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Old 7th November 2014, 15:47   #1
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Default Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire

Some choices are very difficult. Some are very easy.
Like the one we made.
New Zealand or Iceland.
And so we went to Iceland. But what is Iceland?
Some questions are easy to answer. But this is not.

After 17 days, and 5000kms later, I cannot answer this question.. but is there a harm in trying.......?

This is the song of Fire and Ice
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-dsc01030xl.jpg

Smoke on the water
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_8170_lrxl.jpg

Fire in the skies
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01046_lrxl.jpg

Last edited by tsk1979 : 13th November 2014 at 14:08.
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Old 7th November 2014, 15:49   #2
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Default Re: Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire

Its the rainbow connection
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00400_lrxl.jpg


Its the Tail spin
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00496_lrxl.jpg

Its fury untamed
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and tamed
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00430_lrxl.jpg

Its the Roar
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_8183_lrxl.jpg

And the rebel Yell
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_0181_lrxl.jpg

Its the gathering storm
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00502_lrxl.jpg

And the diamonds in the skies
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_8455_lrxl.jpg

Last edited by tsk1979 : 13th November 2014 at 14:12.
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Old 7th November 2014, 15:51   #3
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Default Re: Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire

Its the grey world
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00544_lrxl.jpg

and the Autumn song
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_8480_lrxl.jpg

Its Frozen
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00567_lrxl.jpg

And the Melting Pot
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00628_lrxl.jpg

Its the Sonata of a Sun gone wild
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_9395_lrxl.jpg

And and drum beat of the ocean
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00839_lrxl.jpg

Its the Pot of Gold
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00851_lrxl.jpg

And treasures untold
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00705_lrxl.jpg

Last edited by tsk1979 : 13th November 2014 at 14:49.
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Old 7th November 2014, 15:52   #4
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Default Re: Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire

Its the bridal veil
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And the raging torrent
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_9847_lrxl.jpg

Its wonder so near
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_9823_lrxl.jpg

And So far
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_9871_lrxl.jpg

Its Ba Ba Black sheep
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_9898_lrxl.jpg
And those who have a lot of wool
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_0263_lrxl.jpg

Its the horse with no name
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_9904_lrxl.jpg

And those not alone
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_1031_lrxl.jpg

Last edited by tsk1979 : 13th November 2014 at 14:52.
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Old 7th November 2014, 15:53   #5
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Default Re: Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire

Its the country road not green
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01525_lrxl.jpg

And the Ocean not blue
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00888_lrxl.jpg

Its the naked fire
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01042_lrxl.jpg

And the wild ice
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01529_lrxl.jpg

its picture perfect
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_9957_lrxl.jpg

With the sky so blue
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01592_lrxl.jpg
Where you contemplate
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_9965_lrxl.jpg

Till the sun bids Adeiu
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01604_lrxl.jpg

Last edited by tsk1979 : 17th November 2014 at 12:45.
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Old 7th November 2014, 15:54   #6
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Default Re: Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire

Its flower power
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01707_lrxl.jpg

And the mysterious shower
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01660_lrxl.jpg

Its the Gods fallen
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01570_lrxl.jpg

And the caves forgotten
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01624_lrxl.jpg

Its the last cry of summer
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_0093_lrxl.jpg

And the first of Autumn
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01732_lrxl.jpg

Its the dance of light
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01810_lrxl.jpg

And of Shadow
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_0157_lrxl.jpg

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Old 7th November 2014, 15:55   #7
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Default Re: Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire

Its Family
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_0324_lrxl.jpg

And friendship
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_0268_lrxl.jpg

Its the best friend
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_0249_lrxl.jpg

And the gossiper too
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01966_lrxl.jpg

Its the calm
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01864_lrxl.jpg

And the storm
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_0349_lrxl.jpg

Its the green
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01795_lrxl.jpg

And the orange
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_0359_lrxl.jpg

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Old 7th November 2014, 15:56   #8
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Default Re: Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire

Its a garden
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01882_lrxl.jpg

And a mossy wasteland
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01914_lrxl.jpg

Its the Shire
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01852_lrxl.jpg

And Mordor
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01058_lrxl.jpg

Its light
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_0369_lrxl.jpg

Its darkness
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_02041_lrxl.jpg

