Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How to "Do" Iceland in 2 Days

Take an Obligatory Tourist Photo in the Airport.  When the passport control person stamps your passport, and you notice that it's really light so you can't see the "IS" easily, go back and ask politely for a fresh darker stamp, and they will look at you like you're a funny American, but they'll give you one.  So now you have two Iceland stamps.  Sweet.

Rent a car.  Get a map.  There's only one paved road around the country, and you need funny kinds of insurance.  Like Gravel Insurance because the roads are - well - gravel.  And Ash Insurance because of all the volcanoes.  The lady at the car rental counter will tell you that if you drive around the southern part, you'll feel like you're in the middle of nowhere.  You look around at the tiny airport and think that you already are in the middle of nowhere.  It gets more nowhere-y than this?  Wow.

3)  Take the first obligatory picture of yourself.  You want to go to the Blue Lagoon first, because it's close to the airport, but if you get lost, you'll wind up in downtown Reykjavik, which is cool because then you can say you saw it.

Wow, you think, Iceland looks a lot like the desert around Victorville.  I came all this way to see Victorville?  Really?

Turn back around and get to the Blue Lagoon.  Ok, so they don't have this in Southern California.

Take a picture of yourself in front of the milky blue water.

Take a picture of your husband holding Cool American Doritos while being a Cool American.

Pay a lot of money to swim in the Blue Lagoon.  Yeah, it's overpriced, but it's the only place in the world that is what it is.  So you go by yourself while your husband waits in the cafe using their free wifi (the only thing that's free at the Blue Lagoon).  Just beware of your hair.  Cover it up with a shower cap, or don't get it wet.  Because all the minerals are great for your skin - your skin will feel amazing - but do a serious number on your hair.  Your hair will feel like straw for days afterwards, and it will take lots of hair masks until it comes back to normal.

After the Blue Lagoon, drive to the coast and see the sea.

You might find a fish carcass.  In which case you should hold it up proudly.

This lady watches out for all the vikings on their voyages.

The thing about Iceland is that, since it's right where two plates collide, the scenery changes drastically from minute to minute.  One minute: Southern California (only with red-roofed houses and full riverbeds)

The next?  Niagra-freaking-falls.

Get up close to the Falls at Gulfoss, but not too close.  There's not really any guardrails.  People will be right up on the edge, dangling their feet in, and you think they're pretty crazy, because if you fall into that swirling mess of water, you are not coming out alive, that's all I can say about that.

Take another picture of Gulfoss.

People like to pile rocks up for good luck.  It's pretty neat.

At midnight, if it's summer, go out and look at the daylight.  Kids have soccer matches at midnight.  I guess it makes up for the fact that they probably hibernate all winter.

Stay in a little tiny cabin next to a campground.  They have kitchenettes, so you can buy food at the grocery store and cool, because Iceland is 'spensive.

Pet an Icelandic dog.

Pay about $15/gallon for gas.

Drive the southern part of the Island.  It takes about four hours to go to Glacier Bay, where you'll see lots of glaciers floating around. 

Get a view of a Glacier.  Lots of busses will stop by here and you can go walking on the glacier.  But if you go a bit further, you'll be rewarded.

This was my first view of a glacier.  If it's your first time seeing a glacier, you might cry, too.  I bawled my eyes out like a little baby.   Words don't describe it.  Words can't describe it.  You think it's so sad that people will never see this in their lives.  People need to see this.  It's amazing.

J stacks up rocks like locals.

It's amazing, these little delicate flowers that grow in the tundra.

Check out more glaciers in Glacier Bay.  Stand next to a tour bus tying to pick up their wifi signal so you can check in on 4Square.

There are tons of these waterfalls coming out of the ground, just hanging out, waiting to be looked at.

Play in Skogafoss, another waterfall.  Are you ever going to get jaded of all these waterfalls?

Go right up to the bottom, because there aren't very many other tourists, and get splashed by all the spray.

Bond with cows.  Seriously, get out of your car, and go right up to them, and lay in the grass, and pet them.  They might snort at you.  But they might also lick your hand, which scratches.  You feel slightly smug being vegetarian, because you know you'll never eat these babies.

See another waterfall.  By the way, it's about 10pm right now. 

Go home, try to sleep through all the light.  If you have a hard time sleeping in daylight, take tape.  We stopped at a store and bought some to tape up the blinds.  

The next morning, drive back to the airport.  And start making plans for your next visit, which will, undoubtedly, last longer than two days.

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