Originally published 28 June 2013
We're home....have been here a while. I'm more back on Tennessee time now....having had weird nap times for a few days after returning. We're over the jet lag, got some bills paid and some things taken care of. It's been about a week......so now I'll comment on the trip. Laurie wants to add some comments as well.....so she'll do that too. As with the last one...no particular order...just as they come to mind. Expect a bit more comment on Prague and Iceland....as these places had more of an impact on me than others.
Going in June- To be honest, it's not my favorite. I prefer off season travel. June might be good in the southern hemisphere. Going to places where you're jockeying for position with tens of thousands of other people running about like sheep just isn't my thing. I want to see things in a less crowded, less rushed situation. Being there during tourist season is an entirely different situation than being there in March, like our last trip. During season, people that live there are less friendly, if friendly at all. This didn't occur everywhere....but some of the places we went it was obvious. All of the cities were crawling with tour groups.....anywhere from 30 to 100 people marching after a guide like lemmings to a cliff........with the next 100 lemmings and a tour guide right behind them. Not my thing. It was also hotter than hell. Granted it was unusually warm, and there were those pesky floods.......but you don't tend to run into either in the off season. High points of going in June vs. going in February or March: Eagle's Nest, the gorge hikes, and Grossglockner Alpine Road were open....and they are not open in the off season. So three of the things we enjoyed the most wouldn't even have been available. So I guess it's a wash......at least this time.
Airports- The Europeans have this figured out. Granted, it's easier to figure out some things as Europe is a much smaller place......the U.S. is quite vast and has it's own challenges. The airports in Europe are easier to navigate, as well as being much more pleasant. They are exceptionally organized and well thought out. The people doing security are much more cordial. You don't have to take your shoes off. The huge number of discount (REAL discounts) airlines is really nice.
They handle large numbers of people well, unlike JFK, which was a goat screw at the gate. The international terminal didn't do that bad a job but domestic was a mess. (Not all U.S. airports are like that. Atlanta moves more people than any other airport in the world...and they do it well.) Food at the airports in the UK tends to be the same price as anywhere else, unlike the 9 dollar egg salad sandwich I had at JFK when we returned to the states. The only other place that they tried to screw you on food in the airport was in Prague.....but you had to watch yourself everywhere in Prague. There's always a hustle going on.
Trains- If affordable (this varies vastly from country to country), trains are an incredibly pleasant way to travel......by far our favorite. German trains are quite pricey, British trains are astronomical, Austrian trains were reasonable, and Czech trains, while cheap, were unbookable via website. The Czech trains have a website, it's SUPPOSED to work...but doesn't.............like a lot of things in the Czech Republic.
Car Rental- I like renting cars in Europe. In rural areas, it's the only way to get the freedom to see and do what you want. I have a preferred renter's card at Sixt, so it's quick and easy. They upgraded me to a nice 5 series BMW for the Alps trip....ya gotta like that. And for about 20 minutes, I got to drive really fast in Germany.....before hitting traffic and construction.
The autobahn ain't what people think it is. It's not 100 mph everywhere. Fuel is not cheap...but the cars are all diesel. It was also cheaper (by about three hundred dollars) for us to rent a car at the Frankfurt airport, drive it up and down the Rhine, then drive it all the way to Munich, and buy fuel for it instead of taking the train. In Austria, it was markedly cheaper to take the train.
Weather- We had every extreme imaginable while there. We had falling snow and freezing temps in the Alps, flooding in the Rhine, high temperatures reaching the upper 90's in Austria, pleasant 65 degree weather in London, and 40 degrees, with wind driven rain in Iceland. We had raincoats, but with the wind driven rain, we wished we had rain pants as well......an item we will have before our next trip. We didn't need rain pants last time as the rain wasn't as prevalent and severe as this time. But you know Laurie and I.....we (to use an old racing term) POR. Which means "press on regardless". Kind of good advice to live your life by as well. We were out in the rain, the snow, the wind....and we'd do it again.
Beer- I drink soda. I like soda. Most of you are well aware I am not afraid of beer.....but I do love my soda. Everywhere we went in Europe, even when we went places that it was cheap, beer was ALWAYS cheaper than soda. I find it odd that if I get a 12 ounce Coke, it costs the same or more than a half liter beer. Even in the Czech Republic, in the non tourist places.....beer would be around a dollar...and soda would be $ 1.25. Don't get me wrong....the beer was exceptional. But I don't understand why something that is basically sugar water is more expensive than a well made beer. Water (yes WATER) costs more than beer in most restaurants. Water was seldom free and there were few if any water fountains. When it's 98 outside that's pretty brutal...and expensive.
