Europe | Iceland – Preparations
The short two hour flight from Glasgow felt more like a train journey… still I was constantly fed and had never ending drinks
supplied by tall, blonde Icelandic Goddesses with genuine smiles (they must have gone to a different air hostess school from those of other airlines). The plane flies low in over the wrinkled wasteland of lava and I breathe the usual sigh of relief as we land safely.
After assembling my bike and collecting my luggage I pedal off to the big smoke… out of the small airport with odd modern sculpture… something that looks like a giant silver olive and I wont even begin to guess what the other towering monstrosity is supposed to be.
I get as far as the sign at the round-a-bout that says ‘Reykjavík 49km’ and that’s when I remember that the plane comes in at Keflavík no matter what it says on my ticket so back to the airport I go to get the bus!
For the bargain price of 850 króna (Ikr) I am dropped off at the campsite… now this is going to be my one and only whinge about how bloody expensive Iceland is so I’m gonna make it a good one! That bus fair is the equivalent of A$17 add that to one night camping, A$12 and my first shopping expedition A$20 and you’ve got a pretty hefty bill! That diet of boiled rice is looking more and more appealing! I also had a bit of a dairy product dilemma at the supermarket, picking up a carton of ab mjólk for my breakfast, imagine my surprise when I discover that ‘ab’ is not the brand but actually stands for acidophilus/bacillus… so what I ended up with was some sort of cross between milk and natural yoghurt… didn’t mind it once I got over the idea that I was drinking off milk! On my next mission to pick up some nymjólk (whole milk) I learn that it rarely comes in cartons of less than a litre so I have to settle for G-mjólk (UHT
milk – urgh!).
That night I have my first ever geothermally heated shower… the water is hot, damn hot and leaves me smelling slightly of sulphur.
The weather is absolutely brilliant, not a cloud in the sky, no wind… something’s wrong! Taking advantage of this freakishness I decide to stay in Reykjavík another day. I discover that most banks won’t change Australian dollars… would you accept plastic money?! I have the bearings and the bolt replaced on my front wheel (A$72!!! – sorry, no more complaining!) and go for a bit of a wonder around town. First stop is the prominently located Hallgrímskirkja which sits a top Skólavör?uh?? hill, it’s 72m high steeple visible from over 20km away. Architect Gu?jón Samúelsson designed the church in 1937 in the geologically influenced style of the time so the building is reminiscent of the hexagonal basalt columns that can be seen throughout the country. Inside, the bare, white cement walls arch gracefully into a high vaulted ceiling; the many windows creating a light and uplifting atmosphere. Sitting in the na?ve for a while I listen to the music coming from the gigantic pipe organ looming above me. Looking rather like something a car enthusiast would stick on the bonnet of a revved up machine it has 5275 pipes and weighs over 25 tones! To be honest the thing sounds bloody awful! Feeling lazy I head back to the campsite and lie in the sun for a few hours I have to enjoy it while it lasts!
I take the time to plan out my trip and I use the word ‘plan’ very loosely! I decide to go anti-clockwise around the ring road that circles the country. It sticks fairly close to the coast in the south before cutting across a section of the interior in the north-east from where it heads almost directly west, avoiding the twists and turns of the north and west coasts and finally back to Reykjavík.