Mike's Reykjavik diary
From the Colonel's Regiment
|Table of contents|
Saturday 3rd March
Reardon's tournament for mission 13 of the Colonel's weekend breaks was held on Saturday March 3rd, 2007 at the Snooker club in Leamington Spa. Chris, David, Rupert and I were all eligible to play in the tournament, as we were the only four who would be present for mission 13. Early in the morning, we headed over to the snooker club and began the first frame, which would be an elimination event, in which the last one to 20 points would be knocked out.
I got off to a good start, making a solid break of 16 and soon myself into the next round. There then followed a lengthy battle between the other three with a succession of missed opportunities. Rupert and Chris ended up negative, before David fouled and went negative himself. Eventually David prevailed at the start of the second frame, leaving Chris and Rupert to battle it out for the final spot. They scrapped for the whole of the second frame, before Chris eventually won it on the black to eliminate Rupert.
A race to 25 then took place with the final three competitors. David and I got into the balls early, with me racing into an early lead, before David made a good break to get himself through to the final. I gradually pulled away from Chris before potting the pink to eliminate him and get through to the final.
In the final, David played really well whilst I played quite badly and had a poor run of the balls. David prevailed quite comfortably to win Reardon's pool tournament yet again. Steve arrived towards the end of the match and the five Colonel's men went to the Queen and Castle pub in the afternoon to reveal their destinations. David chose Berlin as Reardon's choice, whilst I chose Vienna as Glogg's Reardon Helpimede.
Saturday, 12th May
I woke up at around eight o'clock and began the drive to David's house. I eventually arrived and met David and Chris in Starbucks in Newbury for a coffee. After a while chilling, we quickly browsed the DVDs in HMV before deciding to go and play some snooker. We went to David's house and Chris phoned the local snooker club, who informed us that they were just starting to get busy. We walked around there and discovered that busy meant that three out of eight tables were in use. We warm up with a couple of games with all of us playing, which Chris wins, then begin the individual games. I succeeded in beating David twice on the black, whilst David beat Chris comfortably the first time but lost on the pink the second. I managed a couple of comfortable victories over Chris. Once we'd finished our games, we went home then headed out to Pizza Express for dinner. We ordered dough balls, garlic bread and bread sticks for starters, followed by pizza main courses. After our meal, we decided to get a dessert in from Tesco's, so paid the bill and left. After David had posted a letter, we drove to Sainsbury's for petrol, to discover it was closed. We went to Tesco's instead and purchased chocolate souffles and caramel apple tart, whilst also getting some petrol. After the drive home, we settled down to watch Eurovision and have our puddings. David declared that any country who voted for Britain would be put into the hat by him at the draw. Ireland gave Britain 7 points whilst Malta gave Britain 10 points. Serbia eventually won after much political voting. Once Eurovision had finished, we settled down to go to sleep. Chris decided he couldn't be bothered to blow up an airbed so he bunked down on the glashtenmead with me for a few hours as we decided to get some sleep before the journey to the airport.
Sunday, 13th May
My alarm went off at around 2a.m. and I forced myself to get out of bed. I staggered upstairs and went through the show as David put some coffee on. Around 3 o'clock, we left the house and I began the drive to Gatwick. The journey was uneventful and we arrived at the car park at around 4.15a.m. We entered, but Chris thought we should take a ticket rather than just put David's credit card in at the barrier. Having entered the car park we drove to zone V, before parking and making our way to the bus stop to catch a bus to the terminal. After a ten minute bus journey, we disembarked at North Terminal and took advantage of the automated check in service near the British Airways desks. We then deposited our bags and decided to go downstairs to Costa coffee. We got in a round of hot chocolates and Chris and David decided to get muffins too. Eventually, Rupert arrived, so we went upstairs again, Rupert checked in and then we went through security, before heading over to Garfunkels for our breakfast. We were allocated a table in the balcony section. David opted for a breakfast burger, whilst Chris had the full British Isles breakfast, Rupert had an omelette and I went for the breakfast buffet. After chilling with our breakfast for a while, we wandered aimlessly around the terminal, wasting time. Rupert bought something from Boots then we wandered down a ramp in the middle of the shopping centre to go to the gate. We went through another security area into the gate and sat down. Rupert rushed off for a quick toilet stop, then we boarded the plane. Rupert slid into the window seat with David taking the middle seat and me in the aisle. Chris was seated in the aisle seat on the other side. As the plane took off, we all dozed, thoroughly exhausted after our early start.
