Six full days, July 11-17.
This report won't be all unicorns and rainbows, because that's boring. Highlights included the Blue Lagoon. Our tickets were $53 each and we spent about 4 hours there. 2.5 hours in the pool, one hour hiking around the area, and about a half hour having a snack. We were uncertain about this excursion as many reviews suggested it was overpriced and over-hyped, but we had a blast. Had a couple of drinks, walked around the pool until we got cold and then jumped back in, like we were kids, not 60-years-old. The waterfall was an intense massage on the back and shoulder muscles and right next to the steam bath. We cycled through all of these things maybe three times and were as relaxed as one could possibly be, well, except for... you know. That was later.
The volcano hike is a hit-or-miss deal. On the day before we went it was so foggy nothing could be seen, and the day after we visited there was no eruption. We were lucky and saw the lava fountain from a hilltop a mile or two away, but nothing like a month or two ago when you could get much closer. That was a little bit of a bummer. We walked on top of the glacier-like lava flow and even peered down between the cracks to see molten lava and warm our hands a bit. The tour guide invited us to take a piece of the basaltic rock, so we did. I gave it to our neighbor kid who is really into science.
Stories about the Golden Ring have been beaten to death, but a highlight was visiting a horse farm where they also sold the lollapalooza (whatever) sweaters. Mary bought two for $300 total. That and the "secret" lagoon were highlights.
The Snaelfessness peninsula was surreal between the sunlight, fog, rain, and wind coming and going seemingly every five minutes. We visited Arctic Terns but they seemed annoyed by our presence as we eavesdropped on what appeared to be an important and noisy meeting in one of the isolated coves. It was their version of a Parliamentary debate.
We visited Reyjavik's Laugardalslaug pool three times after dinner, a perfect ending to the day. A walking tour with a political science major from the University of Iceland was worth the price of admission as he encouraged us to ask as many questions as we could think of. The tour guides for the above trips were also forthcoming with information.
IMO Ireland is still the "friendliest" country we have visited. No, I don't mean vacuous, empty smiling, but more like a hard to define warmth and congeniality. Iceland is #2 with a little more of the traditional Nordic reserved nature. Scotland is up for 2023 and I've heard that country will be a top contender. Oh, Liverpool would be a tie for #1. I write this as it was easy to strike up a random, brief conversation with the Irish and Liverpudlians, who are funny and witty with a nice side of tartness, like Emma.
Among the several Icelanders we spoke with, one of the main concerns was the potential loss of the Icelandic culture and language. I would despair to see that gradually fade away. Many of the immigrants, 60,000 or more, often don't learn to speak the language nor seem inclined on melting into the culture. I don't know. This is the one issue in which everyone I spoke with referenced in one way or another. Other than seeing a culture disappear it's not my business, but I found all of this interesting.
My record for being held up by security is unbroken! My wife said I'm tagged. Upon departure they inspected the contents of my carry-on--not sure why--and when leaving Iceland it was just a random check and additional questions. I'm not complaining here and greatly respect the security folks, but it is amusing to my hot wife, Mary.
The downside was the return trip when someone sitting nearby had horrible gas. I'm talking gas that wakes you up from a nap, so no sleep on the FULL return flight to Washington-Dulles. We nearly teared up a couple of times. Whew!
More later. Love and Peace--Mike