Radler- It was very hot at times.........so I looked for options to keep fluid going through me. I knew what radler was.........but hadn't had it. It's basically half beer and half soda. Alcohol content is usually around 2 percent. They give it to kids in Germany. I found one that was uncommon ....and could only find it one or two places. It was orange radler....and it was GOOD! They also have lemon and grapefruit. It's nice and light on a very hot day.
Butter- The Europeans put butter on everything. If you get a sandwich, in addition to anything else you ask to have on it, it has butter on it. They LOVE butter and eat it on everything. One would think that eating large amounts of butter, heavy sauces and gravy (Czech Republic only), and smoking constantly, they'd all be huge.......but they're not. Maybe it's all that walking.....or maybe they all have cancer from all the smoking. While their parts of their diet (organic foods, etc.) may be healthy, little else they do is. They have vices just like folks in the U.S.
All things American- While you see European politicians complain about the U.S. on TV......the normal Europeans LOVE all things American. Michael Jackson, American cars (a surprising number), music, writers, food, and American clothes with those weird English phrases on them that don't translate too well. While some Americans act like assholes when in Europe and beg to be despised, American culture (music, cars, clothes, just about everything) is LOVED by the Europeans. It seems they all wanna be Americans.
Hanging in the beer garden and the friendliness of the locals- I love chatting it up with the locals. And most seem to enjoy chatting it up with us. People tend to be friendly until given a reason to act otherwise. The beer gardens were great for this....grab a beer and some food, and find a table with some space......which probably means only part of a table.
The good thing is...with the long picnic style tables, you wind up talking with people....sharing food, experiences, and details about your life, and who you/they are. It puts you in a social situation without the work. If you'll just talk to the people at your table.....you might find a new friend. I did it before, a few years ago.....I sat down at a "community" table with a bunch of people I didn't know in a bar and chatted with them. I ended up marrying one of them. Talk to the people around you.......it can be a nice experience...........or it can change your life.
Crowds- I hate crowds. At one point, in Prague, I was in a crowd so thick that I could not raise my own arms. Some Asian woman is walking through thick crowds with an open umbrella, hitting people in the face with the staves. Some people are assholes, and getting them in a big group doesn't make them any better....it just concentrates the "asshole" content. I DON'T LIKE THIS. I can't understand the appeal of it and why some people flock to it. Sometimes there are things you want to see and the crowds can't be avoided......in these cases, I prefer to get in, see it, and get out.
My best memories (when in a city) tend to be of places where there were no/sparse crowds. Small cafes, streets where the locals live and the tourists seldom go, parks that the locals hang out in, restaurants where you're the only one speaking English........these tend to be the places I remember most fondly....and the places I want to return.
Casinos in Europe- I went and played poker at a casino in Salzburg. It was in an old Palace and I was hobnobbing with European elites at play. Normally one must wear a jacket to play, but they'll rent you one if you don't own one. When I was there, it was quite hot and the jacket rule had been waived.
As for my experience.......it sucked! The people were cold and unfriendly. I thought it was me until I noticed they weren't very friendly with each other as well. The casino was quiet and the people very stoic....no chatting, no cheering, no one having any fun. No one seemed to be having a good time and they wanted to gamble (do stupid things)....not play proper poker. If offered another evening with the "stick up the ass" crowd in a casino in Europe.....I'll pass.
Laundry and Synthetics-Through the last two years, we've acquired traveling clothes (shirts and pants). They're mostly synthetics and dry quickly and don't stain. You can easily wash them in a motel room sink. They're light, and easy to pack, and the wrinkles drop right out of them. Drawbacks? When it's 98 degrees outside they're like wearing a trash bag. They don't wick moisture, and leave you feeling clammy all the time. In colder weather they seem to do fine, but may not provide the warmth some people desire. I think in the future I will stick to cotton blends.
Czech pretzels and donuts- I had wonderful pretzels in Germany. In Czech....not so much. While a valiant effort, Czech donuts fall short of their western counterparts. I bought a Czech pretzel....that they call a preclik. While the donuts were a valiant effort, their pretzels are a crime against humanity. I bought one expecting something similar to German pretzels only to find them the consistency and flavor of a styrofoam cooler. Stick to Germany for pretzels. The Czechs do turn out some nice beer though.....
