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Published: October 5th 2021
Iceland - Day 20 to 22 of 22
We've resisted for all the Iceland blogs so far using the oft repeated "Fire and Ice" in a title, but after the last 3 weeks we felt it was both about time and appropriate.
We are starting this blog whilst still at Reykjavík Keflavik Airport, in the departure lounge. So, past the luggage security checks but yet to negotiate into the EasyJet boarding lounge/onto the plane. We will be amongst the first travellers flying into England under the new Covid Travel regulations which kicked in at 04:00 this morning.
The main difference this makes for us is that the new rules eliminate the need for us to take a covid test here in Iceland before we depart (though we still have to take a PCR test within 2 days of arrival - booked for Tuesday morning at Exeter Airport).
We have had to complete an England Passenger Locator Form, which was somewhat more vague about NOT needing departure test than we would have liked. But there is an "unless you are exempt" comment which we take covers our double-jabbed-so-don't-need-a-departure-test scenario.
We'll let you know later
in the blog.
Our pace is still somewhat more sedate than earlier. Today we were only moving about 50 km south to a place we first passed through on our first driving day, Selfoss, the town of the collapsed suspension bridge and first worker's strike.
On the way yet more geology to be looked at - the Kerid Crater. Formed about 6500 years ago it lies at the northern end of a row of craters known as Tjarnarholar - no, these names are still not tripping off the tongue onto the page.
270m long, 170m wide - how many football pitches? — and 55m deep. Once thought to be an explosion crater, now believed just to be a magma eruption - which apparently is not the same as an "explosion".
We had to pay to walk around though, so it must be on private land. Only 400 ikr - about £2.50 - but given how many are there during our small snapshot in time looks like a nice little earner for Mr or Mrs Farmer.
Selfoss itself is, for tourists, very much a pass-through town. Mostly now known for its dairy processing, we drove
passed the branded skyr factory that has been the main source of Pip's self - breakfasts over the last 3 weeks.
Its main tourist claim to fame is the Bobby Fischer Chess Centre. Bobby was a somewhat controversial chess grandmaster, world champion for part of the 1970s but lost that through default after failing to agree to terms associated with a subsequent world championship match.
After all sorts of issues with the US government he spent his last years in Reykjavík and was given honorary Icelandic citizenship. He is buried just outside of Selfoss - and we wouldn't say we specifically went to visit the grave but there was a geocache in that direction, so we did. We didn't pay to go into the Bobby Fischer centre in town though, we're not that nerdy!
Random Iceland fact seen on the side of a rental van today - dog ownership in Reykjavík was banned for many decades until 1984 when it was lifted, albeit with strict controls. The original issue was with dogs scavenging excess garbage in the city and being infected with tape worm which was transferred to humans.
Nice, final, posh evening meal that night
- lobster soup /Icelandic lamb for Paul, wild mushroom soup /cod for Pip.
Last full day in Iceland, car not due back in until 5.30pm, and it's blowing a right hoolie again. There is a nice run of 60 geo caches along the airport peninsula's southern coastline but the wind even inland is threatening to rip car doors off their hinges. Even the winds we've had previously were only shown as 2nd category on the roads info map, but these are showing in category 3.
In a town near to the airport is a fairly modern Viking Museum. Looked promising but turned out to be somewhat light on artefacts. Mostly photos of items with narrative. Its killer exhibit though is a full scale replica of a Viking longship, built in the late 1990s and sailed from Iceland to America in 2000. This longship, The Icelander, is a true replica of the Gokstad ship excavated in Norway in 1882.
The museum is located here because on this peninsula was discovered a Viking settlement dating to The Settlement in the mid 900s. The lack of additional outhouses however means this was a stopping - off outpost for explorers
and adventurers from Iceland en route to Greenland and N America.
After a coffee and cake stop in a harbour-side fishermen's cafe - which was reputedly famed for its lobster soup, and was packed - In the end we concluded that the best way to fill the remainder of the day was in Iceland's Blue Lagoon, its most famous, but outrageously expensive, thermal baths. Unlike many others in the country this is a salt water lagoon, though the "sea" water comes from 2000 metres underground - even as we typed "2000" we had to check because we realised that's 2km deep!
As we turned up, unbooked, the parking looked packed and we wondered whether we would be allowed entry, but after the receptionist had checked with a colleague we were able to go in. When we left, though, there was quite a queue in the "wait here if not pre-booked" line.
Even in the biting winds so long as you keep your shoulders under the water it is pleasant and warm. And so large that even when "full" there is loads of space. Entry includes one free drink from the poolside bar, and as the receptionist reminded
us it's the first drink that's free so don't choose a tea or coffee first. We went for a strawberry prosecco 😋.
For the last few days we have been trying to find somewhere where Pip could deposit a geogcache of her own. Pip already has around 30 deposited around Buckfastleigh. We haven't made things simple though as the container is tupperware box sized, so won't just slip into a small crack.
On our way from the Blue Lagoon to the airport we saw a sign to a picnic area on a small hill top, with convenient parking, so we went to check out out.
Turned out it was the location for a crashed USA bomber that in bad weather in 1943 crashed into the neighbouring Mt Fagradalsfjall killing all but 1 of its crew, and all its high ranking military passengers. The actual plane, a Liberator B-24, and crew was famed for being the first to achieve 25 survived bombing runs during WWII.
The important passenger was 3 star General Frank Maxwell Andrews. He was cic of the whole USA operations in Europe, the most senior US WWII loss to that time, and was on
his way to the US for a 4th star and promotion. He was replaced in Europe by Dwight D Eisenhower who of course later became US president.
Pip lost an uncle in WWII over Konisberg, Germany in August 1944, so some poignancy there. We set the cache up in a neighbouring pile of rocks, respectfully off from the memorial platform.
Car handed over, no inspection issues, airport hotel just metres from the terminal and that's it until flight in the morning. Not until 09:10 so with this location it's a positive lie - in and even breakfast before we need to walk across to the terminal.
On the EasyJet flight after vaccination certificate and passenger locator form both checked, so all should be fine now. Just need to be able to get fuel when we get to Luton Airport.
We probably will break our "new places only" and add Iceland to our re-visit list (consists of Dubrovnik, Venice, Santorini and the US - though different regions - so far, and New Zealand when they open back up).
We have unfulfilled business up in the North West Westfjords area.
final, final thought from this trip.....
Drones! Are they the new selfie-stick scourge? Discuss.
Bloody things were everywhere even where there were "no drones" signs posted 😡😜
Final final update - no problems at all with the trip back. EasyJet stag have vaccination very and Passenger Locator form a cursory look. No check at all on the way into Luton Airport.
Nearest 2 petrol stations to airport had no petrol so we set off home and got some when we passed a station near Banbury. Today, now waiting on our PCR tests.
Tot: 0.046s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 9; qc: 31; dbt: 0.0064s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb