A Thousand Miles Away
It appears that we have irreversibly changed. We now have children that we are addicted to, and doing ‘adult stuff’ without them is all very well, but it starts to get hollow pretty quickly.
We lately embarked on a twosome trip away – a thousand miles away to Iceland to be exact, to remind ourselves of what life was like before Mole and Hedgehog. This is becoming an annual tradition of adult escapes for us.
Armed with The Rough Guide, a Europcar and some Airbnb bookings, we made our way around the South Icelandic Coast on a mini road trip for five days, and sufficiently got in touch with our nomadic yearnings.
First stop after touch down and walking out of the terminal into icy arctic air, was the famous Blue Lagoon. We were prepared for it being a tourist trap, which it was, but it was also SENSATIONAL. There we were after a 2 hour flight, swimming in hot sulphur spring water, staring up at a pristine blue sky, wearing our sunshades, covered in medicinal mud and drinking prosecco from the pool bar. It was like being a film star. The pounding waterfall was pretty amazing too, it got rid of all the knots in my shoulders, and we walked out 4 hours later restored and wide eyed to discover this magical country.
The next 3 days consisted of road trips around the South coast, visiting Pingvellir (a huge crack going down the middle of the land where the two Atlantic plates are moving apart), Gullfoss (a very impressive waterfall) and Geysir (a giant spurt of water shoots out of the ground every 5 minutes). We spent 2 nights in Reykjavik, before driving down to Vik.
In Vik the weather turned, and we took a walk on the Black Sand beach, only to be almost blown out to sea by the gale force winds. It was useful to have a car nearby to take refuge in.
Driving on the coast road beyond Vik we came to Kirkjubaejarklauster (amazing name), and a little further on we saw our first glaciers, coming down from the vast ice plain of Vatnajokull. We stopped at the visitor centre and walked to the foot of one of them. Having never seen a glacier before, let alone close up, the experience was other worldly. The glacier seemed to lead your eye up and up into the clouds, into another world of ice and snow. The power, silence and majesty of it left me speechless.
The wildness was the biggest thing about Iceland that struck me, and which I shall be coming back for more of. It is a country that will not be tamed. There were times when it felt like we were driving across Mars, no sign of human existence anywhere, nothing but lava fields and mountains and strange rock formations.
Here's some mental notes about visiting Iceland which I took away with me:
Iceland is insanely expensive, a burger and chips for 2 people cost £70, gulp. We got around this by doing a supermarket shop and having a permanent picnic in the car. The second place we stayed at in Vik also had it's own kitchen, so for our final night we self catered which made a nice change, and also got to meet our fellow airbnb guests from North Carolina.
Bring compeed, (special plasters for blisters) as after 4 days living in the walking boots you will inevitably get at least one, and you don't want to be hobbling back onto the plane.
Avoid Reykjavik, we felt the need to see it once, but the main attraction is really the scenery and the wilderness, not the towns.
I would look into getting internal flights next time to explore a different part of the island, and take a couple of weeks over it to really soak up the Nordic vibe.
Take sunscreen. Iceland is not a place where I thought that I would be needing sunscreen, but I was wrong. The UV light is very strong, Mr M&H got burnt on our first day, much to our amusement. Its not many places where you get to wear sunshades and a woolly hat at the same time.
Mole and Hedgehog dominated our conversations increasingly towards the end of the trip, as the invisible string grew tighter and the urgency to come home to them got stronger. The last two days were a strange mixture of being relaxed, and a bit empty. Our car conversations went something like this:
Me: “Look at that mountain”.
Mr M&H: “Wow”.
Me: “We could take the girls here one day”.
Mr M&H: “Definitely, I reckon they’d love it”.
Me: “Yes, ah I miss them”.
On the plane home, Mr M&H said it aloud. “I don’t think we should do this twosome trip thing again”, he says, “I miss them too much”. I have to admit I’ve been thinking the same thing. A foursome trip away, for all its extra hassle and limitations, would be more fun. They’ve infiltrated our relationship, but we don’t mind.
“Perhaps we could take them somewhere warmer?” I say, already mentally planning our next trip in my head before we’ve touched down.
**(At this point due credit should be given to “Granny Purple Hair”, who looked after Mole and Hedgehog during this time and made two return trips from Wales to Bedfordshire in the process. All hail the Granny, she is awesome).**