We’re in a really lovely apartment in Reykjavik looking over snowy roofs to the cathedral. The Hallgrímskirkja Is a splendid building that looks like it was built by the Vikings but was actually constructed between 1945 and 1986. It’s made from stepped concrete pillars rising to a sharp point.
We were there an hour or so ago, listening to the chimes at 3.30 and watching black clouds assemble offshore.
We walked back through a sharp hailstorm to our cosy pad for cups of tea and Heather’s Christmas cake which we brought with us.
Waking at Hengill this morning we weren’t entirely sure that we were going to be able to leave. We were the only guests, the corridors were silent and empty though a tinny Icelandic rendition of “silent night” was drifting down the stairs from reception. Invisible hands had set breakfast out for us and we sat lookng out into the darkness wondering if the snowplough had been. It had. The driveway had been cleared at some point in the night but our car was still marooned on a hillock of snow with its wheels dangling in the air. I went out and fought with the gearbox a bit, rocking the car backwards and forwards in snow that was rapidly turning into slush. Eventually I won and the car skittered out with snow flying from the spinning wheels.
We loaded and left. But now we had a conundrum, the roads had been cleared but some time ago and they were filling it’s snow again. Our somewhat diffident reception girl had advised taking the direct route to Reykjavik on the small road but didn’t recommend it without studded tyres. We decided to head north toward Thingvellir over the hills and join the main road which was more likely to have regular snow ploughs. The road was less full of snow than the day before but we were still making deep tracks in it and it was very slippery. As we started to climb and the snow got thicker I began to wonder whether we were going to get through.
Without saying anything P and I both started making mental checklists of anywhere that we passed that looked like it had signs of life. There was a large farmstead and a cabin off in the distance and that was about it.
Once we had climbed over the first pass we were pretty much committed to going on – trying to turn around would have meant getting bogged down in the deep snow almost immediately. We descended to Thingvellir Lake and skirted its icy edge, gunmetal waves raking the surface. Then we started climbing again with ragged lumps of snow flapping against the windscreen. At the next rise I stopped. If we’re we we’re going to do this we might as well make the most of it. Out we got and felt the cold air against our faces and the wet snow trickling through our hair. Tom danced around and P and I looked up at the snowy rock walls around us. It felt like the ends of the earth.
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