Notes from Iceland: I've been here about two weeks. What an amazing place. Ice caves (captured in a photo I took here a few days ago), Northern Lights over snow-capped mountains,, shockingly blue glacier chunks on black sand beaches, waterfalls everywhere you turn, quaint houses, hip cities (Reykjavik / Akureyri), and endless fields of snow -- so much snow I feel like I'm looking at Hoth from the Empire Strikes Back. I love this place.
When I arrived in the airport, all the rental car offices were closed. I finally found a way to call the place I'd made a reservation with and they came and picked me up... They drove me out to this warehouse filled with strange mechanical devices, lumber and a small desk. The rental car employee apologized saying they were just getting up and running. I thought I'd entered some crazy outpost at the end of the world with no facilities... In fact, I soon learned that Iceland's main towns are as cosmopolitan and convenient as anyplace I've been.
The weather has been insane. The day I arrived, 20 meters per second winds (we also experienced 30 mps, technically they call this a Hurricane) are knocking me around as I try to get in my car. Snow and rain is blowing everywhere. On the first night the road to the hotel I'd booked in Vik had been closed, so I drove to Reykjavik instead.. at first I'm terrified of driving in the snow and worried about snow tires and the chains they're also demanding you put on your car in America. Within a few days, I'm doing 80KM an hour during near blizzard conditions. You get used to it!
It's so different than anything I've experienced growing up in California, I'm in awe of this place. I'm truly smitten, and decided to stay through Christmas and New Years Eve. I never had any appreciation for snow or cold weather places, but with my (relatively) new love for photography, I find the opportunities here overwhelming. I've been happily shooting away each day (all 4 hours of them- the sun rises at 11 and sets at 3 during this time of year!) and on many nights when the skies are clear.
Strange Iceland Facts:
* I've had the best hamburger I've had in years at an N1 gas station.
* Skalmold, "folk-metal" based on ancient Icelandic sagas is on sale everywhere like it's Miley Cyrus
* You can get your car unstuck from the snow with a children's toy shovel and a car mat
* You don't really need to take tours to see things, except the ice caves
* Lots of guys are named "Thor" (even my ice cave guide pictured here was named Thor)
* You will see some of the biggest monster truck wheels you've ever seen in your life
* It's hard to find anything open in the rural towns after 6:00pm
* Hotel desks in rural areas are unstaffed at night (Eek! Car sleeping is no fun)
* The ring road is awesome, you can get to almost all the big sites by following this one road
* There is no entry fee for all the natural wonders, parks, etc.
* People seem helpful and not trying to rip you off
I have not learned a word of Icelandic, or I'd say Farewell, thank you in Icelandic. Everyone speaks English... So Farewell for now, thank you :)