Its the Sentinal
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_0372_lrxl.jpg

And the Star
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_02522_lrxl.jpg

Its conversations so quiet
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_02547_lrxl.jpg

And silence so loud
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_02052_lrxl.jpg

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Old 7th November 2014, 15:57   #9
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Default Re: Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire

Its heaven
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_0847_lrxl.jpg

And hell
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_0845_lrxl.jpg

Its permanent
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_02808_lrxl.jpg

Yet fleeting
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01038_lrxl.jpg

Its this perspective
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_0936_lrxl.jpg

and this one too
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_0946_lrxl.jpg

Its reflections clear
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_02796_lrxl.jpg

and cloudy
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_02852_lrxl.jpg

Its complex
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_02862_lrxl.jpg

And the simple
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_02867_lrxl.jpg

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Old 7th November 2014, 15:58   #10
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Default Re: Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire

Its Sunset
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_02907_lrxl.jpg

And a false dawn
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_1100_lrxl.jpg

Its unreal
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_02935_lrxl.jpg

Yet here
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_02883_lrxl.jpg

Its nature
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_1020_lrxl.jpg

And man made
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_1089_lrxl.jpg

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Old 7th November 2014, 16:01   #11
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Default Re: Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire

Yes its Iceland.
Its the Song of Ice
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_02725_lrxl.jpg

Of fire above
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_02921_lrxl.jpg

and of fire below
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_01059_lrxl.jpg

and of water
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-dsc_9842xl.jpg

and of color
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00855_lrxl.jpg

even in darkness
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And of grey
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_0821_lrxl.jpg

and of bright sunny days...
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_0785_lrxl.jpg

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Old 7th November 2014, 16:02   #12
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Default The Plan

There is always a plan.
Unlike a domestic destination, where you just put fuel, pack your bags and set off, for international travel, there is Visa Air tickets, Hotels... and a lot more.

October is off season in Iceland. So technically speaking booking may not be needed. But if you arrive somewhere at 8pm in the night, and expect a discount, its going to be pretty difficult.

Moreover, when your plan is to stay in self catering cottages, things can get more complicated.
So the entire plan would have to be "pre planned".

Thankfully, BCMT member silentsoul was stationed in Reykjavik during our "planning phase", and with his help, we get 5% off on the car rental.

Many PMs later, we finalize the destinations.
Five nights in south, One night on the road, three in north, three in northwest and finally four in the western part of the country.

Booking was done mostly via email, except for our two lights in Keflavik, one going and one coming back.
As for air tickets, it was Diwali, so I guess we took a good 20K hit on the prices. But then this was the only window available for vacation.

Visa is a breeze, takes a few days only, unlike Norway which took one month!
With tickets and Visa and hotel bookings ready, its time to talk about the elephant in the room. Car rental.

Car rental is a very simple process. You go to an aggregator website, and choose the cheapest car available. However, iceland is not so simple. We planned to do F roads(if open) which require 4x4.

Now if it was summer, F roads would definitely be open. If its winter, they would be closed. But in Autumn it would be a gamble.
Secondly, even normal roads become quite a task in 2WD if it snows. Esp those gravel tracks.

So we had to rent a 4x4. And herein lies the confusion.
Heart vs head.

Heart said, go for that 1599 EUR land cruiser. 33" wheels, 100 series manual transmission diesel monster.
Or maybe the 1799 EUR Defender. Again 35" tires, and a snorkel too.

Head said, Jimny or Duster 4x4 at 1100 EUR.
After much bargaining with the LC guy, head won(as it often does when it comes to traveling very expensive EU nations).

It was the Duster or the Jimny. Well of LC is the king of off road, then Jimny is the prince. But its a very spoilt prince. Just like princes are. Good for nothing. Well not nothing, see its prince of off road, but horrible on everything else.

Chatting up with owners and users online, one thing is certain, for 95% of our trip, when we are not crossing rivers, this will make our job hell. Esp on gravel. Handling sucks, ride sucks, and does not have too much space too.

Fifty Euro more and we can have the Grand Vitara. But, we will be killed on the fuel. 11kmpl vs 18kmpl of the Duster diesel again means a lot lot more money.

