Saturday, June 4, 2011

Honeymoon Day 2 – June 2 – Reykjavik, South Shore, and Golden Circle, Iceland

On the second day of the honeymoon, we got up at 6:30am – which is super early, except that our internal clocks were still way off anyway, and it was completely bright and day-time looking outside. We had breakfast in our now-favorite lounge (Jeff says the lounge is his favorite hotel space ever, because of the great view, quiet atmosphere, and, of course, the free food and drinks.)

At 8am, we met our tourguide downstairs for our 2-in-1 tour from Volcano Tours. The plan was to see the South Shore of Iceland and also the Golden Circle. We thought this would be perfect, because the Golden Circle is all of the really famous stuff that you can’t miss, but going to the South Shore would allow us to see things a bit more off the beaten track, even though we were only in Iceland for a short time. The tour was supposed to be with a small group in a small bus or jeep. We found out soon that it was actually a very small tour – just me and Jeff! So for the same price as a group bus trip, we were able to get a personal tour around Iceland!

The only catch is that our driver, who I think was honestly trying to be nice, was pretty creepy. He had kind of crazy hair and a lazy eye, which definitely shouldn’t lead to stereotypes about his personality, except that practically everything he said made me grate my teeth. Within the first hour of driving (it’s a ten hour tour), he had made a joke about domestic violence (a 70-year-old-man had recently been arrested for killing his wife, and Clint – the driver – joked that she had probably been nagging him for forty years.) He also talked about his recent divorce and told us (the newlyweds) that “sometimes people just grow apart.” His stories continued throughout the trip – about his friend getting bit on the tongue by his pet tarantula, about how new research had just come out proving that global warming wasn’t caused by humans (which he explained to us as we were touring a glacier and seeing the markers showing how much it had shrunk in the last 20 years), jokes about how Vikings killed people to steal their wives, and lots more I can’t (or don’t want to?) remember. Also, when either of us would fall asleep on the drive, when we’d woke up, he’d be like, ‘Oh, I saw you sleeping!’ which always made me feel like he was watching us sleep, which also seems creepy. I really do think he was trying to be friendly with all of his stories and jokes, but we were not on the same wavelength, so I tried to just stare out the window. Luckily, Jeff was less affected than I was, and he carried the conversation for basically the whole trip. Essentially, Jeff had no problem with the driver, so he just laughed at me (in a friendly way, of course) every time we'd walk on our own and I'd vent about my annoyance whatever Clint had said since the last stop.

The driver was not always bad – he sometimes did have interesting information to share about the landscape, Icelandic history, and things like that. Also, if he noticed me trying to get a picture of something out the window, he'd try to stop and pull over so that I could get out and get a good shot, which was really nice. And the one joke I did actually laugh about was about forests in Iceland. For some reason, Iceland doesn’t really have forests (they died off or got cut down), so they call any little group of trees a forest, and lots of them are young trees. So in Iceland, they have all these jokes that start:
If you get lost in a forest in Iceland…
…stand up. (Because you can see over the trees.)
…walk one meter in any direction.
And there were a few others. (Re-reading them, they don't seem that funny... maybe it was just in comparison to all of the other jokes that I thought they were funny?)

Anyway, driving around in Iceland is fun – the scenery changes all the time – sharp cliffs, mossy lava fields, black sands, mountains. It often looks like you’re on another world.

On the South Shore, we stopped and saw big waterfalls coming over sharp cliffs, we walked on a glacier (so cool!), saw some old fashioned Icelandic housing (made out of lava stone and grass, since there is no wood in Iceland – now houses are made of concrete), and took a little stroll on a black sand beach. While on the beach, we saw a seal in the water, which was also really cool!

We had lunch at a little Icelandic fast food grill – burgers and fries. It was not bad. Apparently Icelandic people really like fast food, but, when McDonalds and Burger King came to Iceland they did really poorly, and it’s apparently the only country where McDonalds has gone out of business. Now there are no McDonalds’ in Iceland!

The second half of the day we saw the Golden Circle, which is probably the most famous sites in Iceland. We saw a bunch of geysers, including “Geysir,” the one that every other geyser in the world is named after! It was the first time I’ve ever seen a geyser erupt – very cool!

We saw the most famous, two-tiered water fall, and got lucky, because a rainbow appeared while we were standing there.

Our last stop was at the location of Iceland’s historic parliament, which also happens to be the place where two tectonic plates are moving away from each other (at a rate of 2cm per year).

Everything was really beautiful! Usually, I would learn the names of the different places we went to, but it’s really tough to do in Icelandic!

The tour was over by about 5pm. Jeff and I were tired, so we decided to go to the lounge for snacks and drinks and to relax and collect our thoughts. After that, we decided to have a quiet night in. Jeff ran to a nearby store and got “Icelandic Chipotle,” which was not particularly good. But it was a nice relaxing end to a full day of sight-seeing!

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