Friday, April 22, 2016

Chilling in Iceland (Part 2): Surviving the Golden Circle

This was our first day away from the comforts of Reykjavik, and we had no idea how harsh it was going to be out there.  We packed the right clothes (Patagonia splurge!) and were prepared for the extreme cold, but we weren't expecting road conditions and winds to be so difficult.  Not many people were out on this day; winds were blowing at 45 mph and it was a tough call to not turn around when we drove into the thick of the white-out.  Even our trip to Big Bear during El Niño was nothing like this--obviously, this is Iceland.  But with some good luck, adrenaline, and a lot of determination on Wes’s part, we actually finished the whole darn loop in our trusty rental car.  Luckily, this was probably the worst day to be out--we had a much easier time driving around during the rest of our trip!  So, most of our pictures from this first day were taken on the Go-Pro or our phones.

Honestly, you probably have not experienced Iceland properly until your travel plans get botched by the weather.  We actually were supposed to go snorkeling and caving on this day, but the tour was rescheduled due to the weather.  That didn't keep us away from the Golden Circle, though.

The Golden Circle is a 186-mile loop including Þingvellir National Park (tectonic rift), Haukadalur (Strokkur Geyser and Geysir), and Gullfoss Waterfall. There are a few other key stopping points along the way, but time and weather only permitted the major pull-offs. We were definitely not disappointed, but rather, pleasantly surprised that we could see everything that we saw.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Homecured Lox - Straight Back to Iceland

Rúgbrauð (rye bread), cured fish, and pure butter--in Iceland, this was the trifecta of sustenance.  From convenience stores to upscale eateries, we could find them just about anywhere.  Every morning during our vacation, we clomped down the stairs of our hotel and piled our plates with thin, brown rye bread triangles and cold mustard-marinated herring.  Our first dinner included open-faced rye sandwiches smeared thickly with butter and topped with various cured fishes.   In a small hot spring village, we filled up on three types of lox at an excellent lunch buffet and tasted rye bread that was freshly unearthed from being baked under the ground for the past twelve hours.  When on the road with nothing to eat for miles, we were glad that we had a hunk of day-old rye and some tuna salad from the bakari.  On our last day out, we supplemented gas station asparagus soup and bread (and butter) with a thick slab of cured Arctic char, blanketed densely in dill, sealed and sold as bologna would be marketed here in the U.S.

We may not be hiking through the snow or visiting giant waterfalls anymore, but we tried to relive a little bit of the trip by way of eating (one of the best ways).  Wes made lox when we got back using just a regular ole Costco salmon filet and a bunch of dill.  It's funny how even a simple gas station meal out there could inspire us now, hundreds of miles away.  We brought back two small loaves of rúgbrauð--a last-minute impulse buy that we did not regret at all.  It was so worth it to carry those dark bricks all the way home; when paired with butter and lox, it took us straight back to vacation.