I was wrong–last night we hadn’t flown into the airport across the freeway from Alba Guesthouse. That airport is only used for domestic flights.
I explored the neighborhood before breakfast. It looked very snowy, and the sidewalks were icy in places. I thought we might walk to a big park I’d noticed on the map and ski right here in town. But the snow didn’t feel as good as it looked; it was unstructured powder on old ice, and only an inch or two thick. Some young men were playing a ball game in a snowy playing field. I followed the pedestrian path the other way and found a sandwich shop, which we’ve since been relying on for lunches.
When I returned to the guesthouse, a Ford Transit van was sitting in the parking lot, making ticking noises as the engine cooled off. Somehow, Lance had resolved the dispute with the rental agency. Lance told us that, when he’d picked up the van, the agency had advised him to park upwind. The wind here comes in powerful gusts. If a car is parked downwind, while a person is getting in or out a gust is liable to yank the door out of his hand, slam it forward and spring the hinges. I looked at our van and could see telltale signs of just such an accident.
Today we drove the “Golden Circle” route that passes several intriguing geological sites. We saw some of the stony ridges that have risen from the Rift Valley. We saw an unusual waterfall that pours into the valley. And we saw a lake in a beautiful setting of ice and snow. I asked Shelley if she’d like me to take a picture of her and Mark there. She shook her head; “It’s too damn cold.”
There were also forlorn little houses far out in the snow, and several groups of horses clustered close together. Brilliant white snow covered everything, other than occasional stands of low, wiry shrubs. A gust of cold wind blew in my face, and it hurt.
We ended the day in a basin of hot springs, where we saw a geyser briefly chuff out some steam. There was a large visitor center, which consisted mostly of a clothing and trinket store. But I found a cafeteria and enjoyed a bowl of fish soup by a sunny window. A small room with displays and videos of Iceland’s volcano-powered phenomena was interesting, too.
We went to Cafe Loki for dinner. Mark and Shelley had found it during their morning walk. It specializes in Icelandic cuisine, such as fermented shark and a spread made of mashed fish. I wimped out and had a vegetarian plate; it was good. The restaurant has a nice view of the big Evangelical Lutheran church across the street, and a mural depicting Scandinavian sagas.