Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Two For One

You guys get a two-for-one today. I’m going to be writing about yesterday’s trip to the South Shore and our final day in Reykjavik, which we spent horseback riding and wandering around downtown. I’m going to bullet-point it out for all of you, because I’ve got some packing and sleeping to do in order to be ready for tomorrow’s flight to Copenhagen. Let’s get to it:

  • ·      The South Shore is the most volcanic area in Iceland.
  • ·      That famous volcano that erupted in 2010- that you probably can’t pronounce- is located here: Eyjafallajökull.
  • ·      We actually got to watch a documentary across the street from the volcano about the family whose farm sits at the base- pretty cool!
  • ·      Mount Hekla is another of Iceland’s large volcanoes, and when we use the phrase “what the heck?” it actually comes from this volcano. Hekla means “hell’s mouth.”
  • ·      There are 32 letters in the Icelandic alphabet, and Iceland is one of the only countries where there are no regional accents. No matter where you are in the country everyone sounds the same.
  • ·      In 2008, after the Icelandic economy collapsed, it was discovered that the Icelandic bigwigs in banking and government had funneled billions of dollars into hidden bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. Much of that money belonged to British investors. So, when the collapse occurred and Britain couldn’t get their money back, they labeled Iceland a terrorist state. This was the only legal way to freeze any Icelandic assets in Britain.
  • ·      Before the bank collapse, Iceland was the richest country, per capita, in the world. This money was the result of the fish industry. Now that the economy is recovering from the collapse, it looks like energy will be Iceland’s most viable asset. They produce five times the energy they need, and this energy is the cheapest in the world (geothermal and hydroelectric). It’s estimated that Iceland has only tapped into 5% of their energy making potential.
  • ·      The weather in Iceland is so unpredictable due to the glaciers and ice caps- they create their own microclimates.

Lots of random facts, which is actually what I really loved about the Iceland Horizon tours. David talked pretty much the whole drive and would point out interesting facts about the places we passed. During our South Shore tour we got to walk behind a huge volcano- awesome and really, really cold and wet; see three of Iceland’s most infamous volcanoes: Eyjafallajökull, Hekkla, and Katla; explore the coastal village of Vík; walk on black sand beaches; touch a glacier; and marvel at some of the old turf houses. The only thing we could’ve asked for was better weather. It pretty much rained and blew gusts of wind the whole day, and I’m not talking about South Georgia rain and wind, I’m talking biting, piercing, freezing rain, and near hurricane-level wind gusts. All part of the adventure, I suppose!

Turf House

Really, I can’t complain- Iceland has outdone itself in the weather department- other than yesterday. We’ve had weather mostly in the high forties and even low fifties, and it hasn’t rained every day, like I expected. I didn’t even look at the weather before we went on our horseback ride this morning, for fear that I would see 100% chance of rain and 40 degrees- instead we had no wind, no clouds, and a sunny 52, which I’ve been informed is Icelandic “summer” weather. Today was the best. Our horseback ride was even better than I could’ve imagined! We had a fabulous tour guide, and the whole ride took place in a lava field- come on! My horse was pretty amazing, and we spent most of the ride tölting, which you’ll remember is a gait that only the Icelandic horse has. Basically, I’ve decided that I need one of these horses!

Sorry to keep this post so short. It already makes me a little sad to think about all the amazing things we’ve done while in Iceland, and the fact that we have to leave tomorrow. I know I’ve still got quite a few countries to explore, but it’s true what they say about Iceland stealing a piece of your heart. I’ll most definitely be back.


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