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Where is this?

Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and the currency is the Icelandic krona. It is famous for its hot springs and Icelandic horses - as well as lots and lots of snow.


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Arriving in Reykjavik in February is almost a cliché. The snow is deep and crisp and everywhere, except the downtown pavements which are regularly cleared to make walking easier. The people are brightly dressed, and the buildings also demand attention with their oddly cheery colorful rooftops. The short journey into the town centre and our hotel is not enough to fully take in the strangeness of it all.

icelandic horses

Our hotel is very warm and welcoming- everyone we meet speaks perfect English and seems to be well read. Many of the people we met write poetry and we attended a reading that evening in the hotel.  We also visited some of the local bars and cafes to listen to live music, and took part in some informal dancing in a very relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.

icelandic springsBecause it is not daylight until around 10:00 am and grows dark again by 15:00 we make the most of our trip, and head for the open air heated springs municipal swimming pool. (If you find my pink goggles there, can you please send them to me?) The whole experience is very Scandinavian – everyone has to strip completely and shower before putting on a swimsuit and going across the duck boards into the steaming pool. There are alcoves around one edge of the water, with ledges to sit on, where people seem to be just chatting, with their heads out of the water, almost like having a meeting.

The thermal waters are lovely. The steam rises above the pool into the air temperature of 20° below.  We swam for nearly an hour, the last half of which was taken up with discussions on the best way to leave the water –slowly and carefully, or a quick hop and skip over the boards, the snow, and the cold air, and into the changing rooms.

iceland snowThat afternoon we trudged in our “moon boots” through the snow and to the shopping area. Everything is expensive to us but we found some appropriate souvenirs in the form of a Viking longship brooch, a book of Viking sagas,  and a crystal dome candle holder which we agreed summarized Iceland – fire and ice working together.

With not much time we decided to take a day trip to see some of the countryside. From the warmth of the bus, we had to be persuaded to get off and see the Icelandic ponies,  in their extra thick coats which keep them warm in the subzero temperatures of winter. They also have developed short legs to enable them to move about the countryside efficiently.

Another highlight was the “Great Geyser” which erupts at regular intervals throughout the day and night. This is only one of many hot springs which, the Icelanders use to harness all this energy from nature, to power the street lights as well as sophisticated greenhouse complexes in which they grow vegetables.

As the plane took off we agreed that it had been a very enjoyable interlude.  I would definitely recommend visiting Iceland and experience the full whiteness of winter.


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