Food and drink was served during the flight. As David, Rupert and I received our orange juice, we noticed that Chris had somehow managed to get two drinks - orange juice AND water. We couldn't believe it. We were then given a smoked salmon roll that tasted horrible. David, Rupert and I decided not to eat ours', whilst Chris devoured his hungrily. Three hours later, the plane began its descent and we landed at Reykjavik airport. We disembarked, then went through security, collected our bags and exited the terminal to get on the bus which was to take us to the city. We bought 4 tickets, then took our seats and began the journey. The city was about a 45 minute drive away and we were amazed at the barren landscape that we were driving across. It was similar to something out of a Mad Max movie. We eventually arrived at the bus station and we transferred to a smaller bus which would take us to our hotel, the Park Inn. After several stops at other hotels, we arrived at the front of our hotel, disembarked and went inside to check in. We were informed that one of our rooms was ready, so we took the lift up to the third floor and deposited our bags in that room. After bathroom stops all round, we departed the hotel. I had changed into shorts and soon regretted it when I realised that it was fairly chilly outside. The walk into town was a lengthy one, along the main road and as we passed a VW garage we commented that it was similar to the VW shaft that we'd had to contend with in Genoa. We arrived at a road leading downhill and came to the central bus station. Continuing along this road, we an area where the road was dug up, with huge numbers of traffic cones around. We decided it was a little busy for a "Stop telling me what to do!" but decided to perform the tribute later on. Eventually we arrived at the main street through central Reykjavik. We started to think about lunch and spotted a restaurant called Bistro up a small flight of steps on our right. We went inside and took a table at the far side. On the menu was listed various food items, including some that were stated to be "good with beer". We got in a round of drinks. I had a cappuccino whilst the others went for soft drinks. We also order some onion rings, nachos, chicken wings and garlic bread between us. The food was good, though the garlic bread did have some bizarre tasting sauce on it. Having eaten our fill, we exited the restaurant, turned left and walked up a small hill to an impressive looking church. Outside, there was a statue of Liefer Ericksson and we paused to take a photo. We went inside the church and wandered around for a while, before going to buy tickets to go up the tower. The girl selling the tickets told us it was very cold up there. We went up in the lift and then had to go up a staircase to get to the top of the tower. There was no one else at the top of the tower and we discovered that the girl was right - it was absolutely freezing! The views were impressive however and we took several photos. We didn't stay long at the top owing to the cold and we soon went back down, left the church and took a left, walking down hill towards a lake we'd seen from the top of the tower. As we walked down the hill, we suddenly heard some shouts from behind us. We turned around and an Icelandic man was walking past us shouting, "Go and invade another country. Go and invade Iraq or something!" We shouted back at him and he kept telling us to go and invade another country. Somewhat puzzled, we concluded later that he must have thought we were american and it was some kind of protest against the american occupation of Reykjavik airport.
We arrived at the lake, which was quite impressive, and walked around the edge of it. As we approached the other side, we noticed lots of chalk penises which had been drawn on the ground, one of which was absolutely huge. David paused for a photo at which point, we did the appropriate Alan application. We arrived at a large building and, realising it housed the tourist information centre, we went inside, only to discover that the tourist information centre was closed. A bit annoyed, we left, crossed the road and entered a square with a strange fountain in the middle of it. Chris pointed to our left, telling us that there was a very old house there, according to the guidebook. We weren't that impressed and David and I were more interested in taking a photo of Seamus with the Dubliner pub in the background. We took a short walk around the corner and arrived at the parliament building. There wasn't much to see, but we did notice an upside down car with a concrete slab through the middle of it. Unimpressed with the centre of Reykjavik, we headed back to the main street, went past Bistro and stopped at another tourist information centre to enquire about hiring a car for the following day, but that turned out to be closed too. We continued our walk back to the hotel, walking past another wrecked car, this one having a huge plant pot in its windscreen. We assumed that there was some crazy artist in Reykjavik doing this to cars.
After some time, we arrived back at the hotel and enquired at reception about hiring a car. Chris eventually secured us a Toyota Yaris, which we were instructed to pick up at 9.30a.m the following day. Heading back to our rooms, we decided to go to the local spa pool to chill out before dinner, as entry was, for some reason, included in the price of our hotel. We got tickets for the spa from reception, then wandered down to the main street, crossed it and went down the hill opposite, past a sports stadium before arriving at the spa. Going inside, we realised that the spa wasn't free, as we would have to pay for towel hire. Disgruntled, but unwilling to leave having come this far, we paid for our towels and entered the spa area. We had to take our shoes off and place them in a rack outside the changing rooms, then we all went in and changed into our swimming gear. The spa area was massive, with an indoor pool and spa, an outdoor laps pool, another chill out pool, a large jacuzzi with rocks in and another dipping pool. We went into the laps pool, which was linked through to the chill out pool. I did a few laps of the main pool, before we all wandered over and sat in the large jacuzzi. It was very pleasant and we chilled out for some time. Eventually, we went inside again, went through the showers and got dressed, before going back to the hotel. Our second room was ready by this point, so Rupert and I took the first room, whilst David and Chris took the other one. We all got changed then met up again and took the long walk back in to town to find somewhere to eat. We tried various places on the main street, but a lot of them were expensive and the others didn't look great. Chris suggested that we try a burger restaurant in the guidebook called Grillhusio, which was near the square with the weird fountain we'd found earlier. We thought it sounded like a good idea, so we walked over there, arriving at around 9.15p.m. We went inside and were informed that they were closing at ten o'clock, so we could eat provided we didn't stay late. After a brief discussion, we decided to go for it, so we took a table by the window and ordered nachos and onion rings between us for starters followed by burgers all round for our main course. Our dinner was served quite rapidly, giving us little time to reveal our destinations for the mentalist list. I prepared the draw for order of revealing, drawing number one myself. We then revealed our destinations one at a time. I went for Vilnius, then Chris opted for Stuttgart. David then nominated Hanover and Rupert finally nominated Liechtenstein.
We ate our burgers and sat around for a while waiting to be offered desserts, but eventually realised that the staff wanted us to leave. We paid up, then left the restaurant and wandered back to the main street. We decided to have a quick drink stop and headed to a place up a side street called Kaffibarinn, which was apparently part owned by Damon Albarn from Blur. We sat in the back of the bar and had a round of drinks - David and I ordered a coke whilst the others had beers. The bar was quite smokey, so we made do with one drink each and then left to walk back to the hotel. Arriving back at the collection of cones, we decided it was time to set up our "Stop telling me what to do!" tribute. As we needed four codes, it was necessary to take the photo on timer delay. I rested my camera on a nearby digger, pressed the time delay button then the four of us picked up our cones and shouted "Stop telling me what to do!" I collected my camera and we continued walking. We soon passed a food shop, so went inside to buy some supplies for our intended excursion in our vehicle the next day. We bought various chocolate bars including Prins, Florida, York and Tromp, as well as some Gifler cakes and Prinzenroller biscuits. We also spotted a can of drink called Cult so bought one of those too along with various other drinks. Having acquired our shopping, we continued our long walk back to the hotel. Thoroughly exhausted, we arrived back at the hotel and punched the sack in readiness for day two.
