checking out shortly, heading to airport in two hours by bus

now that I know how far Keflavik is from Reykjavik, of course.

Our tour guide outlined everywhere we went on a tourist map of Iceland; I’m going to transfer the info with a pronunciation guide onto a much bigger map.

Last of the postcards in the mail. I will be home long before them of course.

I’m waiting for my computer to be fully charged, and then I’m going to head downstairs to wait for the bus indoors until the last minute. Then I have to cross the street and stand in the wind and rain for a while until it actually comes. Cost of the bus is ten times less than the taxi – but it’s reasonable at least.

Forgot to put the Do Not Disturb on the door so poor housekeeper got flashed, not that Icelanders give a shit about stuff like that. I assured the desk that I took no permanent hurt although who knows about her.

THIS IS ICELAND.

This is just for mOm everybody else ignore it

So I realized in minutes that nobody else on the bus gave a shit about birds (reindeer, foxes, sure) so I quit calling out stuff I was seeing on the bus…  so this is my post about birds. I am a potato photographer so no pics.

On my lifetime list now:

Common wagtail. They are ahem common.

I did NOT see a skua. Whatever it was, it wasn’t a skua. Skuas are fucking ginormous and whatever this was it was much smaller.

Ravens every day.

Northern Diver – saw that one SUPER close, from the bus, under perfect light, breeding plumage like jewels nested on a grey silk pillow.

Waders (they like to sit on posts next to the shore so they were easy to spot)

I saw TWO ptarmigan, once the first day and once the second last day; first one was snow white and the other was coming into breeding colours.

So many arctic terns, including in a nesting area, and man do they squeak.

I never saw a golden plover to identify it but the little fuckers never shut up and are beloved as the Icelandic sign of spring.

Pink footed Goose

King Eider!!!! man you cannot miss those suckers. Those I only saw on the East coast, right on the ocean.

BARROW’S GOLDENEYE they breed in the Lake of Midges and I saw a breeding pair in still water at the side of the road in that part of Iceland. They went by pretty fast but there’s nothing else in the Icelandic bird pics that matches.

so there you go mOm you can start looking at the pics on line.

 

Lost my taste for photos

Realizing that I’d wrecked a borrowed camera took much of the fun out of snapping pics, so I don’t have a lot from yesterday. ALSO IT WAS BLOWING RAINING SLEETING FROM SUNUP TO SUPPERTIME. I stayed on the bus for the Gullfoss and everybody else was back on the bus in minutes. Weather cleared at sunset, as it often does.

After a quiet night in a hotel room I barely slept in, breakfast IN A FULL CONTACT DINING HALL. Apart from the bus staff, we were the only pink (and brown) people there, and so we dozen attempted to get breakfast in a room where there were 150 Chinese tourists, who couldn’t form a buffet line, changed direction constantly so you ran into them constantly, spilled, drop, broke and emptied things and stood in front of various food items interrogating them in Chinese as if comprehension would drop from the sky and in general made me long to return to Vancouver where the Chinese know how to form a fucking queue. Ten people let themselves into the line ahead of me. The bus staff all had that look to them; not even trying for a gimcrack hospitality mask.

As one, we said, “If this is a taste of what Iceland is like in high summer we’re so so so so fucking glad we came in May.”

Spent the rest of the day one step ahead of those three tour buses. We were on the bus by 8:01 since we were so anxious to be out of there. Never ate such an indifferent breakfast so fast. (Still another hour before I get brekky here.)

The black sand beach was beautiful.

Callie Hills made me a cute little wristlet with threads of reflector in it. This item blew off my wrist (see above noted mention of BLOWING) AND THEN FORMED ITSELF INTO A WHEEL AND ROLLED AT ABOUT 10KPH UP THE BEACH, WITH ME IN WILD BUT NERVOUS PURSUIT AS TOURISTS DIE ON THIS BEACH ALL THE TIME. Tour guide says never ever turn your back on the ocean here. At least two of my tourmates watched me do this and when I turned around the buggers were howling, entertained by my abrupt turn of speed.

