Philip awoke today after thirteen hours sleep feeling a bit better. Unfortunately there were no more spots left on the horse ride and so it was Claire and I horse riding and Philip working on the Blog and attempting to eat a late morning eggs and bacon (yeah I know there are some that will think that Philip has the good deal especially since the snow had stopped and it was raining).
We were picked up from our apartment and taken about 15-20 minutes drive from Reyjkavik to a fairly significant horse set up. Here there were over fifty individual indoor stables for the horses which may seem excessive in Australia but given the temperatures outside in Iceland totally understandable.
The horse in Iceland is quite special. It is its own breed – the Icelandic horse. No other type of horse is allowed into the country and an Icelandic horse taken out of Iceland is not permitted to return. The country appears to be concerned with bringing in diseases that will impact the breed and even asked us to let them know if any of our clothing may have come in contact with other horses. They also want the horse to remain its own unique breed, one which is quite different from other horses.
These horses are quite small, which is very helpful for someone like me who has trouble getting onto a horse… I look damn good once on them though! The head of the horse seems smaller than the rest of it and the neck is also quite short. The body however, it quite rotund which actually makes for a comfortable ride when compared to other horse rides we have done. They are also quite furry. I guess a requirement in this weather but gives them the appearance of being short, fluffy and cute in relation to other horse breeds.
The tour we had booked was a one hour horse ride into the lava fields. We were provided with a winter suit to wear which fits into the criteria of ‘highly unattractive clothing but who gives a stuff when it’s this cold’ attire that we have worn on this trip. The gum boots just added to the ensemble but were particularly helpful as the snow has started to melt and the hooves of the horses had made the mounting yard pretty slushy.
The ride was enjoyable helped by the fact that the rain had stopped. Unfortunately the wind had not and therefore the cold on the face was quite noticeable. At one stage, those with a little more experience where broken off from the group and given the opportunity to go a little faster – an opportunity Claire took and one I did not! (A leader always gives others the opportunity to shine!)
After an hour or so we retuned back to that base, disrobed and bid farewell to our horses; mine a black one who liked to follow Claire’s; something she said befitted the riders – yeah right!!! Just letting her have her moment.
Returning back to the apartment, we noticed that Philip had decided to go for a wander around town and so we opted to do the same. The shops here are quite strange. There are lots of them and the streets are really quite quaint and pleasant to walk around. The thing however, is that half of them are restaurants, food or coffee shops; 20% or so jewellery shops, 20% souvenir and then a small selection of other things such as barbers, books and music shops. Most of the souvenir shops sell exactly the same thing – puffin items, knitted clothing or the standard T-shirts, bookmarks, magnets and key rings. Therefore once you’ve done a few shops they all seem to look the same. For the ‘Game of Thrones’ fans there is very little recognition of it here except to talk about locations during tours. Natural things here have much greater impact that movies or television programs!
One thing that has been discovered though is that the Icelanders produce the best variety of licorice and chocolate coated licorice that I have ever seen. We walked into the lolly shop and an immediate waft of aniseed was smelt. Upon discovering the Icelandic word for licorice, I then found shelves full of different kinds of products all made in Reyjkavik. As a result there has not been many purchases made in this country but the lolly shop did get a few sales as the product just had to be tasted!
By the time we returned from meandering around the shops, Philip was back in bed, again feeling pretty ordinary. Hopefully another early night and some more rest will be helpful given what’s coming up in the next couple of days.