Saturday, September 01, 2007

Iceland, The Director's Cut - Day 8

A week had passed since leaving for one of the most unique countries in the world. In that time we'd circumnavigated the whole country, seen absolutely gorgeous scenery, learned a thing or two about its history, and generally been impressed.

Today wasn't gearing up to be too full. We were potentially 20 minutes out side Reykjavik, with our flight leaving in the evening. So we took it easy, had breakfast and rolled out.

From Borgarnes you have two choices for getting to Reykjavik (well, 3 if you count going the wrong way for 800km) - a tunnel under one of the fjords, or the old road around the fjord. We opted for the old road, aiming for Glymur, Iceland's highest waterfall. We'd be warned there was a somewhat arduous and high hike to get there, but we figured it wouldn't hurt to get to the start of that and see what was in store. We never got that far, because what wasn't mentioned was, once again, the horrible condition of the road to get there. A dirt road that got progressively worse and steeper met us, and eventually we were forced to turn around.

So we continued on the old road, met up with the main road again, and made it into Reykjavik. We drove over to The Pearl - another landmark clearly visible from much of the city. It's a very large series of water tanks above the city. However, instead of your standard "oh look! a water tank!" style, it's an architectural attraction. A series of large tanks with a glass dome and observation deck on top, a history of Iceland museum inside, and a revolving top-tier restaurant.

Outside The Pearl is a man-made recreation of Strokkur - that regular geyser from day 3. It actually quite humourous after seeing the natural one. Every few minutes, this stream of water and steam is forced a couple dozen feet in the air, but it looks so artificial. Inside is a fountain that I believe is matched to the outdoor one's cycles.

We climbed to the observation deck and enjoyed the 360-degree views of the largest city in the country. We also went through the history of Iceland museum, where I learned that nothing has happened in the last 300 years. Seriously, there's this whole display with life-like models, recreated historical scenes, descriptions, audio tours, and the rest, but it ends in the 1700's. I suppose nothing quite matched the days of the Vikings since then.

We made it to the airport, and found ourselves waiting to board the plane because the pilot was having a hard time getting away from an annual festival in Reykjavik. Icelandair has a tendency to force you to be there early. 2 1/2 hours before departure, boarding beginning 20 minutes before scheduled, and leaving as soon as possible. However, the staff seemed perfectly okay with herding all the passengers into a tiny holding room because the pilot was having too much fun. We finally took it upon ourself to go back out to the larger waiting room and sit down, and the staff reluctantly agreed they were morons.

All told though, we didn't leave that late, and arrive in Halifax relatively on time. Here was when my family, except for me, were pulled aside for a random customs check. I strolled through, they got pointed through another door. Here, they were caught for transporting rocks that hadn't been washed in vinegar. Seriously. Rocks=dirt and you can't transport dirt. But you can if you wash it in vinegar apparently. So the customs official washed their rocks and let them pass. He missed the tomatoes they were carrying, go figure.

We scarfed down some fast food and got the to hotel for the night.

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