Pandemic Journal, Day 495

It’s been a long time since we’ve gotten on an airplane – a very long time. But today, we flew twice – the first flight was from SJC to PDX, and as I write this, we’re on Iceland Air flight 664 from PDX to KEF, en route to our first cruise in 16 months.

So far, everything has gone smoothly – I was debating between Lyft and a taxi for our trip to the airport and finally went with Lyft; it was a good choice, possibly the best Lyft ride I’ve taken. We took advantage of the Priority Pass membership that com aes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card to go to the Club at SJC – it was their new location, occupying the space that was the Admiral’s Club back when American had a significant presence in San Jose.

The flight to Portland was smooth, and we were on the side with nice views of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams.

We took advantage of Priority Pass again to have lunch for free at Capers on the C Concourse – the food was good, and the Pretty Good Brownie was better, Portland Airport is under construction, so we had to go through security again to get to the International Terminal; we were able to use the Express Line and avoid most of the wait time, but couldn’t take advantage of TSA Pre-Check. Life is rough sometimes, and yes, I know I’m complaining about a trivial inconvenience.

As I type this, we’re on Iceland Air to Reykjavik, There were more volcano views to enjoy as we left Portland.

This is a short flight, just over 7 hours, which makes it difficult to really sleep, but we’re going to try – Diane already has her eyes closed, and I’m about to join her.

Next stop, Reykjavik!

Pandemic Journal, Day 496

I had hoped to post yesterday’s blog yesterday, but there was no connectivity on the plane, nor on the bus into Reykjavik, and by the time I got to the Hotel Borg, it was already today.

Other than that, the trip was pretty uneventful – Diane and I slept a little bit, but not enough! I’m not sure if the gin

and the chocolate

made it easier or harder to sleep during the flight, but they were very interesting introductions to Icelandic cuisine.

I made a strategic error when packing – instead of one heavy suitcase, we checked two light ones. And we brought a roll-aboard for those things that we didn’t want to check. All very good, until we had to get everything onto the FlyBus and from the drop point to the hotel – then I realized that it’s hard to pull two suitcases at once, no matter how light they are.

Once we got to our hotel and unpacked a little, we headed out for a walk through Reykjavik. Our first stop was the Monument to the Unknown Bureaucrat, not far from Reykjavik City Hall.

From there, we walked through the Old Harbor area to Aurora Reykjavik (Northern Lights Museum), passing ships being worked on and art along the way.

The museum itself was quite interesting – lots of information about the aurora (all of it in English), with good visuals. They had a long HD loop of aurora videos taken all over Iceland; it was beautiful and fascinating, but not the best choice for sleep-deprived travelers!

Lunch was nearby at Lamb Street Food – I found it through TripAdvisor, and the guy at the Aurora said it was good. They were right – it was delicious and apparently reasonably priced for Iceland.

We split up after lunch; our friends wanted to go to Fly Over Iceland (like Soaring Over California at Disney, but in Iceland); we wanted to see more of the city, so we did Rick Steves’ introductory Reykjavik walk. We retraced some of our steps from the morning, but soon found outselves in new territory, ending up at Hallgrímskirkja Church, maybe half a mile from our hotel.

Dinner this evening was at Restaurant Caruso, a five-minute walk from our hotel; it was quite good (Diane really liked her salmon risotto, and I thought the pasta bolognese was delicious (and so was the garlic bread that came with it).

Pandemic Journal, Day 497

I follow a jet-lag reduction routine that I found a long time ago in Jane Brody’s column in the New York Times (if you’re a subscriber, you can read the article here; if not, most of the info is here). It seems to work well. Last night, I took my melatonin at 10pm, as directed, and was out soon thereafter, waking around 7am today and staying awake and feeling good all day – well, until I took melatonin this evening and started to feel tired again!

We visited two of the Reykjavik city museums today. This morning, we went to the Settlement Exhibition, which tells the story of the earliest days of the city, based on a 10th Century longhouse they discovered while building a hotel nearby. It was dark inside, so we didn’t take photos inside, but the outside was somewhat interesting.

We lunched at Cafe Rosenberg, where we both had lox and bagels with honeyed cream cheese.

