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12 October 2013 @ 08:15 pm
Waterfalls, Museums, and Food - Day 11 of Iceland  
We got up reasonably early in the morning since I needed to have the car back to Reykjavik by 1PM and we had several stops planned for the morning. First, however, we took advantage of the nice breakfast buffet - food is so pricey in Iceland, it was rare to be offered anything, much less a pretty nice spread of toast and various spreads, some proteins, and several juices.

Once fortified, we hit the road and back-tracked a few miles to see Skogafoss, since it had been full dark when we passed it the night before. Skogafoss is reputed to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, but it is sort of hard to tell, since by this time in the trip, I'd seen so many mind-bendingly beautiful things, it was hard to rate all that lovely.

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Then it was on to Seljalandsfoss, which in addition to being ridiculously beautiful like most of Iceland is, has the distinction of being a waterfall you can walk behind. There are some stairs that will get you close, but in true Icelandic fashion, there has not been a safe trail carved out to make it anything like safe or accessible - a certain amount of rock climbing on slippery, wet, moss-covered stones was necessary to reach the passageway. I'm the little green dot in the photos - I got soaked, but it was actually a lot of fun. Knowing we would be in the car or indoors for the rest of the morning, I wasn't too concerned and figured I'd dry off before too long.


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The tiny green dot between the falls is me. (below)
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Unfortunately, this Saga museum was again something of a disappointment, being almost entirely informational boards about the Gaga of Burnt Njall and very little in the way of artifacts or even dioramas. They did have a very nice miniature long house, though, so i got to bore Lauren with the details of longhouse construction and organization. :P We only had about an hour at the museum, but that was sufficient and we headed toward Reykjavik with just a short stop so Lauren could see some Icelandic horsies up close as she had not yet had a chance to do so.

We dropped off the car without incident and then wandered around the downtown shopping district for while, but didn't buy anything other than some postcards. Well, and some hakarl. Hakarl was one of the things I absolutely wanted to try while in Iceland. It is one of the "ethnic dare foods" that you can only imagine was invented due to some truly heavy drinking. Essentially, you take a poisonous shark, bury it in the ground to ferment for a few months, hang it out to dry for awhile, and then eat it, if you can get past the ammonia smell. However, unlike many ethnic dare foods (like lutefisk), hakarl is still pretty regularly consumed by normal Icelanders as part of the Thorrablot festival. Anthony Bourdain cited it as one of the worst things he had ever eaten. Andrew Zimmern could not keep it down. So of course I had to try it.

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It was not as bad as I had been led to believe. Once you got past the smell, the taste was superduper fishy, but not actually terribly offensive and the texture was like a slightly gooey paneer. Not good, per se, but not awful. You follow it up with a shot of Brennevin, which the Icelanders call "Black Death" and that is supposed to improve the taste... Most people think the Brennevin is awful too, but I sort of like it - it's caraway flavored and so odd and interesting. (As one of the apprenti puts it, my face may be broken.) The bigger problem was that this was mid-afternoon and I'd not eaten since Vik, so after walking a few blocks down the road, I realized I was very rapidly becoming drunk.

We stopped in to a proper restaurant for some fish fry and a sit at a place near the harbor. It was pleasant to just hang out, use the wifi, and write postcards for the afternoon. Lauren had to catch a plane to Paris that evening, so we parted ways as I walked back toward the bus station to meet up with Liza and Tomas for an ice cream. Generally, I approved of the Icelander's fascination with licorice, but the profusion of chocolate covered licorice options for topping your sundae was a little disturbing. The conversation, however, was delightful and we hung out until it was time for me to head back to the guest house.

I had stayed in the dorms the last time I was at this guest house, but when I had checked in earlier, it turned out that a fellow in the dorm room was incredibly ill and the owner did not feel right putting anyone in with him. All the dorm beds were occupied, though, so she took me up to the third floor an put me in the garret. This was awesome because 1) it was my own private space with a door and 2) it was a garret! I like quirky little spaces - this one had enough space to stand upright to the left side of the room, for a few feet in at least, but there was not enough space for there to be a bedstead due to the slope of the roof, so there was just a double mattress on the floor. Very fun and cozy. I stayed up way too late packing and writing postcards and regretting that tomorrow would be my last day in Iceland. 
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