Just before we got on the beach, it hailed. I said, “Cool, it’s graupel! It only lasts a couple of minutes.” The second it slacked off I jumped off the bus, which made me the first person off the bus ever (I sat in the same seat the whole time, second last seat on the right – WE CANADIANS PICK OUR SPOT AND DIE DEFENDING IT JUST ASK ANY INDIGENOUS PERSON).

The graupel shone in the footprints of previous tourists like diamonds – the sun came out. You have to be ready, aye ready.

Then we drove like hell to a waterfall, and then another one. Then the Thingvellir and then back to Reykjavik.

((Taking parentheticals to abyssal depths.) Shit, somewhere in there was the Geysir. You know how it is, off bus… trudge to tourist trap …on bus …drive to next one. I was in a good mood yesterday, but still, I’m high functioning autistic and a week of two few hours of sleep every night, sensory overload, enforced sociability (I think I managed okay) and I was at a bit of a low ebb, plus I was dreading breaking the news about the camera to Mike (he doesn’t read my blog, which is prob’ly a good thing.))

WHERE WE WENT TO KEX HOSTEL. I’m thinking why is she taking us to a hostel.

CHEAP FUCKING BEER that’s why, first time I saw beer in Iceland south of 1000 krona so yes I had some (I’ve been monitoring my digestion and so far so good but I’m not taking up drinking again in Vancouver, those days are gone) and ARCTIC CHAR WITH PISTACHIOS AND MUSTARD MASHED POTATOES. For half the price of an equivalent meal anywhere else. I’d been meaning to eat char all week and I AM SO FUCKING GLAD I WAITED. mOm it was better than the lightest salmon, fresh, cooked to perfection. And it was HUGE it was an IMMENSE SLAB of clean protein and my body thanked me with every bite. If you’re ever in R. don’t miss it. There isn’t much on the menu but it’s all good.

Today the Saga Museum in the morning, late lunch with a twitter pal I’m meeting IRL, and then THE PENIS MUSEUM. This is R.

Tomorrow a soak in the public thermal pool 12 minutes’ walk from the hotel, then check out and home. I think I’ll be nicely decompressed and ready to go.

Home. WHERE THE SEASON FINALE OF SUPERNATURAL BETTER BE WAITING FOR ME… naw, not really. I am looking forward to the Expanse though….

 

 

later….. no penis museum for me. Met Ger∂ur and she is WONDERFUL she took me to the ONLY SCIENCE FICTION STORE IN ICELAND. But now I have walked for about 1.75 hours today and as charming as this town is in the sunshine I am in for the evening, except to step out and get some pad thai across the street later.

apparently I was checked out of the hotel when I came back. Just paid 139 Euros for another night…. I’ll have a chat with my agent when I am back. It’s possible she told me I was supposed to arrange my own last night, but I don’t think so. and you know

 

I don’t care. Life is fucking awesome right now, even if my feet are singing.

 

safely in room 210 at the Storm Hotel

at 615 I’ll step out and walk to Kex and eat dinner with my tour group for the last time. Really a stellar bunch, and Saga is such a damned good driver I really cannot praise her highly enough.

Today I walked behind a waterfall and got so cold and so wet and a stranger had to help me walk up the pile of cold wet rocks leading to the stairs but it really was rather exhilarating. We saw lots of falls, and the most important part of today was

Þingvellir

which in 930 CE was the site of the first Icelandic parliament. Stirring. Last thing on the tour.

I’m a 5 minute walk from the Phallological Museum.

SHOULD I?

WHAT KIND OF TOURIST WOULD I BE.

The pics I should have posted earlier

 

The above noted mini volcano is no more than four stories tall.

 

Above, the lake of midges, noted bird paradise and film location.

