Saturday 2 November 2013--We are headed toward the town of Vík, on the south coast, today--it's the one part of the country where the
sun is shining. I'm happy with the itinerary we've laid out; it's all new territory for me. It has to be a bit of a bummer for Win, who
did pretty much exactly the same trip with his wife a few years ago. But if he's much disappointed, he doesn't let on. Well, we're both
disappointed to have lost the chance to visit the West Fjords.
Our first stop is Țingvellir (or Thingvellir, if you prefer). It was here that the first Alțingi, or national assembly, was held in 930, fifty-six years after the country's initial settlement. It met here, along with the Law Council, every summer until the turn of the 19th century. For more than 300 years, the Lawspeaker was the only elected government official in Iceland, charged with opening the Alțingi by reciting established law, and presiding over the assembly.
Țingvellir is geologically important, as well as historically and culturally, as it sits in a rift valley that marks the edges of the European and North American tectonic plates. Thus Iceland literally straddles the Old and New Worlds.
We arrive in Vík, the southernmost town in Iceland, late in the afternoon. It's a small place, population around 300, but the largest town for many miles around, with a hotel and a restaurant, Halldórskaffi. It's not very busy, as you would expect this time of year, but there is quite a long wait for our dinner. When a couple of parties that came in after us get served their food, we collar the waiter, who has paid us scant attention for over an hour. He goes off to check on things, and returns to tell us there was a mix-up in the kitchen. I feel quite certain that our order never got there in the first place. We're annoyed in principle, but truth to tell, I've been busy with the journal and photos, Win has been buried in his phone, and the waiter has at least been attentive enough to bring us a beer now and then; so we shrug it off. Dinner arrives shortly thereafter.