Our last night in our Kuku van was a little bittersweet. We’d quickly grown accustomed to the compact space and our daily routine. Plus, we enjoyed being able to drive were we wanted and stay where and how long we wanted. Our only no-no with the van was for us to not drive on the “F” labeled roads….those are only for 4 wheeled drives. No problem. We had plenty of places to go. We rose fairly early as we needed to eat and then pack up all our stuff and clean up the van a bit to prepare for returning Kuku.
Once we were squared away we got on the road. We headed straight to Reykjavik to spend our last day in Iceland in the capital. We filled up Kuku for the final time then returned to Kuku Campers headquarters. Fortunately we got a thumbs up on the condition of the van upon check in. We didn’t think we’d have any issues, but with the great number of gravel roads we drove, one couldn’t take anything for granted. We rang for a cab and went into the city center to start our meandering.
We first went to the Settlement Exhibition. It was a wonderful overview of the Viking exploration and settlement of Iceland over the centuries. What was amazing was that the exhibit was built around the archeological site that was found of one of the very first long houses. There were lots of electronic interactive displays making it very hands on. After a thorough review we went outside and happily found a city square right across the street with picnic tables. As we had packed sandwiches from the last of our food, we were set for lunch.
Content alert…. If you’re a sensitive individual you may want to skip the following paragraph…..
We then proceeded to walk through the main street which was full of tourists and locals alike and all kinds of shops and cafes. But we had a specific destination in mind next, thanks to our friend, Coyote. She had written to us from her hike in Australia telling us not to miss the phallological museum. Well! How could we pass up the opportunity to see such a unique museum? In we went, getting headphones and mini devices that gave us the story of the establishment of this crazy place and more details than you can imagine about all the different species of animal penises, including man. Yikes! There were examples from whales to elephants to rats to the Icelandic handball team from the 2008 Olympics, the only Icelandic team to win silver medal. Mind you, those were cast in metal. And named. Oh, my. I kid you not! Turns out that the museum founder had been a school principal who had been given an animal penis as a joke. Then the gifts and donations kept coming until his wife had enough and said they had to leave the house. Definitely penis overload after that visit!
We needed a big change of pace after that so we walked up to the Hallgrimskirkja, the church that dominates the city. It’s structured to resemble the basalt stacks we’ve seen around the southern shoreline. A beautiful building. In front stands a statue of Leif Ericsson, facing the harbor. It was given to the Icelandic people by the US on the advent of the 1000 year anniversary of the Alting, AD 1930.
By then we needed some sustenance so we popped in to the Prikiđ (no joke) pub so the kids could have a beer. Along the way we passed a shop with Icelandic knitted items, where we found a small table and chairs outside with a basket filled with a random knitting project. I had to stop and knit a few stitches, as I did in New Zealand, when I was in Napier. Mandy knit some as well. We didn’t linger long but went on to the pub. It is reportedly the oldest cafe in Reykjavik. Mandy was pleased to find they had a vegan burger.
For the rest of us we found an alternate restaurant, Loki, as the guys wanted to have something with Icelandic lamb, after seeing thousands of sheep on this journey. They had a lamb stew whilst I found the local version of Danish a smørebrød with pickled herring and another fish salad. Yum!
By then we were tiring, even though this was the absolute best weather we’ve had – sunny, blue skies and warm enough not to wear our jackets, just our mellies. We called for a cab to take us to the hotel/hostel by the Keflavik airport as we have a very early morning flight. This was another trip down memory lane as this is the Base Hotel – it’s where the old Navy Air Station used to be when I worked here and the building is one of the old barracks. Of course they’ve altered it a bit, but charmingly they’ve kept a lot of the old feel of the place. The woman who checked us in used to be married to an American here and she said getting the Base after it closed was a life saver for many Icelanders after the economy crashed.
We got to our room and quickly pulled out everything that needed washing and got laundry going. Soon we’ll be ending this first phase of our journey. While here we kept a running tally of some things for Mandy’s journal. It also helped us keep our eyes out for what was around us as we drove by. We drove a total of 2,714 km/ 1,686 miles over 9 days, through 43 roundabouts, over 82 one lane bridges, saw 356 herds of sheep, 226 herds of horses, only 13 herds of cows and amazingly we saw 287 waterfalls. This has been a fabulous trip around this country, seeing the vastness and the varied landscape. There wasn’t a single day where we didn’t feel it was totally remarkable and so worthwhile. We enjoyed every aspect of it.
The next post will be in Ireland with Mandy and Kevin. We’re sending Crosby off to begin the Scottish National Trail. We’re looking forward to the country change, seeing Ireland for the first time and catching up with dear friends. Hope to have you come along with us.