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Thursday, 25 August 2011

Searching for Eyjafjallajökull - Page 2

Written by Elizabeth L. Silver
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Day One was devoted to the culinary conquest, an adventure that didn’t truly begin until we walked into the Sunday Market at Laugardalur.

“Try some shark!” a woman called out to me.

I don’t eat fish, I said to myself, before offering my hand in the affirmative.

She handed me a toothpick with a square of white meat stabbed at its tip like a cube of cheddar. Our greatest predator was not kind to my taste buds.  However, I was impressed with the flavor of whale when I bit into my very first whaleburger. A purple chewy meat, almost sponge-like in its consistency, it tasted very much like steak. Icelanders pride themselves on their maritime cuisine, notably pleasuring tourists with adaptations of whale in between a bun or on the finest of China.

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Over the next five days, we exercised every muscle in our aching bodies, exploring Iceland’s exquisite terrain. We climbed upon Viking horses, galloping throughout the outskirts of Reykjavik, welcoming the drizzle of unexpected rainfall. These Viking horses are a unique breed to the island nation, resembling anything but their nominal ancestors. Better known as Icelandic Ponies, they are short, fat little powerhouses who can carry up to two times the weight of a normal horse and boast a famous “fifth gait.” With their Mohawk hairstyles, these ponies can walk, trot, canter, pace, and uniquely tölt. We climbed atop these ponies for almost two hours, and by the end of the tour, could have sworn that they were tölting.

After two hours of bouncing on the meaty back of the Viking horse, we dipped our bodies in the milky blue waters of the famous Blue Lagoon, a sulfuric rich hot spring just a few miles from Keflavik Airport on the outskirts of the capitol city. Many visitors open or close their sojourns in Iceland with a swim in the Blue Lagoon due to its proximity to the airport. We, however, still planning each day around a hopeful visit to Eyjafjallajökull, swam in the lagoon the day after we arrived.

After a relaxing two hours in the natural heat of the lagoon, we were ready to come home and prepare for our snowmobiling adventure the following day. We walked into our definitively Scandinavian boutique hotel – clean, organized, possibly designed at IKEA – and we were notified that the conditions were too dangerous on the glacier and that our tour for the following day was canceled. Panic set in as we navigated the map of terrain and activities permitted us in this final week of summer. It soon resided as we booked a trip to drive ATVs over a lava field. It might not have been Eyjafjallajökull, but it was still shaded with the remnants of some volcano – newsworthy or not.

The lava fields, decades old, were blanketed with a sheen of green fuzz. Icelandic moss, plant life that takes nearly a century to grow, covered the dark dirt like freckles – heavy and clustered in some areas, scattered and poignant in others. An old ship, bisected by the ocean hundreds of feet away, lay still within the land as permanent fixtures of the peninsular landscape. All the while, intense winds did everything they could to turn the ATVs on their sides.

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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