Somehow, we had room for dessert and went to Gaeta Gelato. Fortunately, they offered “little” cones (only $6!) that were just about the right size.

This afternoon, we went back to the Old Harbor to visit the Maritime Museum.

We saw both exhibits at the Maritime Museum – one on the recovery and exploration of the Melckmeyt, a 17th Century Dutch ship that sank while trading with Iceland, and the permanent exhibit about “Fish and Folk”, how fishing shaped Iceland and Icelanders. Both were worth seeing – we spent more time with the permanent exhibit, though.

After the Maritime Museum, we wanted fish; our friends had done some research and found Messinn, less than a five-minute walk from our hotel. It was a great catch – their specialty is “fish pans”. Diane had the Atlantic Wolffish and I had the cod with curry and chili – both were excellent. And somehow, we had room for dessert and split a piece of chocolate cake with pistachio ice cream!

Tomorrow will start early; we leave the hotel at 8am to join the rest of our group for breakfast and a swim at the Blue Lagoon, followed by a tour of the Hallgrímskirkja Church (I’m hoping they include a trip to the tower, since we’ve already seen the rest of the church). The rest of the day will be “at leisure” (which means we get to figure out our own meals – I don’t think that will be much of a hardship).

Pandemic Journal, Day 498

Our pre-tour officially began this morning when we got into a mini-bus with a dozen other travelers for our excursion to the Blue Lagoon.

The trip included a buffet breakfast (in Iceland, such things still exist!), a swim in the lagoon, a drink, and their silica mud mask – we took advantage of all four.

After the lagoon, we got onto a bigger bus for the trip into town and a visit to the Hallgrímskirkja Church – since we’d been there already, we left the group and had lunch at 101 Reykjavik Street Food. I had the plokkfiskur (traditional Icelandic fish stew) and Diane had the lamb soup. I’d go back – even if they didn’t also give us free Prince Polo bars for dessert.

The rest of the day was “at leisure”, so we wandered around town, including paying a visit to the Sun Voyager sculpture on the waterfront.

The weather was beautiful – sunny and 66 degrees – and outside restaurant seating was packed!

Tomorrow, we take a city tour in the morning – it’ll hit places we haven’t been yet, so we expect to stay with the group all day.

Pandemic Journal, Day 499

This morning, we began our tour with a trip to the Perlan to get a preview of the wonders of Iceland, including a trip through their Ice Cave (kept at -5C, made with more than 350 tons of snow).

The Glacier exhibits were fascinating, and more than a little scary when they used time lapse photography to show how much glaciers like the Mendenhall in Alaska have shrunk during the 21st Century; there was also an obituary for the Okjökull Glacier, which was declared dead in 2014.

I also enjoyed going outside on the fourth level to take in a 360º panorama of Reykjavik – while we were out there, the guide told us that you could get a very nice 3-bedroom apartment in a very nice part of town for about 1 million US dollars – those of us from the Bay Area wondered why it was so cheap!

From the Perlan, we took a long bus ride through the outskirts of town, eventually winding up at the National Museum of Iceland. This was the last stop of the day; the bus left 30 minutes after we got there, but several of us stayed behind to explore more of the history of Iceland (the museum was a 15-minute walk from the hotel, so planning to miss the bus wasn’t a big deal).

Lunch was at an interesting Middle Eastern restaurant, Mandi, near the hotel. The food was good, the prices reasonable, and the atmosphere non-existent. Diane and I had a “mixed plate” with lamb, chicken, and cod, plus plenty of salad. We also tried basil seed drinks which were bottled in Thailand for a company with Jordanian and Swedish phone numbers – the label, of course, was entirely in English, and the size was given in US fluid ounces first, with metric as an afterthought.

We spent the afternoon roaming around the city (if you want total honesty, it was so I could buy candy – I had to use a self-service cash register with Icelandic prompts!) and returned, one more time, to Caruso for dinner.

Tomorrow morning, we leave the hotel for a Golden Circle tour and end up on the ship – it’s already in Reykjavik, where the crew has been serving a two-week quarantine before starting to sail with passengers; I guess we’re the beta testers!

