl wakes I think we’ll head to the salt water pool, then take a long walk around Reykjavik. If we’re up for it, I think we’ll walk to the local light house overlooking the Atlantic. Apparently there is a hot spring outside the light house where visitors can rest and soak their feet. Sounds good to me! We’ll then stop at the grocery store and head back to the apartment. Halla told us she’d bring us a treat to try this evening… ROTTEN SHARK!! She called it “an acquired taste.” Anevay bravely said she’d try a bite. Halla laughed and said a taste would probably be all she’d need, but that then she’s be able to say she had tried it.
At this time of year, we won’t see the Northern Lights, but we will get to experience the “Midnight Sun,” as the country is bathed in a lovely soft grey light 24 hours a day. I think we’ll nap, explore, nap, explore, taking advantage of the fact that we won’t be missing anything if we catch up on sleep during the day. What a nice way to get accustomed to the time change!
Tomorrow we’ll hit up the Blue Lagoon in the morning. This is a very “touristic” (as Halla says) spot where one can enjoy a spa, steaming hot water and white silica mud. Halla told us she remembers going there as a girl before it was developed and turned into a tourist area. Should be interesting!
After the Blue Lagoon, we’ll head out with Halla, another Icelandic woman, and a woman from Norway. We’ll drive out into the rugged/open wilderness of Iceland to explore some caves (as I said, Halla is a tour guide, so she has all the equipment/helmets we’ll need) and visit an area filled with geothermal hot springs. Bathing in hot springs in the middle of nowhere? Yes!! It should be an adventure!
Anyway, more later… I think the rotten shark might deserve its own post!