With budget stretched to the seams, the Dacia Duster emerged victorious.

We were going to Iceland, and going to drive a Dacia Duster AWD. One of Iceland's favorite rental cars. It used to be the Jimny, but now its Duster all the way, edging out all competition in the local market.

One more thing I should mention. You can rent cars from local there(insurance is dicey though). But paying 1200 EUR for a 1998 model for a 33" tired Ssangyong Murano does not feel right, esp with very basic insurance(NO gravel, Sand protection etc.,).

So we rented the duster, got our 5% discount, and also bought all insurance conceivable. Normally for October Sand and Ash protection is not really needed, but with Bardarbunga leaking, and ready to erupt, we did not want to take chances.

The rest of the planning story was destinations, and where to go, driving times and stuff which you will read about anyways.
On the stay front, the other thing was food. We were going to carry a lot of stuff from India, and not eat out. European Cuisine is very easy to cook, all you need to do is buy stuff from the supermarkets. Lot of money saved.

So this was the plan. Rest, its the road. Where the road and the weather and the clouds take us, we will go.
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Old 7th November 2014, 16:09   #13
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Default Day1 DEL-KEF : The Arrival

Its 8pm in the evening, still a few hours for our Taxi to the airport. The scene is familiar.
Two large suitcases, supposed to be 23kgs each bursting at the seams.

The problem is that they are 25kgs each.
Food is heavy. Very heavy. But stuff like Atta, Rice, Sugar, Tea Leaves etc., etc., etc., is what is going to save us a lot of dough.

The aim is to stay below 25. Airlines in India often allow you 1-1.5kgs extra per suitcase.

Then there is the problem of hand baggage. We have 2 each. Yes. Not one but two. And ready to burst.

So familiar, and not so pleasant. But what gotta go, gotta go.
We arrive at the airport, with the annual food production of a small farm in our suitcases, and proceed to the Airline counter.

The friendly gentleman's eyes pop at 2*25kg.
They pop even more when he looks at our hand baggage

"That is a laptop bag" I say sheepishly

"Is there a laptop in there" He asks.

I mutter a no, while looking here and there. Anywhere but at him. He looks at me sternly, and then says "Yay".

As we fill our immigration forms, he comes again, and tells us we have been selected for random screening by customs. As if we are smuggling the entire GDP of India out.

Well, I don't really care. Customs is a must stop when you carry two cameras and a gazzilion lenses.

The "Random screening" guy is annoyed.
There is another software engineer off to Germany in the same room with us. Not really the Fish they wanted.

"Inko Kyun Le aaye" Translated "Why did you bring them"???

Annoyed he waives us off, and I get the "exit" electronics endorsed on the ticket.

An hour later, we settle down into cattle class, with our fellow buffaloes..err passengers.

Thankfully, its a twin seat, so No grappling for the arm rest with a co passenger.

Flight is not too full, and finally I manage to stuff my Lowepro bag(supposedly for airlines) into the overhead bin.

Its an eight hour flight to Amsterdam. Time is passed watching a German movie about kidnapping and murder and what not.
Nothing to pass time like some old fashioned uncensored gore. The torture on the screen also puts things in perspective. Sure, cattle class is torture, but being kidnapped and beaten is worse, so I am happy.

Thankfully, food is decent(quite surprising) and the dessert is actually delicious. The leg room does suck though, and at the end of eight hours I can barely feel my legs.

At Amsterdam, its a relaxed changeover, and today, we are going to be flying Katla.
Yup. The Airplane is named Katla. Its a volcano which exploded a couple of years back and killed a lot of people. And today, we will fly in Katla. There is a mild jam at the airport, but eventually everyone gives way to an angry volcano
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Katla has no food for cattle class, but 2.5 hours of legroom. Yes. The seats are well spaced, and I can finally sleep for an hour or so.
But you know what, when I think about it, it does not matter. The cramped seats, the cattle class, the long flight. We are going to Iceland!! yay.
Goodbye mainland Europe, hello sleep

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The flight lands dot on time. Unfortunately its cloudy, and there is no Volcano flyby. I was hoping to see the Holahraun lava field from the air.

