Super Jeep Adventure
Trip Start Jan 22, 2009
5Trip End Jan 26, 2009
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Ring Road to the South Coast. We saw the geothermal power plant, the ski slopes (which was first thought to be the sun rising, but these were just lights so that you can ski while the sun was down), a dairy farm town, and a town that had many greenhouses. The dairy town produces most of Reykjavik's milk, cheese, and skyr. Skyr comes in what looks like a yogurt container. It tastes very much like yogurt as well, but we later found out that it was some sort of cheese concoction (high in protein, low in fat, and comes in many flavors that we would expect yogurt to come in). The greenhouses in Iceland produce almost all the vegetables that are consumed within the country. It is amazing what they can grow in that climate. Most of the fruits are imported though. However, there is one farmer who grows bananas and exported 5 of them so that he can say that Iceland is the only European country to export bananas.
Other interesting facts about the country that we learned (if you are not interested, skip past the bullets):
- Icelandic horses are the size of ponies (they are just the tiniest little buggers), but are still very strong and can easily carry the weight of man. Also, to prevent diseases, no other horses are allowed to be imported into Iceland. Icelandic horses are allowed to be sold to other countries, but once they leave, they are not allowed to come back. Reckna told us that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was going to be filmed in Iceland, but they wanted to use bigger horses and were not allowed to bring any into the country.
- Crime in Iceland is almost non-existent. We passed a very small house that was once a woman's prison. However, since there were only 5 women prisoners, the small house was too big, and the women were shipped out. There are only 100 male prisoners in the entire country (Iceland has 350,000 people). Most of the criminals were drug dealers. But since it is such a small, tight knit country, they were ratted out.
We entered one more small town before our tour really started. We stopped at a gas station here to use the WC and pick up some sandwiches for a 'picnic'. The sandwich names were quite interesting. There was a beef taco sandwich and a pepperoni pizza sandwich. Amy and I shared a grilled chicken sandwich, and also picked up some snacks. I noticed that they had one of my favorite flavors of pringles that you don't find in the States, paprika flavored. They taste similar to bbq flavored, but not as sweet. Iceland is now the 15th country I have enjoyed pringles in. We also met Reckna's son at the rest stop. He is 18 and has a super jeep of his own that he is taking 3 of his friends on the trip.
Seljalandsfoss (a waterfall) on the left side. We turned down the street, but kept going past the waterfall. At this point, the road was no longer paved but was made up of lava rocks, and Reckna said in the winter, there is no maintenance on this road. We continued further down the road until we came to a river. I just assumed this was the end as we had come to a stop. But that was only momentarily as Reckna changed gears and through the river we went. The road got worse, and we passed many more rivers until we finally arrived at a glacier called Eyjafjallajokull. This is certainly a site to see. There was a river in front of it flowing with glacier water. The glacier is melting more every year thanks to global warming. Around the glacier were black volcanic rocks as well. We hiked around, took a few pictures, and hopped back in the Jeep.
Reckna brought us back to our hotel and we could hear loud drums beating. There was a demonstration going on in front of the Parliament Building, which just happened to be right down the street from us. Apparently the people are not happy with the government officials after the collapse of the economy that caused a 40% unemployment rate. I wanted to check it out, but the opportunity to take a quick nap before the evening won. So we all went our own ways to refresh for a few hours.
Sea Barron (Sægreifinn) (the website is one of the best I have ever seen) and happens to look like a shack (we almost didn't go in as it was empty). There is no menu, as you walk in there is a refrigerated area on the left that has different fish kabobs that they grill for you, and of course there is the lobster soup. We start with 4 lobster soups and 4 Viking Lights. When they say light beer, they mean it at 2.25% alcohol. The lobster soup came with a huge basket of bread. The lobsters in Iceland are smaller than we are used to with Maine lobsters, but have much more flavor, and the soup was fantastic. As we were eating, the restaurant, which had 3 long picnic tables, started filling up quickly. I noticed they had whale kabobs, so I decided to order one for the table. The whale looked and had the consistency of steak, but tasted like it had been brined in sea water for a few years (makes sense). It was actually very good (although Amy did not like it). The woman behind the counter decided to bring by some freebies of local cuisine. There was a trio of putrified shark, sheep's head, and sheep's "balls". I wouldn't say any of them were good, but the shark was the best. It tasted similar to a small block of cheese (with a rancid smell). I tried the sheep's head as well, which tasted like a gelatin. It was tough to keep down. After a lot of peer pressure, I finally tried the sheep's testicles. Again not a fan, but Amy certainly loved it. I say that because when Amy went to the ladies' room we told some of the other tourists there to try the sheep's balls because it was Amy's favorite. She heard us from the restroom, and came tearing out to set the record straight. It was a running joke the rest of the night.
It was getting a little late, close to 10pm at this point. Still too early for the locals to go out, but we figured we wanted to get a head start on exploring the nightlife in Reykjavik. The Icelandic people certainly know how to party hard, even when the economy is down and there is only sunlight for 5 hours a day. We weren't able to witness it yesterday as we went to bed too early, but Saturdays are supposed to be the big party nights. Bars typically start to get crowded around midnight and last till 4, 5, even 6 in the morning. After wandering around for a while to find a local joint, we ended up back near our hotel at a sports bar. On the tele was the Barcelona v Numancia Empanadas. Ken thought he saw the word Emapanadas somewhere on the screen, so we decided that was their team name. This was your typical grungy sports bar and was not suited for everyone in the party, so we decided to move to attached bar next door that had live music playing. We sat down at a table and lucked out by finding one of the best cover bands in all of Reykjavik. You name a rock song and this band could play it. They had a terrific 3 consecutive song set of Born to Be Wild, Times Like These (by the foo fighters), and a remake of Baby Hit Me One More Time. We captured a video that can be found above, just click 'show all photos and videos'.
We left after an hour and a half to try to find another bar. As we walked down the street we decided to go into a club. We couldn't see a name of the place but decided to take a chance. The music and women were certainly hot in this place. There was Flo Rider as we first walked in, but as we stayed longer, the music got more recent. Once the song Single Ladies by Beyonce came on, we had to run on the dance floor to show off our moves. We stayed for a while, but decided to leave when I saw Jon being followed by a strange looking, drunk Icelandic fellow. We went looking for an Ice Bar (which was close to our hotel), but unfortunately it was closed. So of course we decided to head back to the English Pub. The place was packed tonight and there was another band playing. This band was 2 guys playing acoustic guitar, and they were fantastic as well. We found our Norwegian friends hanging out in the same spot they were at yesterday (I wonder if they ever left). After talking to them for a while, we decided to move closer to the door where there was more room and it was a little cooler. We had great conversations with a group of Icelandic girls and another group of British girls. It's funny how everyone we spoke to all weekend long thought that Barrack Obama is going to save their country as well as ours in the next few months. Apparently they are as delusional as we are. One of the Icelandic chicas tried to convince me she was from Austin, Texas and at that point I decided it was time to go. It was also 3:30 in the morning.
Bæjarins Bestu and all they sell is hot dogs. But it kind of reminds me of In-N-Out Burger as the menu is small, but there is an extensive secret menu. We saw one guy with 3 dogs on one bun. The hot dogs were very good, had quite a snap to it as if they were fried. I like my hot dogs plain (I know weird). Jon and Amy tried it with the "special sauce." Jon and I decided that one wasn't enough, and at this point I started to smell a strong odor from onions. Not sure how I missed that before, so I got fried onions on the second round. The onions were crushed up and heavily layered on the dog. Let's just say I am happy there is not one of these stands closer to where I live. We headed home and decided to call it a night.
Where I stayed