Monday, 14th May
Rupert and I woke up around 8a.m. and decided to make our way down to breakfast. We met the others and headed down the stairs. There was a large breakfast buffet with mini sausages and chips. I selected a croissant but was appalled to discover that someone had secreted ham in the middle of it. All in all, the breakfast was poor. Once we'd finished out breakfast, we waited in reception for the car hire person to arrive. By 9.45a.m. there was still no one there, so we asked at reception. It turned out that the car hire man had arrived at 8.30a.m. whilst we were in breakfast, but the hotel couldn't contact us as the car was in Chris' name and the rooms were in David's. The receptionist phoned the car person again and he eventually arrived, saying he'd take two of us to the car place. David and Chris went whilst Rupert and I opted to remain with the food. Eventually they returned with our lovely Toyota Yaris. We climbed in and set off to drive out to Þingvellir National Park . After about an hour's drive, we arrived at the visitor's centre. There were several graphic displays, including one which described the trek taken by a Mike Nolan character and a guy called Þorgeirr Þorkelsson Ljósvetningagoði sa they walked to the AlÞing, the original Icelandic parliament.
After a while, we left and had a quick pot stop before changing into our walking shoes, helping ourselves to some York and talking a walk out to a nearby prehistoric farmhouse. We paused to admire the views over the valley before walking down a steep slope with a canyon on our left. We stopped to look at the original Althing and it appeared to be something out of an ape council in Planet of the Apes. We carried on walking and descended to the river before engaging in a game of pooh sticks. Rupert dropped his stick before everyone was ready, before finding another. Once everyone had chucked their sticks in, Rupert claimed victory, even though the stick which had emerged at the other side was the first one he'd thrown in. Chris won, with me second and David third. Rupert's second stick eventually emerged then floated back under the bridge. We crossed another bridge then arrived at a colourful pool known as the chasm of coins. We stared into it, before crossing a main road and striking across country. The path seemed to be marked out by what appeared to be grignaks. We couldn't believe grignaks existed in Iceland. After a while, we reached a massive fissure, which clearly had been caused by continental drift. We clambered across it, emerging safely on the far side. After a brief pause to take a mascot photo on a grignak, we arrived at an open area which was the site of the farmhouse. At this point, David and I did a Monty Python and the Holy Grail application along the lines of, "Build a grignak out of her". "Ah, but can you not also build grignaks out of stone?"
There were several paths leading in and out of the farmhouse area. David and I commented on the similarity to level three of Dungeon Master, with us having emerged from Creature Cavern. We sat for a while on a stone structure in the farmhouse area, whilst pondering which route to take. Chris suggested taking the path to another visitor's centre in the distance and having lunch there. We headed out on the path equivalent to Dungeon Master's Time is of the Essence, passing several apparently bottomless gaping holes. Eventually we emerged at some sort of campsite. We crossed this area and made for the tourist information centre. Lots of tourists were sat outside, so we headed in and ordered some hot dogs. I bought a drink called Mix. The hot dogs turned out to be pretty disgusting and ridiculously expensive and once we'd eaten them we started walking back in the direction of the car, following the route of the canyon. Chris wanted to walk along the road, but I thought there was a path through the canyon, so we climbed over to it and looked into it. There was indeed a trail down there, so we clambered down and walked along it. We soon discovered that several massive rockfalls were blocking our path. We clambered over several of them and began to worry we would be unable to get out of the other end. There was no one in sight and we climbed over several rockfalls, some of which were covered in ice and through various grassy areas in the canyon. We took several photos from the tops of the rockfalls, enjoying the peace and quiet. After about an hour, we emerged arrived at another trail. Walking on this, we discovered that the actual trail we should have been on was the other side of the cliff to our right, about 10 yards away. We also discovered that in an hour we'd travelled less than a mile. We followed the real trail and arrived at a waterfall. We paused to take pictures, then climbed up the left side of the canyon and down the slope on the other side to join the trail which led back to the Althing. On route, we came to a pool where witches had apparently been drowned. Eventually, we reached the Althing and climbed the slope back to our car.
We climbed back in the car and Chris drove us around the lake in the direction of Geysir. After about 45 minutes, we arrived at a thermal area which housed the original geysir. We walked quickly around the gift shop then wandered across the road to the thermal area. It turned out the geysir itself was blocked up as tourists had thrown rocks into it over the years, but Stokkur geyser nearby erupted every ten minutes. We watched the impressive eruption as David and I embarked on one of the most amazing series of applications ever seen on a break. David said, "Have you thrown a rock into Geysir?" "I'm sorry, I really wanted to throw a rock into Geysir." Carrying on into, "Geysir was amazing. It used to explode..." and then into, "What's the name of that geyser in Yellowstone which goes off every 76 minutes?" "Oh yes, I know that one, it's Steamboat Geyser." "No, Old Faithful. Stop getting geysers wrong! I'll tell you how the eruption really happened. Everyone start doing this. Blub, blub, blub, blub..." Between David and I we nailed application of the break. As we returned to the car, David said, "I'd love to feel a geyser go off in my face. It'd be, blub, blub, blub, whoosh, whoosh!" I then said, "Don't laugh Olaf, you've scolded your face!" David and I were in hysterics. Rupert and Chris seemed unimpressed.
We drove away from Gesyir, continuing our applications and took the short drive to a waterfall known as Gullfoss. The views were incredible as we could see glaciers in the distance. We parked and took a walk down a long flight of stairs, before walking to the waterfall. We climbed up on a rock structure and took in the incredible sight. We had to admit it was very impressive. Having taken in the sight, we walked back to the car and began the long drive back to Reykjavik. David and Chris decided on an alternate, fast route back to the city. As we arrived at the main road, Chris noticed a mentalist driving in front of us swerving all over the road. We kept our distance and eventually arrived back at the hotel at around 8.30p.m. We quickly changed our clothes before going out for dinner. We took a short walk around the corner to a diner-style restaurant called Askur. We were guided to a booth on the far side of the restaurant. For starters, we had the soup and salad bar. I went for vegetable soup whilst David had brocolli soup. David and I both had battered fish for our main course. It was pretty good. We were all exhausted, so we chilled out for a while with coffees before returning to our rooms to punch the sack in readiness for our flight to Akureyri on the next day.
