This is the third in a series of posts that will tell the story of our family adventure to Iceland. As regular readers will know, I've worked with Discover the World Schools for a while now, producing the award winning volcano and Norway study aids. This is the third adventure here this year but this time it's our own agenda! When the company asked me to write a series of posts covering our family adventure I agreed as it will also serve as a record of our trip.
We've been on the road for four days now and clocked up 1,300 kilometres in the car, which is looking a little worse for wear after the gravel road (forever known as 'adventure roads'). It's been fairly lonely out here which is a great thing and we have spent most of the time in the Icelandic rural areas where even the tourist honeypots are quiet. So, it seems a good time to share some of what we have learned as a family along the way.
1. Slow down
Henry will be four years old in July and he has dictated the pace of the stops. It's been great to have most of the main sites to ourselves, although there have been the usual tourist hoardes disgorged coaches. However, this being Iceland, this is no ether painful nor spoils the experience. I have to say that keeping track of Henry is more of a mission that the 31 teenagers that I took here with Priory Geography but that's the fun. We've taken our time and his snow suit has been brilliant, keeping him warm and dry. Travelling by car has also worked out well as we can stop as and when the need takes us. The Icelandic attitude facilitates adventure well. It's clear where you shouldn't be walking but there are plenty of places, especially away from the main tourist sites whe foot fall is carefully directed to minimise erosion, to have free form explorations.
We are not parents that wrap Henry in cotton. Wool, and he's often climbing the rocks at Goring's seafront. Iceland is very safe, and the natural attractions are plentiful and free, with free car parking so costs can be cut down there. However, the Icelandic risk management is to treat everyone as sensible people and therefore the hazards aren't always highlighted and rarely fenced off. This is great as you get to experience the country as it was made but it does mean having a good look around you before barrelling off. So far, Henry has been playing near and under waterfalls, walking through bubbling hot geothermal water and climbing through, under and over ice. This is a great playground. The weather needs to be planned for - Icelanders say that if you don't like the current weather, just wait ten minutes and it will change. This is very true, so worth being prepared for all eventualities, even in May.
3. Investigate these signs
When the road is suitable for your vehicle. It's the general 'tourist feature' sign and there are plenty of them and not all part of the well worn tourist trail. Some brilliant gems can be found.
Lets face it, most eateries in the world and certainly within the UK are pants at catering for the under 5s and Iceland is no exception. We are in the sticks, but the only 'children's' menu was found in Selfoss which could be considered a city bupy Icelandic standards. Having said this, everywhere is very accommodating when asking for special food to be prepared that meets our needs and we have been welcomed with Henry everywhere we've been. The usual advice for traveling with young ones in the Uk apply to Iceland also: have water, snacks and a supply of entertainment, esoceially as some of the drives can be very long.
Finally, this wouldn't be a post written by me without reference to coffee and here it is. Icelandic coffee is strong and plentiful.