Pandemic Journal, Day 500

We said farewell to the Hotel Borg this morning and boarded our bus for the Golden Circle tour.

We drove past the geothermal power plant, nearly to Selfoss, through Geysir, and on to Gullfoss where we got off the bus and walked to the end of the trail over the falls. Along the way, we took photos of a big glacier and of fishermen in a river.

Back to Geysir for a walk to Strokker geyser, which erupts every few minutes. It wasn’t easy to capture it, but I finally got some video.

Lunch was at Geysir Restaurant – salmon with Icelandic barley, potatoes, and a vegetable soup. Also South African wine (Cape Heights Cabernet Sauvignon), though Icelandic beer was on offer, and I had an Icelandic orange soda, Applesin.

Next stop: Þingvellir, the original seat of the Icelandic Parliament, and the place where the European and North American plates touch. I took many photos, but bandwidth restrictions prevent me from sharing them now.

Boarding the ship was complicated because of Covid; we are their first passengers since Before, and things are still a bit uneven.

Connectivity is very slow out here, but I’ll do what I can!

Pandemic Journal, Day 501

We were the last group off the ship this morning, which gave us the luxury of sleeping late and having a leisurely breakfast and time to wander around the ship before boarding the tender for Vigur Island. The island is family-owned and only a limited number of visitors are allowed on at any time.

The main attraction of Vigur Island is the wildlife – puffins, Arctic terns (which can be vicious – we had to carry sticks to avoid being attacked by them), and eider (ducks). The island produces about 50kg of eiderdown per year, of a world production of only 3500kg – the down is harvested from the nests of the ducks after they shed it.

We survived the terns and were treated to “happy marriage cake” before leaving the island.

After lunch, we sailed to Isafjörður and visited the Maritime and Folk Museum. There, we sampled some Icelandic delicacies – dried fish, preserved shark, and Black Death (Brennivín, Icelandic schnapps). The schnapps was the best of the three offerings.

After that, we stopped at a waterfall where we drank water right from the glacier that fed it – untreated!

Then we drove through a six-kilometer long tunnel to Bolungarvik for a short concert in an old church and a visit to the Fisherman’s Museum.

And now we’re back on the ship, en route to Grimsey Island and the Arctic Circle. I expect to lose connectivity soon, so I’m posting now!

Pandemic Journal, Day 502

The day started quite early with a presentation about life on Grimsey Island – it’s quite different in the summer when visitors arrive than the winter, when only the 60-odd permanent residents are there and the sun doesn’t rise. Ferry Day is a big event!

We were on the first tender from the ship and took off on the path to the Arctic Circle. We passed the monument marking the former position of the Arctic Circle after only a few minutes of walking – but because of the precession of the Earth’s axis, the marker for current position of the Circle was nearly two miles north!

According to Wikipedia, the Arctic Circle is continuing to move north, and it’s actually about 90 meters north of the monument – we walked far enough to be sure we’d crossed the current position, but there was nothing to take a photo of there!

Grimsey is also known for its puffin colonies – there were more puffins than you could shake a stick at, and they were cute beyond belief!

This afternoon, we visited the Herring Era Museum in Siglufjörður – we saw a demonstration of herring salting and got to taste a couple of varieties of herring (and another shot of Brennivín).

Pandemic Journal, Day 503

We got off to another early morning start today after a late night yesterday (there was a classical piano concert after dinner, and then we just couldn’t resist staying up for sunset).

The ship docked at Húsavík just before breakfast time, and we were on the bus around 8:15 to meet our guide, Yngvar (a Norwegian who moved to Iceland with his Icelandic wife). Húsavík is an old fishing village (they have a whale museum we didn’t get to see) which now has some high-tech businesses, especially solar cell production.

But we weren’t there to see solar cells – we were off for a 120-mile drive through the countryside. Our first stop was the geothermal field of Námaskar∂, chock full of sulphurous mud springs (we could smell it well before we got to it). It reminded me of Lasson National Park, but with many fewer tourists and warning signs. The bus driver gave us blue booties to wear so that we wouldn’t track volcanic mud into the bus!

