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Friday, December 7, 2012

Back to Reykjavik

I did most of my packing last night. I woke at 830 and had a big breakfast, took a shower and checked out. I was on the road by 945. I gassed up and on to Reykjavik.

The first hour was uneventful and I didn't see another car. It is amazing how remote this part of a remote island, Iceland, is. I'm driving in a valley created by a glacier and on either side I am surrounded by tall rugged snow covered mountain ranges. The road is clear and I'm thinking I'll be in Reykjavik sooner than I thought.

As I approach my first climb and begin to emerge from the safety of the valley, I think something is wrong with the car because it suddenly pulls to the left. I am fighting to keep the car on the road. Then as I begin the climb, I see snow being blown across the road from left to right. I can barely see the road and now understand why I'm having to fight the steering wheel and work hard to keep the car straight. As I climb, the visibility is getting worse and worse and the wind is getting stronger and stronger. I don't know if it is snowing or if is merely the wind blowing existing snow across the road. All I know I'm in a white out and grateful there are no other vehicles on the road. I pass the weather station and begin a hazardous descent. When I get to the bottom, I'm back into a protected valley and what I just experienced has given way to a clear road with no wind or snow. Very bizarre.

After another half hour or so, I back into a climbing mode and the same conditions that I experienced before are back and worse as the snow is now accumulating on the road making for very difficult driving. Now it is snowing. I catch up to an eighteen wheeler that has a piggy back attached. the piggyback is swaying back and forth on the road and I give him plenty of space. Visibility is near zero. As we come to another rise, I am able to pass the truck and do so. I'm glad I'm past the truck as the conditions worsen and I don't need that monster in front of me.

As I continue south, the snow slowing changes to sleet and eventually to rain as the landscape which was all snow now slowly becomes bereft of snow until I can't se any snow except on the mountain tops. As I approach Borgarnes, a town about 100 KM north of Reykjavik, the wind and rain resemble what I experienced with the hurricane, Sandy. As I leave Borgarnes over a bridge, the waves in the lake are three foot swells as the crash the bridge ramparts. The wind is gusting so much I am being thrown all over the road. To make matters worse, I am heading into lots of oncoming traffic. The gusts cause the car to lurch left and right and the wind is blowing all the mist the cars and trucks generate across the road into my path. The car is getting clean, but I'm driving very slowly, gripping the steering wheel with the windshield wipers on full blast.

My first respite is the 6 KM tunnel. I turn off the wipers and calmly cruise through preparing for when I exit this serenity. Chaos immediately greets me on the other side with an accident in my lane as the wind again takes control of my car. Obviously, those in the accident weren't ready for the wind again. I get by the chaos and begin the final approach to Reykjavik. The single lane becomes a two lane road and more traffic is merging on as I now have to navigate four roundabouts in the next 6 KM until I'm back on the main three lane freeway into Reykjavik. The wind has mellowed and the rain has lessened. I take the exit after the airport for the guesthouse. I arrive and park and get out. No rain, no wind. I grab the shovel and go in to be greeted by Evelyne and Phillipe. I give Phillipe the shovel and thank him for its use and explain How I did need it. Evelyne informs me that another guest is stuck in Akureyri because of the snow. I just escaped. Apparently the conditions up north are terrible and the roads I passed are now closed. In fact north of Borgarnes I passed three snow plows heading back from whence I came. I dodged a bullet.

I unpacked and set out for lunch at the soup in a bread cafe. It was raining very lightly and was warm. I'm overwhelmed by all the people and cars. It is as if I have just emerged from the woods after a winter of survival. The cafe is full and a table in the corner by the window is just clearing for me. I order the reindeer soup and a Christmas beer. No Santa doesn't serve it to me. A table of Brits and the rest are  Icelanders. The soup is fabulous.

After lunch my next stop is the Phallological Museum which has moved from Husavik last August. This is a very unique museum, one of a kind with a sister museum in Rotterdam. That's right, I've entered the penis museum whose slogan is "This museum isn't for pussies." The collection is massive. Specimens are in jars, others are dried and salted. The collection consists of members of all species. Of course there are some great gag rooms and rooms about the use of the phallus in different cultures. It is a very entertaining museum. My most enjoyable part is watching as couples pass by and discover what this museum is. Young boys are the most mature, NOT. I highly recommend this as a go to museum when in Reykjavik. The gift shop is to die for.

I strolled back up Langavegur Street and then headed home to rest before dinner. Tonight I have decided to eat at 3 Frakkar. Tonight I will have appetizers, tapas style, I start with a reindeer pate, country style with a lovely cumberland sauce and red currents. I follow that with the puffin. I complete the meal with a whale and arctic char sashimi type dish. I have their last Kaldi Christmas beer. I made reservations for 8PM tomorrow night. I want to see the waterfalls near Vik tomorrow. Since I'm exhausted from the drive and it is raining out, I'm going to read and get to bed early so I can have a full day tomorrow.

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