O! For dinner on Thursday night we ended up, after a failed attempt at a very popular local seafood restaurant, at a hotel restaurant called O. It was good. As always, the food wasn’t quite what we expected, but was very enjoyable.
Friday morning was an early one, as we had an 8:20 AM pickup to go ride Icelandic Horses. Icelandic horses are short, sturdy, gentle horses with long hair and long manes. There were a total of eight people on the horse tour, four from our party (Dan ducked out due to a debilitating fear of animals larger than him), and two other couples (one from Germany, one from New York). First we had to put warm coveralls over our already quite warm outdoor gear, which was a little concerning. Then helmets for safety, and finally we went outside to be given our horses, the selection of which was at least party based on any riding experience.
Being the largest person, I ended up with the largest horse, a tall white shaggy horse whose name I can’t remember or pronounce. We were given basic instruction in how to mount, dismount, and the basics of riding. When I was younger I used to ride regularly, so it was old hat for me. The Icelandic horse has a unique fifth gait called the Tolt, which is an amazingly smooth pace about the same speed as a trot, or possibly a bit faster (I’ll have to look it up when I get home – I’m on the flight home now, somewhere between Iceland and Greenland over the North Atlantic). My horse responded beautifully to all steering, starting, and stopping commands, but refused to listen to my requests for more speed. He resolutely ignored any gentle or firm kicks, and essentially walked most of the time, accelerating to a trot or tolt only when the horse in front of him began to seriously out pace him. I started off in 2nd position, and rapidly fell to 8th, and then began lagging 100+ feet behind the group. I’m sure all the other horses were laughing at him, but he just won’t go any faster. That minor frustration aside, the ride was amazing! The day was cold and clear, but the coveralls kept us warm, and the act of riding horses through the alien countryside was a beautiful thing. This was one of my favorite tours that we went on during our stay in Iceland.
That afternoon we did some souvenir shopping, and Emma and Dan got hotdogs from the world famous hot dog stand near the harbor in Reykjavik. We met in the lobby for a self-hosted cocktail hour(s), and headed out for Thai food around 8:30 PM. The Thai food was fantastic, better and cheaper than our previous Thai dinner. Overstuffed, we made our way back to the hotel. I was exhausted from the mountain climbing on Thursday and the riding on Friday, so I packed my bag, relaxed a bit, and went to bed before midnight. The rest of the troop went out to experience the infamous Friday night Reykjavik bar crawl. They returned a bit after 2 AM.
This morning, Saturday, we got up early, finished the final packing, and ate breakfast downstairs. I ran out to the local bakery and returned with a selection of pastries to add a change of pace to the daily breakfast offering of the hotel. After checking out, we took a shuttle bus back to the Blue Lagoon. They kept our luggage in the bus, and we went to enjoy a nice soak.
The only catch was that it was a blizzard. It was bitterly cold, snowing heavily, and the winds were steady and very strong. We saw an upside down 4×4 Jeep on the road on the way to the Blue Lagoon, testifying to the bad conditions. It was much colder than our previous visit to the Blue Lagoon the previous Saturday, and the wind and blowing snow meant you couldn’t face into the wind without being blinded by the snow and stinging wind. We explored the whole lagoon, until we found the best balance of extra hot water, and some shelter from the winds. After a couple of hours in the water, we got out for a small lunch at the indoor cafe by the water. Most of us headed back in after lunch to soak our sore muscles a bit more before we had to get ready to head to the airport. After so many days of strenuous exertion we were all sore pretty much all over. The hot water was wonderful, even with the howling winds. Eventually we had to get out and get ready to catch the shuttle to the airport. I wish every airport had a nearby hot springs spa with shuttle service. I think people would be much happier on their flights if they’d just come from a long luxurious soak.
The Keflivik airport is beautiful and seems much too large for the number of flights or people it currently handles. I think there were five outgoing flights today, with ours at 5 PM being the first. As such the check-in and security lines were non-existent, and the waiting area was very clean and grand. We’re on the way home now, at 33,000 feet and just over five hours to Boston left to go.
While I’m definitely glad to be headed home and eager to enjoy my own bed (with it’s lack of Frankenstienian bedding and fluffy pillows), a shower that doesn’t smell of rotten eggs, and most importantly the company of our iguana Fifi, I also really enjoyed the trip. It was amazing, and I’d like to come back at some point. We packed a lot into our eight day stay, and I think at least once a day we wondered if we were going to freeze to death, or at least lose a few fingers or toes. It was very extreme, and very enjoyable. I recommend going if you can, and I recommend bringing very warm clothes.
Photos will be uploaded within the next few days. Thanks!