09.11.2010 - 09.11.2010
Today was a travel day. We're finally heading back west toward home. Flying on IcelandicAir, we have to stop in Kelfavik airport regardless of our destination, so we staying over two nights to see a little bit of this very northern nation.
Breakfast was at the hotel and the drive to the airport was only about 20 minutes. We arrived, found the Hertz car rental return, and turned in the car undamaged. This is always something to celebrate, as John's success ratio for returning rental cars without damage is about 50%.
We had quite a trek across the Frankfurt airport to find our terminal and gate. With plenty of time before our flight (we love having plenty of time before our flight...), we had a piece of German pizza and our last beer on German soil.
We boarded without incident and headed for Iceland on the three and a half hour flight. During the flight we got back a little time—turning our watches back two hours.
It was late afternoon when we landed. The airport is about 45 minutes from Reykjavik, the capital and biggest city. A bus trip for three was the same price as a taxi ride for three, so we found a cab. It's worthwhile to note that everything in Iceland is expensive. Everything. Expensive. And despite the devastating bank crisis that had caused severe hardship for nearly everyone in this country, everything...is...expensive. Adding to the sense that everything is expensive is the fact that one U.S. dollar is equal to about 120 Icelandic kroners.
So our taxi ride was 12,000 kroners. That one is easy to calculate: $100.
On the way, our taxi driver shared a few interesting bits of trivia about Iceland. Iceland has about 320,000 people and about a third of them live in and around Reykjavik. About 98% of their heat (and I believe he said electricity) is produced by natural geothermal energy; because of all
the volcanic activity, geysers, and natural steam vents there is plenty of heat and steam coming out of the ground. Fishing is the biggest industry. Among other industries, there are four aluminum refineries on the island. The speed limit nationally maxes out around 55 to help save fuel.
Other tidbits about Iceland that we learned during the rest of our stay include the facts that Iceland has the oldest continuous parliament in the world (making laws since 942 A.D.); there are over 88,000 horses in Iceland (and they are a distinct breed of horse unique to this country); some of the horses are raised specifically for eating—yes, horse steak is a regular Icelandic dish, along with whale burgers, and puffin (a cute little sea bird); and Icelanders all speak there own language (which uses a variation of our alphabet...with a, w, 6, and 0) yet they all speak very good English as well.
Once at the hotel, we checked in and then got directions to a comedy play about the history of Iceland. It was held in the upstairs of a historic old building in downtown Reykjavik. Two young women played multiple parts and took us from 332 B.C. to 2009 in about an hour. After that, we walked across the street to a quaint restaurant for dinner (no horse or whale, although a whale burger was on the menu) and then taxied to the hotel to turn in.