Friday, June 20, 2014

Iceland, Naturally

Iceland and Natural Beauty. The two go hand in hand like Bey and Jay. Like Brad and Angie. Like Bert and Ernie. From the moment you step off the plane in Keflavik, you are struck by how dramatically gorgeous the surrounding landscape can be. If it happens to be June and you are not bundled into 17 wooly layers and are not tearing up against the harsh winds every time you step outside, you enjoy it all the more.

My most recent visit was during the "summer". I use quotes around the word "summer" because the Icelandic average "summer" temperature is in the mid-fifties. This is remarkably similar to Miami's "winter". Mind you, this is way better than their usual climate, which is somewhere in the range of apocalyptic freeze and "Why can't I feel my toes?"  But what Mother Nature takes away in beach days, she more than makes up for in other ways.
The most popular of Iceland's attractions is, not surprisingly, also it's warmest.  The Blue Lagoon, which sits between Keflavik and the capital Reykjavik, is a man-made geothermal bath whose waters are not only toasty warm but are also reputed to be good for your skin.  When I first visited, some 15+ years ago, it was nothing more than a tiny pond separated from a perfunctory locker room by what seemed like a vast expanse that you had to sprint a bikini... in the dead of winter (note no quotation marks there).  Now, it is a high tech operation with digital lockers, electronic bracelets that you use to order drinks at the swim up bar and a swanky restaurant.  The size of the lagoon and the price to enter have grown steadily but the water, pumped in from the nearby geothermal plant, remains just as welcoming.  

I am pretty sure that the moon landing was staged in Iceland.  I think this is the remains of one of the early sets.

As you make your way around the lagoon, there are often unexpected pockets of extra-scorching water.  You can always tell where those might be by following the succession of yelps and multi-lingual curses. It is here where I presented my famed soliloquy "Cuban Curse Words and Why It is OK to Rail at the Mother of a Body of Water".

When I first visited, I don't remember there even being a snack vending machine, now look at them.

Stepping away from nature and it's sometimes twisted sense of humor for a moment, we stopped for lunch in Reykjavik, Iceland's largest city and the world's most northernmost capital.

My newfound interest in knitting is becoming troublesome.  Upon seeing this pair, all I wanted to do was examine the lady troll's shawl.

Given it's remote location, you would not expect the city to be as hip and stylish as it, but then again these are the people who gave us Bjork and who have protested the building of a road because it may disturb the lives of invisible fairies in the area. They're cool like that.

Another thing their people gave us is the word for water being forcefully eject from the earth's surface. Back in the 14th century, the world's first known geyser was recorded. It was named the Great Geysir, from the Icelandic verb geysa, which means 'to gush'.

The Great Geysir is no longer very active, but there are several of its' neighbors that are more than willing to pick up the slack.

If you are willing to wait around 8 minutes, you can watch Strokkur (an unfortunate name for what is essentially a fountain featuring the earth's ejaculate) erupt in all its' glory.

A little way's down the road is yet another one of nature's attractions, Gulffoss, meaning "Golden Falls". An impressive waterfall and the site of Ed Kowalczyk's ode to stupid love- seriously they could have walked around the falls, instead of trying to swim across- it is another of Iceland's must-see's.

A memento to that ridiculous Live video

Less popular, but visited by all who come to Iceland is Keflavik, site to the country's only international airport.  Most people grab their bags and head straight to Reykjavik but they are missing out on one of the stranger sights in a country full of them.

I've been staying by the harbor in Keflavik for many many years.  I've sent puffins, whales, lots of snow but I had never noticed the oversized footprints leading to a makeshift shack in the rocks.

So I followed the footprints and inside found a gigantic troll (I'm pretty sure that's an oxymoron but I am also sure that I saw a gigantic troll sitting in her gigantic chair).  It was just me and Trolline in the shack but somewhere there was a recording playing (please baby Zeus, let it have been a recording) with snoring sounds and what I think were a couple of farts.  Why an enormous gaseous troll, hanging out in an unmarked shack at the end of a pier? Because Iceland.

But I have saved the best for last.  I have already mentioned Iceland's wonderful quirkiness, it's wealth of natural beauty, it's planetary ejaculations.  How does one put all that together?  Simple, with the world's only Phallological Museum, or to put it in layperson's terms, it's Dick Museum.

Home to 280 penii, collected from 93 different species (including humans), they range all the way from a 67 inch blue whale schlong to a .8 inch hamster winky.

It is truly a one of a kind experience and since it does have the word "museum" in its' name, can be considered a cultural outing.  As such, I'm sure it is quite popular with school field trips.

Earlier I mentioned how much nicer it is to visit in the "summer".  I should also point out out another reason to go in May-August.  With so much natural beauty to behold, it is always nicer if you can actually see it.  If you come in December, you'll be lucky to get an hour's worth of sunlight (and not bright shiny sunlight, more like dusky sunlight) in a 24 hour period but you do have a good shot at seeing the aurora borealis.  Conversely in the summer, it is daylight pretty much around the clock. Either way, nature will give you a show.  You can come in "summer" and see the geyser and Gulfoss or hold out till winter and get the northern lights.  But best of all, both the Blue Lagoon and the Repository of Rods remain open year round.

1 comment:

  1. Great! However, I think my dad and I will skip the visit to the Dick Museum. ;-)