Weather Surprise in Iceland

The weather was a bit of a surprise because we had interpreted ‘Ice land’ rather literally and were expecting sub zero temperatures, snow and not unexpectedly lots of ice.

What we hadn’t taken fully into consideration was the effect of the gulf stream that delivers warm water from the Caribbean directly to the south of Iceland and thereby keeps the temperature unexpectedly mild.  Reykjavik is on a line of latitude 64° north which is approximately the same as Anchorage in Alaska and Arkhangelsk in Russia but whilst the average November temperature in these two cities is about -12° centigrade in Iceland it is only about  -1°.  Whilst you wouldn’t step out on the streets in Anchorage or Arkhangelsk without a warm coat, thermal gloves and a fur hat it really wasn’t absolutely necessary here today.  Additionally there are parts of the extreme north of Norway and Finland that are further north than Iceland but nobody sensible lives there and Reykjavik happens to be the most northerly capital city in the world as well as being the most westerly in Europe.  Iceland it seems is a most inappropriately named country.

Although the weather was a surprise there were some things that we knew about Iceland before we travelled; during the Second-World-War Iceland was occupied by Britain as a naval base to protect the North Atlantic convoys from the German navy, later Britain and Iceland fell out over fishing quotas and fought three bad tempered little cod wars in the North Atlantic between the 1950s and the 1970s, in 1972 Bobby Fischer and Boris Spasky played a famous world championship chess match that was billed as the match of the century in Reykjavik (Fischer beat Spasky on 31st August 1992) and that in 1984 there was a famous summit meeting here between Presidents Regan of the USA and Gorbachov of the USSR that signified improving relations between the two world super-powers.

Kim’s luggage had been misplaced by British Airways but we made do and went out for the day anyway and at the end of the day by the time we got back to the car it was dark and we returned to Reykjavik in anticipation of being reunited with the lost luggage.  I parked the car and we went into the hotel but the helpful desk clerk had some bad news for us.   This didn’t make Kim very happy at all and by some irrational twist of feminine logic it appeared that it is was all my fault now as well.  This wasn’t good and back in the room Kim sulked and I tried to keep a low profile and cut down on the silly quips that weren’t proving very helpful.

Eventually Kim cheered up and a couple of large glasses of red wine helped as well!  After she had chosen between the only two clothing options that were available to her, my vest and jumper or the clothes she had travelled here in, we walked out into the city again in search of a restaurant and a nice evening meal.  We found a hospitable Icelandic restaurant and we ordered seafood pasta and red wine and as we were past worrying about the cost of living in Reykjavik we thoroughly enjoyed it.

After dinner we walked back past the Cathedral and Leif Erikisson and there was some sleety snow falling and we became optimistic about the possibility of snowfall over night and white streets and icy conditions in the morning.  Back at the hotel Kim washed out her only pair of knickers and I made reassuring noises about the bag surely turning up tomorrow.

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