Thirty-six hours in and Iceland is unforgettable. Saturday, May 21, four hours after checking into the well-located and very friendly Hotel Odinsve, the Grimsvotn volcano spewed a plume of ash 60,000 feet into the air, its largest eruption since 1947. Keflavik Airport closed and a no-fly zone went up around the island. Now, we wait and see, literally, which way the wind blows.
The locals are taking this in the same stride that Upstaters take massive snowfalls, and the tourists are chatty with the novelty. A novelty that will surely wear thin if this is a repeat of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010.
On the last clear day before the ash cloud covers Reykjavik, I decided to go on a whale watch. I popped on my Sea Bands and boarded the Rosin, naive as a child. It was an unqualified disaster. Ten minutes out the North Atlantic started doing what it does best on windy days- roiling. The boat pitched and dipped like an unattended carnival ride, and so did my stomach. I soldiered on, doing my best to enjoy Nature’s glory. In the end, it was futile. Two and a half hours of no whales, no dolphins, one puffin, and a lost breakfast. Several others were in the same pitiable state, and I’d venture that everyone was delighted to get off that damned boat.
I weakly returned to the welcoming hotel, where I donated my whale excursion replacement ticket to the next, heartier soul, and gratefully showered the sea spray’s salty encrustion from my hair and skin. After an hour recovery nap, I embarked on a activity I was sure I could handle: shopping.