The young Torontonian in the picture above climbs everything. I wouldn’t have climbed that for beans, the Dark Forest is full of cracked piles of rock. He climbed the last waterfall we went to and the damned things 192 metres.

Where I got heartburn.

It’sa Me Fumarole. That’s the noise it made. The stench is best left undescribed.

 

 

nothing but wind

going over the day

got to the hotel at 10 PM last night after a long day of brutal driving and sitting around doing nothing…. I didn’t go on the glacier hike, and it was delayed by an hour. The wind and rain were just south of what would cause the guides to cancel, so you can imagine how Allegra would have felt about it. Also, my parents already paid for the glacier expedition of a lifetime, and I knew that my sadness at the cold and wind would have been piqued by knowing how fast the ice is coming off. So a two hour hike accompanied by ass freezing cold and me all cry face over climate change yeah, no.

Now, going forwards through the day

The dark spot is the hole I put in the sensor trying to get a pic of the fallstreak clouds. Mike can sigh with disappointment later, I plan on buying the camera off him. The damned bus jumped when I was taking a pic and there ya go.

Anyway that spire of ice, which is in the Vatnajökull lagoon, is six stories tall. Just in case you wanted to know. Weather conditions at this point were offshore wind steady at 50kph gusting to 80kph bearing sleet mixed with rain. Hecate Strait weather fer sure.

The blurriness is my fault, the wind was incredible.

Then we went to Diamond Beach, where pure ice on black sand is wonderful, and would be even more wonnerful if I hadn’t been as miserable as a chimp in a rainstorm at the time.

spots are rain of course. Pictures by an amateur don’t give the brilliance.

Then I ate a $25 bowl of lamb goulash in the Vatnajokull visitor center and then I sat on the tour bus and waited for folks to come back from the walk, and then we went to have supper at the only pizza parlour on this part of the island. It was okay. I kept half for noshes today.

No other pics from yesterday. I know I sound disappointed but honestly I was relieved, and I had wifi and Egils soda to keep me company, also scored the last McVitties Dark Chocolate Digestives at the gas station.

 

embarrassed (the previous day)

Jesus, what a buttload o’ driving we did that day. Back really took a beating.

Anyway, after a fucking brutal amount of driving we were in a Martian landscape with fumaroles. Pics including video when wifi stops barfing. Stench appalling, colours weird – off kilter. Don’t know how else to describe it really.

Then a briefer but still brutal regime of driving and we were at a waterfall or foss as they say in these parts. Pics to follow. I can’t remember what the hell it was called, and I don’t have to, we’ll all get a map with a pronunciation guide at the end, so I’ve been told.  It was big, it had multiple parts, I bought stamps to go with the postcards I acquired from the night before and jesus that reminds me I should post those two I wrote out and stamped.  Wonder if I’ll remember, I doubt it. Anyways it was compared to Niagara Falls and all of us who have seen Niagara Falls laughed our asses off because Niagara Falls would pick it up and love on it for being so goshdarned cute.

Trip to north of ghastly WC, avoided spending any more tourist money cept for stamps.

Then we went to a farm to table restaurant and I paid forty fucking dollars for a very small fraction of a humanely slaughtered and lovingly raised cow nestled in a tasty goulash that gave me an eyewatering case of heartburn. Or maybe it was before the fumaroles. Only the roll of digital pics will give me the gooooddddammned timeline here. I’m just trying to move it along here so I have a minute to repack.

In the middle there somewhere or who knows really it’s all the most excellent blur, we saw FALSE VOLCANOES. These are formations which happen when a certain viscosity/composition/density of lava rolls out over wetlands. You get these miniature cones which are … well, miniature. I loved them. Pics later, relax.

Okay I’ll try.

Nope, barfed again.

Then we went to a real forest. Some enterprising farming family planted trees on their property overlooking The Lake of Midges for the best part of half a century and when the old lady died she deeded it to Iceland. FUCK I LOVE ICELAND. Short hill, nice view, incredibly tame birds and there will be pics, yeah whatever.

