Iceland – the after action report

Iceland: The after action report.

We flew home and tipped our body/sleep acclimation fully over for the second time in a week. I fully embrace that I am a delicate flower and such jagged transitions mess me up for quite a while. 4 days after returning and I am starting to see straight and walk fully upright. My verbal and emotional filters were compromised while I was recovering, so I’ve had to deliver more than my normal number of apologies this week.

Our brains expanded as a result of the trip. My dreams have been filled with black sand beaches, steep sweeping mountains and blue black seas. I’m not sure how the change will find its way into my life but I can feel it. Travel always does that.

The children were happy when we came back. Alan and Delores and Jami and Matt kept them occupied, fed and entertained while we were gone. Knowing the kids are taken care of by loving people makes our time away free from worry – which is huge. Thanks guys!

What was the price tag? Iceland is an expensive place to visit. The flights were cheapish- $420 round trip. The car rentals were brutal. Typically we rent a roller skate for $22ish a day. In Iceland that same roller skate was $65 per day. Lodging was on the cheaper side – decent VRBO apartment in a good location – $70-120 per night. There were cheaper places available.

Food on the other hand was brutal and kind of value random. A hotdog – $2. Bottle of pop- $6. Pub style hamburger – $27. Pint of beer $8-12. Glass of wine – $12. Extravagant seafood meal at mom and pop restaurant – $40. We figured it out too late to take advantage of the knowledge but the pattern was that locally produced food was way cheaper. Imported foods were brutally expensive. We could have done better with our budget and still eaten well if we had figured this out sooner.

All of the ‘attractions’ were very inexpensive or free. The Iceland tourism machine gave visitors a lot of tour and transportation options which didn’t seem terribly outrageous. $40-400 per day per outing depending on how grand of an experience you were selecting and how far or rugged you wanted.

Souvenirs were pretty steeply priced even at the duty free store at the airport, which was probably one of the grandest and most expansive duty free stores I’ve ever seen.

One other interesting thing about money was that Iceland, even in the most remote locations, is essentially a cashless society. The culture of the card is super prevalent. We never handled cash or had to deal with currency exchange the entire time we were there.

Kaety and I play a lot of travel games with travel card benefits, miles points and chain memberships and we weren’t able to utilize any of our discounts or cost reducing benefits in Iceland except for simple dollars for points on our credit card. The big hotel chains don’t really have big footprints in Iceland…yet.

Iceland – The church and last day

We spent our last morning wandering Reykjavik, shopping, seeing the sights and gawking at other people doing the same thing. We went to the church, looked around, remarked at its impressive and austere nature, and then took the elevator to the top to check out the city view. We had different experiences at the top. I saw pretty roof-tops and a dark dramatic sky line. Kaety smelled urine. When there’s that much perceptual space between us it’s always a signal that eating should happened soon.

We ate at a dark, romantic stone building that was so cool everyone stopped on the street just outside the window next to our table and took a picture of it. I got a kick out of watching them suddenly notice the place, dig out their cameras and then act like people who wear bi-focals as the tipped their heads back to peer into their tiny view screen.

We swam at the edges of big walking tour groups and dodged our way to various city spectacles.

We said goodbye to Iceland and headed for the airport. We fly back in time so we will get to Portland an hour after our flight from Reykjavik left except with a 7-hour full body hangover.

Iceland – the shower

I came to understand this as the kobayashi maru shower. The two sliding doors had to be closed after you slithered through the super tiny opening. You couldn’t turn the water on first or it would shoot out the door. If you waited until you got in you wouldn’t know what temperature the water was going to be when you turned it on. If you did make a terrible mistake once you were in, the walls were so close that you couldn’t raise your arms to fend off the problem.

Iceland – the double comforters

We’ve run across these elsewhere in Europe and they baffle me. Instead of a double bed comforter, you are provided to single sized comforters.

Is this the European version of the posturpedic mattress? “She likes a firmness if 5 and he likes a 2!”

As the night progresses the crack in the middle, which had been carefully overlaid upon getting into bed, has gapped open letting in a steady stream of cold air. And of course the only way to deal with this in the middle of the night is to start kicking randomly until the cold air stops. With two twin comforters the kickings always goes badly. Everything is in a wad on the floor in a quick minute.

It all baffles me. The only thing I can assume is that we are doing it wrong.



Iceland – Geothermal valley

We passed through an amazing valley with dozens of steam plumes lining the sky. The slight odor of sulfur was in the air. Several big vents marked the sites of big geothermal plants making electricity. We drove for miles through the valley which was essentially a lava field, passing vent after vent. At one point we saw sheep farms with bubbling pools in the fields, the sheep grazing nearby. We found ourselves laughing as both of dredged up one of the kid’s favorite books, “Oh no sheep sunk. Sheep sunk in boiling mud. Sheep can’t go. Sheep need help. Sheep need their crashed jeep operational!”

Iceland – The South Coast

We headed out along the southern coast route today to see various waterfalls and the black-sand beach.

In the Westfjords we’d gotten used to a landscape that changed every 5 minutes. Along the south coast route the landscape was more of a long game. Big sweeping hills with peaks of glaciated mountains in the distance slowly resolved into deep chasms, high cliffs, and tall waterfalls.

We spotted a huge waterfall off in the distance and turned off to see it. We were shocked to see that 200 other people were there also. We were completely offended that these other people were using our Iceland – in the Westfjords no one was using our Iceland.

The water fall was spectacular, but as Allison Walkingshaw had forecasted, Iceland pretty much spoils you for waterfalls. During our drive and after the 432nd waterfall sighting Kaety sighed and said, “You know…its just water falling off a cliff…”. I looked at her and laughed. Yep, we’d gotten spoiled.

After a 2 hour drive we turned off to Reynisfjara, aka, the Black-Sand-beach, aka, the place where John Snow found the dragon glass mine.

The geology was amazing! Twisted basalt, back sand, and signs of the crust flipping in its edge.