Tuesday, 15th May
We woke up around eight in the morning and wandered down to breakfast. The options were still limited, but Chris succeeded in having three courses again. Once we'd finished, we returned to our rooms to get our stuff, then piled all our belongings into the car and checked out of the hotel. The airport was a short drive away and Chris got us there in about ten minutes. He was unable to find a parking space at the rental car company and attempted to cram the car into a ridiculously narrow space. Having almost succeeded, we went inside and dropped off the keys, before wandering over to the check in area. The airport was tiny and check in hadn't opened, so we stood around and waited. About an hour later, we checked out bags in and were given a small receipt as a ticket, before going out onto the runway, with no security, to board the plane. I sat next to the window with David next to me and the others behind. During the flight, the attendant served us with coffee and a chocolate. We took in the impressive views of the mountains and after about 45 minutes we descended into Akureyri, landing on a very thin strip of land, surrounded by mountains and on the edge of a fjord.
We got off the plane and walked inside the terminal. After a short wait, we picked up our bags. Chris and I paused briefly to enquire about hiring a car for the following day. Once we'd done this, we went outside and got a taxi to our hotel, the Hotel Harpa. The drive to the hotel along the edge of the fjord only took about ten minutes and we soon arrived at the Hotel KEA. The Hotel KEA and the hotel Harpa were actually the same hotel, with the KEA being at the front and having the more expensive rooms. To the right of the hotel and up some steps, there was an impressive looking church. We went inside and checked in, before going up one floor and walking round a long winding corridor, arriving at our rooms at the back of the building. We had decided to take a walk up Mount Sulur, a mountain just outside Akureyri, so we prepared our stuff for the walk. We'd spied a tourist information centre on our way in and Chris suggested going there first to ask about the mountain walk and whether it was feasible. We walked around the side of the hotel and went into the centre, to be greeted by a youngish girl. We chatted to her about Mount Sulur and she told us that the trail was not visible above the snow line, so it might be wise not to walk up the mountain. Before we left, we asked her if she would ring up Hertz rental car company and book us a Toyota Yaris for the following day. She did this and we thanked her before leaving. Outside, Chris decided we should ask her where the nearest local supermarkets were. He popped back in and came out soon afterwards, telling us that she'd recommended three supermarkets of varying sizes and prices. We picked up our bags from the hotel then set off up the hill past the church, deciding to go to the mid-size, mid-price supermarket. We began our walk around 1.30p.m., going up the hill, following the road around to the left and then right, past the church. At the top of the hill, we took a left and arrived at the supermarket.
We went inside and soon equipped ourselves with some bread, pate, ham and cheese, along with some chocolate, Kit Kats, Lays potato chips and drinks. David and I spied some cake called Dan Cake and we decided to get some too. David said, "let's get some Dan Cake!" We then both proceeded to say, "Dan Cake! Dan Cake! Dan Cake! Dan Cake!" in true Alan Partridge style. We left the supermarket, stopping briefly to eat a couple of Prinzenroller biscuits outside. We took a right and wandered back to the main road, before taking a left and walking up another hill. We turned left just before a bridge, walking past a strange hole at the side of the road with a ladder down into it, before beginning the long walk up towards the rubbish dump. Rupert stopped to set his GPS device going so that he could mile the journey. He soon ended up a long way behind the rest of us. The trek up the road was strenuous - the road was steep and lots of trucks, tractors and cars passed us on route to the dump. There were many snow-capped peaks in front and around us. A long way up the road, we spotted a small hut and Chris and I speculated that this was the dump. We passed a horse farm on our left and a motorbike dirt track on right. Eventually, we passed a stream and arrived at the hut, only to see that it wasn't the dump - the dump was still some distance up the road. Eventually, Chris and I arrived at the dump and paused to wait for the others to catch up. There was a horrible smell coming from the refuse and we were keen to keep moving, but we weren't quite sure which way to go. Two roads led off to the right, one going uphill and the other going slightly downhill. We took the uphill path, but soon suspected we'd gone wrong. However, there was now a steep drop to our right so we decided to press on. After a while, we dropped down a hill and arrived at a car park. We realise we'd taken the correct route after all.
We wandered down hill a little further, crossing a stream and arrived at a kraal. We couldn't see the trail, but eventually noticed a stile behind us. We crossed the field and, arriving at the stile, realised that this was the start of the trail. Having crossed the stile, we set out along the trail, which lead up hill. We were delighted to see that the trail was marked out by sticks, but also by grignaks. We soon arrived at a stream which we had to cross and, after a little bit further, arrived at a second stream. Having now been walking for some time, we decided to stop for lunch, so we crossed the stream and settled down in the grass. We shared out Lays and sandwiches and chilled out. Chris suggested some Dan Cake, but we decided that it would be better to have some later on. We packed up and continued walking. After a while, we arrived at a field and I speculated that we'd gone the wrong way, as the trail was gradually disappearing. We decided to turn to our left and head up to the top of the ridge to see if we could see the trail. At the top of the ridge, Chris spotted a stick in the distance and we headed towards it, apparently back on the trail. Chris speculated that we'd gone wrong after our lunch stop. The ground began to get soggy and we soon crossed a muddy stream and hit patches of snow. The snow soon got thicker and appeared in more regular patches. We stopped a couple of times for drinks breaks and eventually came to a region with snoe covering the ground and no obvious trail. However, we spotted some sticks in the distance so, after descending a steep snow bank, we crossed a huge plateau of snow and climbed up the other side. There was a faint trail of footprints in the snow which we followed. At the top of this ridge, we arrived at a massive snow plateau. There were no sticks in sight and we began to wonder if we would have to turn back. However, we made the decision to strike out across the snow to the next ridge. Upon arrival at this ridge, we noticed a stick in the snow some way above us, so we started directly up hill. The ground became very rocky and all of us slipped over several times as we clambered up the rocks. The climb was becoming somewhat arduous and we soon found ourselves on a mini summit marked out by a stick. David thought this was as far as we could go, but there was another stick further up the mountain.