Then. The Darkwood.

I had a really really really bad feeling the entire time I was there. The landscape is effin’ creepy. I took pics, including one I think is the jewel so far, but anyway, it’s not a wood. It’s crumbling towers of evil looking stone, as if ogres and trolls had really been frozen in place and then were subject to ten thousand years of weathering. Another kind of formation from lava on wetland. I could not fucking wait to get out of there and felt much better the second I was gone. The equivalent of Santa lives there but in Iceland the Santa’s Mom will eat you if you’re naughty so I guess…. well anyway things are a little less scary in Iceland now since the government asked people nicely to stop telling stories that made their kids not want to leave the house in December. Wish I was kidding.

Then another foss, including a closeup of a piece of ice melt the size of a school bus, long freaking walk in the wind, unpleasant trek to a WC which the guide said was the worst rest stop in Iceland (ten portapotties, five a side back to back ) – cheerfully – and after viewing the digestive output of a hundred strangers at much closer range than would made any but the most scatologically devoted happy, I was forced to experience something I’ve never had to before; the sensation that some mofo was trying to tip the loo over. I was so terrified I braced my hand against the wall, always the worst possible idea in a port a potty, but it proved that the violent rocking motion which so disturbed my attempt to commune with nature was merely what happened when a two hundred fifty pound man bounded up onto the wooden walkway surrounding the loos.

Imagine that despite my description…. there was virtually no smell. THAT WAS HOW HARD THE WIND WAS BLOWING.

I slunk back onto the tour bus last, kinda wishing I could be hosed down in Dettol first.

Then a long long long long longass drive and we climbed a mountain and took pics and we saw a thousand migrating birds and then came down the other side good god my tummy and came to the city of Elves and saw puffins. SLEEP.

Anyway it was a long day, long driving, much walking and many definitive Experiences.

 

 

embarrassed

Honestly it’s been two very very busy days. Today will be slacker since I’m not going on no fricking glacier hike.

Going backwards over yesterday:

spent 2 hours laughing my ass off in the hot tub(s) at the Glacier World hotel… it was a very convivial group

Spent 1.5 hours on an amazing meal. Imagine looking at a plate with ten lobster tails (nephrops norvegicus) and then devouring it. They weren’t boiled, they were oven cooked. Delicious and beautifully served. Then Guinness chocolate cake for dessert. There was salad.

Spent hours on the road… the scenery in Iceland is amazing, but this part of the trip made me want to renounce atheism and take up Ásatrú.

We got to the top of a fjord (once again large chunks of the road, with stomach churning drops, have no parapets or railings, or they’re ‘fitful’), Saga put on Icelandic death metal, AND WE WENT INTO THE VALLEY BELOW while row after row of weathered green and gray faces (in my imaginings) looked down on us. AND A FALLSTREAK CLOUD TOOK SHAPE — I HAVE NEVER SEEN ONE, AND THEN

there was another

and another

and another

And I tried to get pictures but I thought my camera battery died and shooting out a bus window sucks especially if you’re doing it more or less into the sun and I couldn’t get the professional grade photographers on my side of the bus to pay attention to the fact the sky was doing something very very unusual. aw fuck em

So I do have one pic of the first one on my phone and here’s the best I could do when I realized the camera had been charging on the bus’s two to a seat USB charger long enough to work, so here is my apologetic potato pic.

AAAAND THE HOTEL WIFI BARFED

fml

anyway believe me it’s weird

but that whole drive was amazing; one kind of layered weathered lava was replaced by something completely different, like worn battlements coming out of the turf.

We went to a town where the city parents put up signs thanking tourists for shitting in the right place. also where some guy sculpted the eggs of most of the common birds of Iceland and stuck them on pillars on the outskirts of town. (let’s just say that Julia Finsbury would NOT have approved, they were so…. big…. and so…. you know.) There was a man with a dog and two whale skeletons in his front yard that we were supposed to see but he was away for the first time evar. Took no pictures of any of those things.