After we’d explored enough of the sulphur field, we drove a few miles (err, kilometers) to Dimmuborgir, near Lake Mývatn, to walk in an older lava field filled with giant pillars and chimneys.

We were assaulted by thousands of teeny-tiny flies at Dimmuborgir – they didn’t bite, but they certainly were annoying. We’d been warned about them by our trainer and came equipped with head nets to keep them away.

Our final stop was Go∂afoss Falls (Waterfall of the Gods), where we got to walk almost all the way down to the falls – I suspect people fall in from time to time.

Then it was back to the ship for a very late lunch. We finished about 3:45pm, so we missed the National Trust’s lecturer, but we managed to see the lecturer from Duke on energy policy.

Dinner went smoothly – the amuse bouche was beet-based, and I was shocked to enjoy it!

We’re now en route to tomorrow’s destination, Seyðisfjörður. The sky is cloudy, so we don’t have to stay up for tonight’s sunset!

Pandemic Journal, Day 504

We arrived in Seyðisfjörður during breakfast; as we sailed down the fjord leading to the town, we enjoyed seeing a couple of nice waterfalls.

There was only one formal activity on the agenda for this morning, a walk to the Blue Church for a concert of mostly Icelandic music by a local duo – I’m not sure that the guitar with the electric pickup was truly authentic. They said that any cheerful songs were almost certainly borrowed from other cultures, which might explain why they followed two songs about death and ghosts with Home on the Range, even if it was in Icelandic.

After the concert, we wandered around town for a bit, then went to the Tourist Information Center at the port to take advantage of fast Internet connectivity – we managed to upload all of the photos we’ve taken in the past few days before returning to the ship for lunch.

The ship sailed at 3; the afternoon was filled with lectures (one on glaciers in Iceland and one on Historic Preservation). It’s foggy outside, but we’re in the 6th deck Observation Lounge anyway. :-)

Tomorrow, we visit Jökulsárlón (which means “glacial river lagoon”) to see what we’ve been hearing about in the lectures. It should be an interesting day.

Pandemic Journal, Day 505

We’re on our way to Jökulsárlón, the glacial river lagoon – we began with a tender ride to the foggy town of Höfn, which we were assured was charming on a day when you could see it. Then it was onto a bus for an hour-long drive to Jökulsárlón. We stopped at Hotel Smyrlabjörg for a comfort stop; we were preceded by the 13 Yule Lads we’d met on Monday in Dimmuborgir, but they’d gotten much more colorful in the interim.

At the lagoon, we had a few minutes to walk around before boarding a duck for our lagoon cruise.

We had to wear masks and life jackets the whole time and sit while we were on land, but we were free to move around once we were on the water. Being out with the icebergs and glacial fragments was a lot of fun.

At one point, our guide passed around a chunk of glacial ice; it was amazingly transparent and not all that cold!

We left the duck behind and reboarded the bus for a short drive to a beach where we ate our bagged lunches. It was a delightfully warm day – 13C – but none of us had brought swimsuits. There was an art exhibit on the beach with photos of the lagoon – it seemed rather meta.

After lunch, we drove back to Höfn and made a brief comfort stop at a library(!) and then continued on to meet our ship, which had repositioned to Djúpivogur.

A short tender ride later, we were aboard and in the lounge to enjoy the drink of the day.

Drink of the day

Tonight is the Captain’s Farewell Dinner – I suspect we won’t be finished until quite late. Good thing we don’t have to pack this evening!

Pandemic Journal, Day 506

Last night was probably the longest sail of this trip; we weren’t due into Heimaey until around 9am, so we had a leisurely breakfast. I went out on deck just in time to catch the pilot boat approach and the pilot come on board.

 

 

 

Once we’d docked, I went out on deck again and was nearly overwhelmed by the smell of fish – there were local birds taking advantage of the bounty, too.

Our tour of Heimaey began at the Volcano Museum; Heimaey was nearly destroyed in 1973 by a sudden lava flow from a vent which opened without warning – the lava eventually formed a new volcanic cone, Eldfell, and added about 20% to the size of the island (so any time you hear a real estate agent tell you to “buy land because they’re not making it any more” you can ignore that advice).