Chris and I led the way to this stick and, upon arrival, scanned the mountain for the next marker. There was nothing in sight. However, we decided that we were probably close enough to the top at this point that we should just strike out in the most direct route up hill. We turned right, going into a mini valley with snow on both sides. Chris and I clambered up the left hand bank to a ridge before moving round it to arrive at a slope leading upwards towards the summit of Mount Sulur. We waited for David and Rupert to arrive then all struck out together to the summit. I was slightly ahead and I reached what I thought was the summit, only to see that the real summit was still a few hundred feet further up and was marked by a large grignak. A few minutes later and after I'd slipped over again, we finally arrived at the summit together. The time was now 6p.m. and Chris served coffees and some Dan Cake as we took in the incredible views of the mountain range around us and the fjord and the town of Akureyri below us. Rupert rang his Mum for a quick chat and, after taking some photos of us and the mascots and signing the guest book on behalf of the Colonel's Regiment and the mascots, we began the descent.
The initial slope was tricky to negotiate, being very slippy. I took quite a bad fall. My gloves filled up with snow and I shrieked with pain. Chris helped me up and we continued the descent, running in places. As we arrived at the mini valley, we paused for photos of us running down into it. We continued to jog down the mountain side and made very good progress. It was pleasant going downhill and we enjoyed our trek through the snow. As we began to get below the snow line, our progress slowed as we had to traverse mud and streams. We soon arrived back at the place we'd had lunch, but from a different route, and we realised that this is where we'd gone wrong earlier. We paused for a photo at the lunch stop and then continued, crossing the two little streams and washing our walking boots. After a while, we arrived back at the dump and skirted the edge of it before going beginning the descent down the road to the town. We realised that we were going to be having dinner very late. We were all thoroughly knackered when we finally got back to the hotel at around 9.10p.m. We decided to get changed quickly in our rooms, so Chris and I did that before going next door to Rupert and David's room. However, it turned out that they were having showers, so I quickly went through the shower too.
Once we were all ready, we left the hotel and crossed the road to go to a restaurant called Bautinn. However, they were about to close and they suggested we walk around the corner to an Italian restaurant called La Vita e Bella. We took the short walk around the corner and were allocated a table by the window. Chris I ordered lobster soup for starters, whilst David went for minestrone soup and Rupert went for a cold meat starter. For main course, David and I both opted for the three cheese pizza, whilst Chris went for a pasta dish and Rupert decided on an expensive meat main course. The soup was excellent and the pizza, when it arrived, was huge, with large slices of brie on it. As we began to eat our pizzas, the waiter arrived at our table with two small pots of jam and told us that it was a custom to have it with our pizzas. David and I tried it, but quickly decided that it didn't really work. I quickly got full and passed some of my pizza over to Chris, who tried the jam too, and wasn't that impressed. The waiter came over to ask us what we thought of the jam and we told him we thought it was great. I popped back to the hotel briefly for a bathroom stop whilst the others got in desserts. They then rejoined me at the hotel and we decided to go for a short walk along the waterfront. It was still light, even though it was now past eleven o'clock at night, and we gazed up at Mount Sulur, realising how far we'd climbed. We turned left, deciding to head back to the hotel via the centre of town. As we got to the town centre, we noticed a train of cars driving about 5 miles an hour in a convoy. Each car was packed out with teenagers and we realised that this was Akureyri's own version of the runtur. As there was nothing to do for teenagers in the town, this was what they did for enjoyment on an evening. After a pleasant walk, we soon arrived back at the hotel and returned to our rooms to punch the sack for a well earned rest in readiness for our next day.
Wednesday, 16th May
We woke up around 8.30a.m. I staggered through the shower, thoroughly exhausted from the previous day, before Chris and I went next door to collect Rupert and David and we all headed downstairs to breakfast. We sat on a table in the raised area of the room. I got a bowl of cereal and some toast as the remainder of the breakfast items didn't look great. Once we'd finished we decided that Rupert and David would go to the supermarket whilst Chris and I would walk along the road towards the airport to pick the car up. On route, we stopped in the tourist information shop and thanked the girl there for her information regarding Mount Sulur, telling her that we'd made it to the top. We then continued our walk along the main road, as I started singing Goldfinger. We soon arrived at the car rental place and secured a blue Toyota Yaris with a futuristic Buck Rogers dashboard. I was the designated driver, so I climbed in and we drove back to Akureyri, parking near the tourist information place. We returned to the hotel and found the others, who had failed to find any Dan Cake, having to settle for a swiss roll that bore Dan Cake markings. We decided to drive to the supermarket that we'd been to the previous day, but discovered that they'd sold out of Dan Cake. A bit disappointed, we headed down the hill, turned right alongside the fjord, then crossed it via a bridge and climbed up the hill on the far side. The road, the main highway in Iceland, was very narrow with only posts marking the road sides. As we rounded the hill, there was a large drop on one side and I was a bit concerned driving. Eventually we descended into a valley and after a while we arrived at a waterfall called Godafoss. We stopped for some drinks and a few snacks, before getting out of the car and walking to the waterfall. It wasn't that impressive, but we were pleased to discover that it was the waterfall which Þorgeirr Þorkelsson Ljósvetningagoði had chucked all his stuff into.
