To the Land of Fire and Ice

It was trying to snow as we left home in the dark and there was a light dusting at the airport. A couple of days before we left there had been a photograph of a train in a snowy landscape south of Inverness in a newspaper where it was described as ‘battling through the snow’. As there only appeared to be a couple of inches this generated great discussion with contributions from Ken Bruce on Radio 2. It reminded me of trying to leave my first job in Inverness to travel to the next one in Stirling in January 1985. Inverness was cut off by deep snow on all the surrounding roads and I was phoning the station every day to find out whether the trains were running as they had been sliding back down the icy track at Aviemore. Eventually I did leave and arrived in Stirling on a train completely covered in snow. That amount of snow might lead to ‘battling’. I was hoping for snow in Iceland as we have had very mild winters for the last few years. As we descended into Keflavik there were some snowy hills peeking through the cloud. Having landed, our baggage took a long time to emerge so I could not resist pressing the ‘grumpy’ emoji button on the feedback post which asked how satisfied we were with the speed of our baggage arrival. We took the Grayline bus to our hotel as taxis are around £95 one way from the airport to Reykjavik. The Flybus is a bit cheaper but just takes you to a central point in the city. The next day we had the morning to explore some of the city before meeting up with the rest of our group in the afternoon. We headed down to the harbour first.
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The Harpa Concert Hall was started before the 2008 financial crisis and completed later.
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We then wandered around the streets admiring the street art and discovering that there is a punk museum.
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All the usual fast food outlets are here as well as Irish pubs and American bars. The only exception was McDonalds which was odd but I later found out that they had left in 2008 and not returned. It was soon time to walk along the sea wall path to meet up with our tour leader. Here is the sculpture ‘Sun Voyager’ by Jón Gunnar Árnason.
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Our tour leader told us that Iceland was having an unusually mild winter which was a little disappointing but yet another indicator of climate change. He said that some birds had not migrated and that farmers were keeping some of their animals outside which was unusual at this stage of winter. We met the rest of the group and then went for a dip in the Blue Lagoon. It is busy and booking is essential. We only just managed to find empty lockers and after the obligatory shower, sampled the water. I did not take my camera into the rain, steam and silica but there were plenty who did and we had to dodge the selfie sticks. Facials and other treatments are available and there is a bar in the pool but we just relaxed before I took a few shots through the windows of the cafe and along the path around the edge of the pool.
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Back at the hotel, we met the resident cat who was lounging on the doormat but was a little camera-shy. James was delighted to find Sky Sports on the TV in the room and live football in the bar. There was even a school trip from Liverpool watching the match to make us feel at home.

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