After the museum, we took a drive through town, passing through the harbor (where we confirmed what our noses had already told us – fish was the core of the town’s economy!), passing by Sprangan, a cliff where young islanders learn rope swinging – it’s how they collect eggs from nesting birds.

We continued around the island, stopping at their festival grounds, which were all set up for a festival which draws about 15,000 Icelanders every year (the population of Heimaey is only about 4,000).

The festival happens the first weekend in August, the weekend which has the most domestic tourism. But it was cancelled at the last minute this year because of Covid concerns. Maybe next year….

From there, we drove to the “puffin house” to enjoy one last view of puffins before we leave Iceland.

While we were there, our guide Sindri noticed a baby kittiwake that seemed to be struggling, so he grabbed it

then he carried it down to the shore

and threw it into the air so it could fly on its own.

Our final stop was near the airport – Sindri told us about the struggle to save Heimaey after the eruption, and the use of pumps like this one to slow the advance of the lava.

At first, they used the pumps to save houses and the town, but that meant that the lava started to threaten the harbor – and without the harbor, there was no reason for the town to exist. So they concentrated on the harbor and saved it; people started moving back into town as soon as the eruption ended, six months after it started.

We didn’t get a chance to see any of Heimaey on our own – but it looked like a nice place to explore on our next trip to Iceland.

We sailed away during lunch; there was one last lecture on the schedule, from Brian Murray from Duke on the transition to a low-carbon economy. At the end of the lecture, there were announcements: macarons were available in the lounge and there were whales visible from the ship. We decided that macarons could wait and went up to the observatory lounge on Deck 6.

We were not disappointed. I’ve never seen so many whales at one time, nor for so long – they were near the ship for at least an hour. I took over 200 photos, but not all of them were worth keeping. Here are a few I like – and there are many others.

We have a Covid testing appointment tomorrow morning at 9am, so we can’t linger on the ship (which probably makes them happy – they want to clean the room for the next guests). It’s been a good trip, and there’s more to come before we’re home.

Pandemic Journal, Day 507

We got up extra early today to be sure we wouldn’t miss our Covid-19 test, so of course we were ready to leave the ship 30 minutes before our target.

The ship called a taxi for us, and a few minutes later, they said it was ready. The cruise director helped us with our luggage and we left the ship for the last time. There was a taxi there – but it had passengers in it, and when they got out, it drove off.

The people in the taxi were looking for a Golden Circle tour, which didn’t seem to be anywhere nearby. Our taxi (or at least another taxi!) pulled up while they were on the phone with their tour operator and we were off to the hotel – I hope they found their tour.

It only took a few minutes to get to our home for the next two nights, the 101 Hotel. Our room wasn’t ready, unsurprisingly, so we had them store our bags and waited for our friends to arrive so we could split a taxi to and from the Covid testing place.

The test was uneventful, and our results were negative, so we’ll be able to go back to the US on Sunday.

After getting tested, we went back into Reykjavik to enjoy the day. We started at the Saga Museum, which uses dioramas like this one to bring the early years of Iceland’s history to life. There’s an audio tour included – the whole museum took about 45 minutes to explore. Fun, but not life-changing.

From there, we went to Whales of Iceland, which also uses an audio tour and whale reproductions to help you appreciate cetaceans. Again, fun, but not life-changing.

We had hoped to have lunch at Kasbah, but even though they had signs in front of the restaurant advertising their lunch specials, they were closed. I checked the web site later and found that they’re only open for dinner – and we didn’t go there for dinner, either. Since Kasbah was closed, we went across the street to Reykjavik Fish; three of us had fish and chips, while Diane held out for Arctic char. Diane and I did agree on having Boli Beer – it was the best Icelandic beer we’ve had.

We went back to the hotel and finished checking in – our room overlooks Arnarhóll. Unfortunately, that also means it overlooks Hverfisgata, a very busy street – it’s going to be interesting trying to sleep tonight.