We returned to the car, crossing the narrow bridge over the river and drove up the hill at the far side. After another 45 minutes or so, we arrived at Lake Myvatn. Driving around the south side of the lake, we noticed a huge crater on our right, which I'd read about in the guidebook. We decided to check this out later on. We turned right when we reached the town of Reykjahlio, drove up through a thermal area with a geothermal plant, through the hills and descended into a valley. There was a thermal area to our right. We drove down a very long, straight road with a line of grignaks to the side of us. We eventually arrived at a large bridge and crossed it, turning left onto an unmade road which led into the bottom of Jökulsárgljúfur National Park. The road was horrible and bumpy and we commented that it was like driving over Stephen Hendry's face. We had to drive for around 30km along this road, which was not only bumpy but had several blind heads and sharp turns. We eventually arrived at a parking area near the waterfall of Dettifoss. The ground was covered in snow and it was quite cold. We changed into our winter gear and struck out across the path, hiking down the stone steps, across a plateau before descending more steps to the waterfall. We waterfall was huge and very impressive. After a brief discussion, we decided to walk upstream towards another waterfall called Selfoss. We hiked along the water's edge, crossing several jagged rocks, following a line of yellow poles. David and I took the lead with Chris and Rupert some ditance behind. We eventually arrived at a plain, which we crossed, before clambering over some more rocks and arriving at some swampy ground next to Selfoss. David and I admired the waterfall whilst we waited for the others. They soon joined us and we headed over to the canyon wall for a picnic.
After chilling out for a while, we headed back to the car. I ended up at the back, but hurried to catch the others at Dettifoss. Back at Dettifoss, we climbed up the stone steps, crossed the plateau and up the other steps, before arriving at the car, noticing another Toyota Yaris parked next to us. We then began the drive back along the unmade road, with the other Toyota Yaris behind us. We finally reached the main road, turned right and followed the line of grignaks in the direction of home. As we reached the thermal area, we decided to stop for a look. We pulled in, only to be followed by the other Toyota Yaris. We wandered around for a while, looking at steam vents. It was now quite cold so we warmed ourselves up standing in the steam. Having got our fill of the steam vents, we returned to the car and drove up the hill, back to Lake Myvatn. We stopped at a lookout point for views over the lake, before heading down, turning left and driving back towards the Hverfjall volcanic crater we'd seen earlier. The crater was situated up another unmade road, but fortunately this one wasn't too long and we soon arrived at the base of the crater. There was a path up the side, so we climbed up it and took in the views of the lake from the top and also down into the crater itself. Lots of people had clearly descended into the basin to write things in the dust and with stones - we commented on how idiotic some people could be. We then took a brief walk around the edge of the crater and climbed up to the highest point. In the distance, in the opposite direction from the lake, we could see another crater which had been used as a moon landings test site. There was also an impressive jagged rock area caused by a volcano eruption, and an equally impressive view over Lake Myvatn. It was very windy at the top and we were getting cold, so we descended back to the car and began the long drive back to Akureyri. As we drove alongside the lake, we noticed lots of sheep running wild across the landscape, roaming freely over the roads. The drive back seemed very long and we arrived back at Akureyri at around 7.45p.m.
We headed through the shower and then went to a restaurant nearby called Bautinn for dinner. We all had soup and salad bar for starters whilst David and I had whale for main course whilst the others have lamb. The whale was very good, though Chris seemed to think it tasted like liver. We also got in some ice creams for dessert. Having eaten our fill, we stopped briefly in the hotel to check e-mail - I was having a logistical problem with my trip to Rome the following week which the others tried to help me out with. We decided to have a quick drink in a local bar, so we wandered up the hill to one, but there appeared to be a pub quiz going on so we didn't go in. We went into the town square and found a bar which had looked huge, until we realised it had mirrored walls and actually wasn't very big. We sat down and had a quick drink, before leaving, passing the kids in their cars in the runter, before going back to the hotel to punch the sack.
Thursday, 17th May
We woke up around eight in the morning and, after going through the shower, went down into the basement and had a small breakfast. The breakfast options hadn't improved since the previous day and we weren't impressed. After eating, we headed outside and decided to go for a short walk around town. We soon discovered that most shops were closed, as it was Ascension Day. We wandered down the main street, crossed the square and walked up a hill in front of us. At the top, we arrived at a viking statue, so paused to take some photos. We then wandered down the hill at the other side in the direction of the shopping mall which David and Rupert had discovered the previous day. We were hoping to purchase some Dan Cake but discovered that the mall was closed.
We walked back to the hotel and checked out, deciding to drive up to the other supermarket before we went to the airport. We were slightly concerned about getting a destination for the mentalist list, having failed with any interaction thus far, so Chris decided to go and ask the girl in the tourist information centre. We dropped him off next to the tourist information centre and drove up the hill to the supermarket we'd gone to on the way up Mount Sulur. It was open, but we were disappointed to discover that they didn't have any Dan Cake once again. We drove back down the hill and stopped to pick Chris up, but he informed us that the tourist information centre was closed thanks to the rather bizarre Ascension Day closing policy. There was nothing else we could do, so we drove along the side of the fjord and dropped the car off at Hertz, before walking across the road with our cases to the airport. We were a little early and weren't able to check in, so walked through to another area which had a cafe. A man came out from the back and we ordered hot chocolates all around. As we were about to take them, the guy behind the counter put some squirty cream on top for us. We all sat down at a circular table by the window and looked out at the runway and the hills behind. Eventually check in opened, so we deposited our bags and very quickly boarded the plane. The journey was brief and we were served with coffees and a chocolate again. Unfortunately it was foggy so we weren't treated to the views of the mountains that we'd had on the way up to Akureyri.
