You know how on Gilligan’s Island for the first season the theme song went “…with Gilligan, the Skipper too, the Millionaire and his wife, the movie star and the rest…” the rest, like the two other people, which is SO MUCH MORE than the five we’ve already named so now it’s just THE REST. Eventually they changed it to “the Professor and Maryann.” But it still bugs me that it started off as the rest. Were there plans for others? Were there others on the ship that just didn’t make it? Or were they planning on killing off the Professor and Maryann?
Andrew and I went to Husavik to go whale watching and as he was buying tickets the lady at the counter attempted to warn us off from purchasing them or from getting on the boat. “This isn’t a good day. The swells are already 2 meters and it’s only going to get worse. People are having sea sickness and it’s foggy so you can’t see the horizon which only makes it worse”. It was like the part in a scary movie where people are moving into the house and the house says, “GET OUT” and the people are like – oh, that’s probably not even a thing…
I did go and buy some liquid sea sickness tincture at the apothecary which Andrew and I each took. When we got to the boat the woman who would be our guide warned us not to get on because the swells were 2 meters and there was fog and sea sickness. We got on. Already we were bundled up, but then we put on the coveralls and rain jackets that were provided with the tour. I asked Andrew about how long the trip was. “It’s a three hour tour.” A THREE HOUR TOUR!!!
I decided right there and then that I was going to be the Movie Star in Gilligan’s Iceland, because I was certainly not going to be anyone’s wife, and I did not want to be “and the rest”. Andrew opted for the Millionaire, so I started scoping the boat for a good selection for his wife and away we sailed (after a thorough search with the only candidate being a possibly single woman with the brattiest girl in the world as her daughter, we decided he’d make a better the Professor).
About an hour into the tour the guide got super excited because a bird flew by. It was The Last Puffin (which is the working title of a kid’s book I’m writing – or possibly an anti-smoking pamphlet). Puffins migrate at the end of summer and generally all at once. They left Iceland a week before we showed up and this one had not gotten the memo.
Maybe another 20 minutes in and the guide stated with glee, “Over at 10 o’clock. Over at 10 o’clock!” We’d been taught to think of the boat as a clock with the bow being 12 o’clock and the stern 6 o’clock and all the other numbers approximated between. I was already situated at 9 o’clock and didn’t have to move. But a lot of my shipmates did have to lurch over to my side of the ship. And then I saw it. A fellow traveler at 10 o’clock hurling over the side. I also saw the whale that was being pointed out, but the vomiting was a bit of a distraction. My sister used to be an EMT and my mother was a nurse and they always said that everyone has their bodily fluid that they cannot handle – for some it’s blood, others it poo, for me it’s vomit. It’s disgusting and even talking about it makes me reach for the sea sickness tincture. But there’s this man right in front of me on the ship not really thinking about anything other than “maybe I should have said no to the lox for breakfast.”
Ultimately, he and about half the boat went to the back of the ship (where it’s relatively calmer) as the seas got crazier and the whale watching more intense. We saw humpback whales, two of them, swimming and eating and diving right with each other. This is relatively uncommon as the humpbacks are usually solitary. They would dive for about 8 minutes then come up and breathe a few times before diving again. It was pretty cool. Then, just as I started getting too cold and tired for it all we started heading back and were served hot chocolate (to those who could stomach it). We got back to the dock, peeled off our clothes and went to find some hot food. I was relieved the three hour tour was only three hours and not three seasons.
Whale watching was surprisingly exhausting.
The next day we drove around the Northern Iceland area. There are crater-like mounds that were created by hot lava hitting land that had cold water in it.
These crater-mounds surround a lake. The scenery is gorgeous and my camera is not doing it justice.
There was lots of horses and some more sheep.
Then after touring around we found our second hot springs. This one too was man made and more of a warm springs. That didn’t deter us from spending about an hour and a half in the water. We went home ready for napping.
We stopped by the grocery for some food. Surprisingly, for a Scandanavian country, they still had carts that were Andrew sized. Apparently, Andrew is the approximate size of an average Icelandic toddler.
After a light nap and some dinner we went out on the town. As we were about to leave the bar I learned they were having pub quiz in only 30 minutes. I sat back down and told Andrew we were staying. Over the next half hour every human between the age of 16 and 25 in town was in the pub. Andrew and I were the oldest people in the bar. It got so full I decided the excitement of Icelandic trivia was outweighed by the quiet and peace of the house we were staying in and the promise of more knitting. Well, this is not my 40th birthday present for nothing, it was time for my Metamucil.
The next day we drove back to Reykjavik.
During all of our driving and for some time each evening, I was knitting the sweater pattern that I had picked up in Alafoss on our way up to Akureyri. By Friday night I had joined the sleeves to the body and only had the decolletage and neck left to knit.
