Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Getting homesick on our first vacation

We didn’t expect to get homesick so early on in our travels, but during our first vacation we did. Not for sunny Blighty, but for our new home. We really missed Fljótstunga, especially Prestur!
Prestur watches over Fljótstunga
Home sweet home
We have fully adapted to living in our secluded farm, where it’s rare to meet another car on the road to the lava cave. The only people we see are the travellers who come on tours or stay with us. It’s very peaceful.

View from the farm
Last Sunday, we left this tranquil life to go to the “big city”, Reykjavik, which is actually a pretty small city with a population of just over 120,000 people. Even so, coming into contact with a lot of people for the first time since we left the Keflavik airport was a shock to the system and we really did get a little homesick for the farm!

Before our trip, our new co-worker Ofer arrived. We had all been very excited about his arrival, mainly because it meant that Halldór would be taking us on more adventures. We were treated to a relaxing evening, when the nearby outdoor swimming pool and hot tubs at Húsafell were opened up just for us. We also went on a trip to the nearby glacier, Langjokull, where we met some Greenland huskies that took us dog sledding. Cute dogs weren´t enough for Rob, who made his own fun by summersaulting in the air and landing in the snow, Louise gave it a go and Chavo just tripped over his shoe lace…

Cute dogs
Rob impresses with his summersault
Louise lands well in the snow
Chavo trips over is laces
These were not the most exciting things to happen to us during Ofer’s first week. Something beyond all expectation turned up on Friday night, and we´ve been told that it will happen again every second Friday… An ice cream van visited the farm! We (mainly Louise) were so overwhelmed to have ice cream delivered that we spent about £18 on a box of magnum like treats. It was well worth it and we’ll definitely buy some more this Friday.

We love ice cream

Back to our vacation. Once we adjusted to sharing our space with the people of Reykjavik, we had a brilliant few days holiday. Halldór kindly let us stay in his apartment, which is right in the centre of Reykjavik. This meant we could explore the city and visit the varied and interesting landscapes surrounding it.
View of Reykjavik from Harpa
To be cool in Reykjavik you have to 1. Have a Macbook and 2. Wear an Icelandic jumper. Unfortunately we went to Reykjavik before Rob borrowed his new favourite item of clothing and we didn´t take our Macbook with us. We looked very uncool in the trendy coffee shops. Even more so when we brought out our pen and paper to make travel plans and Rob stood up and banged his head on the light above our table! We improved our cool over the few days by eating lots of hotdogs and hanging out at Laugardalslaug pool with the locals. Now Rob looks super cool all the time.
Super cool Rob writing our blog
Living here, we have become quite accustomed to seeing boiling water and mud bubbling up from the centre of the earth. However, some are more impressive than others…
Strokkur geysir, next to the ´Geysir´ that all other geysirs are named after
Then five minutes down the road…
The beautiful Gullfoss
Here in Iceland there really is something round every corner!

Grænavatn explosion craters
Reykjanes peninsula
Lighthouse behind the hot spring at Reykjanes
Even so, the climate and terrain often remind us of home.  A hike around Hveragerði wasn´t dissimilar to spending the day on Scafell Pike back home. It was rainy, windy and we could see about as far as the end of our noses. One slight difference. At the top we stripped to our swim suits and had a soak in the hot river!
Louise finds the best spot, while Rob gets cold taking the photo
The reason Iceland is so explosive is that it sits right on top of the American and Eurasian tectonic plates, which are pulling apart at a rate of 2cm a year. One of the ´must dos’ for tourists is to walk the Bridge Between Two Continents. A slightly underwhelming experience that consists of crossing a large gap of sand on a wobbly bridge, only made slightly more interesting by the artwork underneath.
Highlight at the Bridge Between Two Continents 
We were lucky to get a much more incredible view of the continental split thanks to the guys at Dive.is. Even if we had to look like fat kids with nut allergies when they squeezed us into some ridiculous dry suites, hoods, snorkels and masks. This was at Silfra in the Thingvellir National Park where crystal clear water has taken between 30 and 100 years to filter the 50km from Langjokull glacier, through layers of lava, to give snorkelers exceptional visibility. The temperature is a decidedly chilly 2ºC, which Rob experienced more than he expected when his dry suit sprang a leak in a rather embarrassing place! This was still the highlight of our trip so far, even more exciting than the ice cream van!

We’re glad to be back at Fljótstunga and have got a few new projects on the go including a bit of gardening and reinstating the greenhouse. Hopefully we’ll be enjoying the fruits of our labour and eating some home grown produce soon. 

Prestur supervising our gardening work
We’re learning even more about lava caves and went on our first long tour at the end of last week. Now that the ice in the cave has melted enough for us to go in further, we’ll be guiding three hour tours that take people deeper inside Viðgelmir where they can see more geological wonders. We´ll try to take the camera down there soon.

Bless bless, xxx