The one percent- There are bunches of palaces throughout Europe. I went through one....and it was a garish display of wealth......a constant effort to have more/bigger/fancier than the palace across the river or on the other side of the mountain. It was spending money to show people you had money to burn.....it had no purpose. While an unabashed capitalist, I personally thought it was way over the top bordering on ridiculous. I also find it odd that people complain about the fabulously wealthy today, but want to go and see all the palaces of the past. It seems like a double standard to me.
Parking in cities- I'll pass. David asked why we dropped off the rental car in Munich only to pick another up two days later. I explained that the cost of parking far exceeded any savings for a long term rental. Parking costs in cities there vary from city to city....but none were even close to cheap......some making NYC look reasonable. The most ridiculous was the parking garage by the opera in Vienna......you could park there all day for a mere 170 euros ($221). In the densely populated cities of Europe, with more than ample public transportation, a car tends to be more of a nuisance than a help.
The Alps, Gorges, and Mountains- When I think of our trips to Europe....my mind always wanders back to the Alps. As David said...."HOW do you explain this to someone back home?" I have no clue. They're probably the most amazing thing you can see in Europe. If you're in that part of the world, there's absolutely no reason you should pass them by.
Wandering off the beaten track/tourist traps and crowds- In the cities, the further you get from the touristy places, the people get nicer, the food gets better, and everything costs less. In Prague for instance, the people in the tourist areas weren't very nice and were not very happy to see you. The tourists were jerks, including people walking around with sun umbrellas poking people in the face. A beer was around 3 dollars American....cheap by Europe standards......but when you got out of these areas, things were different.
The people were friendly. If they knew English, they would chat with you. If they didn't know English they would try to help you as best they could. They didn't seem put upon....they weren't grouchy. If you had questions, you could ask. They seemed genuinely nice. Food in restaurants was half the cost of the tourist areas. Beer was around one U.S. dollar, a third what it cost in the tourist areas.
While the numbers may be different, a lot of the cities we went to had similar patterns. The further you got from tourist places, the better things were. Exceptions to this were London and Iceland. The people in these places seemed nice regardless. Things could be cheaper and less crowded away from touristy places...but the people didn't seem any different. The touristy places had things you might want to see....but in my opinion it was best to get in, see it, and get out. Don't hang around in the middle of the touristy areas............you'll have a better, more legitimate experience. You'll see what it's really like there.
Lumber stores- I checked out a lumber store near the bus stop in Austria. Yeah...a weird thing to do on your vacation...but comparing the different cultural/life experiences gives one a better understanding of the people who live there.....and it's one of my favorite parts of travel. They're pretty much like a Lowes or Home Depot in the U.S. Some of the products are different (they sell firewood by the crate), and they may carry different types of things....but they're pretty much dead on similar.
Bars with food, liquor, and drinking in general- They have real bars. While chain stuff does exist, it's less prevalent than in the states. There are a lot more mom and pop bars/restaurants. Drinking is not uncommon on the streets but doesn't occur that much.....some places more than others. But to walk through tourist areas in most major cities with a beer in your hand wouldn't get you arrested.....or even a second look. People will have a beer like they would have a Coke in the states. Alcohol is an accepted part of life there....an everyday thing that no one thinks twice about.
European brands and shopping habits and stores- Like a lot of cities, people do their shopping every day or two. I never lived in a big city.....Laurie did live in NYC...and told me this was very common. There are small neighborhood grocery stores. You shop for what you need for a day or two and take it home with you, unlike in the states where we stock up. It's just different.
As for the stores, in Vienna, we shopped at Billa, mainly because it was close to our apartment. There were two Billa stores on opposing corners. One had fresh/refrigerated food only. The other had dry goods, soda, paper towels, canned food, etc. So you had to go to two different stores with the same name to get all your shopping done. Kinda weird...but hey....it works. It may be due to available store space...and they could only get two smaller spaces instead of one large one. The food in European stores tends to be pretty good quality....and there are lots of organic or "bio" choices. It's also fun to see the differences in little things, like condiments, soda types, etc.
Street markets- These exist in nearly every city. They're not always the cheapest but the quality of the foods sold there is usually quite good.....fresher vegetables and fruits, fresh breads, etc. They're fun to shop at as well. You're outdoors, the people tend to be quite animated and entertaining, they're just a fun way to shop. You usually get a lot of choices where in a supermarket, you only get one. If the carrots look like crap at a street market, you just go to the next carrot vendor.
