I know, the Iceland Update is overdue. Pictures took forever to load and to say it had been a busy, overwhelming week would be a massive understatement. So, without further ado – highlights!!
1. Whale Watching! We saw dolphins, and puffins and a humpback whale! I had to wear a crazy sub-zero arctic suit to stay warm, and Frank was a champion at not puking. The fact that we had Dramamine probably helped. We then treated ourselves to a three-hour post whale watching nap, because we were totally, totally zonked.
2. We got run off the side of the road by a passing herd of horses. Twice. Seriously. You’ll just be driving along on the highway (or dirt road) and then … horses. Dozens of them, lead by an Icelandic guy who doesn’t acknowledge you, all following each other. Sometimes with a cattle/sheep dog. Like it ain’t no big thang.
Please excuse the giant bug smears on the windshield. They were ever-present.
3. The Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft. I’ll save you the pictures, but I finally saw necropants and a tilberi. And of course, the guy who owns and runs the place is a friend of Frank’s, so it was great to finally meet him. I purchased some of my more interesting souvenirs there. We didn’t get to go to the Sea Monster museum, but that’s so on my wish list next time.
4. Hverir. This place was amazing. It’s a thin layer of the earth’s crust and a sulphur mine and it just boils and burps and smells like eggs and hisses. I know, that doesn’t sound like much to write home about, but trust me – awesome. Watch these videos. It’s just too cool.
Also, my voice is so dorky. “It’s like a landscape on Mars.” Durf durf.
5. Kriya Attacks. I don’t know if I’m spelling it in Icelandic correctly, but these are arctic terns. Pretty amazing birds, and total jackasses. They protect their breeding grounds by attacking the hell out of anyone or thing they consider a threat. And they go for the highest point – so essentially, your head. In a particularly notable attack (this also happens with relative and terrifying frequency) Frank was trying to show me one of the sites he worked on. In order to not have our eyeballs pecked out, he had to walk around carrying a big stick over his head. Seriously. This is considered normal in Iceland. (Whenever I question my decision to not become an archaeologist, I remember things like – avoiding angry bird attacks is a normal occupational hazard, and am again comforted by my cushy path in life)
5. Town Color War. I still haven’t gotten the full scoop, but way up in the north, it appears that towns are divided and have some sort of “dress up the town” color war. I wish I understood it more – it seems really awesome. It’s so interesting to see how people handle the remoteness and find ways to stay connected.
6. Just the landscape in general. It’s really something else. You can absolutely tell that Lord of the Rings was inspired by Iceland. I think something like 70% of Icelanders believe in fairies or trolls or something, and after being there? That totally makes sense. There’s something just magical about the place. The diversity in the landscape, the way the light plays on the rocks, the natural beauty, the remoteness…
7. In case you missed it in the last post – our big announcement and news is that we got engaged! Yay!
You can see way more pictures than you thought you wanted to see here!