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The 2018 Iceland Report: Part Last

The exciting (or at least the inevitable) conclusion of Part One and Part Two of Icelandic awesomeness....

Day Six: Ekra Cottage/ Lagarfljótsvirkjun to Höfn

This day was all about epic scenery. Kilometer after kilometer of stunning beauty. The ever-shifting sweeping views afforded us herds of wild reindeer, giant snowy fjords, a mossy valley, snow blowing across the road like dry ice, lava rock, waterfalls. It was a total feast.
Frosty field

Follow the yellow stick road

All driving photos and video courtesy of Dan: I was busy driving and ogling 

A herd of wild reindeer!

Our halfway point was Djúpivogur which houses a collection of giant roadside marble eggs, each one fashioned after a particular type of bird's egg.

We arrived in Höfn and checked out the harbor and the free museum (a welcome respite from the windy harbor) before checking into our guesthouse. Which we had all to ourselves. We made one last meal of fusilli and bell pepper (fusilli meal #4 for the trip for those keeping track - I'll be taking a good long break from fusilli now) and read. I found a left-behind copy of The Silence of the Sea by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and adopted it. This grisly and yet light-hearted page-turner was perfect for the end of the trip and the flight home.

We got to see even more northern lights that night! (if you're rolling your eyes by this point because these posts seem like one giant braggy list, I feel you. But that's just Iceland: it will overwhelm you with amazingness).

Day Seven: Höfn to Reykjavík

The next morning we had a strong cup of coffee while dining in the guesthouse kitchen (complete with heated floors! why can't there be more heated floors in San Francisco?!) and then departed for the tiny airport to board a tiny plane. Our fifty-minute flight let us take in good views of part of the massive glacier that exists there (I said a little prayer for it's long-lasting permanence).

The blue to the left is part of the glacier

We descended oReykjavík for our final 24 hours in Iceland, checked into our fabulously posh hotel (bonus of travel in midwinter: prices are a quarter of what they are in summer) and set out. As much as I had grown to deeply appreciate our rental car (a Skoda Octavia, something we don't even have here in the States) I was thrilled to be free from driving and employ my well-developed walking-about-town skills. 

We brunched at Cafe Paris and then headed to what might be my very favorite part of Reykjavík: Tjörnin pond. This giant pond is mostly frozen in the winter, but part of is always kept thawed by geothermal heat so that the birds have a spot for swimming. It exudes charm and the greylag geese and whooper swans that inhabit it are quite the welcome committee. 
The lake, in all its glory

The Puzzle - The view was captured from inside the tower
The Church tower
We hiked up to Hallgrímskirkja, or the church of Hallgrímur. This stately church houses a magnificent view from the tower - a view we knew well from a puzzle we were gifted at Christmas (thanks Bonnie!). The wind at the church is insane. If you happened a foot onto an icy patch you'd be blown sideways immediately. 
The view from inside the tower

We wandered through the shopping district and I was again reminded by how much more prolific the mid-winter tourism industry had become since my first visit five years ago. We had the most delicious dinner of our trip (mine had chickpea fritters and tons of veggies...which I know is not Icelandic but was seriously amazing and I enjoyed the leftovers for breakfast the next day). We wandered around in the rain some more afterward (not a super easy thing to do on their icy-sloshy sidewalks) and ended up at Stofan Cafe which housed knitters when I was there last, but now is home to many board games which several groups were busy playing. 

The 3D model of Iceland housed inside city hall, which abuts my favorite pond
This trip gave me soooooo much more context for the country beyond Reykjavik

We had a drink at our hotel bar before turning in and tried desperately to avoid getting pulled into conversation by the gaggle in the corner, one of whom was busy expounding upon how impressive Trump is. An enormous part of the charm of the trip was being in a place with a leader you can respect, ample social services, a lack of gun violence...the list goes on and on of the sharp contrast with our US reality. We knew we'd have to return to it eventually but that night we just drank our wine really fast and jetted from the bar to avoid it. 

Day Eight: Reykjavík to San Francisco

I woke at 7am since that's when the nearby church bells began tolling the hours for the day. Had multiple cups of Nespresso and then headed out to the "old harbor" area. This arty little district (there is so much good street art in Reykjavík) also houses the Eve Online monument. I'm not a player, but I do appreciate that it's practically one of Iceland's biggest exports. The monument has every single user's player name if they registered before March 2014. That equals hundreds of thousands of names. It's just a bit of ridiculous that fits the sensibility of the place perfectly. 

Players names in itty bitty tiny font along the base of the monument

Eve Online monument....if you know what it signifies let me know!

After a lot of careful ice-slush walking (amounting to a combo of ice skating and a constantly engaged core awaiting a spill) and exploring, we ended up finding a couple of cats hanging out in the main part of town. On my last visit I was particularly impressed with the hearty little felines I met and I'd been hoping to run into some this visit. One was very wisely camped out inside a store featuring reindeer tours - apparently he just lets himself in and hangs out. 

We finished our final hour in the city at the lake again. It was powerfully sunny by then and a whole pack of schoolchildren (first grade maybe?) were there to feed the birds, many of whom were the same height as the schoolchildren. It was an exceptionally charming way to end our visit. 

I have enjoyed living in this re-write of the trip and lingering over the photos again. It's fuel for my soul and my imagination. Hope it illuminated a little bit of all that is incredible about Iceland. I can't wait to return.  

Happy Christin in Iceland


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