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San Diego Uptown News | Mar. 18–31, 2011 ICELAND By Randy Kalp

from Keflavik, Iceland’s lone international airport, a description of the country by pro skater Bam Margera, runs through my mind: “Iceland is awesome! It feels like you’re on the moon. There aren’t any trees and there are all these black rocks.”

As our public shuttle bus careens towards Reykjavik Even at 55 mph, it’s easy to spot the “black rocks”

Margera remarked on. These porous volcanic stones engulf the mossy, pockmarked terrain unfolding under a big morning sky. Upon reaching Reykjavik, I realize that the capital city is not that different from North America. English is spoken everywhere, and the downtown area, with its narrow cobblestone avenues and European architecture, is reminiscent of eastern Canadian cit- ies, while the city’s suburbs are lined with California ranches. Overlooking Faxaflói Bay, Reykjavik’s his- toric district is a blend of vibrant, two-toned houses that meld with high-end fashion boutiques, cafes and restaurants—like a cross between 1940s Monterrey, Calif. and 21st century Paris. Outside of Reykjavik, the terrain gets foreign, again. The black volcanic rocks are back and the true schizophrenic nature of the island’s landscape reveals

itself through geothermal hotspots (think Yellow- stone National Park), volcanoes, glaciers and black sand Atlantic beaches. A journey up the eastern coast on Route 1, also known as the Ring Road, reveals Vatnajokull—the country’s largest glacier, which produces a network of waterfalls that plummet down cliff faces, while herds of sheep and Icelandic horses—a smaller breed than American horses and unique to the island—graze in the lush, treeless expanses below. The black slab that is Route 1 runs a ring around Iceland and can be completed in a few days; you could spend a lifetime exploring the back- country dirt roads and hiking trails that splinter from the two-lane highway and the small towns—many of which are no more than a gas station and a few farms turned guest houses.

Know Before You Go •Camping is a great way to save money on ac- commodations in Iceland. Even outside of Reykjavik, guest houses and lodging can still be costly, luckily there are plenty of campgrounds, including one in Reykjavik. The Reykjavik Campsite costs approxi- mately $10 a night per person. If you are traveling without camping equipment, you can rent a tent from

the campground for an additional $10. •Swimming is a national staple in Iceland and

for good reason: The country is full of geothermal swimming pools. One of the finest is the Laugar- dalslaug Thermal Pool, which is located right next to the Reykjavik Campsite. For less than $3, you

see Iceland, page 10


A state of mind

Photography by Bethany Salvon

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