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Saturday, October 8, 2016


This morning we started out with a some cereal and milk from the grocery store next to the apartment. The hot water for showers is geothermally heated, and smells slightly sulfurous (I'm not sure I smelled any better coming out of the shower than I did going in).

Our first stop was the BSI main bus terminal for parking, then walked a few blocks into the city. We joined a Citywalk pay-what-you-want walking tour led by a local with a history degree. It was very interesting. It started in front of the Althingi, the parliament building. You have to know find it on the map before you go, though - unlike the US Capitol it's fairly unobtrusive. In fact the only sign it's there is a small "Althingi - no parking" sign. Next to the Althingi is the city's cathedral - apparently the Hallgrimskirkja, while impressive, is just a standard neighborhood church. About a block away is the site of what is believed to be the first Christian church in Iceland. The cemetery attached to the church is now a brick-paved park, with rainbow painted bricks leading to a gay bar.

The tour went all over downtown, including the site of the first settler landing, the famous hot dog stand, various statues and parks. As we walked by the Prime Minister's office, the guide did a double-take. There were six police motorcycles and two cars out front, and he said that was the most police he'd ever seen in once place - there must have been something big going on. He said normally the PM doesn't have much if any security - he had a picture of himself and the PM at a bar downtown a few weeks ago.

The town itself is beautiful. There is very little garbage, though there is graffiti everywhere. There aren't any homeless people - apparently the government provides them with places to stay, since otherwise they wouldn't survive the winters. There's also very low unemployment - if you don't have a job, it'a because you don't want one.

After the tour we went to the town hot dog stand, near the tourism center. The local standard hot dog includes toasted bun, raw and fried onions, mustard, ketchup, and some other sauce that was delicious.

After lunch and coffee, we piled in the car, and went back to the apartment for more coats. It's been very windy; if there was this much wind at home there would be trees down and power out everywhere, but there are very few trees here. This both helps and hinders - it helps because they don't fall down, and hinders because they don't break the wind.

Coats acquired, we headed out of town, south on Route 1. We went through Selfoss all the way out to Skoga, for the Skogafoss waterfall. It was beautiful. I'll pull video off of my camera after dinner and put it up on YouTube, then post a link here.

Driving in Iceland - the traffic lights turn from red, to red and yellow, then to green. Given the way the locals drive, red and yellow means hit the gas, with the goal of being fully in the intersection before it turns green.

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