After almost a week of festival in Reykjavik on Tuesday we finally got out of the city and out into the countryside of Iceland. The only thing we had on the books was a "Meet the Horses" Icelandic horse stable tour and the rest of the day was ours to see the world as long as there was light.
We were out of the room by 8:00 am to catch a ride to the rental car and see some ponies at the horseback riding service. It was a cold morning and none of the coffee shops were open. Its like people don't get up before light here, and light doesn't start until 9am.
We got to Ishester, the horse service a little early for our stable tour but we met a person from Atlanta, had some coffee then got to see the horses in the stable and out in the field.
Although, you can't really call the frozen dirt the horses play in "a field." The conditions at the stable were less than ideal and the poor horses were quite dirty. I felt bad for these working horses – having to take tourists out for rides twice a day and not getting a descent field to graze and play in.
We said goodbye to the horses and this funny looking bunny rabbit and were on our way out into the land of adventure. We headed up the road towards Keflavik – and found ourselves off-roading a little bit when we thought we took the exit for the road to go past a church by the ocean. Our little Kia rental car did pretty good.
We eventually found the right road and the church I was looking for to photograph. I love photographing churches in Iceland because the stand in stark contrast to the landscape and there is usually some type of amazing light coming up over the horizon to illuminate it.
I received no less than what I was expecting with this one. Apparently this church was once the largest in the region, holding up to 150 parish members on its 2 floors at a time according to the guidebook.
Mission accomplished we headed toward town to find the Viking World museum – because I cannot get enough different versions of settlement history of Iceland. On our way into town we encountered a entire rainbow. First, we just saw one side but as we chased it to get a good angle on the photo the entire half circle showed itself – but it was too big to photograph – so I was just able to capture this shot featured as the lead for this blog post.
We decided to grab lunch before the Viking museum from one of the four options on the main street of Keflavik. Two were Thai food, one was something else not Icelandic, and Lonely Planet recommended the 4th place called Rain for local fare. Thank you Lonely Planet for one of the most bizarre scenarios I have ever walked into.
Rain is pretty much a 70's or early 80's supper club frozen in time. Complete with its strange boiled and fried potatoes on their fish plate.
The food was good, albeit a little salty as would be expected in a 70's supper club and we were the only patrons – so we got the full attention of the bored waitress/bartender/hostess/all of the things. Turns out she herself is a musician and was very excited we traveled all the way to Iceland just for a music festival. Full of tasty salmon we made our way to the place of Viking lore, history, and modern recreation of a Viking ship that sailed across the Atlantic Ocean – Viking World.
Hey look! That is me on a Viking ship!
Here it is floating into New York back in the Clinton Era.
The museum had as many staff as it had visitors when we were there – which is probably typical for the winter months – but it was still pretty cool to have an entire museum to ourselves. The two story museum features exhibits about Viking settlements in the New World aka Vineland, reached by Leif Erickson, and an entire exhibit on the Norse Pantheon and key stories of the primary gods. If you know nothing about Norse mythology it is for informative and the art was very fun.
As there was still plenty of light to work with when we left the Viking museum we decided to do the tourist loop on the peninsula we were currently driving on. So we headed for the Bridge Between Two Continents because the guidebook said it was a thing to see.
The bridge sits on a separation of two tectonic plates – the North American and the Eurasian plates. I thought it would be a bigger ravine.
The landscape was amazing, however.
We got back into the car and found Uranus out in the middle of the Icelandic countryside. I can provide no other explanation besides this, because the silver ball simply said "Uranus." It was a nice car joke. "What was it?" said Shanon. "Your anus." said Angel.
Next we found Arctic Ocean and underwhelming lava pool and really cool volcanic sand.
It was a great time for a selfie where we completely failed to get the landscape in – but hey we look cute.
We drove by the Blue Lagoon because it is lame, dirty, overpopulated and overpriced and found more horses!
These were clean horses with phenomenal hair-dos.
And cute little foals. It was a lovely surprise and we wished we had treats but they just got to nibble our hands and pose for the camera.
Darkness was coming so we made our way back to the city for dinner and some rest before going out to chase the Northern Lights.
We tried the Icelandic delicacy known as the hot dog on this fine evening. The stand everyone is supposed to eat at was closed due to construction so we went to the one in the park – and it was well – a hot dog. The earth did not shake, and my opinion of hotdogs with ketchup was not changed in any way shape or form. My stomach was also very dissatisfied.
It required a trip to the Lebowski Bar for food and beverage a little later to make up for the hot dog. I finally got my solid basket of fries and a Caucasian with The Dude. Unfortunately, we could not abide very well as there was a very obnoxious screaming British lady in the corner that would not stop talking in her drunk outdoor concert voice. Luckily, we had Northern Lights to drive to and didn't need to sit around and relax.
Apparently the secret in city location to see the Northern Lights isn't that secret, and the lights weren't that active when we were there but we did see a little bit, and that was good. It had been a long adventure of a day with many many things to see.