Kayaking in Iceland

We booked a kayak tour. Our group splits into two groups, morning and afternoon. I’m happy to be part of the afternoon group and enjoy sleeping in a little longer. I begin my day fighting with the fancy coffee maker and enjoy a latte for my 30 minutes of effort. I sit at the table and enjoy my crime brûlée skyr, a cheese type product, its consistency similar to Greek yogurt.

Our group decides to tour a nearby lighthouse though arrive too early, the tide still out making the journey not possible. We salvage the moment by scavenging the beach and soon are rewarded with sea glass.

We journey to a nearby park and stop for a walk. We spy a beautiful waterfall and hear excited children’s voices as they enjoy a last day of summer. It’s raining, we bundle up against the cold and shake our heads at the Icelandic children, clad in bathing suits playing in the water. I wonder if it’s a hot spring? We check and find it cold. Little Viking children we declare.

We leave to arrive at the kayak site, a small bay where we will need to portage our kayaks a distance. Hordur, our guide is friendly and despite his years, stronger than all of us as he pulls our crafts into the water, one after another. The kayaks are narrow, able to track fast though tippy as a result. We mention this to Hordur who simply states you will get used to this fact. He is right as the alternative is getting wet in the frigid water.  We weigh our options, an Eskimo roll, beyond our capabilities or removing the spray skirt upside down if we upturn as we are wearing the boat.  Survival instinct takes over as we glide through the water, balancing the craft with our hips

We are off on this grey day hoping to see seals, or puffins or something else equally as cool. We paddle around easily and then fight a current to cross to the other side for no other good reason then to get to that side. There are many seabirds, flying above, leading the way to our obvious direction. We learn the puffins have left for the season and the seals that were here this morning have also left. I enjoy the paddle anyway, it’s cool to be kayaking in Iceland I tell myself. Soon there is excitement as Carol spies a seal. There are many such citing and I seem to miss them all. It is time to get back.  Reluctantly I leave, then look behind where a seal has decided to follow me, making certain my kayak experience is memorable. I decide to take no photos and instead snap off a few photos for my memory where when recalled is certain to make me smile.

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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.