23 May, Check-In Area, Keflavik Airport, Reykjavik, Iceland, 4:35pm

one creature i didn't eat in iceland
I wouldn't have guessed that another Icelandic volcano would be the first thing on my trip to potentially disrupt my travel plans. But it's the day I should be flying back to London and then catching a ferry to Dublin and my plane is currently delayed by 12 hours from it's original time. And possibly canceled, all due to a huge ash cloud bowing across the country from the latest volcanic eruption.

But for the past 6 days I've seen the sights of a geologically amazing country, met some interesting people and eaten some interesting foods. The most famous trip to do here is 'the golden circle' which includes the original geyser, after which, all other geysers are named. Also a couple of stunning waterfalls and an old volcanic crater. As soon as you drive outside the small but sprawling capital, you are greeted with hills, mountains, craters and massive expanses of lavafields, jagged rock fields with nothing but moss growing on them. I went with a small tour company, Horizon and our guide was an Englishman called David, who has lived in Iceland for 11 years. So it was a good introduction to some of the differences between cultures, and an insight into the language and people.

Ýmir from Goecco

The best trip however was with Goecco, a new small tour company who run really small tours to places that other tours have never been to. A group of 5 of us in a big SUV, went driving off to the Snæfellsnes Penisula, which is just north of Reykjavik. Two police from the US, Dennis and Diane and a two guys, Dennis and Dan, who work in healthcare. Along with Ýmir, our Icelandic guide we went to a rather hidden thermal hot pool where most of us lounged around in the hot water, drinking wine at 11am in the morning whilst it snowed on us. We then went for an amazing horse ride beside church mountain, out on a farm beside the sea, and experienced true Icelandic icy wind. But the Icelandic horses were amazing, easy to control, very friendly and they seemed to ignore the sub zero conditions.

A lunch of whale and lamb in the shed of the farm was really enjoyable though we did all still have our coats and scarves on throughout. And we also got to meet the farmers other animals, newborn lambs, literally minutes old and Icelandic sheepdogs who are incredible friendly. I also had the treat of eating putrefied shark, an old Icelandic way of storing meat. Despite being technically rotten, it tasted like white fish but with consistency of a slightly rubbery cheddar cheese. And as I'm on the subject of food, my best dining experience was in a tapas restaurant where I was served:

a shot of the infamous Icelandic spirit Brennívín
Smoked puffin with blueberry “brennivín” sauce
Icelandic sea-trout with peppers-salsa
Lobster tails baked in garlic
Pan-fried monkfish with lobster sauce
Grilled Icelandic lamb Samfaina
Minke Whale with cranberry-sauce
Chocolate cake with berry compoté and whipped cream

Iceland is kinda pretty

the hot pool where I drank wine in the snow

Obviously eating whale and puffin is slightly controversial in some parts of the world, but I don't see a problem eating free range, non-endangered animals. My thoughts on the matter are if you eat one animal, eat 'em all. One of the modern traditional Icelandic foods are hotdogs, served with Icelandic mustard, mayonnaise, raw onions and crispy fried onions. And who knows what kind of animal cruelty goes into making pork for the hotdog sausages.

But, fear not, I've still been hard at work with the photography element of my travels. Icelandic electronic musician, Borko, was doing music and performing in a new abstract theatre performance and he let me come along to see some of their rehearsals. They were practicing a piece involving sea-lions and it was pretty hard for me to tell when they were talking Icelandic or simply making sea-lion noises.

FM Belfast

Björn was also performing with local band, FM Belfast, and I dropped into the big club were they were setting up and sound checking to do a few more photos. In true Icelandic style, where the sun hardly sets for more than a couple of hours at night in May, they were due to perform at 1am, so I had to miss the gig itself as I was up the following morning for one of my tours.

I'm finishing up this blog post, sitting at the gate, where my flight is due to take off, 12 hours later than scheduled, plus I get an extra stopover in Denmark, so won't arrive into London until about 2am. But if nothing drastic happens in the next few hours, I should be back in Dublin, ready to shoot the wedding of James & Helena over in Sligo this Friday. And then the traveling begins again....

ps: posting this blog online after leaving at about 9pm, getting to Copenhagen about 2am, then, into London at 5am, onto at train at 7am and I'm now racing along heading for the north coast of Wales and a ferry to Ireland.

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