Before that we drove along a rushing river with dozens of small falls. Before that we saw the tallest waterfall in Iceland, which involved  2.5 k hike straight up and down and I said screw it as did the only person on the tour my age and we had a lovely conversation in the BRILLIANT warm sunshine, out of the wind and close to the bus and the very nice bathroom and ate lunch instead.

Before that I spent 80 dollars for two pairs of socks and I don’t know how much on a couple of beers (to drink in the hot tub later) and I don’t know how much on a fantastic truck stop sandwich (this is to make Jeff laugh, but it’s true; I don’t think it was sentient) and a choccky bar and another one of those damned Egils sodas because I love them with a fierce unholy love now.

Before that a lot of driving past Icelandic forests and leaving the town of elves. We climbed the hill of the queen of the elves. We were advised in very flat terms to do nothing disrespectful as it might impact the rest of our trip. Given that two enormous ravens circled the hill crying continuously (couples noise, not like their usual harsh croak, much more friendly and musical) you can bet your ass I didn’t spit like the fucking American did on one trip and then they got stuck for three hours and missed connections etc. If Huginn and Muninn are showing up I ain’t arguing.

We saw the turf house and the tiny church in the Town of the Elves, and I have pics of the view from my window. Day started rainy, but oatmeal in mah belleh (indifferent brekky totherwise) was good. And, of course the day started with somebunny having about ten minutes of percussive mattress joy right through the wall into my right ear. No vocalizations, just bang.bang.bang… bangity… bang you get the idea.

THAT WAS A SINGLE DAY The day before was BUSIER. Can I get back to you on that?

 

where am I? outskirts of Akureyri

I woke with that moment of disorientation but I’m at

Countryhotel Sveinbjarnargerdi

All of us laughed when she said it slow. We’re still not going to get it to be able to say it.

I mean to post pics of the south end of the fjord from the west and then the east.

Oh shit that means I have to get out of bed and find the camera blerg.

120 degree panorama, front of restaurant in Akureyri

There was blue in the sky – it was 10 degrees and still and quite nice for Northern Iceland.

Am I evil for missing my musical instruments more than brO and grandsOn. I miss Rowena and Otto so much my breastbone hurt just thinking about it.

I finished and posted another fic today (of course I’m going to post fanfic if the bus has wifi I ain’t missin’ that opportunity)  and it already has more than 300 hits and it has 33 kudos and people even commented for once.

Nice, and ferociously expensive dinner last night in Akureyri, the miniature Reykjavik.

Folks on the tour are nice. AND YOUNG, LIKE THEY’RE ALL KEITH’S AGE. There’s one older Canadian woman. The only person of colour is an Indian travel agent. He described with a straight face not being allowed to book his family into a resort someplace in the Pacific because they CHECK THE MEDIA PROFILE OF VISITORS and he wasn’t high tone enough. He didn’t have to tick the racism box, none of us were that stupid. I merely said, “An educated global traveller is somebody they don’t want? What a hell hole it must be.” We gave each other pained smiles but I could tell he was genuinely pissed but not wanting to ‘go’. He said that being an Indian global tour travel agent is the art of finding the first ten people willing to go. He says you struggle; Indians are herd animals, he said. But once ten people are willing to go the other 45 seats immediately sell out. He said it happens time and again.

I allowed myself a Viking brand beer with about half the tour in the lounge last night and we talked about the impact of Iceland volcanoes on global history IT WAS AWESOME. Also no lie that beer helped me sleep.

Well, as much as the prospect appalls, I should get dressed and slip out for a walk since it doesn’t appear to be raining. Apparently our hotel tonight is in an elf village, and we’re going to see a big ass waterfall today.

Of course I really don’t want to get up. This bed and comforter are making plans for me to stay.