City parks- I like to visit the city parks in the cities. You see the people that call that town home at play. Their kids are digging in the sand box and riding the merry go round. They're having picnics. They're doing things that we do in parks the states, and then they're doing things that we don't....like topless sunbathing. Some things they do there are better!
I find the parks nice for the same reasons the people that live there like them. They're a refuge from crowds, traffic, heat, and all the city things that wear on you. You can sit on a bench in the shade, away from all the concrete that holds all that heat, walk on a surface that's not paved, and look around and see something more than people and buildings. It's relaxing. And it makes me truly appreciate where I live......out in the country.
Naked folks- Yay! Naked folks! They're protesting........something. They're not bothering anyone, no one is offended, the cops don't care as long as no one is causing any problems. Europe isn't nearly as uptight as the states on alcohol....or someone without clothes....or a lot of other things. Often times, like a beer in a public place.....no one gives a shit. They seemed more focused on their own lives and less focused on controlling someone else's. I think in the states, we should worry less about what other people are doing if it has no effect on us. Leave 'em be. Who cares? And if YOU do, you need a hobby...or something else to worry about. Yay! Naked folks!
Construction and the economy- Construction is rampant. They're building everything you can think of there....and repairing or replacing everything else. Construction in the states is still struggling. Not so across the pond. Large public works projects, multi family housing, single family housing, retail, highways and roads......you name a sector and they're building like crazy. Reminds me of the states in 2003.
Former Soviet bloc, cheaper Czech, and letting go of communism with both hands- The Czech Republic was a first for me....travel to a former communist bloc country. I grew up during the cold war, and being a history/news junkie, I was MUCH more aware of the situations in eastern Europe than most people. I have friends who fled Czechoslovakia in 1967 when the Russians invaded, with the Russians hot on their tail. To me, it was living history....and THAT is why I wanted to go to Prague. I wanted to see what it had become after being freed from it's former Soviet task masters.
One thing is for sure......they're OVER that communism thing. Granted, support for communism is around 20 percent in the country, but I guess imprisonment of over a quarter million political prisoners in the Czech Republic alone and worldwide deaths from 50 to 94 million (depending on who you ask) just wasn't enough to steer them from it. People are the same everywhere....some expect something for nothing (communism). And it just doesn't work that way.
Most of the people in Prague realize this.....and have businesses, booths, jobs, etc. and are working hard to earn a living............just like us. On the streets of Prague, I saw lots of normal working folk cars, like Skodas (Czech, but now owned by VW), Peugeot, Volkswagen, the lesser expensive BMW's, just like in the rest of Europe. I also saw Ferraris, Porsches, M3 BMW's, Mercedes, Chevy pickups, even a Corvette convertible......just like the rest of Europe. Their clothes, dress, music.......most of the details of their lives are little different than the other places we went to in Europe. Old Soviet architecture buildings stand beside glass and steel architectural masterpieces. They're joining the main stream and the line between the old days of communism and the new days of capitalism is fading into memory.
Small things that give a glimpse to what the past once was still exist.....and I'm glad of that. Blocky, square soviet style buildings, with wires hanging out of the walls, crumbling facades, cracked and dirty walls.......subtle and small.......but one notices them. It serves as a reminder of "the bad old days". It also serves as a yardstick of how far they've come. I don't think it's good that these small things ever go away. It's good to have reminders...so one doesn't go there again. A quote from the movie "Jeremiah Johnson" sums it up......"You've come far, pilgrim." Indeed they have.
UK pleasantries- We flew out of Prague and into London. After being in an urban area with lots of tourist and some locals that didn't seem particularly happy to see you....we head for a brief stopover in a much larger city. One would expect even less happiness upon seeing visitors, but this isn't how it is, and wasn't the last time we were there either.
People in the UK are the most friendly in Europe. They're engaging, helpful, like to chat with you........they're just all around nice. And the farther you get from London the more so this becomes. You're starting out with people who are really nice...and the further you travel in that country, the better it gets! Ya gotta like a place like that.
Iceland food- They eat some weird shit in Iceland. Not mayo on your french fries weird like the Dutch...but REALLY weird. You'll find things on restaurant menus like "Puffin". Yes....the cute sea birds with the rainbow bills. Puffin. Then there's whale, horse meat, boiled head of sheep, and "cured" (they say cured, but it smelled like rotting fish to me) shark meat. Dried fish that smelled (through a vacuum packed bag) like the hold of a shrimp boat in 90 degree weather. The Vikings did well in Iceland for one simple reason.....they were the only ones tough enough to survive the food.