Saturday we wandered the streets of Reykjavic. Andrew guided us through research he’d done on the Interwebs and a snarky guidebook he’d found in the AirBnB that had commentary in it such as – if you are injured by someone in Iceland here are emergency things you might need, and also, consider your life choices and what got you into a fight in the first place. Before we left for our walkabout Andrew commented on my clothing choices out of concern for my warmth. I commented on his conversation choices out of concern for my independence. We left the house in good spirits and teased each other every time we had to remove or add a layer of clothing. Overall, though, the weather was lovely and despite his posts to the contrary, I packed and dressed exactly right during our time here. Our walk through Reykjavic was scenic and included the infamous Icelandic hot dog which tasted like a hot dog with bonus lamb meat. I had about 2/3s of one, Andrew had about 2/3 of a lamb.
The mountains in the background had rolling clouds on them adding amazing drama to the picturesque European buildings.
Icelanders are into their bathing. Not just hot springs but also pools. Our first night in Akureyri our landlord invited us to the pool with him – which at the time I thought was a bit weird. During our drives I was doing a lot of scenery watching and knitting so it was a while before I noticed that not only were there highway signs for gas, food, and lodging, but also signs for swimming pools.
Also seen here are signs for music, Animal husbandry, and emailing.
By the time we got back to Rejkyavic I realized what a culture of bathing it was and was ready to experience it. The pool in Reykjavic is huge. It is out doors and has a lap pool, a children’s lap pool, and a variety of hot tubs ranging in temperature and salinity. After testing out several, Andrew and I dozed lightly in the 38 (Celsius) degree saltwater offering with about 20 other people. I played a game of “American?” and in my head was basically singing the Madeline Kahn song in History of the World Part I, “Yes, no, no, no, no, no, no. Yes, no…”
That evening we went home and I put the finishing touches on my Icelandic Lopi sweater.
I knit this in five days. Some days I had more time to spend on it than others. I would guess that total knitting time was 20 – 25 hours.
And this is what I did in Iceland instead of blogging.
Sunday we drove the Golden Circle – again, self-guided. Some of the tours were 15 hours long and that sounded like an awfully long time to put up with people we don’t know when one of us is an introvert and the other one of us hates people (and one of us likes hot chocolate but only when one of us orders it for the other one of us and never has one of us order it for one of us selves – read Andrew’s FB photo-blog if you want to [kind of] understand this).
We got to the park where the tectonic plates are literally pulling apart from each other and there was not really that much to look at. I mean, the scenery was magnificent, but that’s par for the course around here. Apparently there is some interesting scuba diving available here, but the most interesting thing for us about scuba is Andrew’s
fear trepidation anxiety concern worry aversion to getting his face in the water. We hopped back into the car and headed to Gullfoss (gold falls).
I grew up in Niagara Falls and every weekend I would walk from my house to the falls and wander around Goat Island (sadly, there are no Goats on Goat Island). I was not expecting to be as awed by Gullfoss as I was (sadly, there is no gold at gold falls). They were mesmerizing and astonishing and breathtaking. We hiked all the way down to them and just sat for a bit.
Our next stop was Geysir (pronounced Kay-sir in Iceland, Gai-zer in America, and Gi-zer in retirement homes and England). Geysir is the original geyser that all other geysers take their name from. It is basically an occasionally spewing hot spring (insert your geyser spewing joke here) and has been active for 10,000 years (insert your geezer spewing joke here).
No jaunt around Iceland would be complete without a hot springs dip so off we went to Secret Lagoon. This hot spring, in Fludir, was probably the most natural we have bathed in. The water temperature was slightly more variable, there were fewer tourists and it seemed most of them were brought by an Icelander. Andrew is a great tour guide. I drove us home – having no knitting left to do. Andrew napped – having more than a half hour in a moving vehicle.
We had a nice dinner at Resto, a seafood restaurant about 3 minutes from our lodgings. Andrew turned his nose up at my fish soup because it smelled like fish. I questioned his taking me to a fish restaurant, and his upbringing in Alaska. Then we relaxed at home for a bit before taking a night stroll on the water.
Today is our last day here. Andrew worked out at CrossFit Reykjavic and now we are in a coffee shop relaxing, and one of us is catching up on blogging while the other one of us is drinking hot chocolate that one of us bought for the other one of us and now that one of us is done blogging one of us wants to go to the pool so that one or both of us can get our soak on.
Then we will find some dinner, pack up, and in the morning say bless (Icelandic for goodbye) to a lovely island.
Tomorrow we have a 7 hour layover in New York. I would like to reiterate my idea of airport karaoke to any enterprising entrepreneurs out there.