Iceland: June 29-30, 2014
Our flight from Belgrade arrived at Keflavik Airport in Reykjavik, Iceland, just before midnight. Fifty seven years earlier, this is where my father was based. When I was 3 and my brother 1-1/2, my father spent one year of our lives in Iceland with the USAF at the Keflavik NATO base. We were not with him. I remember seeing black and white photographs of him in his fatigues standing in the snow--such a young, handsome man.
Flying above the clouds, the sky was clear and sunny with a peachy glow like a sunrise or sunset. Once on the ground, the brightness dwindled to very gray. The land between the airport and Reykjavik, though hard to distinguish in the grayness, is a bumpy, crusty lunar surface.
The first day in Reykjavik, we just wandered the downtown area and took photos. The weather was overcast, but there was no rain while we were out.
We visited the ultra modern Lutheran Church, Hallgrimskirkja, built in the 1930s to mimic the columnar basalt found in the landscape. The interior is neo-gothic modern--very lovely. Alexander Stirling Calder (the father) sculpture of Leif Eriksson (a gift from the USA) stands in front of the church.
The flea market sold lovely speckled, blue eggs from guillemots, lots of dried fish, homemade breads and pastries, and sausages made from horse meat.
Iceland is a whaling country and one of their piers had whaling ships on one side and whale watching boats on the other. Away from the port, signs ask diners to not eat whale while restaurant signs show "Minke Whale with Cranberry Sauce" as an entree.
That night, we attended a comedy performance called "How to become Icelandic in 60 minutes." It was mostly funny. We found that there are about 320,000 inhabitants and 14 political parties in Iceland. After all the self-deprecating humor, the comedian showed slides of stunning Icelandic landscapes with blue skies and sun saying that "this is why Icelanders stay."
Then, we ate at an Italian restaurant that did not serve whale--or puffin--or horse.
The next day, we hit the road for our drive around the island--it sprinkled off and on.
While whales are not protected, fishermen are. At one lovely river, a sign requests that neither the fishermen or the river be disturbed. The riverbank was roped off to protect it from tourists.
In the 1000+ years since horses were brought to Iceland, an Icelandic breed has developed. They are sturdy beings suited for a wild climate. There are now about 80,000 horses on Iceland.
At the restaurant we stopped at for lunch, the young waiter told us that two years ago the temperature in July was as high as 20 C (68F) once.
We ate dinner at our hotel; Dan ate a horse--not the whole thing, just a horse steak--another tic mark on his bucket list of animals eaten.
The dark skies make dramatic photos, but it would be nice to see the sun.