We started the day in “Old Town,” shuttling between the Tourism Bureau and a sporting goods store to get information about things to do and places where we could ski. It was a perfectly clear, sunny day. But the wind was cold, and we’d learned that a storm was coming.
We drove to the Blafjoll ski area in the mountains near Reykjavik. Cross-country skiing isn’t very popular in Iceland, which unlike Sweden has enough mountains to support downhill ski resorts. But what we found at this resort was excellent.
The lodge had been taken over for a children’s ski camp; Lance and I were sent away rather sternly when we tried to go in. Little kids clumped around in big downhill boots, helmets and visors like midget space invaders. We saw a ski patrolman bringing a frightened looking boy to his parents in the parking lot on an orange sled; some kind of injury, I’m afraid.
The terrain was mostly long, rounded slopes, different from the craggy kind of mountains we have in Washington; and they’re great for cross-country. The snow was perfect, a deep, squeaky powder that felt like velvet. Each time I planted a pole it vibrated as I thrust it in; “Huhh!” My skis made a similar noise as the fish-scale-patterned bases snagged snow. I’d pick out the top of a rise as a good place to stop, only to discover on getting there that it was a false top and the real one might be somewhere further ahead.
But I did make it to the rim of the basin. Here were some rocky pinnacles; the wind had scoured off most of their snow. I skied up one as far as I could, and then scrambled to the top. It had a drift of powdery snow on the leeward side, and the rest was icy. I could see ocean in two directions. Nearby were slopes of thinly-covered lava boulders and shards. This would be an interesting mountain to hike on in the summer.
As I skied back to the lodge I met an Icelander who was skiing with his dog. The dog ran over and looked at me intently. When I started skiing, he ran alongside me, springing happily in the snow. I told the man this was perfect snow, and a great place to live. “It is a great place to live,” he agreed. “If it weren’t for our stupid government, we could be even happier!” I told him that we say the same thing at home.
Lance, Patty, Helen and I had dinner at the Buddha Cafe, a Japanese restaurant in Old Town. The narrow streets and little shops weree charming, tho most of the buildings were not historical. I ordered hot sake; very nice! I had salmon with sake sauce, a salad, and white rice with sweet chili sauce (substituted for stir-fried potatoes). The men’s lavatory was in a former bank vault; the massive vault door still remained, bolted against the wall to prevent any pranks.
On our walk back to Alba Guesthouse, Lance peered in shop windows, looking for a hardware store. He wants to buy a Swedish shower faucet, but hasn’t yet found one that’s suitable for a bathtub.