We finished the afternoon by going to three museums, beginning with The Culture House, part of the National Museum of Iceland. Most of the space is given over to “Treasures of a Nation”, Icelandic art – there were some very nice pieces included, such as Lava Flow by Þorbjörg Þórðardóttir:

Mountain Vista by Ólöf Einarsdóttir:

Kitchen Life by Anna Líndal:

and Die of Destiny by Finnur Jónsson:

Well worth a visit.

We then went to the Reykjavik Art Museum’s Hafnarhjús location; it was devoted to a group exhibition of very modern art. The piece I liked best was called Compasses, by Anna Rún Tryggvadóttir – it was created from felled trees, mounted horizontally and motorized to rotate slowly.

The rest of the exhibit was far more challenging. I’m glad I went, but I’m also glad the price of admission was included in the Reykjavik City Card.

Our final museum for the day was the Reykjavik Museum of Photography, on the 6th floor of the City Library. It was mostly given over to photographs by Sigurhans Vignir, showing Reykjavik (and occasionally other parts of Iceland) from about 1940-1970. I was taken aback when I saw his photo of the Town Center at Siglufjörður:

and realized I’d taken a similar photo earlier in the week!

Things had changed in the intervening decades.

Pandemic Journal, Day 508

It was still pretty noisy outside last night when we went to bed, but closing the windows and turning on some brown noise made a huge difference, and we slept well.

We took an early walk this morning in search of a non-buffet breakfast – not much was open, and what there was didn’t appeal to us, so we went back to our hotel for their buffet after all – it was good, though not very Icelandic, except for one beverage:

Neither of us indulged.

After breakfast, we went to Kolaportið, the weekend-only flea market held in the old customs hall. It’s mostly aimed at locals rather than tourists (in fact, their official website is only in Icelandic) with lots of semi-permanent booths selling things like reading glasses, vintage clothing, and old appliances, but almost as soon as we entered, Diane found a jewelry maker who had made a nice pendant with a preserved lupin flower inside.

After wandering through the rest of the market (which reminded me very much of a con’s huckster room, though with even fewer books), we decided we’d take the ferry to Viðey Island. There were two options, both covered by the Reykjavik Card. There was an hourly ferry from the Skarfabakki terminal, which would require a cab ride. Or there was a twice-a-day ferry from the Old Harbor, ten minutes walk away – but I couldn’t find the schedule on their webpage and they didn’t answer their phone! We gambled and walked to the Elding booth at the Old Harbor and found that the next departure was 10 minutes away.

The trip was pleasant – we saw the Þúfa, an interesting artwork, as soon as the ferry pulled out, and of course there were views of Hallgrímskirkja Church and Harpa to be had, too.

The ferry stopped next to an Icelandic Coast Guard cutter, but nobody got out – we had stopped at Skarfabakki terminal to pick up passengers.

Five minutes later, we were at Viðey Island; we had a quick lunch at Viðey House and set off to explore the island.

Our first stop was the Imagine Peace Tower, a memorial to John Lennon from Yoko Ono. It wasn’t lit, of course, but I can imagine it would be very interesting to see when it is!

We didn’t have enough time to explore the whole island, but we did visit a few of the Milestones created by Richard Serra.

Soon enough, though, we were on the ferry and waving goodbye to the island and its inhabitants.

We got off at the Old Harbor and decided to visit the Omnom Chocolate Factory and Ice Cream Shop. It was raining lightly, and we weren’t dressed for it (I’d foolishly believed the weather forecast), so we popped into the Maritime Museum to let the worst of the rain pass.

I hadn’t really researched Omnom beyond seeing the rave reviews of their chocolate and ice cream; I thought it’d be a large operation, something like the Jelly Belly Factory or the Ritter Berlin Choco-World. It wasn’t – there was only one person staffing the store, which offered a few ice cream concoctions and a wide selection of chocolate bars. Both of us got the Lakkrís Wolf, which had soft serve covered with liquorice-chocolate sauce, raspberry-liquorice-chocolate cookie crumble and a milk chocolate wolf. It was interesting, but I wouldn’t choose it again. And we had to eat it outside, where the rain had returned.

We were able to take a bus back almost all the way to our hotel instead of walking a couple of kilometers, but we still got drenched when some clown drove his car through a puddle right next to us!