About forty-five minutes later, the plane descended in to Reykjavik. Chris pointed out the thermal beach as we were about to land and suggested we could head over there in the afternoon. We landed and disembarked and, after collecting our bags, left the terminal to get a taxi. However, no taxis were in sight and we discovered we had to book one. Chris and Rupert disappeared inside to phone a taxi and, as they came out, two turned up. We made our way towards one of them, but at that moment another one turned up which we realised was the one we'd booked, so we got in that instead. About ten minutes later, we arrived at the hotel and checked in. This time our rooms were ready, so we made our way up to the third floor again. This time I was sharing with David whilst Rupert and Chris were in a room together. After a brief discussion, we decided to head over to a park called Perlan, which had a domeatroid and a museum in it and was near to the thermal beach. We left the hotel and began our walk, but as we did, it began to rain.
A few minutes later, we passed a bakery and I suggested stopping in to buy some cakes to take with us. We selected a couple of nice pastries then after a few more minutes walking, we crossed a busy road and climbed up through the park before arriving at the domeatroid. It was quite cold so we went indoors. There was a large fake geyser on the floor of the building which shot a jet up from it every couple of minutes. We went down to look at it, then climbed the stairs and took a lift to the top floor to look at the gift shop and get some drinks in. Hot chocolates were available from a drinks machine, so David got a cup and pressed a button. I pointed out that he'd pressed the wrong button, so he discarded the unpleasant looking hot chocolate drink he'd chosen, opting for a milky hot chocolate drink instead. Chris went to get a table by the window, as he didn't want anyone to see that we'd brought our own cakes in with us. Having bought our drinks, the rest of us joined Chris and we drank our hot chocolates and subtlely ate our cakes. There was a group of rowdy locals sat behind us who clearly thought they were comedians. They ordered waffles all round and greedily tucked into them. Outside there was another fake geyser. This one was more impressive than the one inside and looked fairly realistic. As it erupted, David and I reeled off various geyser applications.
Once we'd finished, we went outside onto the balcony and took some photos. It was really cold and we decided that the weather was unsuitable for the thermal beach. However, we'd noticed in the guidebook that there was a penis museum in the centre which had penises of various animals in it. Deciding this would be an amusing and slightly surreal thing to do, we decided to go there. We descended in the elevator and left the building. Rupert, Chris and David recreated a running statue outside whilst I took a photo, before we went down hill and took an alternative route back to the centre of the city, through a housing estate and past the church. We arrived back on the main street and wandered up and down it several times, trying to find the penis museum. After about 20 minutes, we had to admit defeat. Disappointed, we decided to walk down to the waterfront, so crossed the main street and walked down hill to the water. There was a viking ship sculpture by the water and we wandered over to look at it. At this point it was starting to get very cold, so we decided it was about the right time for us to head back to the hotel and start the stammtisch, which we decided would be in Kaffibarinn for the simple reason that it was the only bar we'd been to. We wandered back to the main street and took the long walk back to the hotel.
David and I returned to our room and, after we'd both been through the shower, we headed out. We were a bit concerned we may see Rupert and Chris walking to the stammtisch as the road was long and straight. However, despite looking back several times, we didn't see them and arrived at Kaffibarinn without bumping into them. We went upstairs and took a seat on some sofas in the corner before getting a round of cokes in and chilling out. After a while, we got in a second round and about an hour after we'd arrived Chris and Rupert joined us. They got in a round of drinks and after some time we left and wandered over to the nearby italian restaurant for dinner. However, it was absolutely packed and, after wandering the street for a while, we secured a round table at the nearby Trattoria Pizzeria. The restaurant didn't look too great and was quite expensive, but our options at this point were a bit limited. David and I ordered calamari for starters whilst I went for the marinara main course.
I prepared the tiles for the first mascot draw and I drew Barney, whilst Chris drew Dave, David drew Shaft and Rupert drew Kurt. A second mascot round then took place, with me drawing Grosser Vass, Chris drawing Glogg, David drawing Steve and Rupert drawing the Little Lucky Leprechaun. Finally, a third mascot round took place, with me drawing Hel 2006, Chris drawing PC Bourne, Rupert drawing Eric and David having already been allocated Reardon. We then did a draw to determine the order which we would be revealing our destinations in. As our starters arrived, we began revealing our choices. The calamari wasn't great and I tucked in as Chris revealed Dave's destination first. It turned out that Dave had written his destination backwards and coded it by shifting all the letters by one in the alphabet. Eventually, after a bit of work, Chris revealed that Dave's destination said:
I was up next and said that I was up for going to a place with a Christmas market and thus my choice was
Steve was next and I handed my mobile phone over to David for him to reveal Steve's choice as:
Next was Chris and his choice was:
Our pizzas arrived and as we tucked in, David revealed his destination as:
It was finally the turn of Rupert and he revealed his choice as:
After some discussion, we decided that the Little Lucky Leprechaun's choice would be:
David, having won Reardon's tournament, had previously picked Reardon's choice as:
Having thus far not obtained a mentalist's choice, we phoned Steve to get him to act as our mentalist. I read out the list of destinations on the mentalist list and he picked PC Bourne's choice to be:
David's destination had been picked and he would therefore take charge of PC Bourne in the draw. Chris then took charge of Glogg's round. Reardon was selected and then bummed, which meant that Berlin would not go into the draw on behalf of Reardon. I then took charge of Barney's round, but drew a blank tile which meant that nobody would be selected for diplomatic immunity.
Our plates were cleared and we ordered desserts, with me opting for tiramisu. Rupert then took charge of Kurt's round. We all wrote our choices on pieces of paper and then Rupert drew them out one at a time, revealing, "None", "Vilnius", "Vilnius", "None". David and I had voted for Vilnius whilst Chris and Rupert had decided not to use their veto vote. Nothing was therefore selected to be vetoed. Our desserts arrived and David took charge of Shaft's round, but no destination was selected for Shafting. I then took charge of Grosser Vass' round and selected Reardon to be made Grosser. Berlin would therefore be reintroduced into the draw as Grosser Vass' choice and Grosser Vass would have a destination for the second time in three draws.
