Friday, August 23, 2013

Iceland

We did Iceland all wrong, but we had a really great time. I know it's a good idea to have a plan, to know something about where you're going and how to do it. We didn't exactly pull that off. I just went online and booked a room at a hotel near downtown Reykjavik, choosing it because the room looked pretty nice and one of the reviewers on TripAdvisor said that the guy at the desk gave him good ideas of things to do in the area.

We got in a little after eleven p.m., having failed to talk SAS into letting us ride in empty seats on an earlier flight. Since we didn't even know for sure when we'd get in, I felt especially justified in having no advance plans. The guy at the desk would bail us out anyway. And the passenger next to us in the plane told us about the buses from the airport to downtown so we bought tickets and got onto the bus leaving on about half an hour. The bus had Wi-Fi, so I started researching our options as we rode.

Based on my research, the only way to see the stuff I wanted to see in the time available would be in a rental car, and I suspected that said rental car would not have cost much more than we had just paid for our two round-trip bus tickets. I had failed, but we were on the bus and I was too exhausted to think about alternatives. Anyway, I could look forward to getting advice at the hotel. Well, that didn't work out either. The desk clerk that night had very little to suggest, though he gestured vaguely at a lousy map and talked about taking a walk. He also confessed that breakfast at out hotel would be pretty meager and that we could eat better at another hotel around the corner. We went straight to bed.

After the recommended breakfast, I asked the clerk at the hotel around the corner what she thought we should do today. She wanted us to walk around too, but she gave us a better map, marked out a route, and told us about what she thought we should see and do. We had an outstanding time.

It wasn't raining when we set out. Apparently that's pretty special, to have dry weather in Iceland. We took an umbrella anyway, and launched ourselves to the shore, down a major commercial street, and over to the opera house. Along the way we marveled at the fact that we got into the country so easily last night, with no attention from any customs officer and no evidence that there had ever been such a thing as passport control or visas. We think they're happy to have anybody who thinks he can afford to buy food in the country.

We loved the opera house, and spent a long time there. It was raining by the time we went back outdoors, but we continued our tour, with an extended indoor break at city hall. Almost everything we wanted to do was free. The sandwiches we bought for lunch were not so close to free, but they were so delicious that we went back to buy more to eat on our way to Denver. Everything worked out great and we had an excellent time. Now we want to come back, probably rent a car, play in the hot springs and see the landscape. I'm glad we took the stopover.

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