What’s in Your Pack

I’ve been working towards the 46ers (the 46 mountains in Adirondack Park that are over 4000′) for a few years. I’ll admit to being an idiot when I started – wearing jeans, sneakers and a cotton shirt, carrying only 500ml of water and a small one-shoulder backpack that contained my wallet, an apple and a pb sandwich, I climbed Cascade and Porter mountains. Despite the lack of proper gear, I had a great time (except the descent. Those boulders are killer on the thighs) and I was hooked. 4 years later, I’m looking at a finish; I’m only four peaks away.

2 Summits. 4 Hours. 1 Bobsled. 1 Road-Trip.

Do not wear this hiking

I’ve learned so much in the past four years. What to carry, what to leave, and what to wear. When to push on, when to turn around and when to put the camera down and enjoy the view.

But the biggest, most important thing has always been what to have in my pack. I started winter hiking last year, and it’s been a learning curve for how to pack.

I have two packs – one for summer, which is smaller, and has a built in rain cover; and one for winter-like conditions (so anything from fall to spring). With my larger pack, if weather conditions look iffy, I bring a rain cover – I absolutely do not want my extra gear in there getting wet – especially the clothes. If I need to change, I need to change into dry clothes!

The essentials

I always carry a map and compass, and more importantly, I know how to use them. If you don’t know how to use either, sign up for a back country course, ask a friend, or sign up for a guided hike! It’s a good skill to have. A GSP can be a good thing to have, but technology can fail. Plus a compass takes up next to no space, and a map can help you figure out how far (or near) you are to your goal. If you happen to run out of water, it can also help you find the nearest water source, not something a GPS can help you with. When I’m on a new trail, I often have a guidebook, to give me an idea of what to expect next.

My hiking partner and I have gotten stuck on a mountain, as the sun set, with a 2 hour hike back to the parking lot. Headlamps are a must. It can be surprising just how quickly the dark comes on – the trees filter out a lot of light, and  the sun sets earlier as it falls behind mountains. Add in cloud cover, and you could be stuck on a trail that you can’t follow.

Having a headlamp is great, but what happens in the batteries die? Especially in colder temperatures, batteries just don’t last as long. Extra batteries, that you can easily find!, really should accompany you.

Another essential in my pack is a small first aid kit. I keep wetnaps (for cleaning cuts and scrapes, or my hands if they get mucky with pine sap), a few bandaids of varying size, Second Skin (for blister relief), duct tape (to keep the bandaids on) painkillers (Advil, Tylenol, Aleeve, whatever), antiseptic cream (Polysporin or the like), water purification tablets, and a small pair of scissors (the foldable ones you can get for sewing). For most minor injuries, this is enough. Anything more serious, I wouldn’t be able to treat on the trail anyway. In addition to this, I have a travel size bottle of sunscreen, lip balm (with SPF), and mozzie spray for the summer months.

Hanging off my pack is a whistle, which is mostly in case I’m lost and need rescuing. I can blow a whistle a lot louder than I can yell.

I nearly always (except for that time that I hiked with The Fiancé, and left him for dead) hike with the same person, so she carries fire starters – matches, and fire starting material (lint works well, or actually fire starters that you can get at an outdoor store). While she carries this, I carry the first aid kit.

In winter and shoulder seasons, I carry a space blanket with me. I have occasionally kept it in my pack in summer months, if the temperatures are expected to cool significantly overnight.

Considering I’m often out for over 10 hours hiking, invariably I end up having to empty my bladder. It would be disgusting if we all just left our waste sitting in plain view, so I carry a plastic trowel, so I can dig a cathole to bury my waste. Along with this, I have kleenex (for either this, or if my nose gets runny) and a a plastic bag for garbage (kleenex, or food waste)

The clothing

I always have some extra clothing in my pack, less in summer, more in winter. But I always have a spare set of socks, in case of a soaker when crossing streams and rivers. I keep them in a plastic bag, to protect them from a dunking, if I fall in a river. (Again.) In summer, I also carry water shoes if I’ll be crossing a larger river that I may have trouble fording.

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Water shoes, first aid kit and wide-brimmed hat, on a break

One of the things always in my pack, winter or summer, are water resistant grippy gloves. In summer, they protect my hands from pine sap, poking bits, and help me climb up rock. In winter, they cover fabric gloves that keep my hands warm, and allow me to grip snow covered things (ladders, branches, rocks) without getting my hands wet.

