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Jamie Esler's picture

The Smokey Bay Lives Up to its Name

smokey bayAerial view of Reykjavík from our helicopter flight back into town.

Reykjavík was named 'Smokey Bay' by early Viking settlers because of the enormous amounts of geothermal steam rising up from its ground. Swimming in and enjoying the geothermal hot springs in the region has been a way of life since its settlement over 1000 years ago.

One of the things that I figured out rather quickly about life and culture in Reykjavík was the community hot pools placed all throughout town! For a reasonable price (about five US dollars per day), anyone in town can enjoy these hot swimming pools and steam rooms at five or six different locations all around the city!

The pools themselves do not sit on natural hot springs. The water is piped into the city at high pressures and temperatures from the many nearby natural hot springs to the pool locations, and is constantly replenished and renewed 24 hours a day/7 days a week. With the country of Iceland operating on 99% renewable energy (mostly in the form of geothermal and hydropower), it is no wonder these community hot pools continue to be a part of the way of life around Reykjavík.

For our team, these pools were a little slice of heaven! We hadn't had access to a shower in 18 days, so a few hours in the afternoon at the community hot pools was just what each of us needed; two days in a row!

Nice Leisurely Strolls

After nearly three weeks hiking and trudging through miles and miles of some of the most rugged and remote glaciated, volcanic terrain in all of Iceland, I was ready for a nice, leisurely stroll through town.

downtownEnjoying my new Icelandic wool sweater while strolling around downtown. No... I did not get a Segway like the girl in the background. I stuck to good ol' fashioned walking.

james and libby downtownJames and Libby enjoying their stroll downtown as well.

The team spent our time in town eating authentic Icelandic food (thank you Cafe Loki!), checking out the many commemorative statutes around town, and simply enjoying some time to relax.

dinner!The team enjoying our big dinner out at a local Icelandic pizza shop in downtown Reykjavík.

I observed that pedestrians certainly have the right-of-way around town and that public transportation was both accessible and affordable to the general population. We worked together to find good deals on authentic, handmade Icelandic Wool Sweaters, and enjoyed checking out some famous sites like the Icelandic Parliament.

parliamentThe Icelandic Parliament, Alþingi. It is pronounced in English as Althingi.

All in all, I found my two short days in town to be very enjoyable and filled with great memories and especially nice folks. The Nordic culture as a whole is so friendly and welcoming. From the smoked trout and lamb, to the fermented shark and rye bread, the food I ate was exceptionally enjoyable as well. I have decided though, I will not go back to Iceland again unless I have a group of students with me.

It's one of the most geologically young countries in the world while simultaneously home to the longest continual parliament in recorded human history. With 130 active volcanoes, Europe's largest glacier, and remarkable amounts of renewable energy resources, Iceland is definitely a place I want to share with other learners some day

handmadeCintamani is an Icelandic outdoor clothing and gear company. This is what they had on the outside window of their store downtown! I love it! Honesty sells!

laundromat caféThe Laundromat Café in downtown has an awesome menu. I highly recommend a cup of coffee with their Smoked Trout and Ryebread. Oh, and yes, you CAN do laundry while you eat!

Homeward Bound

I am in my hotel room in Boston right now, and while I am sad to have left such an amazing place in the world, I am still very excited to get back home to my wife, my daughter, my vegetable garden, and the beautiful lakes and mountains that I call home. I will write again in a couple of days from North Idaho with my closing journal for the expedition!

Cheers!

Jamie