Iceland

[Glacial Pace, Day 2 – Reykjavik, Iceland]

December 4, 2012

“Blame it on the Elves”

Saturday was the only day we slept in a bit so we got back on track and met the group downstairs for our trek to the Sólheimajökull glacier. Our tour guide Margaret met us downstairs and we settled into the bus. My fifteen layers and no wifi later… we were off!

The drive over

Our new friends took a quick pic of us on my less stellar camera

 

Anyhow, as we wait awesome post pictures, here is a bullet list of all the best things we learned from Margaret. I should also mention that Margaret had a dry, hilarious sense of humor and basically told us everything that a tour guide would not have about Iceland:

Best Fun Facts by Margaret:

1) Icelandic men used to really love Range Rovers but post crash people there call them “Game Overs”

2) There are technically 40 Santas (evil santas) and 13 days of Christmas in Iceland where the evil Santas try and redeem themselves with little gifts each day leading up to Christmas. There is a Santa with wooden legs, a sausage stealer, a window peeper, a “midget” as Margaret like to say and many others. If you are bad – you get a potato AND if you lie to your mom about getting that potato, you’ll get another one the next day.

3) The president and mayor are in the phone book if you want to go have coffee with them

4) The mayor was elected as a joke shortly after the crash despite his promises of free towels for old people at the pools and he’s doing a fine job.

I really did narrow this down to quite a few good fun facts, others involve superstitions about elves and such.

Moving on!

We stopped for lunch and sized our crampons before heading up to the glacier

And we took some pictures while we waited

 

Finally we made it to the mountain, past several (as you may remember) notable volcanoes. All of them are being monitored, some give short notice and some much more.

Gearing up for a hike

Getting our cramp-on

Setting some ground rules

 

Our guide was a serious mountain man – he pointed out people like the ones ice climbing above and said that this was boring. Real men climb frozen waterfalls.

Getting colder

Even colder…

So we stopped to take a picture

Watched our mountain man guide do things

.

It was interesting seeing just how fast the glaciers were actually melting. The parking lot we were in, back in 2005 was where the glacier once reached. In case you’re wondering what all the black is – its ash from the volcanoes. Too little and it absorbs the sun, causing the ice to melt and huge piles can insulate the ice and create small ice mountains.

According to our guide the fun treks for him are hiking glaciers that take around 10 days to cross. Would be very sad to see all these go. The glacier we were hiking on by the way was an outlet glacier, an offshoot of Mýrdalsjökull, the fourth largest glacier in Iceland.

Hiking on

 

Notice the blue ice above, was really something special

Near the top!

I insisted no taking our tour guide up on this offer even though the rest of our tour thought this was dangerous. They missed out.

Kait was serious about the ice pick

It was getting really dark so everything was a bit grainy

 

We were pretty tired by then and rolled back into the bus. Unfortunately it was pitch black and maybe 5 o’clock so the waterfalls were more of a “feel the power of nature” type experience. We stopped by a volcano museum started by some of the farmers who were affected by the 2009 volcano eruption that stopped air traffic for several days.

Inside the gift shop before our short doc

More info, ash and such

 

Ash is incredible in its cleaning abilities and fertilizing ones. The farmers who had to recover from the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull (yea I know…) would plant carrots and grow them in the ashes alone.

Soap wrapped in wool – exfoliating and wonderful

 

After this we stopped by Hotel Anna – which by all accounts seemed to be a restaurant and not a hotel. We stopped there for some traditional Icelandic lamb soup and Skyr with berries for dessert.

Getting ready for some soup

So cozy

Delicious, we did end up getting some more food later

Skyr – pronounced Scarce or Skierrrs

 

We stopped by one more waterfall but it was very dark. I snapped this last picture…. until tomorrow!

Um, maybe 8 pm

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