Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Night in a Museum

Well, the bags are packed, and the taxi to the Blue Lagoon arrives in a couple of hours.  Time to go home, but before we climb onto Katla or Hekla, a recap of our two+ days in Iceland is in order.

We arrived late Thursday.  The plane was delayed by four hours due to mechanical problems.  Pro Tip:  if you use electronics whilst waiting to board a plane, get an external charger.  The gate we were assigned to had fake charging stations, so those without the portable power were SOL.

Reykyavik is about 40km from Keflavik, where the airport is.  If your cab driver speaks English, this is a good opportunity for an impromptu history/geography/culture lesson.  Icelanders are very, very proud of their little island home and the culture they've built and they are all too happy to share it with you.  If you come, and you should because Iceland is a beautiful and interesting place, be ready to ask questions and get answers.  Everyone seems to be a font of information.

Friday, we had reserved for trinketing.  We had done almost no shopping in either Italy or France, so we needed to catch up.  After all, I have dog sitters to bribe.  We also devoted a fair part of the day to the excellent National Museum of Island (Icelandic for Iceland, I finally figured out.  Couldn't understand why everything was called Island this and Island that.  Duh.)  There, the history of Iceland is well documented, from it's volcanic origins to the arrival of Viking settlers, to Christianity, Norwegian and then Danish domination and into the 21st century.  It's very well organized and presented and we both learned a lot.  Then, Rob decided we needed to see the Saga Museum.  It's pretty much the same information, only presented as, at times, a comically gruesome wax museum.  After seeing all the vignettes, you can dress up as a Viking.  Needless to say, it was a hoot.

For Saturday, we had booked a Viator tour of the Golden Circle.  Waterfalls, geysers, and glaciers, oh, my.  Well, things didn't go quite as planned, Viator being a Trip Advisor company and all.  We arrived in the hotel lobby well before the appointed 10:30 pick-up time, and well after there still was no shuttle.  So, I called the local number and the gentleman asked a few questions and then went off on a small rant about Viator.  They contract with the local Grey Line company, and Viator's voucher says to be ready to be picked up at a specific time.  Grey Line wants you to be ready in a 45 minute window of that, but the voucher doesn't say that, so we'd missed two pick-ups.  We got onto a shorter afternoon tour and still had a fantastic time, rain, wind and all.  As the tour guide said, at one point:  "The wind has slowed to 70M/sec.  I think the weather is breaking."  Another Pro Tip:  If you're traveling to some place north (Reykjavik is the northernmost capitol on Earth), bring layers.  And a hat and gloves.  Nobody on our tour was unprepared, but I can imagine that not all tours are like that.

Now, about the museum that is our hotel.  Built in the '60's by a local entrepreneur, Hotel Holt holds the largest privately held art collection in Iceland.  These pieces are a sampling of what is in our room!
There are dozens of examples, most of which I quite liked.  Nearly everything, if not all, are by Icelandic artists.  The hotel is still owned by the family and it really has been a lovely place to stay.  It's within walking distance of all the main touristy things in town (and we should know.  We did 5.93 mi on Friday!)  The restaurant is fabulous and the service there was absolutely impeccable.  There's really no other place to eat dinner fairly late at night, but they're happy to feed you.  We got lucky Friday night as that was the night of the new menu and we both had reindeer with blueberry sauce.  Soo good!  It took us both back to days in Alaska and caribou on the plate, only better!

Fun fact:  Almost all of Iceland's hot water is supplied by geothermal.  And, when it comes out of the tap, it feels like it.  HOT!!

More of the days in photos:

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