Traveling the world one gymnastics meet at a time

Reykjavik Iceland

5 Things I Learned about Iceland

En route to World Championships in Glasgow, I stopped in Iceland for a few days with my good friend Eve from Destination: Microbrewery and Lauren, whose presence remained a secret until now. Here are the top five things I learned about the land of fire and ice. 

1) The roads are wicked nice.

Impossible to tell what is snow covered volcano and what is cloud

The extremely well maintained main highways allow one to drive with ease and witness to the amazing scenery passing by without fearing for ones life or the lives of one’s passengers. One can photograph and drive at the same time, although I highly discourages this and did not do this once during the trip (I kept my eyes on the perfect roads, Mom!). Locals like to drive extremely fast on these roads and will pass one if they think one drives too slow at 90km/hr. While driving on these perfect roads, one will pass glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls, sheep, gregarious Icelandic horses seeking food and lifelong friendship, troll holes, and countless other natural attractions. IMG_6587 IMG_6767

2) The Blue Lagoon is kind of boring.

After renting the car, Lauren-who-wasn’t-there, Eve, annd I set off to The Blue Lagoon, which was a mistake. We arrived, checked in, hopped into the warm power plant run off water, and I experienced an overwhelming feeling of “…now what?” We drifted around the lukewarm water, applied face masks, drank the one alcoholic beverage allotted through their premium spa package, and floated around. Shortly after I pretended to be a whale for 15 minutes, which included singing the Free Willy theme song, we moved our lunch reservation up three hours, ate, and peaced. Perhaps if we had visited The Blue Lagoon at the tail end of the trip we would have enjoyed it more but at the beginning we were anxious to see the waterfalls, glaciers, and volcanoes that make Iceland such a unique and interesting location.  We would have enjoyed the spa and felt more relaxed if we were exhausted from traversing throughout the south west portion of the country as we were at the conclusion of the Ice-venture. 

It's basically a big community bathtub.

It’s basically a big community bathtub.

Also, The Blue Lagoon will destroy one’s hair, regardless of how many times and how much one applies conditioner to one’s scalp. Put one’s hair in a white girl at the club bun and do not go underwater.  

3) Sulfuric water stinks. 

Unbeknownst to me, sulfuric water stinks. We arrived at the Seltun geothermal field after our hasty departure from The Blue Lagoon and were greeted by the scent that Eve eloquently stated as the smell of dog vomiting a dozen rotten eggs. Early Icelandic explorers believed that the bubbles came from birds jumping into the water and searched for the birds in the scalding water. I will never know how they tolerated the smell long enough to conduct scientific experiments nor at what point they realized that the bubbles stemmed from the boiling water in front of them. 

GymMapStics and Lauren attempt to contain their amusement.

Invisible Lauren and I attempt to contain their amusement. Photo Credit to Eve Carey

We fully realized the extent of the joke at our bucolic accommodations when we each showered and then realized we had essentially turned our rustic cabin into an enormous Dutch Oven. The rural areas of Iceland use the geothermal energy to heat the water and the terrible rotten egg smell becomes the negative externality of energy efficient hot water. The horrendous scent permeated the cabin and only smelled worse each time we exited the cabin to unsuccessfully view the Northern Lights. I enjoy the idea that one can disguise one’s flatulence with water and suggests the Iceland tourism board invest in the slogan “Iceland: An Entire Country on Which You Can Blame Your Farts!” The tagline for this website would then have to be changed to “Maturity At It’s Finest!”

GymMapStics and Lauren fail to contain amusement and crack up because the air reeks of farts.

Lauren and Ifflag fail to contain amusement and crack up because the air reeks of farts.

3) Children learn to knit in school.

After hiking around the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, the gang entered the small shed looking shop located near the parking lot that contained the multitude of tour buses. I intended on purchasing a magnet or postcard to commemorate the trip but saw a beautiful pink Icelandic wool sweater and attempted to try it on. The friendly shop lady informed me that the sweater she chose was a baby sweater and handed me a gorgeous gray sweater with a pink and darker grey yoke design. I wore the amazing sweater out of the store and will wear the extremely warm, handmade garment everyday for the rest of my life. Eve also purchased a sweater and the friendly shop lady informed us that our sweaters had been handmade by a woman who lived down the road and that all children learn to knit in school as part of the curriculum. She conveyed this information as she sat on a stool knitting a sweater and then stated in a disparaging tone that other stores sell sweaters made out of Icelandic wool but created in China. 

Sweater power!

Sweater power!

4) The word “geyser” comes from Geysir

The English word “geyser” comes from the name of the great geyser, Geysir, which comes from the Icelandic verb meaning to gush. Geysir itself goes off infrequently and our heroes did not witness Geysir erupt but Geysir’s smaller buddy Strokkur erupted a few times during their short stop at the geothermal field. 




5) It’s More Beautiful that One Could Ever Imagine

Seriously. Every single photograph taken during the three days in Iceland could be printed out on a postcard. The gorgeous scenery and amazing light at all hours of the day prevent anyone from taking a bad photograph. Iceland is the Barney Stinson of countries. I wish to return and see more of this amazing country as soon as humanly possible. 


Black Sand Beach


Walkways over stink city.


Crater the gang stumbled upon. Not worth 300ISK.


Seljavallalaug swimming pool




Friendly sheep






Kerry Joyce • 11/11/2015

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