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21 September 2013 @ 12:12 am
Adventures Above and Below the Ground - Day 2 of Iceland  
One of the things I was most eager to do in Iceland was to ride an Icelandic horse, as they are very similar to the Pictish horses that are seen on various Pictish Stones - small, sturdy, shaggy horses that look a little small for their riders, who are often wearing hoods and pants that fit tightly around the calf. (Essentially like this.)

Well, I was foolish and in correspondence with the stable asked whether I could wear my Viking clothing on the ride. They replied that, due to there potentially being cold, snowy weather they "cannot recommend this outfit" for the ride. Initially, I was terribly disappointed but then, upon further reflection, I decided that "cannot recommend" is NOT the same as "may not." Besides, they did not cite any safety concerns (I had already conceded that I would wear the helmet at all times), so if it was just a matter of personal comfort, well, I certainly am familiar with suffering for my nerd! Therefore, in the weeks running up to the trip, I had hand-sewed a full Norse outfit - wool tunic, wool trousers (with a gusset, of course), wool hat, wool hood - and packed it as well as the necessary accessories (belt, pouch, leg wraps, and linen undertunic). The only thing I wore that was not handsewn by me were the legwraps that were woven by a friend of mine. Nerdtastic.

Well, that morning I got up extra early and got all perfectly kitted out, to the obvious confusion of the other travelers in my hostel room. None of them were awake enough or curious enough to actually ask about it, but I did get a few weird looks as I wandered out to wait for the tour bus. Strange looks from the folks on the tour bus failed to change my resolve either, but I was pleased that the first person to actually mention the clothes was one of the riding instructors who thought it was super cool. The girls behind the desk were nonplussed, but not willing to talk to the weird girl long enough to try to talk me out of it. The guides tried to make me take the ugly waterproof overalls, but I made them clarify that they were RECOMMENDED, not REQUIRED and so refused them.

The photos of the day did not turn out super well, but I had a splendid time and was perfectly warm in my little wool cocoon.
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The ride was fun, but the guides were a little obsessed about keeping the horses in line and very close together, turning it into a very nose-butt sort of ride. Still, the landscape was stunning as we rode through lava fields and one of the guides gave a demonstration of the gaits when we stopped for a break.


Following lunch, I changed into jeans and boots for the caving part of the tour. (I also figured the change of clothes might be handy if the stable had been jerks and not let me wear my awesome Norse. :P) The bus picked me up before too long, though, and we were off to the cave, which was a short drive from the stables.

I'd already seen a lot of rainbows in my day and a half, but another appeared over the cave opening as we were walking out.
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Caving itself was fun and as I previously mentioned, allowed me to face some recurring insecurities. (I hesitate to call them fears, since my waking mind did not have any particular issue with the idea, but it was interesting to be intentionally putting myself into a recurring nightmare scenario.)

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Due to the minerals in the stone, much of the surface of this cave had an almost metallic reflective/iridescent finish. It was pretty neat to look at, but made photography a little tricky!

On the way back we stopped to see a fish-drying operation - apparently the bits and ends are dried in the sun (well outside of town) and then shipped off for consumption in Asia or for pet foods.

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It's hard to convey adequately in words, but Iceland is just a stunning country. Even out here in a desolate landscape dominated by decomposing dish, the scenery was still just stunning. The drive to and from the city was full of beauty unfolding with every turn. The tour bus had wifi, but I didn't really even find myself tempted to check the intartoobz when I could be staring out the window.

Once back in Reykjavik, I decided to drop off my bags and figure out the buses. I was hoping to meet up with the local SCA group at their fencing practice, but once I actually took the bus and walked out to the practice site, I realized that they met on THURSDAYS, not TUESDAYS. *facepalm* Well, being already on the outskirts of town, I decided to wander the city awhile. I hopped a bus back toward the center of town and then hopped off when it headed off in a direction I didn't want to go. I walked for a bit and then happened across the Reykjavik Harley-Davidson and was able to find a small present for my dad. Eventually, I found my way to the Botanical Gardens, which were pretty, if tiny.

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Then, on my wander home, I tried to stop for dinner. Many places were already closed and the one still serving had outrageous prices. However, the lady at the guest house had pointed out the nearest 24 hour market, so I decided to just stop by the convenience store and self-cater for the night. This is where I learned that the incredible restaurant prices were actually reflecting the food costs. Oh, my. Small bag of potatoes, package of cheese, 4 oz bacon, 2 packs of skyr, some jam, a tiny loaf of rye bread, and a candy bar - $35! I passed on the $7/dozen eggs. I cooked myself some breakfast for dinner and then got to bed at an early hour, as I had an important appointment in the morning,
 
 
 
jtdiii: Biojtdiii on September 21st, 2013 11:58 am (UTC)
You would think Icelanders would understand the usefulness of wool in damp weather... :)

Looks like fun
eithni: snapeeithni on September 21st, 2013 06:06 pm (UTC)
Yeah, you'd think so... :p I'm not sure if she thought I was going to show up in a chainmail bikini or what, but the reason seemed silly.
Albredaalbreda on September 23rd, 2013 12:53 pm (UTC)
Not understanding wool is just silly, given how many they have there! The sweater I bought on my trip served as my go-to, every single freaking day, winter coat for more than ten winters in northern Vermont.</p>

Also, you look adorably perfect. Glad to read (in a later entry) that you got to experience the funky gait, and SO COOL that you had to imitate the image from the artwork to get your horse to do it! Experimental archaeology FTW!

eithni: do I need to kill you?eithni on September 23rd, 2013 01:30 pm (UTC)
I know, I thought it was odd too, but I think it was the only excuse they could come up with that wasn't explicitly "ew! That's weird!" :p

I've never been too skeptical about the value of experimental archaeology, but the longer I play this game, the more useful it becomes. :)