Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Iceland: Bad Name, Great Country
The impact of the eruption on Europe is highly publicized but the impact within the country is epic—washed out bridges, farm fields layered with ash, silted rivers, blackened skies, respiratory problems for residents caught in its downwind path. We drove the rest of the day and part of the next through the ash plume, headlights blazing, billowing ash obscuring the road behind every oncoming vehicle. Impressive.
After an easy day on the ocean, we were ready for some more strenuous action and so we were mildly disappointed with the whitewater on the Vestari Jokulsa, one of Icleand’s premier rafting rivers. This is primarily a Class II-III river. Ed and I have rafted all over the world and while the scenery was excellent, the action was low. Our guide, Jeff, sensed our frustration and told us we needed to return the next day and do the Austari Jokulsa, one of the best whitewater rivers in the world. A good idea, we took him up on it, with plans to return in the morning. Unfortunately, his second recommendation was not so good. We were staying the night in the tiny village of Holar, a wide spot in the road consisting of a few farmhouses and a University. Jeff told us to be sure to check out the Beer Club, run by a friend of his at the University.
Big mistake. The club is open to faculty, staff and guests only. Since we were staying in a cabin on campus, we qualified as guests. Our bartender, who insisted his name was Gummi Bear, plied us with multiple samples of every brand of beer sold in Iceland, the faculty members joined us in revelry and we staggered back to our cabin in the early morning light. Not a good prep for a day of whitewater.
We had just enough energy to drive into Reykjavik and grab a couple hours of sleep before hitting the legendary nightlife of the city. Reykjavik rocks all night long. A string of bars in city center is a hive of activity that spins up near midnight and parties on until early morning. Don’t like the scene? Move to the bar next door, there is another party rocking through the night. Reykjavik’s party crowd is young, cool and intent on having fun.
Reykjavik is cosmopolitan and modern with remnants of its origins as a shipping port still evident, a charming, clean and picturesque city with an easy going, vibrant populace. Another surprise, it hums with the energy of a major European city. Just another in a long string of surprises from this country.
Details: We set up our trip through Nordic Visitor, who took care of all guides and arrangements based on our trip desires.
101 Reykjavik, Iceland
Tel: +354 578 20 80
Direct: +354 578 20 86