I can’t believe I only arrived yesterday morning (April 11, 2017). I have already met SOOOO many people and have seen so much of the countryside. After Nik picked me up from the airport, four of us took off on a little road trip. His friend Ulrika (Nik met her while teaching in Estonia and she nows lives and works here) and Agnete (a 13 year old Danish exchange student coming to live with a local farmer’s family). We left Reykjavik on our way to þórshöfn , the trip took about 12 hours and we did make a few stops along the way.
One thing to note is that things are very expensive in Iceland. Fish and Chips at a local diner cost $25 and that’s considered cheap. During lunch Agnete said that she has only been to a restaurant 8 times in her entire life! I can do that in a week! Maybe she will have inspired me to cook more.
We stopped at Hofsos https://www.northiceland.is/en/what-to-see-do/service/hofsos-swimming-pool and went into a geothermal swimming pool. The outside air was 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 Fahrenheit) and the water was 38 degree celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit). The best part was the warm water, the view of the ocean and surrounding mountains but the worst part were the bathroom accommodations. I guess people in Iceland are not modest. You are required to shower naked in a “group” shower. They have a poster describing what areas to wash. I’ll leave that to your imagination.
The next stop was to visit a friend of Nik’s who will be joining us on our trip to Svalbard. It was probably about 10 PM by the time we arrived. It’s hard to describe where we met him but I’ll attempt to. We went into a building that seemed like a “men’s club”. It had couches, a pool table, a bar and TV etc etc. oh, and yes, some men. They work on road construction and since it’s so rural, they live in shipping container buildings. Mummi (Nik’s friend) was very hospitable. He prepared sandwiches and coffee…and vodka! I had the nicest surprise…he had a gift for me, an Icelandic sweater! It’s gorgeous! A local woman made it from the local sheep.
The roads were narrow and winding and conditions changed immediately..sun, snow, wind. We went through many tunnels. Some had one lane requiring trucks to pull over in specific spots to let cars by. Cars were very infrequent though.
We went through some treacherous roads towards the end of our trip. The snow was falling, there were snow drifts and it was a bit of white knuckling. Sometimes the roads are closed and driving is prohibited. At one point, we saw a car turned over on its roof on the side of the road.
We dropped off Agnete at her host family, Ulricha at her home and then Nik and I went to his restaurant/bar. Waiting for us were his friend Milos, from the Czech Republic, and his girlfriend Blanka, also from the Czech Republic. They just arrived to Iceland on a ferry earlier in the day and made their way to Nik’s place. They both quit their professional careers to go out and explore Iceland, find stress-free jobs and enjoy a less structured life! We stayed up until about 3:30-4 AM before falling fast asleep.