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Published: September 19th 2008
Paris and Iceland
Driving west of Switzerland, we entered France. Staying one night in an African themed ‘room above a pub’ in some small eastern French village was interesting. We drove into Paris to return our rental car and our last leg of continental Europe. Driving into Paris we fluked it and didn’t get lost navigating our way to one of their three airports. After a few metro trips and a good walk we arrived at our hotel in La Defense, western Paris.
Paris was great; stylish, diverse, old, clean, picturesque, leafy, classic but of course touristy and large. On the last leg of our Europe trip we felt we didn’t and couldn’t do Paris justice in our tired state, and so attempted smaller things at a slower pace. After a free breakfast of croissants and hot chocolates we headed out to conquer….the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, and other touristic centres. Cool fun and we even met some cuzzies from Wellington.
Food is of course very pricey, and after throwing away our gas cooker we had to think strategically. Turns out McDonald’s have a French menu, with La Petit options, so a cheap Petit meal was
in store for us. Aside from the budget McDonald’s option, the other cheapie is baguettes, of course. So we walked around with metre long baguettes stuffed in our mouths, as Parisians look on in disgust (or maybe it was our jandal wearing ways).
Whatever it was we realized we were far too laid back for Paris, and not nearly fashionable enough. But this was ok for our next destination; Iceland the land of fish and lava (and not that much ice).
We caught our three hour flight with Iceland Air (!) and arrived in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland and home to Bjork and……um yeah nothing. The sights of Reykjavik are very cute and you feel like the travel writers are scratching the barrel…..art galleries….food…..churches….yeah we get the picture, nothing different. Staying here was a good option though as a storm was brewing (the 100 year one apparently) and we needed to recharge the batteries after a hectic seven week stay in Europe. After overusing the free wireless and (English speaking) TV we hired a car for one day to attempt as much as we could in 24 hours.
This included geysers, waterfalls, sheep, grass, lava, wild horses,
huts buried under grass, and various other truly Icelandic sites. On the way back from our escapade we came across an old lady and two younger gus with a flat tyre. Turns out they had been waiting hours for someone with a jack to stop and although we couldn’t get the wheel off, we gave them all a lift back to town. Being stranded in the middle of nowhere in freezing Iceland is not cool, and out of their gratefulness the two Dutch guys shouted us kebabs (with meat!!) for dinner. We tried to say no (especially as they were $20 each kebab!) but they insisted and we were so hungry and thankful we ate the kebabs at a lightning speed. Understandable when every meal in Iceland has been 2 minute noodles due to the excessive price of everything ($7 for a loaf of bread?!)
Iceland sure is a quirky place. The whole country has small town vibe which breeds boredom, which in turn breeds alcoholism. This seems to be one thing that unites the country; weekend binges. Thankfully we have a quiet guesthouse on the fringe of things and have been keeping a quiet existence since arrival. The
second important fact about Icelanders is their love of music. If you aren’t in a band either your mum, best friend, boyfriend or cousin is. Thirdly these people love hot pools; sure it is freezing but competing for leg space in a public geothermal lagoon is slightly weird for us.
Aside from it’s quirks, Iceland has many of (weird) things to offer, and is fast becoming a tourist magnet. Tourist traps abound and hiking over glaciers, chasing dog-looking-sheep, looking for puffins, geyser spotting and various other ‘activities’ are very popular. With an abundant bank account and lots of time we would have loved to have better explored Iceland, but it’s time to fly to the city of all cities; NY.
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