John, being more brave than I, suggested that we rent a car for a few days and explore Iceland on our own. Although I was nervous about driving through ice, snow, and wind (especially after my trip last summer which you can read about here) in a foreign country, he convinced me to adopt a more adventurous spirit and off we went.
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This trip plus the bit of bus touring covered about half of the Ring Road that circles the country.
As a reference, this pretty amusing notice was attached to the rental car's steering wheel.
We began our journey in the dark (luckily it only took us 5 minutes of city driving to realize we had the headlights only partially on) and headed north towards Akureyri.
The museum was very modern with interactive exhibits and eccentric artwork. I think the most interesting thing we learned was that at one point in history, the Nordic people were influential all throughout Europe. For example, Normandy, France, aka "northman" was so named because of the large number of Nordic inhabitants.
This picture illustrates the enormous influence of the Nordics on the rest of Europe.
Even the gift shop was cool.
A large number of the windows in Iceland had these in them, which I think is an Advent thing?
The rest of the afternoon was spent driving through snowy Iceland. Overall, the drive was pretty uneventful. The drive is probably more interesting in the summer months when you can see the grass, fauna, and lava fields. Unfortunately, the snow made it all look the same.
We did make a stop at a gas station, where we purchased some delicious candy.
The local church looked like a space ship from Battlestar Galactica.
The produce in Iceland often left something to be desired.
Paper towels featuring the Yule Lads from last post.
The next morning we woke up early and headed back south. On the way home we planned to stop by Snæfellsjökull, the setting for Jules Vern's Journey to the Center of the Earth. Little did we know, we were in for quite the journey of our own.
As the sun rose early in the morning, we noticed that it was very cloudy. It was weird because the sky and the ground were both so white, that they blended into one. Later, it started to snow. It got pretty real.
We read that sheep in the road was going to be a problem in Iceland, but all the sheep and cows were inside for the winter. The only animal left out were the poor horses.
This was the most we saw of Snæfellsjökull due to the fog.
We washed down our pizza with some of this Christmasy drink. Egils Malt og Appelsín is half non-alcoholic malt and half orange soda. It was good, but rich enough that half a can was enough for each of us.