On the ground, it takes some time to sink in that we are in Iceland. We are in Iceland!!. The land of Ice and Fire. In real.

The airport is thankfully small, and we first head to duty free.
You see, in Iceland, you can buy a prepaid 5GB data card for around 2000 Krona.
Which is about 1050 INR.

And as expected the duty free shop does not have it.
So I can buy normal sim, fill in data later.

Or I can try the 7-11 after crossing customs.
But its a gamble. The sim is cheaper inside.

So if I get 5GB data card outside, it will be great. If I don't will be paying equivalent of 250 INR for the same sim card as its cheaper before customs(no VAT you see).


We decide to take the gamble, and proceed unmolested with a years GDP through the customs.

As Murphy would have it, there is no 5GB data card. So I buy normal sim.
It has 300MB. I cheap out, buying Vodafone. Should have bought the slightly more expensive Simmin. Then I would have had 3G everywhere instead of 2G I got mostly.

But at that time I did not know that. Hindsight is always a genius you know!

On the IVR system, I dial in the CC number, and soon I am told 1GB = 1000 Krona, 5GB is 2000Krona.
I need about 2GB max, so its 5GB for the card.

The Euro change counter also gives a nice rate(surprise surprise), and we get our required Krona. Now technically, we were to use credit card everywhere. But two places on our itinerary insisted on cash. So we got the small amount for those guys.

Anyways, I digress.
Next step is to call our nice hotel in Keflavik itself, for the free shuttle.
Its a lovely evening in Keflavik.
Weather in Iceland is unexpected.
But I am wondering you expect the weather to be unexpected, so when its unexpected, its what you were expecting, so isn't is expected?

Again I digress. It starts raining as I load the first big suitcase. Second suitcase and its sunny.
As we load ourselves into the van, the winds start howling. Talk about unpredictable weather.

Our stay is at the cheap(5000/night with breakfast) Keflavik Bed and Breakfast

We are expecting a dump. Seriously. The cheapest hotel in town, and with breakfast for 64 Euros?
It turns out to be "luxury".
Big rooms, huge bed, sofa, TV and a big Bathroom too.

Running hot water is anyways expected. When the country sits on a huge bigass pile of Magma, hot water literally flows out of every nook and cranny.

At this time, every bone in our bodies says Go to sleep. But guess what, it starts raining, and its sunny too, and beautiful rainbows form outside.

Sleep? Nah. Lets go for a jog eh?

Last edited by tsk1979 : 17th November 2014 at 12:59.
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Old 17th November 2014, 13:24   #14
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Default Day1 #2: Its always Rainbowi in Keflavik

Its raining.
And its sunny too.

Which means a rainbow. Everything is different in Iceland. Even rainbows
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00394_lrxl.jpg

We decided to jog till we reach the road overlooking the ocean.
On the way lies an abandoned Military Airbase(US)
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00397_lrxl.jpg

Towards the other side are low rise apartment buildings. Southwest Iceland with Reykjavik and Keflavik has most of the population of Iceland. Rest of the country is fairly empty.
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00399_lrxl.jpg

Clicking pics I fall back. A camera is a good excuse to get lazy
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00400_lrxl.jpg

Main road approaching
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00406_lrxl.jpg

And finally, we reach the ocean viewpoint, and with the sun going down, the Rainbow also bids Adieu
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00408_lrxl.jpg

Its been a great day. No sleep at night? Who cares. The first day in Iceland has been quite eventful. Some places have an energy to them. No matter how tired you are, they refresh you, make you like new.

So fully alert, sleep forgotten, and with the dream of the journey ahead, we take a leisurely walk back to the hotel.

On the way I spot this
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00411_lrxl.jpg

A Ssangyong Musso with the Mercedes 2.7L diesel and 35"(or are they 38") tires. I almost rented a 33" tired musso, but deal fell through due to lack of Insurance.

Big tyre "superjeeps" are quite a common sight in Iceland, and in the coming days we will see plenty.

Its almost 7pm as we reach the hotel parking lot, and click a lovely expedition ready vehicle, without big tires, which anyways would have looked a bit silly on this beauty!

