South Iceland

We wake early with a plan. Our group of eight is a well oiled machine, eating, showering and tidying in shifts. I save time by not coaxing the finicky fancy coffee maker for a beverage. It mocks me, I avoid eye contact and drink out of the community carafe and enjoy my morning skyr.

We venture to a waterfall where we have the opportunity to walk behind the falls. The ground slick with rocks and mud, every step is calculated. It’s a busy, happening place where  long lines snake the route. We stop for photos, jumping out of line then continue nose to tail through the predetermined route.

We finish then patiently wait for our friends as we sip a $10 coffee. We troll the gift store, a kings ransom for nearly nothing. Our new game is to find the most overpriced item. A hat wins, $90.00, it’s nice though not worth the amount.

After a delay our friends arrive. They have ventured to two other falls while we cooled our heels. We are annoyed and I voice our displeasure. We decide on future time limits to keep us all on track.

We set off for the ocean and black sand beach with its amazing cliffs and caves flanking the sides. We have read about sneaker waves and John and I take photos solo while the other is charged with vigilantly watching . The ocean is powerful though some people didn’t get the memo as they climb the rock structures away from land. Its always interesting how people foolishly think there is always a net for them.

We listen to the pounding of the waves, mesmerized. The timing of the waves becomes predictable as we set up our next photo learning to watch the water and soon learning to notice the build of waves before they crash on land.

I look for seaglass though am not rewarded. I suspect it’s there though closer to where the waves break.  I would need to risk life and limb for pretty garbage and decide its not worth the risk, though I spend some time wondering if its possible.

We leave after our predetermined time to our next destination where our car navigates a twisty road. It has no shoulders and barely enough room for two complete with steep drops off on either side. At times we shift forward in our seats urging our little car that it can.

The view is worth the effort as we happily snap photos before beginning the journey down

We arrive in Vik, a small quaint town surrounded by jaw dropping landscapes and spy the sea just beyond. The restaurant, Sudur Vik is predicatably expensive like all food in Iceland. We have had several days to get used to the money we will spend on this lunch.

I open the menu and as always have sticker shock. I have the money, though can’t spend $45.00 for chicken opting instead for a couple appetizers a bargain when compared. John asks if I want wine. I point to the price, he orders me a glass anyway, perhaps I need it I decide. The food is fantastic, though I suspect the high price influences our taste buds.

We leave, tour the town and find a gift store where the prices shock us anew. I buy a small book on Icelandic horses telling myself I deserve this luxury due to my frugality at lunch

We begin the journey back to Reykjavík. Gilles keeps an eye out for Icelandic ponies and I’m touched. We pass many ponies, not enough, too far away. I’m disappointed though not destroyed as I scroll through the beautiful pics I already have on my phone and leaf through my beautiful pony book.

We round a bend and a field of ponies awaits complete with a rainbow, there is something for everyone. Our small group is patient while I snap pictures, pet and shake my head in disbelief as the light intensifies, the ponies appearing golden.  I feed them grass for their efforts.

We leave a crowd behind us who have stopped to spend time with the ponies and return to Reykjavík satiated with all we have seen.

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Western Iceland

We wake early, the house already stirring with our friend’s morning activity.  The kitchen is cramped with its too large table.  We make it work eating in shifts.  I fight with the fancy coffee maker and am victorious for my efforts.  I try for a beverage for John, the coffee maker says no can do and I give John my hard won coffee and enjoy one from the community carafe.

We have rented two cars and today will travel to Western Iceland.  John and I are with Maxine and Gilles, the married couples, the other car with the 4 single girls, Carol, Coleen, Laura and Maureen.  We have wifi in each car and can communicate.  We set off to explore the magic of this country.

We follow each other, then a stop needs to be made and we twirl around, lose each other, frantically text one another and find one another again.  We still have not left Reykjavik, though finally  we find our way out of town, Gilles expertly navigating the traffic circles that come one after another.  Traffic calming devices that do little to calm.

John and I sit back, relax and allow Gilles and his co pilot, Maxine to expertly guide.  We have a large itinerary today, each vista more beautiful than the last.  I can’t stop taking pictures and even take pictures out of the car window, a practice I never do though the scenery begs for a photo and I happily snap away and comply.

We stop at Snaefellsbaer and I begin looking for sea glass.  John finds the first piece and the game is on as I search for more.  Maureen shows me her finds, more than me, now I have competition.  Soon, Carol and Maxine are hooked and now the small amounts of glass on the beach will need to be shared with the growing group of sea glass aficionados, eagle eyes necessary, I employ John’s sharp eyes for my team.

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We spy some pretty horses and stop to take photos.  They are lovely with their don’t care, long hair and remind me of friendly puppies as they amble to the fence for petting.  The Vikings brought this breed of horse to Iceland. They are the only horses that are permitted in Iceland, thus the breed remains pure.  Their pretty hair with their perpetual baby look at odds with their strength.  All the horses are owned, though they appear wild except for their friendly manner. I learn that every summer the horses are set free in the highlands where for several months they are free to be their own community.   In the fall, the owners band together to gather the horses, sort and return them to their owners.  In this manner they stay wild, though strangely relaxed.  I think about the horses at home, high strung, perhaps they could benefit from this practice?

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We stop for lunch in Arnarstapi and opt for a tailgate party of homemade sandwiches.   We huddle behind the car eating out of our kitchen trunk and save money not eating fast food fish for $25.00 each where we could huddle outside stand up tables in the rain.

The area is beautiful, scenery surreal, it appears as though we have walked into  a postcard. I spy a lion in the stone with his grassy mane. The scenery beckons and I comply. I no sooner take one photo thinking how beautiful when the next photo presents itself and wins the prize. We reluctantly leave the area, check the time and realize that our set itinerary was too ambitious. We negotiate between two sites, majority rules and we set off for Saxholl crater.

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We arrive and are greeted with stairs yawning towards the heavens and I’m thankful for the stair training I have done, happy to not shame myself. The rise and run is off though gradually sorts itself out. The view is stunning and we take in all 360 degrees, happily snapping photos. Soon we are satiated and decide everyone should count the stairs on the way down. It’s comical as we all come up with a different number.

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It’s late as we return to Reykjavik with its never ending traffic circles we twirl even certain of our destination. It has been a great day I decide as Maureen and I compare sea glass and I scroll through today’s cache of photos.