Strokkur is the most impressive, erupting every five minutes or so, spewing a fountain of boiling water and steam around twenty metres into the air. After ardently waiting with cameras to capture the eruption a few times we headed off back to the city for the evening.
We managed to hunt down a little food hall on the edge of town with maybe a dozen quirky outlets, all serving up tiny menus, but giving enough choice between all of them to satisfy any taste imaginable, from local seafood to burgers, and Asian to Mexican dishes. It cost us the equivalent of less than thirty pounds for dinner, which is an absolute bargain by Icelandic standards.
Reykjavik has great nightlife, with plenty of bars to choose from along Laugavegur that stay open past midnight most evenings. Iceland's proximity to North America means that there are a huge number of tourists from the USA, as well as many Europeans. Everyone is warmly welcomed by the locals and English is widely and well-spoken in the city.
We found all the locals to be well-humoured and patriotic; fiercely proud of their Viking and Norse Heritage. They will indulge fondly in any discussion around Icelandic folklore – many still believe in elves even, and our driver even told us how roads had been re-routed to avoid disturbing rocks where elves were rumoured to have lived. We found that the locals did not respond well to poor time-keeping – several times we witnessed fellow tourists be brusquely scolded for not being back at a meeting point by a pre-agreed time. Laziness and sloppiness are rejected and huge importance is placed on self-sufficiency, both as individuals and as a nation. Iceland is 100% energy self-sufficient, and they farm most of their crops in greenhouses, heated by geothermal energy and supplied with artificial light to supplement the lack of daylight hours in the winter.
On our final day we headed back to the airport early before the sun rose to catch our flight home. We witnessed the eerie landscape emerge once more from the dark, wondering if elves or trolls might have called some of these rocks home. From its moon-like terrain to the permanent state of sunrise-sunset, you could quite easily imagine yourself in another world. I think it’s the closest I’ve been to visiting another planet, without leaving Earth.