Tomorrow our real journey starts. But the night is still young.
The extremely friendly hotel staff tells us that tea, coffee and milk are available 24/7 free of charge in the cafeteria, and if we want to heat something up, well there is a microwave.

Well, that means only one thing. Time for paronthas. Where did they come from? OF course they are also part of the annual food production of a small farm we are carrying

More than 20 infact.

And with that, we are ready and recharged, for a long night of sleep. Tomorrow, we see Iceland....
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Old 17th November 2014, 13:30   #15
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Default Day 2 #1 : The Tourist trail

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The Alarm is set off a few minutes past 6am. Its a horrible time to get up. But thankfully, its 11:45am by our biological clocks, and 11:45am is the perfect early morning wake up time.

It does not take us long to get ready and attack the very cold and very vast breakfast spread. There is a lot of stuff. I mean there are some 5-10 types of meat salamis and something which smells fishy. There is grass also for the plant murderer type of people, but not really interested in that stuff.

All the meat stuff, and grass stuff is cold. But the microwave will fix that. There is waffle also, which is quite surprising. Its difficult to gorge yourself at 7am. Infact, back home it would be impossible. But there is this secret mode switch inside us which turns to hungry whenever free buffets are involved. It goes to super hungry when its known that the next meal is 12 hours away, if not more.

Technically speaking its not 12 hours away. We have a suitcase full of food, and half of it is ready to eat. But if you talk about proper, normal food, its still 12 hours away.

There is apple juice too. Frankly speaking, this is unreal for the price. And guess what, the breakfast starts at 4:30am officially. Unofficially, by 4am they are done with it.

Its almost 8:30am when we finally check out. This time the horse will not go to the well. The well will come to the horse. Basically, I am saying, that we do not have to go anywhere for the rental car. It will come.

A dacia duster pulls in. The stickers say "Blue car rental". I did not rent from blue car rental. But the friendly guy who's gotten the car tells me not to worry. Its iceland. All rental car companies are friends. Same thing. Whatever.

The duster has a big boot.We need all of it, infact even the parcel tray has to go.
I ease into the drivers seat, and see the familiar fascia. Familiarity often breeds contempt, but when it comes to driving MT in LHD countries, familiarity breeds relief.

The only thing different(apart from everything being on the wrong side) is the 4WD selector switch, which I push to 2WD. The tires are extremely noisy studded snow tires. Kit level is decent with a GPS system prefixed(Good I did not waste money on GPS!). Redundancy is always welcome, even though we have Nokia as well as OSM maps ready to guide us to all the nooks and crannies.

Time for the driver seat shot
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00415_lrxl.jpg


We are ready to hit the tourist trail. People who come to Iceland for two nights (stupid I must say), do something called the Golden circle. It involves seeing some nice attractions, and then burning 40 EUR to sit in the waste of some Geothermal plant.

WE also intend to see the best of those attractions, without burning the 40 EUR. But first its grocery time. Or rather not grocery time as we find out later. The stores will open at noon today because its Sunday. And when we hit the open road, there will be no stores.

So just fuel, and we are on the road. Iceland decides to welcome us again, with a lovely rainbow
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00417_lrxl.jpg

Today's day is some planned and some unplanned. Planned is what we had planned to see, and unplanned is what we did not know we will see.

And guess what, the first attraction is Mosfellskirkja, a lovely church accessed by a bumpy gravel road up the mountain.
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-d70008114xl.jpg

Sunday service is over, and its empty inside
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-d70008116xl.jpg

Few minutes before we came, it was full of people. Some 4 people were inside. Yes, that's Iceland for ya!

The locals are pretty curious. You do not get many Indians in these parts I guess. We chat up a bit, and the sweet old lady tells us about the history of these parts. How, there was an old church, which was destroyed, and this new one was built, and how the owner was not too happy about all this. Very complicated story, which I do not really remember very well.

Nevertheless, its lovely
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-d70008118xl.jpg

Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-d70008119xl.jpg

Iceland is full of sheep, however, they have some cows too, and quite a few of them have come to watch us I guess
Iceland: A song of Ice and Fire-a7_00421_lrxl.jpg

Its quite an idyllic setting, and we would have loved to set camp here, but the road awaits, for the time is Autumn, the day is short, the weather fickle and the distance long.
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