A breathable rain jacket, and either rain pants or gaiters, also come in handy if I’m in a particularly muddy area. I generally only have the rain pants if there’s a good chance of rain that day (which for me is roughly 40%), otherwise I stick to gaiters.

I could not hike without a wide-brimmed hat. Sunglasses just don’t do it for me, when I’m switching between shade and sun. But a wide-brimmed hat works no matter what.

The food

When I first started hiking, I carried a lot of food.  Actually, thinking about it – I still do, I just eat less of it now. But here’s what works for me, with the caveat that what works for me might not work for you:

  • A small bag of trail mix (raisins, dried bananas, peanuts, cashews, m&ms, sunflower seeds)
  • Protein bar (more for emergencies than actually eating)
  • Cheese (Babybel is really easy to take hiking)
  • An apple (which is more to give the apple a tour of the trail, I rarely eat it)
  • A small baggie of veggies (carrots, celery, broccoli and cucumbers, usually)
  • Yogurt (one of the single serve containers)
  • A sandwich (of which I only eat half, if that)
  • Chocolate covered pretzels (guaranteed these will be gone)
  • A multi tool utensil (fork, spoon, screw driver, ratchet) to eat the yogurt
  • Whiskey (because you have to celebrate the summit somehow!)

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    Summit whiskey is the best whiskey

I don’t eat about half of what I carry, food-wise, but just in case. If I need to spend the night on a mountain, I want to be able to feed myself. Or if I meet someone who has no food left, I want to be able to help out.

The water

I hiked 6 Adirondack mountains (Cascade, Porter, Algonquin, Iroquois, Wright and Giant) , and then I hiked Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. On Kili, I was told to drink 3L of water a day, to help with the altitude adjustment. That’s stuck with me, so I always carry 3L of water – 2L in a camelbak, and another litre in a plastic water bottle.

The water purification tablets in my first aid kit and in case I run out of water, and need to refill out of a stream. (This happened on June day when we hiked the Dix Range.) I also have a life straw, which contains a filter in the straw.

Special to Winter

New York State regulations state that either skis or snowshoes are to be worn when there is 8 or more inches of snow. In early and late winter, this often means that in lower elevations there is less than the required amounts, but as you climb the amount of snow starts to grow. So I pay attention to trip reports to gauge how much snow there is.

Additionally, I carry an extra bottom base layer, and two extra tops – one base layer, and one outer layer. When we stop for a break at the summit, I start to get cold, so I pull on the outer layer. It goes back into my pack when I start hiking.

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Indian Head

It was finally time to tackle another peak in the Adirondacks. It had been a weird winter – first Steph and I were both away. After that I had my wisdom teeth out, then Steph got sick, and I followed two days later. Plus, the weather was all over the place, lots of snow, weeks of barely 0C temps, one week of below 20C, back up to plus temperatures, and then rain. We’d been checking trail conditions on the Aspiring Adirondack 46ers Facebook page to see what kind of traction might be needed. The two weeks before we headed down, temperatures were in the single plus digits, and snow had mostly disappeared from lower elevations, but was still thick enough up top for snowshoes to be needed. Then the rain hit about a week ago, and the Friday before we were to hike, the temperatures dropped and it snowed a couple of inches. Snowshoes wouldn’t be needed, but microspikes (or even crampons) would be.

Seeing as we’re about 4 hours north, we always drive down the night before. When we’re climbing anything from the Adirondack Loj trailhead, or the Lake Road, we stay at Tmax and Topo’s Hostel. It’s a great hiker hostel – people go to bed early and get up early to get on the trails early.

So Saturday we were up and on the road by 6:45, before turning around because we had both forgotten something, and then back on the road again. We were making good time – no traffic, no sun in our eyes, lovely scenery….when a deer suddenly jumped out onto the road, and ran across it right in front of us. Steph had been thankfully looking in that direction, and was on the breaks in a heartbeat (which I don’t think either of us had at that point, because holy crap this is what they warn you about) and…we stopped. We stopped an inch from the deer as it ran pell-mell across the road and into the woods on the other side. And then we just sat there for a second, before driving away and trying to get our breathing under control.