After we changed our clothes, we went on a final search for souvenirs in the Laugavegur area near our hotel – it’s Pride Week here, and the streets were filled with people celebrating (or maybe that’s what every summer Saturday looks like here!).

We had dinner at Brew Dog – good beer, messy sandwiches (sadly, they had run out of lambstrami, which was our goal, but the brisket and cheese bun was good), and a skillet cookie which might not have really been necessary. Our timing was good – when we left, there was a long line of people waiting for tables.

Now to pack up – tomorrow, we fly!

Pandemic Journal, Day 509

It was our last day in Iceland; we had breakfast at the hotel again (the barista there makes a very nice espresso macchiato!) and finished packing before setting out for a little last-minute exploration.

We hadn’t walked all the way around The Pond yet, so that was our goal. Along the way, I was playing with Google Maps and found something called “Trivial Earth Lovers” – the description calls it a place of worship, but the photo associated with it appears to be that of the headquarters of the DAS Lottery! At any rate, that made me think of geocaching, so I hunted for easy caches near us and found two virtual caches, The Unknown Bureaucrat and Monument of Jón Sigurðsson – we’d been to both statues several times during the trip, so all we had to do was go back and take photos with one of us in the picture with the statue and submit the log.

We finished our walk around The Pond before getting the necessary photos; it was a pleasant day for a walk (we were amazingly fortunate in the weather the whole time we were in Iceland). If we’d had more time, we might have explored the “Human Expansion Station

but we skipped it in favor of leaving time for a visit to the National Gallery of Iceland (our Reykjavik cards were still valid, and I wanted to get full value from them!).

The National Gallery had a number of special exhibits – we had just enough time to visit two. The first, Death is Elsewhere, was a seven-screen video showing a couple dancing and singing very odd songs (in English) about Death being elsewhere – we stayed for a few minutes and moved on before the songs became total earworms.

The second, Hello Universe, was more traditional – it mostly had paintings, though there were some odd mixed-media pieces like Halldór Ásgeirsson’s Aurora Borealis Bar.

The labels for “Hello Universe” were only posted in Icelandic; fortunately, the museum had put the English versions online so we could look at them while walking through the exhibition.

After visiting the National Gallery, we took photos at the two geocaches and walked back to the hotel to finish packing and to check out, then we set out for one final meal at the Reykjavik Fish Company. I was pretty sure I knew where it was, but I brought it up on Google Maps to be certain – that was a mistake, because Google had the wrong address! We found it anyway and enjoyed fish and chips (they were out of Arctic char). It was next to Valdis Ice Cream – even though I wasn’t the slightest bit hungry, I wanted to try the ice cream. Valdis was the place we’d been hunting for the entire trip – our trainer had told us to find a place that served ice cream on waffles – but I had to limit myself to a single scoop on a cone. It was very good; next visit to Reykjavik, I’ll plan to go to Valdis for the full experience.

Then it was back to the hotel to retrieve our luggage, a quick walk across the street to the bus stop for the trip to the bus terminal and thence to Keflavik to fly home (well, to Boston).

The route to the airport took us near Fagradalsfjall Volcano. It had been pretty quiet the last few days, but as we passed it, there was lots of steam coming out.

The commentary on one of the YouTube channels carrying live video said that there’d been a wall collapse a few minutes before we passed by, generating lots of lava. All I could do was watch the feed and wish I were there.

Now we’re on our flight to Boston – there was no chance to see the volcano when we took off, but I did enjoy the view of glaciers over Greenland.

The movies and TV offerings on this flight didn’t excite me, but I was drawn to one album, “IBM 1401, A User’s Manual” by Jóhann Jóhannsson.

The first track, “IBM 1401 Processing Unit”, was strictly musical, so I was really surprised when the second track, “IBM 1403 Printer”, included readings of parts of the manual! Diane says she wishes her father had been able to hear this album – he spent years servicing 1401 systems as an IBM Customer Engineer.

We should land in Boston in a couple of hours – we’ll have to stay awake until 10pm or so Eastern Time.

Tomorrow, we see our son!