Eyjafjallajökull…gesundheit!

3 10 2010

I’m really terrible at updating this. Iceland was in May. It’s now (as you’ve probably noticed) October. Sigh.

Oh well, plough through, push on, and all that.

Ahh, funny how a little old volcano in Iceland could wreak so much havoc on the European transport network!

Now imagine what would have happened if Katla, the neighbouring (and much larger) volcano had erupted. Well, you may not have to imagine for much longer! In the past 1000 years, every time Eyjafjallajökull has erupted, it has been followed closely by Katla. All this fuss about air travel suspensions could be dwarved by an interruption lasting several weeks if Katla erupts. Take THAT, Eyjafjallajökull! Yeah!

Perhaps I should be more concerned. After all, there has been talk that ash from Katla’s last major eruption (in 1918) was found in Norway and SCOTLAND. What’s that, Scotland? Where I live? Uh, yep.

Perhaps I should start stocking up on cans of food…

Hrm. Anyway.

Iceland is amazing. Cold, and amazing. It was wonderful to be back in Scandinavia – and, much as I loved New York (which I DID), was such a nice change from the United States/Canada, which we’d been in for 2 months prior.

The view from up here

Flying over 'the moon'

Originally we were scheduled to fly up to Akureyri for our first night, drink ourselves stupid (Akureyri is supposed to have excellent nightlife, but I guess we weren’t destined to find that out this time around), then head back to Reykjavik for the next 3-4 nights before flying out to Heathrow. Clearly, that didn’t happen. Our flight out from JFK was delayed by 5 hours or so (thank you volcano), which was just enough to guarantee we’d miss the connecting domestic flight. We did however have a very nice lady check us in, who upgraded us to Business class for free. Hurrah!

So we found ourselves in Reykjavik, with no accommodation booked. What to do? Why, we booked ourselves into the Hilton! Was lovely, very nice to get a super-comfortable bed to sleep in, especially after having spent weeks in (some very questionable) hostels. We used that time to acquaint ourselves with the city centre, which took…oh, about an hour. The main shopping area is one street, with about 20 shops on it (many of them restaurants and convenience stores). Still, a lovely place.

The next couple of days were spent horse riding on Icelandic horses (adorable creatures, and something I would recommend to everyone visiting Iceland), swimming in the Blue Lagoon (apparently something that the locals don’t do, due to the number of people that go there purely to have sex – we found this out AFTER we’d been swimming there. Still, it was incredible), and pestering the Icelandic barista champion, Palmar, to show us around (which he did, and brilliantly too I might add).

Palmar, champ that he is, took us on an excursion to Gulfoss and Geysir. Gulfoss is a stunning waterfall that, much like the rest of

Gulfoss

Gulfoss...yar, it be pretty

Iceland, remains unspoilt by the tourism industry. We were the only people there. Such a contrast to Niagara Falls!

Geysir is really something to behold as well. Never having seen an actual geyser (there isn’t a lot of geothermal activity in Australia), I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I definitely wasn’t expecting to escape being doused in boiling hot water by about 2 seconds. Generally you can time the eruptions pretty well – they happen about 10 minutes apart. Well, most of the time. We’d just committed ourselves to walking across the eruption site to get to the other side, when the bloody thing decided to chuck a hissy fit. So yeah, we ran.

Technically, we didn’t see ‘Geysir’ – the geyser after which all other geysers around the world are named. Geysir itself has been dormant for quite some time now. We saw it’s smaller brother, ‘Strokkur’, which is only slightly smaller than Old Faithful in Yosemite (or so I’m told). Still, it was pretty incredible.

On our last night in Reykjavik, we’d booked a tour to go and see the volcano erupting. Pretty incredible, hey? Well, at least it would have been if we’d actually been able to go. The weather foiled us, with its fog and rain. Apparently we wouldn’t have been able to see anything, so the tour was cancelled. Major bummer. So instead we went out for dinner, and spent the equivalent of a small country’s GDP on some pasta. To be fair, it was nice pasta.

I’ve decided that Iceland is a place to revisit at some stage in the not-too-distant future.

Stay tuned…

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