Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Rolling R's and exploring Iceland

The main summer season in Iceland begins soon and we’ve already seen an increase in travellers coming to stay at the farm we're working on. Our role involves checking in guests, cleaning the rooms and making breakfast – last night we added to our skill set by learning to bake bread.

We now realise that learning the information for the cave tours was easy, Víðgelmir is really exciting and we managed to absorb all the information about it without too much trouble. We’ve both guided tours on our own now and Louise is at the top of the leader board with the first tip of the season, 500 Icelandic krona. Rob´s only tip so far is to invest in some speedos, more about that later...

Learning how to pronounce words in Icelandic however, is not so easy. Rob´s having a lot of fun making sounds with his R´s, instead of his arse for a change! Being Scottish is helping Louise a little as she can already roll her R´s, but we´re both making a lot of mess as we try to make noises through our noses…

We need to be able to pronounce the names of all our cottages, so have started by practicing the hardest two, Hóll and Höll. They may look the same, but they sound completely different and we keep mixing them up. One has an o as in open and the other has a u as in burn, both sound like tl at the end with a strange noise made by trapping your tongue at the top of your mouth and blowing air out of the side – have a try!

It doesn’t really get dark here, so we’ve been making the most of the light nights by going for walks and exploring more of Iceland.

One night, we took the farm dog Prestur on a walk to the top of the hill we live on, and were really lucky to see an arctic fox. Prestur was even more excited than us, and set off into the distance to see if the fox wanted to play. It was a moment of great relief when we saw him bounding back towards us, we would definitely be fired if we lost Prestur!

Rob has been straining at the leash as well. Snow capped peaks surround our house and with his insatiable desire to get to the top of every hill it’s amazing he’s not run off into the distance too.

We’ve also been going on some adventures with Halldór and Chavo. Our favourite place so far is a secret, closely guarded by the locals, so we can’t say too much about it… But it does involve a 41ºC hot tub on the side of a mountain. It turns out that shorts aren´t ideal hot tub wear. It wasn't clear if the bubbles surrounding Rob were, as he claimed, air trapped in his rather snazzy TK Max shorts or if he was actually creating his own jacuzzi. Either way, it was recommended Rob invest in a tighter pair, to both put everyone's mind at rest and speed up the drying process - leaving the hot tub is quite a refreshing experience to say the least! 

We´re not sure if it can get much better than that… But have started to plan our first days off. Ideas include snorkeling between the continental plates and cycling to see Geysers and waterfalls. Hopefully the camera will enjoy seeing more of Iceland too. 

Bless, xxx

Monday, 27 May 2013

Our travels begin...

Yes we are, amazing descent!
Before we set off, we were told that nine out of ten couples split up when they go travelling together. An unlikely statistic so we thought, that was until we started writing a blog together…

Rob would have liked to give you a detailed account of his first experience with a Dyson Airblade V hand dryer in Leicester Forrest East services, and how he was pleasantly surprised by the price of a jacket potato at Cobham services on the M25. But that would be stupid and we’re not going to let him do that.

Halldor and Prestur singing an Icelandic howl
Instead, we can tell you that we’ve arrived in Iceland and it’s magical. In our first few days, we’ve seen some amazing scenery, spent lots of time inside a lava cave, and made some new friends at Fljotstunga, our host Halldor, fellow worker Chavo and Prestur, the singing dog.

Our new home is an isolated farm on the edge of a massive lava field with Iceland’s second largest glacier within view. The farm has seven cottages for travellers and is home to Iceland’s biggest lava cave Viogelmir.

Later this week, for the first time, we will be left on our own to look after the farm and guide tours of Viogelmir. We’ve been studying hard…

  • The cave measures 150,000 cubic meters and is 1.5km long – big enough to fit 250 houses inside.
  • Viogelmir was formed in the year 930, just after the first Vikings settled in Iceland, when three craters erupted creating a lava field 52 km long.
  • Please be very careful when you’re walking on the loose lava stones, bending your knees will help you to balance.
  • You must never touch the sides or the ceiling of the lava cave as the stalactites and stalagmites are very fragile and will never grow back if broken. 
  • And if you look over here you will see the Ice Elf City, an amazing spectacle of ice stalagmites in which the Ice Elves make their home in the winter. 

I do hope you enjoyed your short tour of Viogelmir, that will be 2,500 Icelandic Krona please!

    During our time above the lava, we have already enjoyed some unique Icelandic experiences. We have walked on black sand, tasted the wonderful combination of raw and cooked onions on Icelandic hotdogs and learned that not all waterfalls flow from a river – in Iceland they can appear from cracks in the lava to create a 1km long spectacle like Hraunfossar. 


Of course, some things in Iceland are just like home. When the eight Icelandic horses that live on the farm escaped from their field on our first day, they came to visit us at the house – it was just like being at Louise’s mum’s.

Having made it through our first blog post, there’s a chance we could become the one out of ten couples that stay together. And we might even try to write another update soon…

Bless, xxx

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Almost time to pack...

In less than two weeks we (Rob and Louise) will be in Iceland, working at Fljótstunga Travel Farm where travellers get the wonderful opportunity to visit a preserved lava cave called Víðgelmir - hopefully our training will include some tips on Icelandic pronunciation or we will be rubbish tour guides... 

This two and a half month trip is the beginning of not only our blog, but of our Unpacked Adventures around Europe where we hope to stop and unpack in beautiful places where we can live with the locals, eat new food and learn new ways of life while enjoying as many adventures as we can – lots of wild swimming and running up mountains.

We look forward to sharing our first Unpacked Adventure with you. Iceland here we come!