Day 5 Iceland 

This was our day of cycling, we had impressive hybrid ( flat bar) titanium bikes which performed flawlessly, the weather was not quite up to the same standard. 

It was not all bad but just rather cold and at times mild precipitation and a few spots of rain. I guess I can be thankful for small mercies as friends have sent me links to other cycle blog sites that describe relentless rain and crippling headwinds, that brings one to a standstill! 

We cycled around a huge lake the source of the nations hydroelectric power. It is part of the Pingvellir National Park

Incidentally Iceland bring the youngest “continent” ( although I don’t think this is quite the correct geological label, but you get my drift?) has NO COAL! It’s power comes entirely from geothermal hot water and hydroelectricity! If only we could harness the super heated steam that sprays relentlessly from every orifice of Tony Abbott, I am sure that we could power the entire national capital. The cost of powering Iceland  is minimal. 

There was only one part of the route which was not enjoyable – 11 km along the main ring road N1 of Iceland which has no shoulder and it was a rather busy road not unexpectedly. But the majority of drivers were courteous and adopted a wide berth on passing. It was also that part with rain and a moderate head wind.  The picture below is along the more relaxed quiet road

Now I am resting at the fabulous Ion Hotel having had a spa and dry sauna with the bloody sun shining in clear blue skies! I will throw cation to the wind and have a beer!

Tomorrow is our last day and I am heading to Norway for another Backroads holiday. 

Day 4 Iceland 

Every day has been unique and today was indeed extraordinary. We climbed into 2 huge off road vehicles- a strange behemoth, a  sort of cross between Humber, jeep and moon vehicle, which if it were any higher off the ground would require passengers to don oxygen masks! We crashed and bumped our way along rocky roads, crossing several fast running glacial rivers, to a delightful hiking centre nestled in the mountains and proceeded hike several kilometres and ascend almost a thousand metres.

Day 3 Iceland 

Day 3 Iceland A walk on a glacier! I am lost for words, you may be surprised to learn. Let my photographs try to do justice to the day, if possible.

The black colour of the ice is ground up basalt lava, not what you are thinking- dirt!

The reason I took this kneeling/crouching shot was to “recreate” an almost identical photo and pose when I did the Everest Base Camp trek as a 5th medical student elective! 

After the Glacier walk we drove further along the coast to a delightful village for lunch and this is the local church with earthen roof , more than 150 years old 

Day 2 Iceland 

A long arduous hike between two glaciers  in the Vatnajokull National Park was spectacular and unique. The immense size of the glaciers and mountains is almost impossible to convey even if the photos are taken with an iPhone! In one or two shots if you look carefully, a human figure can be discerned- that will help demonstrate the enormity. 

The weather was as changeable as any day in Ireland! So far God has been good, crisp sunny start to the day, at altitude mist and clouds descended in the afternoon with a few spots of rain and condensation. 

The first three pictures are of abandoned huts and homes of an original settlement village perched high on the side of the mountain with an awesome view over the glacial landscape and looking down towards the  Skeioararsandur alluvial plains and the sea.

This is the Svartifoss waterfall. – Black Falls. The black balsic rock columns are recreated by the architect who designed the Cathedral of Reykjavik 


Day 1 Iceland 

A wonderful morning with the weather being bright, sunny and as crystal clear as the ice we were to suck at the end of day 1 after a dinghy ride through an iceberg lake. To help the reader follow the trip I shall begin each day’s blog with this map. It starts with a flight to the south east of the island at the edge  of the Vatnajökull Glacier – the largest in Europe


I had an incredible sense of déjà-Vue today as I walked up the ravine for it recreated the terrain and vista I experienced along the Khumbu Glacier on my Everest Base Camp trek as a medical student all those years ago, truely an eerie, exhilarating feeling 

My resistance training pays off! As my father would say “and the muscles in his arms stood out like knots in cotton”

This reminded me of the ride at the Iguazu falls in Brazil…. I think I need to repeat the Botox?

Mathematical conundrum 

This picture is of a modern hot and cold water tap, of the type common in European hotels. It is indeed the tapware here in the Foss Hotel Reykjavik. The chrome cylinder has at either end a barrel action which may be rotated clockwise or anticlockwise. Both of these rotating ends have a black rocker which can be pressed down or up. So stay with me here as I indulge in some basic concepts of permutations: there are 4 separate manoeuvres each of which as 2 choices.  I recall this means it’s 2 to the power of 4 or……… 4 to the power of 2, which is the same result for both : 16!

