Friday, October 13, 2023

Fire Lava

Howdy Friends! As many of you know, me and my crew are a couple weeks into a 40 day train trip through north and western Europe. Our first stop was Iceland, where we spent a week traveling the southern half of Iceland’s iconic ring road from Reykyavik in the west to Seyðisfjörður in the east. The scenery, pretty much countrywide, was absolutely fucking stunning. When I attempt to convey to friends the extent of Iceland's natural beauty, all I can seem to do is come up with increasingly ambitious exclamatory adjectives: Gorgeous! Outrageous! Spectacular! Magnificent! Glorious! Majestic! Fucking Baller! :) 

The landscape was sometimes familiar—huge rocks jutting out of the ocean, not unlike the scenery we're  accustomed to at the Oregon coast—but mostly it was pretty fucking alien, as if we were dropped on the moon or, more aptly, a far-distant extrasolar earth-like planet whose landscape is clearly heavily influenced by volcanic activity. The results of thousands of years of volcanic activity were everywhere: black sand beaches, icebergs and glaciers streaked black with volcanic ash, moss covered lava fields as far as the eye can see (not to mention, the actual, you know, volcanoes).

I’m especially impressed with the volcanic eruption some 240 year ago that gave us the fucking stunning Eldhraun lava fields. I failed to capture any photos, but this website has some gorgeous ones and goes into some of the extensive lore associated with Eldhraun (which translates to "fire lava") from the French revolution to Justin Bieber. :)

Our final Icelandic destination was Seyðisfjörður, an adorable little town in an incredibly beautiful part of the country, where we boarded a 3-day passenger ferry to Northern Denmark.

The ferry ride itself did not quite go as I imagined, but I think it’s fair to say we made the best of it. I had visions of a relaxing few days at sea, allowing us to recoup after a week of wonderful (though fast-paced) travel, and instead we were tossed around by the choppy seas, hit with virus-induced quarantine, and sea-sickness induced retching. We had big plans to make full use of the boat's facilities, most notably the pool, but both teens came down with a cold basically the instant they boarded and were relegated to our very cramped sleeping quarters, other than mandatory and heavy masked forages in search of food. Turns out, though, the pool would have been a no-go even sans illness; early into the trip, the boat encountered one very impressive wave, which caused the entire contents of the pool to be ejected, water, humans and all. Thankfully nobody was hurt. I was lifting weights in the gym next-door, and witnessed the resulting series of screams followed by even more laughter and a very very damp gym floor.

The highlight of the ferry trip, for me, was an afternoon layover in Tórshavn, the capital city of Faroe islands, an archipelago (thanks to my geography nerd son for that word!) between Iceland and Norway. We were permitted to deboard and explore the island for several hours, which I could not have been more grateful for, as my sea sickness was in high gear at that point. It's another impossibly adorable town surrounded by impossibly stunning scenery (unfortunately, I was too busy being charmed by the adorable boats in the harbor to get pictures of anything else).

We are now safely landed in northern Denmark, hunkering down in Hirtshals for a few days to recover from the boat crud before we continue on.

(I wrote this blog post a little over a week ago and am only now getting around to uploading it, oops! More soon!)

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