Our first impression of Iceland was this: this place looks weird. From the air it looked like a mud pie that was just starting to dry on top. On the ground, it took 30k of driving to see our first tree. The ocean is tumultuous, and looks like a different creature depending on whether it is under cloud or sun. Also, our first coffee shop had “please let it be Bernie, or at least Hillary” printed permanently on the menus.
The scenery got markedly prettier as we drove into the tourist ring, called the Golden Circle. This is a roughly 4 hour ring incorporating Geysir (literally where the word came from), a big ol’ waterfall, a lovely unpronounceable national park, and scenic roads teeming with teensy little farms, teensy little horses, and snowy hills.
I will say that weather.com is on my list right now. 40F/4C, you say? WHAT ABOUT THAT WIND CHILL? “It’s icing my face” – direct quote from Luke as the wind deposited ice on our faces. Boo, North Atlantic.
Another important fact – you have to see these airport bathrooms. Seriously, the stall doors go ALL THE WAY TO THE FLOOR AND CEILING. It’s almost like they aren’t afraid that customers will OD on crack and have to get dragged out by the feet through the substantial gap under the stall door. (I always assumed that’s why our public toilets were like that – perhaps our kind readers could offer an alternative rationale.) The trust that Scandinavia places in me is heartwarming.
In Reykjavic we went to bed at 6:30 and slept for 10 hours. We were wide-eyed and happy when we woke at 4:30am, the sun shining brightly through our window. We were delighted to see that our host, a lady named Thor, had woken up to make us home-made waffles (as fluffy as the clouds of Valhalla), which we ate while looking out her window at the sea.
Click on the images below to see them bigger, if you’d like. You can also scroll over them to see some vaguely snarky comments.
Now to London: the joys of traveling slowly. A man approached me in Paternoster Square asking for directions to the local Fitness First, and I was able to give them to him, off the top of my head. Luke and I walked for miles and miles around London, allowing ourselves to get lost and take detours. So far we’ve done a decent job of Soho, Covent Garden, Westminster, City of London, and other places I don’t know the name of because we were vaguely lost.
Of course, some of our main observations have been architectural – how could they not be in a city like this? We are constantly surprised that there is yet another ancient (or at least super duper old) stone/brick building around the corner. By far the standout in beauty for us has been the Royal Courts of Justice, which is ornate and perfect. Luke was highly underwhelmed by Buckingham Palace. (How hipster of him.)
In San Francisco we like to debate the ethics of replacing heritage/historical buildings with modern ones. We’ve decided here that modern can fit in absolutely beautifully with the historical, with one important caveat – that the modern contributes something meaningful architecturally. A good modern building gives historical depth to a place, and keeps it alive. We’ve loved some of the modern buildings here, almost as much as some of the historical (and for Luke, more than the Queen’s house itself).
Also, our new name for crown is “queen hat.” It makes us giggle.
The constant chiming of church bells across the city makes me feel like I’m at college all the time.
Speaking of college, we wandered past my dad’s old study abroad alma mater, the London School of Economics! It is quaint and lovely and I could still feel my father’s brainwaves reverberating through the place, of course. Dad, 10 million photos will follow by email.
We are now in Louth (Lincolnshire, England – google maps it) being fed, watered, beer’ed (?), and thoroughly pampered by the hilarious and generous Nick and Louise. We’re seriously considering moving here forever starting right now. (Surprise, Nick and Louise!) Post with more to follow.
We love you all!
(P.S. – this post is written by Felice so you can blame me directly for anything offensive/stupid. Instagram pics courtesy of Lukeyboy.)