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ICELAND - The Land of Fire and Ice

December 13-16, 1999

An Icy Adventure

By

Anne Marie Finley

 

The Bad Pennies Iceland Adventure started with a mad dash to the airport.  Due to unexpected rain and resulting traffic, some Bad Pennies spent 3 hours getting to BWI but everyone arrived in time to make the evening flight on Monday, Dec. 13.  It was a surprise to many that flying to Iceland takes one-half hour less than flying to California!

 

We arrived at 6:00 am Tuesday at Keflavik airport, navigated the currency exchange lines, and proceeded to the Lofleidir Hotel.  After a quick check-in, the intrepid Pennies met

Thornstein Gunnarson and participated in a “made-for-us” 10km walk through Reykjavik.

Highlights of the beautiful walk included: Christmas song serenades by Icelandic kindergartners, beautiful frozen lakes with

 

swans and mallards galore; Christmas candles in every window and lights on each of the few trees in the city; a complete briefing on the unique Icelandic “Christmas boys” (troll-like figures who bring 26 day of Christmas to Iceland); insider information from American personnel stationed at Keflavik who extended the club’s international reach by joining us for the walk; and avoidance of serious slip and fall accidents on the icy streets and sidewalks!

The elusive Iceland IVV stamp, which was not in existence at the time of the previous Pennies’ walk in 1994, was earned by all. The afternoon was “on our own” for shopping, sightseeing, and lunch at the Hard Rock Café in the only mall in Iceland!   Several adventurous Pennies proceeded to the Jonathon Livingston Seagull restaurant for a puffin dinner.

 

( Matt, Ruth, Betty and Mary Beth met in the lobby at 6:00 on our first night in Iceland to take a taxi to Jonathan Livingston Mavur Restaurant for dinner.  We had the place to ourselves, so we enjoyed a very slow and elegant meal.  Matt asked the chef to prepare his specialties in a 5 course meal, plus dessert.  He and Mary Beth enjoyed a Lobster Stew (1); Puffin Terrapin (2), which was chilled and served with a special, decorative sauce; Seafood Medley on Lettuce Leaves (3), including Lobster Tail, Shrimp, Scallops, Mussels and Clams; Chilled Reindeer Meatloaf (4) with a sauce; then hot Lamb Strips (5) for their main entree, including Potato Dumplings with Cheese and a Vegetable Medley containing carrot balls, celery cubes, mushrooms and turnip cubes. Dessert (6) was an Exotic Fruit Cup w/Cream for Mary Beth, and awonderful Chocolate Mousse for the rest of the group.  Betty and Ruth were a little less adventurous, and enjoyed a fish called Grenadier. (The waitress brought a picture to show us, since she didn't know the English name.  It is ugly to look at, but tasted pretty good.)  We spent about 3 hours over dinner and dessert.  It was a lovely time!  Ruth asked about buying one of the interesting, dark blue water/wine glasses with the name of the restaurant on it as a souvenir.  We all liked the idea so well that we each bought one to take home! The waitress called us a cab to get back to the hotel, and much to our surprise and pleasure, a Mercedes E300 showed up.  We had an easy, comfortable ride and each went right to bed when we got back!  by Betty Strawderman)

 

Wednesday dawned dark, snowy, and very cold.  Light typically did not break until 10:30 AM and often set by 3:30 PM.  We boarded the bus for the Circle Tour in the dark.  Our delightful guide, an Icelandic woman who truly had “sun in her heart,” showed us the greenhouses where vegetables, fruits, and flowers are raised.  We then proceeded to the frozen

Gullfoss Falls and nearby geysers.
 

We dried out during lunch at an Icelandic ski lodge after standing too close to the erupting geyser and later made the acquaintance  of some friendly Icelandic horses.  Our guide’s delightful insights on Icelandic life were most interesting, such as her description of “declining Icelandic infant morality.”

We returned to the hotel to enjoy a traditional Icelandic Christmas Smorgasbord, complete with 7 different kinds of

pickled herring, and the obligatory group picture!

Thursday, our final day in Iceland, was the only day we actually saw the sun.  After a dip in The Blue Lagoon we followed by a visit to a

tiny aquarium (where Free Willy was not in residence) and then to the airport. 

 

The three hour departure delay provided us with opportunities to take full advantage of the duty free shops, where we purchased enough smoked salmon, puffin ornaments, Icelandic herbal Schnapps and “Black Death” vodka to stuff our friends and families stockings for the upcoming holidays!

First walk for IVV credit (AVA stamp) in Iceland done by The Bad Pennies October 1994

First IVV walk in Iceland for an Iceland stamp

August 1998 done by The Bad Pennies

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