Sunday, 3 July 2016

Sunday 3rd July

Thermal holes and pools; bike ride along coast in wind; being an Iceland footie fan

We drove out of Reykjavik, I don't feel that I have seen the city, but will do so next weekend. I bought Iceland socks in a supermarket for watching the game tonight.

We drove up to a huge lake and walked beside ponds of grey mud bubbling away and emitting sulphurous gas, the signs warned us that it was very hot. Sometimes the mountains can be too hot to ski on here.

We put our bikes together and rode around the car park. We then had a 15 minute descent to the coast road. We then had a 4 hour struggle against the wind on the coast road. The wind varied in speed and direction but it made the biking tough; my Irish friend Niamh whom I had met in 2011 on the Cuba ride described it as "mental agony". I did wonder why I was doing it. As always I was the rear rider. We do it because the scenery is so beautiful. Initially the land comprised vast areas of round lumps of larva. Then one could see some mosses on it. There were a few flowers which looked like Alpines. We had a decent lunch stop for sandwiches and fruit and coffee and we sat down on the moss which was soft and mattress-like. In the afternoon we biked past huge fields of blue lupins which tinged the vista blue. Then the vegetation became more abundant with giant cow parsley in the fields. We stopped biking at 3.30. The scenery had also been dominated by a huge grey mountain range. In the distance are the snow covered slopes of two volcanoes, one of which is expected to explode imminently.

I could see how the plants grow in this sunshine which lasts 22 hrs. We then went to a swimming pool and sat in natural hot pools in the open air. It was very relaxing sitting in the pools and then plunging into the cold one. The pool was full of Icelanders of all ages. The Icelandic way of preparing for hot pools is to shower naked first and then put one's swim suit on for going in the hot pool. There were no inhibitions in the women's room which felt very Nordic.

After a very brief supper 9 of us went back to the local town to watch the Iceland vs France football match. We sat in a large hotel with about 100 people and watched the match shown by Iceland TV. There were aerial views of the crowds in Reykjavik and many close ups of the Icelandic team. There were drummers for the match build up and we shouted Iceland slogans and did a special Viking two handed cheers. The match started well with lots of play, but then the French scored 3 times. The interval was very subdued. After the break Iceland scored to great jubilation, the French scored twice and the Icelanders again. So Nordic pride was salvaged. The French team looked good and could go to the finals. The support was very, very good natured and I enjoyed being part of the crowd. It was interesting seeing the Icelanders, who were a very good natured crowd and applauded the French at the end.

Our hotel is lovely, a farmstead with well thought out rooms and views of the volcano in the distance. We had an excellent meal of salmon and rice cooked with a ginger sauce and huge pieces of fish. In the evening we looked across at the landscape, stroked the horses who were by the farm. Bed very tired and slept well, I am sharing with the Yorkshire farm woman called Joan who is quite lively and chatty.
Good: the hotel

Worst: the wind and the struggle against it

Surprising: the pleasure of being with a crowd of Icelanders to watch the footie.

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