First Week in Reykjavik

One week in Iceland and things are coming together very nicely.  I arrived very early in the morning July 19 and spent the day making sure all the documents required to clear customs were signed and had gotten to the right place, before checking into my simple but comfortable hotel right in downtown Reykjavik.
Hotel Metropolitan – green awning on right

After a weekend spent exploring and planning and resting I picked up Maurice at the airport at 5:00 Monday morning in a little one-day rent-a-car. We came straight back to the Hotel so he could take a nap and by the time he woke up at 9:00 I had received an email saying that the Defender had been cleared by Customs and was ready for pick-up from the Port. By 11:00 with the help of a couple of guys from EIMSKIP, the local freight company, we had gotten the truck and tent out of the container and installed the tent on the roof.  We now have transportation and accommodation!

The timing could not have been better.  I am still pinching myself because there are so many ways this could have gone sideways.   I would not have been terribly surprised if the Defender was a week or two or more late; or the customs clearance took a days or weeks.  None of that happened, everything has gone perfectly.

Maurice and I at the Viking Ship Sculpture in Reykjavik Port at the beginning of the Iceland Adventure

 Next we left the rent-a-car parked at the port and continued in the Defender out to a town about 10 km north of Reykjavik to try to track down a Land Rover mechanic that had been recommended to me by a local tour operator I contacted the day I arrived that uses Land Rovers.  I need the mechanic to install my  “snorkel” (a raised air intake to allow one to drive  through  deep water) so we can cross rivers on some of the highland trails.  Obviously, it would have been better to do that in Ottawa, but the snorkel I had ordered from England had not arrived when time came to put the Defender in a container, so I brought it with me, in one of my suitcases!   I only had a street name to find the mechanic but we just drove along until we saw a bunch of Land Rovers parked outside.  The owner, Mr. Gislason, said we just needed to come back the next day and he could do it in an hour.   They did a great job, for a reasonable price.   We are now ready to cross rivers!

SS Gislasson shop installing the new Safari Snorkel on the right front

On the way back into Reyk we had time to find out what kind of propane campers use in Iceland.   We bought a 5 lb tank  at a hardware store that fits perfectly into the same carrier on the Defender that first bore a propane tank around West Africa 6 years ago when Laura and I did our West Africa Wander.   We went to an outdoor store near our hotel(Ellingsen   to get a burner that fits the stove.   I also brought our old Coleman camp stove with me, but it is not possible to connect that to the Iceland tank but the same outdoor store also sells the green Coleman 1lb propane tanks that fit the Coleman stove.    The price makes my wallet bleed ($10 for 1 tank),  but we got two of them anyway because when Maurice and I get cooking one burner is just not enough.  We are now ready to cook, with 3 burners!

Before we could actually move into the Land Rover we still had to get some groceries.   Grocery shopping  is always fun in a foreign country, and Iceland was no exception.  This was a big shop, because we are starting (almost) from scratch, we each brought a few things from home but we still need lots of basics to be able to ccok.  Maurice and I have travelled together like this in my trailer for many weeks so we have a fairly developed idea of what we need to cook, and we know each others preferences  There was some culture shock on this occasion, because while some products have english labels, lots do not.  So….what kind of fish is this, exactly?  Or, what is the Icelandic word for nutmeg?  As is often the case in Iceland there was some sticker shock.  Grocery prices do not seem as inflated as those in restaurants, but still exceed those in Canada.  The financial system Maurice and I have adopted consists of an envelope into which we each put an equal amount of cash to cover all the common consumable expenses like food, fuel and camping fees.   It works well, we just need to keep putting more money in that envelope.

Once we got the food we could start to camp.  I wanted to do a test camp here in Reykjavik before we head off into the highlands because inevitably there will be things we have forgotten and it is better to discover those oversights while we are within easy range of stores and services.   There is a large campground in Reykjavik that is quite European, with lots of tents but also lots ‘caravans’, as RVs are called here in Europe.

Maurice at Camp in Reykjavik
There is quite a large covered common area, with lots of shared kitchen facilities, a library and Wi-Fi.  The best part is it is located next to the largest thermal pool in Reykjavik.    Iceland is (apparently) full of naturally heated “swimming pools” that are (apparently) very popular with the locals.  One guidebook said the pools in Iceland have a similar social function as pubs in Britain or cafés in France.  You go there to hang out with friends.   These are geo-thermally heated and I am looking forward to enjoying lots of these all over the country as I travel around for the next few weeks.    We finally got into the Reykjavik pool on Wednesday night and it was quite something.  We bopped around between 4 pools or tubs that ranged from 4 deg cool to a blistering 44 deg. C.   A great experience, and one that made me feel like I have finally arrived in Iceland.
So now we are ready for the road.   Next Post will start with our visit to Pingvellier and (the original) Geyser.

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