What’s the point I hear you ask ? Well I am standing naked on tip toe in the shower recess fiddling the knobs working my way through these permutations whilst goose bumps the size of a Viking maiden’s breast break out on my body!  My needs are simple  and the correct answer to my mathematical equation is quite simply =2  

1. hot water 

2. Lots of it 

I did not even have the time or inclination to address the issue of what the long smaller cylinder that looks like a curling wand does whilst bathing. 
Finally sorting  out the shower (lasting but a few minutes which recreated a Swedish spa experience: sauna-ice pool plunge-sauna-ice pool plunge,) I faced another cleaning dilemma.

I have always been mildly confused, in fact irritated, by the 2 washing container options in the shower recess:

Body wash


Let’s face it, we all know they come out of the same huge vat, and the only difference is then colouring and perfume! You all agree?

Well in the Foss Hotel Reykjavik the options are 

Body/Shampoo wash – a blow for reason I smile as I lather up but wait what is the second bottle? Conditioning lotion? No it’s Hand Wash. WTF! Was I supposed to wash my hands with this specific preparation before attacking body and scalp? Was the order of application vital? Would my hands drop off or worse other parts of my body if I blindingly used hand wash on it or vice versa? Lest you think I am a grumpy old man, I am taking orders as a gift for anyone upon my return


The Golden Circle

This is one of the most popular day trips for the almost two million tourists that will visit Iceland in 2017. Thankfully today my group was boutique – 4 youngsters and one geriatric.  There were two Americans and the young woman from Australia came from Coolaman! Why the exclamation mark? Coolaman is a village less than 40 km ftom Temora! 

The triangle visits a geyser field- interesting  but New Zealand does it better – a breathtaking waterfall (pictured) named the Golden Falls and finally a national park.

The biggest waterfall in Europe

The last photo is a panorama in the National Park and is the site of the original Viking parliament- our guide assured us Iceland has the oldest parliament system. The panorama shows an immense lava field where the two continental plates meet and are migrating apart by 2cm a year! So rest assured it’s quite safe to picnic on the laval mossy fields without fear of falling into the abyss.

For those of you interested, my luggage arrived after a detour to Copenhagen! 

Today I start the Backroads Iceland Multisport tour. The weather forecast seems optimistic. 

Is this the Norway possum?

New Zealand has achieved the unique distinction of creative culling when it comes to introduced feral pests, specifically the possum. Lest I foment Pauline Hanson’s halal anger , I hesitate to explain that New Zealanders invariably check to ensure the possum is well and truely alive, before it is actually killed. It would be far too kind to kill a possum after it is dead

It seems that Norway has achieved the same distinction, albeit with its native fauna! I admit to a sense of disgust when I saw this at a tourist shop at the Oslo International airport

But then as I wrote this in the Oslo Business lounge – where most things are pickled, it dawned on me that we do the same with sheep – tan them I mean, not pickle them. It’s a moot point as they were introduced! But our iconic kangaroo is emasculated so that Japanese golfers carry their balls in a furry pouch. Make of that image what you will. 

On the long stretch from Adelaide to Dubai I revisited  that memorable film “In the Heat of the Night”. Powerful cinema. The only other choice was “The Sound of Music” which at several hours in length was sufficient to put me to sleep and awake just  in time for breakfast before arrival. 

The Oslo international airport passport/immigration counter was a nightmare for all countries other than the Euro Zone! There were but 2 windows for non EU passengers. As there arrived simultaneously an Emirates and Qatar flight, the queue stretched out of the arrival hall, across the tarmac and snaked around the edge of a nearby fiord.

I wait with foreboding the catastrophic queues of Heathrow after Brexit, which are already a nightmare. As the British invented the “queue”, I can only but wonder where it will all end up- figuratively and literally.

It was too good to be true, in all my years of travel, I have not lost luggage! I lose myself on every trip, but not a suitcase… until today.  At my final destination- Iceland, my backpack did not appear. It had been tagged “all the way through from Adelaide” confidently stated the Emirates check-in clerk! I am told it will appear at 1am at the airport! Tomorrow is a Golden Circle Tour followed by a swim in the blue lagoon at dusk.  I went out at 8 pm in wild wet weather to buy an anorak at the Icelandic equivalent of say, ” Paddy Pallin”. I toyed with also buying swimming togs as I am to visit the Blue Lagoon at dusk!