(This post is by Cathy Campo, BMC class of 2019. Photo credit to Amy Radbill)
We woke up this morning to a beautiful buffet breakfast at the KEX Hostel. Some favorite dishes included: hard boiled eggs, porridge, salami, fresh cheese, fresh yogurt, fresh baked bread with Icelandic butter and jams. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a picture because my hands were busy stuffing my face.
At 9:00am, we met our dope bus driver, Thor, (it takes a very cool person to pull off the name “Thor,” and let’s just say he definitely pulls it off) for a Golden Circle bus tour. We started out by stopping at Þingvellir National Park (that ‘þ’ is called a ‘thorn’ and makes a ‘th’ sound. It is one of the 10 letters Icelandic has that English does not) where the Vikings would gather in the summer.
We took a leisurely one-hour walk down the snowy trail, taking in white-blanketed volcanic rocks. Sights included a little stream and icy mountains. Notable occurrences: Catharine made snow angels, Alexandra discovered the mountain from which Gloucester attempts to commit suicide, and the cast tried out method acting by practicing an exercise of Mark’s, ice walking, on actual ice. (But don’t worry, parents–the ice was a solid few feet thick and no one fell in!)
As we made our way to the geothermal secret-mineral-spring-that-actually-isn’t-so-secret (more commonly known as “Gamla Laugin” or The Secret Lagoon, Iceland’s first swimming pool) we passed the largest lake in Iceland as well as some horses (which they actually eat here).
Speaking of Icelandic food, a classic Icelandic treat, chocolate covered licorice, was passed around while we traveled. I’ll be honest, the taste was not for me, but this could just be because I don’t like licorice. I interviewed a few members of the cast on the subject:
Miciah: “Well, I liked the chocolate part of it. Whatever you do, don’t separate the chocolate from the licorice because then you’re just stuck with licorice and it’s disgusting.”
Amelia: “I don’t like licorice usually, but it tastes good in chocolate. I thought it was really good!”
Caroline: “The first time I had it, it was great. And the second time? Yeah, not so great.”
Maybe Goneril poisons Regan with chocolate licorice? Further research to be conducted in the future.
Now back to the topic at hand: the Secret Lagoon was beautiful! You could see the inviting steam rising from the water. The swimming culture is different and very big in Iceland. You are first asked to shower before entering the water, to keep it as pure as possible. Many people swam with foam noodles, which some of our cast members creatively used to write out “BMC.” (we are artists, after all).
The water was denser and felt mineral-y (according to Amelia; I did not actually go in). Marisa notes the huge, algae-encased boulders on the ground that you can sit on (she also advises you not to fall in, because of those boulders). It felt amazing to have half your body warm and the other half cold, according to Miciah. Just outside the pool, there was a geyser, or geysir in Icelandic (“a vent in Earth’s surface that periodically ejects a column of hot water and steam,” according to Google) that was hot enough to burn your hands on.
Some of our hearty students were able to last in the warmth of the pool for the full two hours! “I feel like my insides were boiled,” said Amelia.
On the other hand, Alexandra cheerfully says she felt “grounded and earthed” and “no longer depleted of negative ions.”
Roz said: “Did not cure my cough: 2/10. But would spring again.”
On our way out, a miracle happened: It started snowing! On our spring break! Wooo!
Next up was the Friðheimar Tomato Farm. Who knew they had tomato farms in Iceland? Not me! It was this amazing, warm little greenhouse with artificial light for sunlight. A worker told us all about their production of tomatoes. Their pure Icelandic water, which is pumped in through pipes, makes for fine tomatoes. As does the fact that because Iceland is an isolated island, they don’t really have pests and thus don’t use pesticides. She told us about how sometimes they do get “bad flies,” but they simply let loose “good flies” to fight them off. They also import bumble bees from the Netherlands–a queen bee and about 60 female workers in each box–to help with production.
We were provided an amazing lunch rivaling our breakfast–the freshest, best tomato soup I’ve ever had along with yummy sour cream. We also tried tortellini with tomato sauce and a flatbread with tomato and cheese. In addition, we had an assortment of fresh breads with a special cucumber spread and Icelandic butter. Dessert appropriately arrived in little terra cotta pots. Tomato ice cream, cheesecake with a tomato jelly, and apple tomato pie. Yum!
After lunch, we stopped at the wee horse farm next door. Despite not being able to pronounce the horses’ Icelandic names, we bonded with them anyway.
Then we bussed to Gullfoss, a breathtaking waterfall that the bottom of the earth swallows.
Lastly, we made it to our last stop on the tour, Geysir, at around 6:15pm. Exhausted but still excited, we overlooked the geysers, like the one we saw earlier today at the spring. We watched as they sprang up, up, up every five or so minutes to perform magical shows.
TLDR: All in all, Iceland is an amazing country that teems with gorgeous natural sights, ridiculously fresh food, and horses that are sometimes pets and sometimes served with gravy.