I woke up this day remembering the events of 2001. I pray every year on this day that I would never forget; that I would never in my heart, let those people die in vain.
It was a relatively nice day out. The sun was breaking through the clouds and we had definitely slept in past our scheduled meeting time with a friend of a friend. Whoops! I guess all that driving around made us tired! None the less with a quick call via SKYPE we were able to hustle down to (where else?) Sandholt Bakeri, to meet Solveig, a native Icelander.
We walked in and saw a familiar face! We had actually met Solveig previously whilst visiting Bethel Church in Redding, California. It certainly is a small world. We chatted with her about our travels thus far and heard from her perspective what it is that God is doing in Iceland. With such a short meeting (alarms are handy, but lack purpose when buried under pillows) we rearranged our schedule to get more time with her that afternoon. Thus, instead of luxurious day at the Blue Lagoon, we ventured the Reykjanes Peninsula the same peninsula that the Keflavik Airport, the 2009 Best Airport in Europe, resides.
You can view the video we had to watch as an advertisement before every movie on our flight to and from Iceland. I get it! You’re the best airport in Europe! I’m glad they are proud…
Traveling south then west from Reykjavik, the land boasted beautiful, small seaside homes built upon sprawling wave pounded lava flows; dot it with lighthouses and looming sea cliffs and you have Reykjanes. The lighting was beautiful on this particular day, allowing the eye to capture the contrasting colors of green, black and blue. Of course there is always the white of the waves and bird droppings on cliffs.
The northern most point of the peninsula is the Garðskagaviti, where a small town and two lighthouses reside. They look out over the tip of the peninsula not only cautioning fisherman and the like, but calling the birds to their shore. The tide pulls way out revealing rock, mud and seaweed beds. At low tide it smells of rotten fish and attracts an over-abundance of flies; a perfect setting for feeding sea birds.
As we continued a long the peninsula driving through black lava fields similar to driving certain roads on the Big Island of Hawaii, we ran in to the unwelcome sight of tour buses. Tour buses mean more people than we want to be around, but typically they also mean a noteworthy stop. Here is a tip: don’t stop at The Bridge Between Two Continents , especially if you’ve already walked though the spectacular Almannagjá Rift in Þingvellir. Lots of people and a small foot bridge between the North American and European plates. Oh and a bunch of people’s names written in lava stones in the black sand below…classy. Not my idea of a great time and a complete waste of resources to build. They do know that the plates are pulling further apart every year right? I digress.
So we continued a long this wild landscape and with our trusty Lonely Planet: Iceland book, our poor Toyota Yaris took a beating down the dirt road to Valahnukur the toe of the Reykjanes. Earthquakes of the past had made boulders crash in to the sea and destroyed the oldest lighthouse in Iceland (1878). The blackness of the land falling in to the sea was ominous. Lonely Planet described it in this way, “…clamber up the ruins of the oldest lighthouse in Iceland, destroyed by a devastating earthquake and contemplate the fragility of life and the futility of everything.” Dramatic coastline worthy of contemplating the futility of everything? Maybe not quite that dramatic, but it was certainly worth an ongoing joke for the remainder of our visit. Every extraordinary landscape we encountered we inquired of the other if we were contemplating the ‘futility of everything’… I suppose making light of such things is the benefit of believing in a really big God.
We headed round the peninsula back to our apartment where we entertained Solveig and her friend Rachel over lochs, herbed cream cheese and crackers. We appreciated the ability to be hospitable in a country not our own, though it confuses the sense of where one lives permanently. After a lovely visit discussing the day’s ‘treasure hunts’ and other spiritual matters, we gave out hugs and prepared for a fancy night out.
Every year for our anniversary, we try to find a really nice place to eat. Because we are not frequent out-of-home diners, we like to get really great food when we go out. Thanks to Haldor, our most helpful host, we had made a reservation at the Humarhusid or Lobster House in downtown Reykjavik.
Iceland doesn’t have large lobsters, they have langoustine, a large cold water prawn. They are sweet, tender morsels of seafood bliss and the Lobster House prepares them beautifully. Providing an elegant atmosphere of white linens and low light, the Lobster House was built in 1838 and remains one of Reykjavik oldest homes and a very romantic setting for a couples night out. Enjoying langoustine plated with pear, blue cheese and parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes, dates and bacon we slowly sipped our wine and delighted in our meal. The most memorable dish was the starter of smoked goose on nutbread with prune licorice and crowberries (a local alpine blueberry) with a small round of fried goose butt. A little Skyr with strawberries to finish it all off and we left with happy hearts and full bellies.
Happy Anniversary to us!