Tak (Thank You) Iceland!

Film

Having just travelled halfway up the world in a matter of days, going from ziplining through volcanic rainforests (hooked into 700 feet of vertigo-inducing line by a bored, disinterested local kid on his mobile) to glacier hiking in the land of the Vikings, I’m ready for a nice cup of tea and a sit-down.

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First, a massive thank-you to my new Icelandic friends Anelise, Ausi and Bjork (with apologies for any misspellings) for making us feel so at home, and to Roger and Izabella for being such fun.

Iceland is the most literate country in the world, with an almost 100 per cent literacy rate. Its capital Reykjavik is elegant and clean-lined, its days (at this time of the year) low-lit and short, but with seemingly endless dawns and dusks in bue-grey and amber tone-poems of cloud. I can highly recommend hip hotel Reykjavik 101 as the place to stay and chill.

After visiting geysers and dissolved in the Blue Lagoon, we tackled two bigger challenges. The first was the glacier-hike, where I managed o drop my mobile down a crevasse and also slide down an ice sheet on my face after my crampons failed – exhilarating, thrilling stuff, although it took my clothes two days to dry out and I had to throw my boots away and buy a new phone.

Second challenge – traditional Icelandic food (vegetarians look away now), from whalemeat to puffin and the scariest – rotten shark, which smells and tastes of very strong ammonia (although I have to admit I gradually started to like it).This is washed down with a strong black liquor that tastes of salt, licorice and eau de vie. I had to throw away my toothbrush head as the smell lingered for days.

The architecture is less obviously Nordic, with some wonderfully graceful houses and some of the best public sculpture I’ve ever seen. Best of all, Reykjavik itself has an oddly homely, welcoming aura, with soft lights in most windows and natural tones of rock and wood complementing the buildings.

It was also the time of the White Nights, when all museums and cultural areas stay open through the night. As the nation has only just over 300,000 residents, everyone seems to know each other and they all want to know you. Reykjavik is also home to some of the coolest bars in the world. Take a bow, Viking-descendents, you rock!

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10 comments on “Tak (Thank You) Iceland!”

  1. Roger says:

    Good fun, friends and food (well some good food)

  2. Dan Terrell says:

    That sounds like a great trip. Neater than one might think. Sorry about the face plant (although you look unharmed above) and about the lost mobile, but think: when they find your mobile in 5,000 years you won’t be there holding it. Unlike What’s his name of the Alps and his bow.
    Glad you’re back. More pictures, if you will.

  3. BangBang!! says:

    You tried the puffin! And?!

  4. Helen Martin says:

    Right, the puffin? I was betting it would not be good because they’re fish eaters. And in that awesome snow/ice picture there is an odd shape directly below the larger group of hikers. It is very white and protrudes slightly from the wall of the huge alcove it’s in. Is it just ice or something else? That zip line looks fascinating but I think I’d prefer the the suspended walkways up in the canopies that they have some places – even in our botanical garden. How was the Blue Lagoon?

  5. Steve says:

    Not nearly as adventurous as Admin…not even when I was half my current age. I’m one of the “Why would anyone jump out of a perfectly good airplane” crowd. My idea of a good time is being alone in my studio buried up to my ears in instruments and recording equipment. Or with my nose in a book. Or iPad. Or Kindle.

  6. John Howard says:

    I’m glad you all had a good time. From all I had seen, Iceland seemed to be that sort of pastel colours. Comes with fitting in with the type of sunlight I suppose. Did you get to see the lights? Surely you managed to fit in a big mac and fries as well?

  7. admin says:

    A confession, John – I’ve only been to McDonalds twice in my life. And I can count the number of Cokes I’ve drunk on one hand. Puffin was dark and strong, like venison. Whale, surprisingly tender. The rotten shark belonged under a sink next to the disinfectant. More pics to follow.

  8. Ken Murray says:

    Admin, surely the site of the first golden arches in London (ground zero) must have cropped up on your London landmarks quiz? I remember my Dad taking us to one in the capital in the early 70s (think it was near something called the tartan grill?) and have hated it ever since. There was always something cold and sterile about them?

  9. Simon Sperring says:

    Thank you for reminding me to take sandwiches if I ever visit Iceland.

  10. stephen groves says:

    Hi Chris,

    From the picture you look like you have caught frost bite of the ears as they seem to have turned black.Holiday Jonah strikes again.

    Seriously ,it looks an amazing holiday ,glad you had a good time .

    All Best

    STALKY

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