Trolls And Strolls: #iceland Part II

Most countries I visit have something that leaves me discombobulated. Here the simple expedient of a sliding door on a gents toilet saw me standing in the corridor like a lemon until another customer walked past me and slid it open revealing empty cubicles and porcelain. I’d pushed it and it hadn’t budged so I assumed it was locked. Instead I came across as some shifty sleazeball.

Another toilet, another challenge, this time those motion-activated taps. Why was it that when I waved my hands under one tap, four others started pouring away precious water, yet the next guy merely set off the one in front of him.

Or the bloody nonsense in Keflavik airport. Here the fancydan taps had built in driers, like handles on the side. You wet your hands – motion again – from the central spout, soaped and rinsed. So far, so normal.

You then moved your hands a few inches left and right and waved them under the side shoots. Warm air, accelerated to Mach N (where N is fast enough to turn even the most stubborn DNA back into its constituent alphabet soup) then poured out.

Ok it dried my hands but it also blasted the remnants of the suds  that were sliding gently towards the plug hole with such force that they exploded. While the splatter pattern may have been CSI compliant, it also ensured that a rogue high-velocity smudge-pellet shot behind my glasses rendering me briefly sightless. What moron thought this design clever?

So I’ve been toilet-trolled since I arrived but, that, the incipient chill and the extraordinary cost of everything have not dampened any spirits. This country is chilly, wet, pretty devoid of trees and extraordinary.

Therefore continuing my lessons,  what else have I learned…

Lesson 6: I really love waterfalls.

There’s something humbling about watching a torrent hurtle over a cliff  like a thousand aquatic horsemen of the apocalypse hunting a lapsed catholic.

They come in all shapes and sizes.

The millefeuille frothing pastry, the ponytail and the twitching curtain.

They spray and they stun and, give them a little sun, they release the inner strumpet, dazzling with rainbows and arches of opalescent white.

Of course, like a cracking light show, a waterfall needs a good infrastructure behind it, the basalt rock putting more wimpish sandstone to shame as it refuses to be eroded, standing proud, nay priapic… Sorry Iceland is its own phallusy.

Lesson 7: If the land is growing, then the ice isn’t.

Nine years ago the Vet visited on a school trip and photographed the glacier.

This time.

Well, it’s not so much receded as turned tail and sprinted for the hills. It’s now blackened too by the ash that covered so much of the south east after the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010.

Lesson 8: Iceland doesn’t panic or feel sorry for itself. It gets on with things. In 1939/40, with no standing army it had no choice but to let the British invade. When America joined the war it shrugged as they took over. When they left in 1946 it had gained: two airports, several hundred Nissan huts and numerous babies. When they returned with the creation of NATO they shrugged again, smiled slightly and built a bigger maternity hospital. The infrastructure that came with that and the Marshall Plan money – per capita Iceland received the most from that startlingly generous fund – allowed Iceland an easy postwar recovery. It got itself into a pickle when it tweaked the British tail over the expansion of its fishing waters to 200 miles, thereby setting off the Cod Wars – making the British seem petty and bullying in the process – why isn’t that hard? And the British lost, which is also unsurprising. But generally all was fine until hubristic banking pretty much killed the economy in the 2008 Banking crisis. And then Eyjafjallajökull erupted, the ash blew south away from Iceland itself, decimating world airline schedules and everyone and his dog had heard of this volcanic wonderland. Tourism erupted and pretty much saved the nation. It’s now stable, at ease with itself and a grand place to visit. Oh, and just the tiniest bit smug.

Lesson 9: A landscape that appears to be best by one person forest fires is a landscape like no other.

Yellowstone is heavily wooded and undulating so you don’t see the myriad little steam puffs in the way you do here. But the boiling pools and geysers fascinate in much the same way.

They are mesmeric.

Lesson 10: Just because the water is safe to drink doesn’t mean you should. The Icelandic water naturally has a high mineral content so the geothermal hesting systems use the naturally hot water to heat purer water that is then used to drive turbines to create electricity. If they used the naturally occurring water it would furr up the machinery. However it’s not furring up that is the issue in our hotel but the disconcerting experience of climbing into the shower, turning it on and being sure someone else must be in with you as you know you’re not the one who has just farted. Living on a volcano has its large and small consequences each, in their own way, disconcerting.