We ordered coffees and prepared for the rehearsal draw. The tin was passed around and on behalf of PC Bourne, David first eliminated Vilnius. Rupert commiserated himself with a Barthez. I then eliminated Valletta on behalf of Grosser Vass and Rupert eliminated Steve's Berlin on behalf of the Little Lucky Leprechaun. Rupert then eliminated Hanover, David self-eliminated Geneva, Chris eliminated Grosser Vass' Berlin and David eliminated Denmark on behalf of Steve. It was me against Chris in the final of the rehearsal draw. I selected a tile only to reveal my own name and eliminate Budapest. Chris leapt up to celebrate with a Shearer whilst revealing Vienna as the winner of the rehearsal draw.
Our coffees arrived and we prepared ourselves for the main draw. We prepared the tiles again and David then eliminated the first tile:
The Little Lucky Leprechaun consoled himself with a Barthez. The tin was passed to me and on behalf of Grosser Vass I eliminated my own:
Rupert then received the tin and on behalf of the Little Lucky Leprechaun eliminated Steve's:
Rupert again received the tin and, on behalf of himself this time he eliminated David's:
The tin then passed to David and he eliminated Chris':
Chris then eliminated Grosser Vass':
David and I were beginning to get concerned as Vilnius was still in the tin. David then received the tin and, on behalf of Steve, eliminated:
It was Valletta against Hanover. I was pretty happy with either option and I received the tin and picked a tile. I then revealed second place as:
David leapt up in celebration on behalf of PC Bourne as Chris revealed the winner as:
We all declared "Well, it's Hanover next time!" and were pretty happy with the result. We told Steve and Dave the result and they too seemed pleased.
At this point, it was quite late, so we paid up and decided to walk back to the hotel. The walk was quite lengthy and we were all tired. We eventually arrived back at the hotel and punched the sack in readiness for the journey home the following day.
Friday, 18th May
We woke up early and quickly got ready, before heading down to breakfast at 7a.m. It wasn't open, so we sat outside and waited. After a while, we went inside and sat down at a table. I had a small bowl of cereal and David and I secured the last of the orange juice, whilst Chris had piles of cooked breakfast. After a fairly quick meal, we went upstairs to get our cases then checked out and waited for the minibus to take us to the bus station. Eventually, it arrived and we got on board for the short journey. Once we'd arrived, we transferred to a big bus and began the journey to Keflavik airport. On route, we stopped for a while at a petrol station. We feared that there was a loaf pincher on board but it turned out passengers were getting on the bus. After about an hour we arrived at the airport and checked in.
Having checked in, we went up an escalator, through security and into a large area. We got a round of hot chocolates in (coffee for Rupert) and chilled out on some comfy chairs. At this point, boarding is announced, but we thought we had plenty of time, so we browsed the shops and spent the last of our currency. Having secured some white chocolate toblerone, drinks and various trinkets, we noticed that final boarding had been announced. Panicking slightly, we rushed down several long corridors, through to our gate and up an escalator, discovering that we were one of the last group of people to board the plane. We sat down, with Chris and Rupert in front of David and I. The flight passed swiftly and we arrived at Gatwick early at around 2.30p.m. We disembarked and got through passport control. Chris and David decided to get on an escalator to go to baggage reclaim, but I told them our belt hadn't been announced so they rushed back up and leapt off the escalator. Eventually, our belt was announced and we descended the escalator, collected our bags and went through customs. I suggested picking up a coffee from Costa for the drive back. For some reason, Rupert thought he wasn't welcome to join us, but we told him he was, at which point he decided to leave anyway. We bade farewell to Rupert, then got in a round of coffee and muffins before going to catch the bus to the long stay car park. We chatted to a woman and her husband who was in a wheelchair as our bus made the journey, before disembarking at zone V and going to get our car. We ate our muffins in the car then drove up to the barrier to leave. David was concerned that we'd been charged on exit, so we pulled over and Chris and David went to the ticket office to sort the problem. I waited with the car but after a while went to join then. They were given a form and David was told he'd receive a refund.
Eventually we left the car park and began the drive home. Traffic was not great and it took a long time to get to the M25. Ironically, the journey around the M25 wasn't too bad, but when we reached the M4 we ground to a virtual halt. It took us a long time to clear the traffic, which had been caused by some ghouls looking at an accident on the other carriageway. We cursed the ghouls as we continued the drive. We finally arrived back at David's house around 6p.m. and made the decision to go to Dominos to get some pizzas in. We collected our pizzas, then chilled out on the glashtenmeid and watched the Departed on DVD before punching the sack at the end of an exhausting, but thoroughly enjoyable break.
Saturday, 18th May - Sunday 19th May
Chris and I spent the next two days relaxing at David's house. The three of us watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose on Saturday morning, before going to play snooker in the afternoon. David played better than the previous weekend, beating Chris twice and me first time round. I beat Chris twice. In David and my second frame, I played really well and David needed snookers with about three reds left. He battled back really well, getting several snookers, before I eventually potted green, brown, blue and pink to win the match. When we'd finished, we went to the Star Inn for an evening meal. David and I shared a moules, whilst we both had scampi for our main course. After the meal, we returned to David's house and chilled out watching Silent Hill.
The following morning, we watched Flight 93 before David and I took Chris to the station. I then bade David farewell. The Reykjavik experience had finally ended. I drove back to Kenilworth, arriving back at around 2.00p.m. The Reykjavik experience had been a great one, but it was a return to a classic Germanic destination for mission 14.
After all, it's Hanover next time!