So it was with that drama that we arrived at the Lake Road parking area, and walked towards the register. As we neared both it and the gate, Steph grabbed my arm to get me to stop walking, and said “deer” in a soft whisper. (You see, last summer when we were heading back to the trailhead from Cliff, I was staring at the trail, and Steph gasped and grabbed me, causing me to panic because I thought “BEAR” while she saw “deer”, so this time she didn’t want to startle me.) I still jumped, though, because I thought (stupidly, I know, but it wasn’t even 7:30 yet on a Saturday) that I was about to walk into a deer….and it was essentially a replay from  last year.

So we signed in around 7:20, with the idea of climbing Colvin, and if we had time, Blake. (We were willing, if somewhat reluctant, to orphan Blake, even if we needed to go back over Colvin to get it).

The road was well packed, well frozen, but had no snow cover. As we walked on, the cover became a dusting of snow, before finally the road was covered in about an inch of soft, white powder. There were very few tracks in front of us, and we ran into a few people, but for the most part it was quiet and still.

If you remember from my post on the first time we did Colvin and Blake, don’t take the first trail that says “Colvin.” If you do this, you’ll be one step ahead of us because we did take the first trail, and were way-laid by a small, but significant, water crossing. With the melt, and rain, from the previous weeks, the normally small crossing didn’t have what we considered a good fordable area. I’ve got balance issues when it comes to water crossing (I am not a rock hopper, I’m a rock-slipper-faller-on-my-knee-er). At this point we pulled out the map, realized that we should be on the other trail, and bushwhacked the 50 feet to the Lake Road.

Shortly down the road, we came to the junction that we had wanted all along. We followed the single set of footprints, before realizing that we shouldn’t just blindly follow someone else’s tracks because we have no idea where they were going. We were still on the trail, but we started paying attention to the trail itself, and to the markers along the route. We came to a normally small stream crossing, but again – the rocks were pretty icy, and the water covered the rocks just enough to make me hesitant to cross it.

We debated it a little bit, but decided not to risk it – especially seeing as it was only about 8:30, and we didn’t want to get stuck on the wrong side of the stream in the afternoon if there was any more melt.

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A bluebird day in the Adirondacks

From the junction of the Gill Brook trail and the short-cut, you can go up Colvin or you can go to Fish Hawk Cliffs, or Indian Head. Having never been to Indian Head, we decided to head in that direction. (When one door closes, another opens, and all). No one had been on the trail since the snowfall the day before – it was pure unblemished snow. “Hey,” we thought, “this will be good winter experience for finding a trail! With the safety of being on a marked trail, just in case.”

The trail was fairly gradual at first, and most snowed in, but just like the Lake Road, there was only an inch or two of snow. In a few spots, it had started to melt, and we tried to avoid getting our feet wet in the small puddles.

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Rippling ice over leaves on the path

We had a few moments were we thought we had lost the trail (some blowdown from winter storms had fallen over the trail) but we quickly got back on track each time. We came to one section that had small rock faces that were covered in ice, but it was easily by-passable, although we did put our microspikes on. The snow had turned into an icy, concrete-like mass – and below that was a layer of pure ice. It was definitely not bareboot appropriate.

Near the top is a steeper section that required a bit of finagling, including a ladder that had ice on only one side of the steps (the cliff beside the ladder was casting a shadow on one side of the ladder, causing the ice there to remain, while the other side was getting full sun.) The trail leads to s short junction with a look-out 75 yards to the left, and the trail continuing on to Indian Head to the right. We passed an open rock face, and followed the path as it meandered up and down, until we came to the summit. We sat for a quick food break, before heading back to the sunny rocks for a true lunch (chili!)

The trip down was uneventful, although the snow and ice had started to melt more by this point. Where there had been small puddles of water previously, there were deeper puddles, and the snow had lost its icy crispness. We ran into a few more hikers on our way out – which we thought was unusual, until we looked at our watches and realized it was only noon. Our walk to the register was slow but smooth – we stopped a few places for photos, and just took it easy.

 

Intrepid Travel: Okavango Experience

I’ve enjoyed travelling with Intrepid Travel, but trying to find reviews of their specific trips has been difficult.  They publish snippits on their page, but those, of course, are glowing reviews. So I’m left wondering – how’s the food? How’s the travel? What should I know? Where should I get souvenirs? How many early mornings?

So here you go. A review of Intrepid’s Okavango Experience. Read here for my trip report, this is just a review of the company, not the company. (If you see what I’m saying).

Intrepid’s Okavango Experience is listed as 10 days, but it’s closer to 9 in reality. The first day consists solely of a meeting around 6 at the hotel with the guide, driver and other travellers.  Bring a pen, your passport, and insurance information- you’ll have a few things to fill out.

