In Sweden they don’t say go to H$%L, they say go to Hekla…it’s a volcano in Iceland…

Wow. What a difference a good night’s sleep makes. When the gentle iPhone alarm went off this morning at 6:30 am, I was good and ready to get up. Feeling refreshed and ready to face the day (thank you Starbucks VIVA instant coffee packets, which I’m absolutely certain is of infinitely better quality than the Bonus No-Name Freeze Dried Coffee provided with the in-room kettle), Kathy and I headed down to the lobby for 8 am to join the glacier/waterfall tour.

And who was in the lobby but the absolutely horrible woman who was the problem at check in yesterday. Kathy and I began our agnostic prayers that she wasn’t in our super jeep group for the day.

But then karma bit her in the butt…she said something that we didn’t hear to her mother, who immediately erupted with, “you humiliated me in front of all these people yesterday…”

Kristiejen brought us to his Land Rover Super Jeep (outfitted with ginormous tires, which came in handy later on in the day), and we were joined by Hugh and Vinny from New York, and a couple from Virginia, who told us their names, but they were basically such beige people that we immediately forgot them.

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Super jeep!

Prepping for some off-roading

Prepping for some off-roading

Basically, in just one day, we’ve experienced some of Iceland’s contrasts, from powerful volcanic forces to the frozen world of glaciers (and glacier trolls!) to vast black sand beaches, from off-roading in a fabulous super-Land Rover (the people in the Nissan kept getting turtled on the ridges ..oh that fabulous British Empire engineering) that had to have the tires deflated at one point so we could traverse these rushing rivers dissecting the valley, to ice hiking with the lovely Margaret as our guide…it was a day to remember.

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Glacier hiking…nice ax!

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Geothermal makes Iceland toasty warm.

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It’s damp under the Seljalandsfoss (waterfall)!

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I thought the glacier – called Solheimajokill –  would be blue ice…the grey is volcanic ash from the eruption of Eyjafjallakokull, the volcano that erupted in 2010, closing down most of Europe’s airspace.

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And even more impressively, Kathy has learned to say the names of all the places we went in flawless Icelandic — go ahead and try this at home… Eyjafjallajokull (that’s the volcano that erupted in 2010 that closed down most of Europe’s airspace), Solheimajokill (that’s the glacier) and Seljalandsfoss (the waterfall). I can barely say any of them, let alone attempting to say it out loud…in front of other people…

I’m rarely at a loss for words (surprise, I know.). But this I can say, it’s hard to put into words what we saw today. Maybe this will explain it — Kathy took 415 photos (I took fewer than that…)

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We’ve been reviewing the photos and they are truly unreal. It’s like Disney came to this country and painted it with it’s magic brush. Idyllic sheep and trotting Icelandic horses (and it’s spring so there are baby sheep and foals everywhere), volcanoes and waterfalls, glaciers  and a very cool black lava sand beach.

For future reference, turns out hiking on a glacier is warmer than you might think. I didn’t need my gloves or hat, and really I was wearing too many layers. I was thinking Ontario in the winter cold. Wrong. I was sweating, wishing I had left my coat behind in the jeep.

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Black sand beach. Don’t go adrift, from Iceland the next landmass south is Antarctica

One of guides driving another super jeep stripped down and threw himself into North Atlantic for little swim. We all applauded, but stayed on land. The water was just above freezing, and he stayed in for a while.

Tonight we pub — in the most expensive country in Europe. Apparently Icelanders party like it’s 1999 from Thursday to Sunday every weekend.

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