Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In the Beginning

The flight from Boston was only 5 hours, bringing us into Keflavik at 9:30 in the morning on a Saturday. The sun was shining in a bright blue sky and work was far away. As soon as we stepped outside, however, we thought perhaps we'd made a big mistake. The wind blew hard and steady from somewhere. I could barely hang on to my suitcase on the way to the car.

The drive from Keflavik airport to Rejkyavik is quite barren, belying the beautiful scenery that is so abundant in the rest of the country. We were driving to Hveragerði which meant that we had to skirt the city and veer east. I don't know about you, but driving through a strange city on a mind full of doubt after a sleepless night generally results in wrong turns, and well, stress.

From the sea, the mountains, or the glaciers, it didn't matter. The wind came at us like a non stop train. This went on for 2 days. It began to remind me of another island vacation in the Atlantic where the wind was so relentless that after 2 weeks I was having nightmares about being trapped in an endlessly blowing field of wheat. And now this. Inwardly we were both quite desperate. Thankfully, at sunset on the second day, the wind died down completely.

Here is how Hveragerði looked to me as we were driving in on the first day. Not a very inspiring photo, but it reflects my mood at the time. H. turns out to be a very interesting town.


















The town is built on top of hot springs. The houses are heated by the hot water from underground and everyone has hot tubs full of lovely spring water. There are two swimming pools there despite the fact that there are only about 2000 inhabitants: the municipal pool and a pool associated with a clinic that also has old fashioned mud baths. The town is known for it's green houses which produce vegetables and flowers for the country. The people who live there are very proud of their trees and shrubs which they careully prune and cultivate to keep them strong. I think it must be very difficult to grow trees so close to the Arctic Circle. Poets, painters and writers lived in the town in the mid 20th century and have left their mark there. In the hills above the town, there are lovely walks. Here you can see the steam rising up from the ground.























We rented a small apartment at the Frumskogar Guest House and took advantage of the breakfast offered there each morning. It is an excellent place to stay. You can read about the resident poets on their web site and see some more pictures there. This is where we based ourselves for the better part of two weeks. On the first day we checked out the town and the springs and then drove to Eyrarbakki and Stokkseyri on the coast. There we dined on the legendary lobster soup at the restaurant Hafið bláa . Some places were rather picturesque. Click to see the whole piture:











And Mary Lou, we saw these people riding horses that first day near the coast. The Icelandic horses are small and strong. Very special indeed. Again, click to see the whole picture:



2 comments:

Mary Lou said...

Looks great! I'm off to check out airfare-- maybe

Helen said...

I've got What Housework's Milo on my desktop just now, but I will come back for your coloured houses soon.

The other Atlantic island vacation wasn't the Outer Hebrides, was it? I don't think the wind ever stops there, but they have a bit more vegetation than Iceland seems to. No hot springs though.