Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Final Day -- Iceland Departure

We've just left Keflavík, and the seat-belt sign has just been turned off. In just under six hours, we'll be home. Well, almost home. We still have a two hour drive from Baltimore to our real home.

The day was a travel day, but with a 16:40 departure, we had a little time to stop by the Blue Lagoon. This was a "must see" stop for Kathleen and Becky. The lagoon is really a posh spa, with a saltwater lagoon that is diluted and heated by thermal mineral waters from deep within the ground. Bubbling and steaming geysers (the non-erupting kind) are located throughout the large body of milky blue water. As you wade through the waters, you travel in and out of hot zones, some of them too hot to stay in. All around, European tourists relax and take in the healthful mineral waters. Unfortunately, there are too few cute twenty-something tanned Italian or Spanish hotties, and a hell of a lot too many white obese Germans and Brits, some of them in alarmingly transparent bathing suits.

The boys and I could only take thirty minutes of it, and indeed, Becky was right behind us. Kathleen enjoyed it a lot, but even she got out before an hour had passed. The water is very nice, and very soothing, but like a nice hot bath, you can only stay in it for so long before you just get too darned hot. It would have been nice if they had a regular freshwater swimming pool at normal temperature where you could "cool your jets" for a bit between hot baths. The boys would have enjoyed playing in a pool like that, but the spa-like lagoon was not really something you could play in.

So we lasted thirty minutes, but at least we emerged clean and refreshed. Then, with time to kill, we boarded our bus and headed over to the airport at Keflavík. We had quite a long wait, so we took some lunch at the airport cafeteria.

There are two interesting things about eating in Iceland. One, it is very expensive. A dinner for one starts at about US $40. But it's not labelled in dollars, of course, so you have to do mental gymnastics to figure out the price. Looking at the salmon for KR 2.830, it doesn't totally hit you that you're getting raped and pillaged by these modern day Vikings.

The other interesting thing is that we never had Icelandic food while we were here. Every single restaurant had the same menu of Asian-inspired fusion cuisine. We were really tired of having all of our food looking as though the sous-chef for Benihana just worked it over. What we wouldn't give for a simple piece of fish with a side dish of rice or potatoes.

Which brings me back to the cafeteria in the airport. The boys and I got cheeseburgers. And the three cheeseburgers, plus the sub sandwich Becky got, cost me $50. Yikes. (Luke was just picking at his cheeseburger, and I informed him that he would be finishing his $20 cheeseburger!!)

I'm so ready to leave this country. I can't afford to stay any longer! I realized today that three of our meals in Iceland, meals for six, cost me more than my kilt in Scotland. That, and Eddie has had a particularly bad case of the "gimmes" while we've been here. His little brain is completely susceptible to the tourist trap crap that is on every street corner. There's not a plush walrus, a ceramic village, or a wooden troll that he hasn't asked me for. And I'm sick of saying "no".

So, my wallet is empty, and I am ready to come home. I suppose that at the end of a trip, the objective is to be rested and ready to return to a normal life. If so, then this trip has been a complete success.

Becky and I decided that we were very glad we've been to Iceland. It was cool, but thank-you-very-much, we've been there and done that, and it's not on the short list of places to return. Scotland, however, has won our hearts, and we would gladly return. She even mentioned making a western Hebrides tour, where we hit the outer islands like Harris, Lewis, and maybe tour the Islay area where much of Clan Campbell is based. 'Twould make a lovely trip. But that will wait for another year.

For now, it's good to be going home.

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