Maybe that’s why people do silly things…

As well as soppy…

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in holidays, humour, Iceland, miscellany, thought and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to Trolls And Strolls: #iceland Part II

  1. Great photos Geoff!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fabulous photos Geoff!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, amazing photos. And I’m still laughing-crying over your experience being “toilet-trolled.” That has to become a thing!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ritu says:

    Brilliant photos His Geoffleship!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mary Smith says:

    Oh, wow, those waterfalls! Stunning.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Elizabeth says:

    It looks as if you snuck in another pic of the missus, despite her protestations. As for the bathroom devices, I count on my granddaughter’s help to use any of the equipment. She looks as if I am brain damaged, but then shows me how to get water or soap or a towel. As for the sliding door, I stood outside one at the doctor’s office waiting for someone(who wasn’t there)to emerge before a nurse showed me how to work it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Good to know I’m not alone. And don’t you despair at things like hidden hand driers, stuck under some pelmet? Why? What is this interior design fetish with toilets? Just make them easy, not a test in spatial mechanics.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Cherilyn says:

    About 4 months ago they put one of those soap dispensers with the air drying handles in a bathroom where I work (only one, trying it out). They put little explanatory pieces of paper on the back of the bathroom stalls so employees could read about it and decide if they wanted to try it out in hopes it would become popular and they could do away with the paper towel dispensers. Your description is extremely accurate.

    It was about a week and a half before I could stop laughing at the damn thing and another two before we all got bored of joking around about having to grab onto the ‘air handle bars” to keep from being “blown away”. It makes a mess blowing water all over the mirrors behind the sink. I’ve been waiting for the cleaning crew to figure out how to destroy it ever since. It has so far proven to be fairly resilient to sabotage.

    😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Cherilyn says:

    Also, LOVE the photos….beautiful country there.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I loved the juxtaposition of beautiful photos with a discussion on the loo frustrations. All in all, thanks for taking us along.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Kiran Athrey says:

    whaaa all photographies are stunning

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Its stunning wilderness and any place with fantastic waterfalls makes me happy – Iceland just made my wish list, I’ll just go to the toilet before I leave home. You don’t mention crowds of tourists all mucking the place up, just you lot. Is that so?

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Nope not really. When my son went in 2006 they allowed you to tramp over the moss. Now you’re encouraged to keep away. Still, I guess the tourist numbers are going to be an issue if they continue to rise.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. JT Twissel says:

    Nothing beats spending your first fifteen minutes in a new country trying to figure out how to wash your hands! Looks like an extraordinary country.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Erika Kind says:

    Wow, Geoff! Stunning never meets it! That geyser is absolutely amazing. Iceland is one of those countries I want to have been to… also for its trolls and natural spirits.

    Like

  14. I’m still giggling at the shower smell. I know that sulfur odor. Pwew! They keep coming up with new ideas to make it harder to do your business. I’ve seen several posts now on people that have traveled to Iceland and each looks entirely different. It’s amazing and other worldly. I’ve heard how expensive it is and that not a lot can grow there naturally. Thanks for making your visit fun. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. arlingwoman says:

    You have some lovely turns of phrase that made me chuckle–being bathroom trolled and the horses of the apocalypse after a lapsed Catholic. Iceland looks like a moonscape, but with all those waterfalls and pools, well, it’s not. Weirdly beautiful. Thanks for the tour!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Entertaining and informative with beautiful photography. I particularly like the pic with the string of silhouettes

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Widdershins says:

    That photo of the giant waterfall with the line of tiny humans behind it was boggling. 😀 loved the toilet humour too. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Having been to Iceland recently I can so relate to your posts and you say it all better than anyone else I know Geoff!! Love the photos, think I have all the same ones only without you in them 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  19. noelleg44 says:

    Glad you are having fun despite the toilet challenges! Iceland is fabulous and I see we went to a lot of the same places. Loved the waterfalls.

    Like

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