Friday, July 18, 2003

Reykjavík - New York

Well, here we are in New York, chez Pierre. There's lots to tell so far - all of it good! -, so this'll probably end up being a looong post.

First, Iceland: we touched down in Keflavík on time on Saturday, at around midnight. The bus from the airport cost ISK 1000 each, which was a nasty surprise - around 8 pounds for a thirty minute trip. We arrived in Hafnarfjörđur (try pronouncing that!) at around 00.30, still on schedule and checked into our youth hostel there fifteen minutes later. It sounds terribly late of course, but the sun was still shining and it was more or less as bright as in the day (which isn't all that bright, actually). Happily we got a big room to ourselves for the whole stay.

Hafnarfjörđur is about twenty minutes bus drive away from Reykjavík (a much more reasonable ISK 220 each), so the next morning we went to the Tourist Information there. Everything seemed shockingly expensive, but we gritted our teeth and paid up for a trip to the Blue Lagoon. This turned out to be wonderful - a natural hot spring, the temperature of a hot bath, complete with blue water and steam rising from the surface. The air temperature can't have been above about 12 degrees celsius. There were big pots of silica stuff (to cover your face with) and all sorts of natural caves, waterfalls and so on. We stayed in for about three hours, and lolled about in the various steam rooms and saunas too. We took plenty of pictures, which I'd like to see to remind me of the experience :-).

The youth hostel in Hafnarfjörđur was well-equipped, with a fridge, hobs and plates, so we cooked ourselves meals there every night, meaning we didn't have to spend any money on anything but transport and accommodation for our stay.

The next day (Monday, if you're keeping count), we visited Iceland's premier tourist attractions Gullfoss and Geysir. We took a guided tour - the only kind available - which incorporated both. On the way we stopped at an Icelandic riding school and poked the (famous?) Icelandic horses, which are very small, and - this is the key feature, apparently - have five gaits rather than the usual three. The two extra ones are tilt and pace, the former being a very smooth way to ride, apparently - you can carry a pint without spilling it ;-).

The next stop was an impressive volcanic crater, then on to Geysir, home of the eponymous jet of water shooting out of the ground. The original Geysir is all bunged up, and doesn't work any more, but there are several other ones that seemed impressive enough to us!

On to Gullfoss, a huge two-tiered waterfall, and one of Iceland's most impressive. The second step is the best - it plunges down a good twenty feet into a sheer chasm. Hard to describe in words: you'll have to wait for the pictures ;-).

Tuesday was a day of travelling mostly. We went into Reykjavík for the final time, and pottered around visiting its cathedral and Parliament. After lunch we caught the bus back to the airport...

After another smooth flight we arrived in New York at about 7.30pm (00.30 for us, of course), but we managed to stay awake long enough to get the subway to Peter's swanky Manhattan apartment and go out with Peter and Caroline to grab an evening meal (Pizza Burger for Tom; Veggie Burger for Katherine). New York at night is stunning, particularly the shining lights of Times Square.

More to follow...


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