20/06/2013 – “My horses are emo.”

Week 25 – A trip to Iceland, the fourth post detailing horses, their emo hairstyles and hot springs in the mountains. Previous installments on getting your Zzz and muscle work done, the tourist bucket list and sightseeing the southern parts. These posts are more like travel reports so if you feel like a wall of text is hitting you, scroll on and watch the photos instead.

This day started with an early rise and an early breakfast. We had booked a horse riding tour and would be picked up around 08:15hr . Again a drive towards the south until we reached the horse farm. Icelandic horses are, in general, very friendly and they have absolutely awesome manes. They look like little emo punks with bangs covering their heads sideways. The tour would take us into the mountains where there are some hot springs to bathe in.

After getting a riding cap, I met my first horse. She was a horse for beginners (prior to the trip I had not been on any Icelandic horse) and should be safe enough (they said). Rune got a horse for beginners for the same reasons. First it was a couple of rounds in a pen to get a feel for the horse and then out the gate into nature. We went through a flat grassland first, crossed a river and Route 1, and then into the hills turning into mountains.

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I think my first horse was old and in a sour mood, she did not seem to want to go on this trip. She did not follow instructions, did not go as fast as the other horses, did not want to get dirty (?!) and neither did she want to get wet (?!). I decided to just enjoy the ride while she seemed to follow the other horses (if she couldn’t see them, she’d go in a panicked gallop until she had her eye on them again). She was also a meanie, headbutting me when I was standing with my back to her on the few breaks we had… We did not get along, but at least I didn’t fall off. Eventually we made it into the mountains, losing a rider along the way (not the horse’s fault). The paths became rather steep and narrow, but our horses bravely climbed up. The sights in the Reykjadalur Valley were very scenic, the boiling mud pools gave off a strong scent of sulphur and the walking tourists let us pass by until we reached the warm stream sprouting from the hot springs.

Rune and I decided, after lunch, to not bathe but take some photos instead. We only had 40 minutes total to do what we wanted to do so no time to waste. Sadly I couldn’t take my M9P with me on this trip. Backpacks are not allowed, because of the risk of falls and injuries. All the photos in this post are iPhone 5-shot.  The stream had a temperature going from 50C to a comfortable 25C and there were plenty of people relaxing in the water. We explored the valley, the stinking mud pools and Rune went up to some caves. Before long, we had to head back to the farm and I got a different horse. Supposedly with more temperament (?!), but he was a lot of fun! He liked to be among the first, but listened to directions and we had a splendid time together in tölt and gallop (I thought the gallop was most fun).

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The tour included about 5-6 hours of horse riding and in that time we covered a distance of 19 kilometres. Not that far, but far enough to get a sore behind (and upper legs). For dinner we once again headed to the Fiskélagið/Fish Company. Main (Rune): again the USA Carrot cake with the halibut, carrots, mashed potatoes and carrot cake with a dark beer called Black Death. Main (me): Iceland, salted cod, lobster and redfish with vegetables and a glass of white wine. Dessert (Rune): Switzerland, chocolate, some more chocolate and raspberry ice cream. Dessert (me): Iceland, rhubarb cake with rhubarb and butterscotch ice cream, plus a cup of pink Bora Bora tea. Below a panorama of the warm stream, the mountains and the grottos. If you look close enough, you can spot Rune on the right side of the panorama to show how big our surroundings were.

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