The have other things that were more edible. Their hot dogs, while having rather weird condiments (mine had bacon, mayo, and canned beans) are not that bad. Laurie had a minced lamb sandwich with purple cabbage slaw which was actually quite good. We had fairly decent burgers in Reykjavic, and some SUPERB fish at a restaurant in Keflavik. They do fish there. Straight off the boat....and they do it well.
Food is not cheap there. Iceland is on par with London price wise. Burgers in a bar with fries and a drink were around 15 bucks per person. They were good burgers, but considerably more than in the states. Our splurge was for our fish dinners with deserts the last night in Iceland at a reasonably nice restaurant. Not fancy, just reasonably nice.....about 70 bucks for two.
The hotels often furnish breakfast as part of the room cost....and they do another thing I've not seen much of in the states......they have a community kitchen furnished with plates, cooking utensils, pots, pans, etc. We saw this in Germany once as well. You go to the grocery store, buy food, and cook it at your hotel......a great way to cut costs.
We had a small cabin that had a two burner stove and cooking utensils. We would eat breakfast furnished by the hotel (meats, cheeses, breads, cereals, coffee, etc., and much better quality than in the U.S. hotels), and eat a big meal while out and about. We would then come home late in the evening and have a light dinner of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches or something like that. I always like grocery shopping in foreign countries. The labels aren't always in English.....you are translating on the fly, trying to figure things out....it's an adventure!
21 hour days- This was a bit weird, but we managed. It didn't get dark until after midnight, and the sun came up about 3 a.m. And when it was "dark".....it wasn't really dark.....more like dusk. I managed fine. It was weird though to see 10-12 year old kids out riding their bikes, getting milkshakes, playing soccer, skateboarding, running around town...at 11:00 p.m. I guess they know that long winter with 21 hours of darkness will soon roll around...so they're trying to get as much time in as they can.
Stores and restaurants use a lot of neon signs here. I assume it is because of the 21 hours of darkness a lot of the year. I think it would be interesting to be there during winter....to experience the difference. It would be cool (and easy with 21 hours of darkness) to see the northern lights. Reykjavic is supposed to have legendary nightlife.......if night is 21 hours long...how could it not! But drinks at the bars we went by cost more than a small car.........so plan accordingly.
Iceland cars and RV's and driving- They do off road driving here. In fact....even on the road can be off road here, with our GPS taking us down a cowpath and through a creek...on what Iceland thinks is a regular secondary road. There's a reason for all those monster truck 4 x 4's and old military truck RV's.....they actually USE them here. The main highway in the country, route 1, goes from 4 lane near Reykjavic to gravel in other parts. Gravel roads are more the norm than one would think....and we were in one of the most populous parts of the country. The highest speed limit in the entire country is 55 mph....and that's okay. Few roads are safe for more than that. I don't think there's a guardrail in the entire country....and with only a fiberglass stick marking the boundary of a gravel road and a cliff......55 is good.
Geothermal- It's nice work if you can get it. All of Iceland's electricity, their hot water (no hot water heaters, it comes out of the ground hot), is geothermal. You have to be on top of an active volcanic field to get that...so it does have it's downside..............
Traveling with Laurie, and living a different life- For most of my adult life, I've been the boss. I've worked high pressure, long hour jobs, or owned businesses, which required my presence and/or attention every day, with long hours to boot. In my last job, I ran multi-million dollar construction projects. These all paid well.....and I used to make considerably more money than I make now. I was able to go racing (the only thing more expensive is a heroin addiction), and buy whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I also never had more than one week off at a time in the last 30 years. To run my business (or one owned by someone else) well, meant you had to be there.....you had to deal with it.
I don't have the money I used to......it's a different way of life. We're not poor, but we make different decisions. The biggest difference is that I have something I've never had before.....and that is TIME.
I'm 50. I'm not getting younger. It's definitely something that needs to be considered. Yes, I am busy a lot with shows and travel and building bugz, but in the last 2 years I've been able to take two one month vacations to see places and do things I never thought I would see. We're talking about our next one in 2014 (Southern UK, Ireland, maybe Greece or Spain). I'm seeing this world with the best travel companion there is, and the one I adore the most. Few are so blessed.
