Saturday, 26 May 2018

Reykajvik: Where the Water Falls and Falls and Falls

Our guide told us at the beginning of our daylong trip through Iceland's Golden Circle, that the word Reykajvik comes from the Old Norse meaning "bay of smoke". 

I'm fairly certain that he was just fucking with us.

After our experience today, I am absolutely certain that the word Reykjavik means "water that cascades from the heavens...and the earth...and the trees...and the rude bastard sitting next to The Better Half."

The Husband and I have travelled to all parts of the world and have experienced Mother Nature in all of her menopausal glory. We have endured searing desert heat in the Australian Outback that melted our shoes. We have lived through miserable cold and wind in Alaska. We have come face to face with ocean storms so severe that both of us were barely conscious in our bed. We have travelled in cold and heat and rain and snow and every combination one could possibly imagine. But I have little doubt that today was by far the absolute worst travel day either of us has ever experienced.

Iceland isn't really known for its stellar weather. We came well prepared for the possibilities of cold and rain and were not surprised when the forecast today called for showers. We had our raingear and umbrellas and our waterproof hikers. I packed gloves and earmuffs. Yup. We were ready for the exciting beauty that awaited us at Gullfoss and Geysir. We were eager to hike the volcanic rocks, learn of the mysteries of shifting tectonic plates, feel the immense power of a rugged waterfall, and to watch the geysers explode. We wanted to smell the sulfur and to feel the moist heat of the geothermal springs. We were however totally unprepared for the Pandora's Box of misery that hit.

Photo Credit: Kathy Stein
The rain was heavy and cold and it started before we even left the hotel. By the time we were on the bus, we were already damp. The wind was blowing from all directions and umbrellas proved useless against the blustery gusts. Our hikes through the volcanic caverns were slick and often treacherous. I saved one woman from certain injury as she lost her footing on the slippery rocks. The water was everywhere. It came at us horizontally and diagonally for hours. Our raincoats and hoods were no match for Icelandic climate. We were soaked from stem to stern and everywhere in between. We couldn't access anything in our pockets because it had all turned to pulp. We couldn't take a selfie because the rain and wind would blow directly at us. At one point, I began to feel envious of drowned rats. I swear that I actually saw flocks of swans swimming in a flooded farmer's field. No joke. We are fairly certain that The Husband's camera became a drowning casualty. There was so much water pounding on it constantly, that he thinks the electronics got fried. We are desperately hoping that it can be resuscitated at home. Anybody who knows him and his feeling for his photography know this to be a great potential loss.

All of this is really unfortunate. I had been looking forward to this weekend for the entire trip. I was excited to see Iceland and what I did manage to view through the mist, fog, and my rain-soaked glasses is beautiful in its starkness. Nature has been kind to this part of the world. I am often in awe of how desolation can carry such beauty. I loved the volcanoes in the distance and would have loved to venture closer. Sometimes, the best-laid plans though....

We have a bit more time here before heading home tomorrow. Given the forecast of more of the same, we have decided to head to the airport with memories of a wonderful vacation still in our thoughts and dry clothes still on our backs. Hopefully, we will get another chance to visit this unique country. I will remember to double layer the raingear.

Photo Credit: Kathy Stein

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