“Reykjavík?” I ask.
“Reykjavík. Let’s go love. I have been waiting forever to go there, we are going today.”
We are about to board a plane to Vancouver and my husband is grinning. I am staring blankly at him. Today the thermometer in my hometown reads -42 and we board the plane bundled up as tight as we can.
“It’s only minus 1 in Reykjavík. I got our tickets. You said you’d go to Iceland with me. Today is the day, will you come with me?”
What do you say to that? Women all over the world are demanding more romance in their lives and my life is filled with it. What woman in her right mind turns down a romantic get-away? (With my travel maniac husband, sometimes – I do.)
We hop on Alaska Air and are greeted by an impatient-bleach-blond-tanned- husky-voiced stewardess who hates that my husband wants to take pictures. I am sure, from this day forward we will refer to this woman as an example when we talk about “American service”. We jump to Seattle to begin our real journey, on Iceland Air.
My husband is an airline fanatic. He loves planes, fly’s them, fly’s in them, knows all about them from make and model to air crash statistics. He gets into an airport and can tell me everything about it.
He couldn’t contain himself when we got on the plane, he is in a state of aero-gasmic euphoria. “It’s sooooo nice. Look at the seats. Feel this cozy blanket. Can you hear that ambient music, can it be Iceland Airwaves? Look at the stewardesses, flawlessly natural and absolutely beautiful. Have you ever had such a sandwich? Look how much space is here in the seats.”
He has gotten a flight on a plane that is half full, we are travelling off-season and so we both get a whole row to ourselves to stretch out and enjoy. There is Icelandic music, movies and little tour tips. The napkins have great sayings on them, dry, witty and clever. When we land in Keflavik we hardly want to get off the plane.
Iceland has done an amazing job at looking at what needs to do in order to move into economic recovery. One of the main things they have done is focus on tourism. In fact, Iceland is to tourism what the I-phone is to telecom.
They are keeping it local. The Icelanders use geothermal pools to light and heat greenhouses which they grow most of their produce in. Staunchly opposed to salmon farms, and taking heed from the Canadian cod fishery devastation, Icelanders understand the value of their salmon & other fisheries. The fishing industry is alive and well with fish that are fresh, vibrant and healthy. Sergio and I had many beautiful dinners, feasting on fresh local fish.
Local dairy products are produced on the island and there is a good industry for raising lamb for wool & meat. The textiles are pretty cool and I bought myself a pair of Icelandic wool socks.
Iceland was everything we had imagined, and when the light arrived and we looked around ( AT 11:00 AM!) the landscape felt otherworldly, as though we were on some far and distant planet . Geysers, thermal pools, volcanic rocks, and the vast open seas out beyond the harbour make the landscape of Iceland beautiful, earthy and rich. Standing out on an icy plane in the dark, watching the brilliant solar storms flash across the sky in the Aurora Borealis is wondrous, albeit cold when the wind comes ripping though. At first my color-blind husband didn’t get it, and his South American temperature gauge kicked in. Truth be told, he wasn’t missing much at the beginning, but when the storm kicked into high gear, he huddled in close as the solar flares jumped up and down in the night sky and he said, “Oh! Now I can see it!”
Laugavegur, the main shopping street is great fun to walk around. The Church is stunning and the view of the harbour is unlike any city I have ever seen. With a population of 300,000, Icelandic people are stoic at first glance, and generously warm and friendly when engaged in conversation. The phone book is sorted by first name and there is a genealogy web site that tells you who all your relatives are on the island. We really liked these people. I really liked that I could understand a bit of what they were saying because of my limited Swedish. Icelandic language derives from Old Norse.
I hauled Sergio onto a tour bus and we made a meandering journey out to where the old parliament’s used to take place, past geyser’s and pools of icy-blue looking water that steams up into the contrasting cool air. I am standing on the edge of the continental drift , at Þingvellir, in a rift valley where the North American and Eurasian Plates meet- or separate. It is amazing, and what is more amazing is that the people of Iceland would take the yearly pilgrimage to this site yearly, since 930.
Our last day in Iceland was spent at the Blue Lagoon, lying up against volcanic rocks, soaking in geothermal pools, scrubbing faces with lagoon clay, and eating beautiful sushi. When we get back on the plane Sergio says “I miss Iceland. I want to go back. ”
I agree. It’s one get-away I would never refuse.