It was a big change for me....stepping into the world of doing art shows, and away from high pressure construction and business. I made good money. I was VERY good at it. Yeah...I might go back for the short term or every now and then if someone made me the right offer....but I no longer want to be involved in that craziness everyday for the rest of my life. It's different now......VERY different from the life I had. I'll live much longer without such massive amounts of stress, poor diet, lack of sleep........ It's easy to do that job poorly.......but going back to it full time...and doing it well.....there's no worse job on the planet.
Such radical changes in my life, honestly, were a bit unnerving........going from something I've known all my life and into the unknown. Luckily, I am married to a woman who has made me brave enough to live a different life.
So I don't want to make this any longer than it needs to be but thought I would add my 2 cents worth, or euros or kroners or pence.
Landing in Frankfurt was interesting to me because all my sister's contemporaries who were the air force during the Viet Nam war were stationed there so I heard a lot about Frankfurt. They all really liked the city. The architecture was fantastic and it is called the Manhattan of Europe because of all the new buildings. Much was destroyed in WWII. I found the skyline to be more interesting than NYC. The small central historic area was cool but really small compared to other cities.
Although I enjoyed the other cities we went to, after a while they all sort of had the same feel. We did stay longer in the touristy areas because David, Sheree and I wanted to see the cultural sites. There was the obligatory huge catholic cathedral and various other big cathedrals in Salzburg, Vienna and Prague. What was different about Prague was the buildings were genuinely old not having suffering the bombing destruction of WWII. Of the 3 cities I found Prague the most interesting historically. The architecture ranged from middle ages to art deco to modern with communist utilitarian still there as well. The people were brusque and not particularly pleasant, but then again, many tourist areas around the world are like that. It had a feeling though of people who have survived a lot hardship and really don't have time or patience with strangers.
The Jewish trail was a little hard to follow some places. While Germany and Austria spent countless amounts of money and time on rebuilding these huge churches, not much was done to compensate the millions of dollars worth of land, jewels, art, etc. stolen from the Jews. Basically after the war they were no more welcome than before and little effort was made to restore synagogues or anything else. At times it was more than a little oppressive to walk into these massive cathedrals as beautiful as they are.. Munich is the only city where the prewar population of about 10,000 Jews is now about the same. The museums had the feel of someone not Jewish making a museum for people who are not Jewish to see what Jews are like. Someone here said its like what we do to the Native Americans. True that.
I do love the public transportation in European cities. I miss it here in the south where there is none. Train travel is such an easy way to get from country to country but pricey. So much better than dealing with getting to and from an airport, going through security, delays, etc.
Iceland probably has the smallest 'footprint' of the populated world since all their heat is geothermal. And even though they have the least farmable areas, the veggies and food was fresher there than anywhere else we ate out. Much of their produce they grow is done in huge green houses, heated of course, geothermally.
Germany and Austria were both very health conscious with food and have been growing organic food for ages. Lots of stop GMO stuff going on there. Lovely to go to little markets and buy local fresh produce and there is not the mentality of buying large quantities at once. Dinner is decided on the way depending on what looks good at the market or what was available on Sat. Didn't really like a lot of traditional Austrian and Czech foods with heavy sauces and stews.
Of the cities we went to, London remains my favorite. I love London like I love NYC. Paris is a up there too but there is something about London's energy I love. Gotta love the Brits - they have a very southern interaction style of being at least superficially hospitable and helpful, a pleasant change coming from Prague. Helps that we speak the same language. I did pretty well in German, and was able to use it when English wasn't an option everywhere.
But my favorite was the country side. The Alps are spectacular. When it's clear the air is intoxicating, the sky so blue its hurts and the mountains indescribable. Even in the rain and fog they were beautiful. And Iceland was different than anywhere I have been. The lava mountains covered in green moss and lichen gave the impression of grass or trees. There were areas of lush grassy fields that lit up in the golden twilight for hours, and sparkled with yellow and red wild flowers. Hairy sheep with huge curly horns roamed freely. And the land was black, black lava fields, black sand, black gravel. It was deja vu to spend 22 hours of sunlight since I spent 6 months in Finland what I was 17. The whole place was like living on the edge. It was great and I would go back again with warmer and water proof clothing.
All in all a good trip and looking forward to our next adventure. Still up for discussion - head back to England or to South America which will at least be warm in Feb.
I'm Bill. My wife Laurie and I love to travel and share our stories. We especially love it when we have been able to motivate our readers to start traveling on their own, and making their own stories.
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