Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday catch-up

[Long post - lots of photos]  Computer now working well at Caro and Rob's home (the Hague in the Netherlands).  And so to catch up,

On day 1 we visited an Icelandic Sweater shop.  Oh how incredibly georgous.  Because they all hand-knit they are also quite expensive ($135-185) but they are also made with very un-processed wool, so they contain lots of natural lanolin and are quite water resistant.  We did cheat a small bit and took a photo in the shop (which we weren't supposed to)
Gloves and headbands - really needed in this climate.  The temperature was about 36-38 with an amazingly cold wind.

The hotel recommended a local restaurant for supper.  What a wonderful treat.  Good food is always such fun and especially in another place.  This is a new fish restaurant with a rather well-known chef.  We ordered a glass of wine and a salad to start.  A treat "from the chef" arrived with each of us receiving about a 2" high flower pot.  Inside was an incredible taste delight: the bottom was aioli, covered with a layer of pureed pickled radish and celery root, topped with a layer of crispy breadcrumbs.  In each pot was standing one green radish shoot.  Not only was it such fun, it was very tasty as well.  We shared our salad and each ordered pasta with shrimp and lobster.  As the Dutch say, "lekker".  Mighty fine.

Iceland has suffered an incredible financial crisis since 2008.  You see building after building just standing empty and/or unfinished.  Really quite sad.  As a result the rate of inflation is astronomical.  We got a "book ahead for tourists only" hotel rate, but food is quite expensive.  I understand that most all goods are very high.  So that would explain the bill for the above dinner was $89.  More than we usually spend!  Lunch the next day, for example, for the 3 of us was over $60 and two hamburgers and fries on Friday night were $43.  Adds up quickly.  The long hours of light are so unusual to we travelers - I would wake in the middle of the night and have to check the sky.

So on to our travels with friend Edda around some of the western part of the Island.

Unlike most other countries, the Prime Minister is listed in the local phone book.  And this is their "white house" - it is the home of the President.  No police, no guards, no fences, only a small gate on the road.  Amazing. 

A fascinating old sod covered house.  The "fence" for the animals was made of volcanic rock stacked up all the way around. [ Because of the prevalence of volcanic rock, it is used in literally countless ways.]

Here was Poulsbo RV, Iceland style.  Made me laugh so I had to stop and take a photo.  Camping is a very popular activity in Iceland, although not the sort of campgrounds that we know.  Because there are virtually no naturally-occurring trees, camping is mostly done in large grass fields, only sometimes with "hook-ups", but they do love it.  A very popular activity is to drive all the way around the island with one of these small campers.  The head of the RVing Bookstore will be doing this in late August.  It will be fun to follow along.

Finally arrived at the western coast, just as the wind picked up even more and it began to rain.

Very old Lutheran church, out in the middle of no-where.  Drove, then, across several miles of their barren "moonscape" - volcanic landscape, to the first of several geo-thermal locales.  At each of these, you could almost think you were in Yellowstone National Park - steam and bubbling mud pots, all smelling of sulfur.  But what we found so fascinating, is that the Iceland government has harnessed and captured this steam to make electricity and EVERY home and business in Iceland is heated with hot water from these geo-thermal spots.  I need to find out more how the taxing works with all of this, but amazing.  They warn you in the hotel shower that the water is so very hot, that you really have to pay attention to adjusting the temperature.

Past bird cliffs and onto the Blue Lagoon.

Did you realize that the North American and European plates are separating at just under 1 inch per year and that "line" runs right through Iceland.  Who knew?

More to follow.


Anonymous said...

Woonderful, Miarne! Keep it coming! Diane

Laura said...

Woo-hoo! Pictures! Great to see you two having a good time, Marne! No comments on the volcano -- that must mean it wasn't an issue while you were there. Thanks for taking the time to share with us. :)