Timing:

Most of the 9 mornings will involve an early wake-up – anywhere from 4:30 to 6 am.  You’ll usually be on the road by 6 to 7. The good news is that the roads are smooth enough that you’ll be able to sleep. The bad news – no a/c, so it’ll get HOT.  Lunch was generally around 1, and dinner around 7. We usually arrived at the campground/hotel around 4, with a few free hours before we ate – several times we arrived a bit earlier and had time to enjoy the hotel pool before dinner. In the Okavango Delta itself, game walks were at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m., with the morning walks being longer.

Transport

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The truck (bus?) is fairly large – a metal ladder is used to access it. It’s tiny – you’ll find it awkward going down, but you’ll develop a rhythm a day or two in. The seats are set up in four rows, in a typical bus style – two seats, aisle, two seats – and are comfortable. There’s not much storage room (other than the seat in front if you’re in the middle two rows) so make sure you only have essentials in your bag with you. There is a seat pocket on the back of the seat in front of you for smaller items. As I mentioned, there’s no a/c, but the windows open.

Tents

 

The canvas-dome tents used are in extremely good condition – no rips, tears, holes or the like. The windows and doors are a green-mesh – and they allow you to look out, but not for someone else to look in (unless you have a light on.) We only had rain one evening (and we had up-graded) but from what we were told – they’re waterproof. They’re also easy to set up and take down, the hardest part being trying to get the hooks to unhook from the poles.

Campgrounds

Nearly all of the campgrounds are attached to hotels, with the exception of Khama Rhino Sanctuary, and the Okavango Delta (which are just campsites.)

Khama Rhino Sanctuary – very sandy campground, slightly wooded, quiet (the other campsites are situated far enough away that you rarely hear them.) Comfort stations are very clean, toilet paper provided, but no soap (bring your own.) Hot and cold showers!

Sedia Hotel – again, a very sandy campground, little shade, noisier. It’s a very open campground, so people camp very close to one another. It’s a very quick way (about 30 seconds) to the pool, restaurant and bar area, where the wifi works. Comfort stations are clean, toilet paper is provided, as are laundry facilities. Upgrades available – pester the staff, they’ll tell you it’s booked full.

 

Nata Lodge – another sandy campground. Very quiet – the campsites have a lot of separation. More tree coverage than Sedia Hotel, so your tent can be shaded. The comfort stations are clean, and again toilet paper was provided, but no soap. Slightly longer walk to the restaurant/bar and pool just over a minute, maybe. Excellent gift shop.

Thebes Lodge –  finally, a non-sandy campground! A mix of dirt and grass, lots of trees, and a concrete area to clean/cook/eat. The restaurant/bar and pool are a bit away – several minutes walk.  (I upgraded here, so I don’t know about the comfort stations). From what I saw, the campsites were very separated, so very quiet.

Victoria Falls Rest camp – a very nice, shady campground, located at the top of the camp, near the street (although, not near the entrance.) We upgraded at Vic Falls, first to a lodge (three bedrooms) and then to a private chalet.

The lodge wasn’t worth it. The windows had no screens, and you couldn’t open the windows because there was a family of monkeys right outside. The entrance opened into a dining area (complete with table and chairs) with the three bedrooms access of that. The third bedroom was at the back of the lodge (across from the door). Off the bedroom, to one side, was the bathroom, and to the other a small kitchen. The bathroom situation was a little awkward – we were sharing the chalet with other people from our tour, who would be sleeping in the third bedroom. (Additionally, this room did not have a fan; although the other two did.) The single chalet was great – a simple concrete room, with a fan and two single beds (that we shoved together under the fan) and three windows (with screens!). No bathroom, instead we were using the shared bathrooms/showers.

Food

We had Timon and Gibson as our driver and guide, and the food they made was fantastic. We didn’t repeat a single dinner the entire time. Everything from the standard spaghetti in meat sauce, to chicken and rice in a white sauce,  African curry and sadza in the Okavango Delta, and BBQ chicken….they even managed a shepard’s pie! We had two vegetarians on our trip, and they had vegetarian versions of the same meals, with the exception of the BBQ chicken, when they had stuffed squash (which was apparently excellent.) Timon made sure that all of their meals included protein – it wasn’t just ‘here’s a salad/pasta/carrots.’ Breakfast consisted of toast, musli/cereal and yogurt (plus tea and coffee), and lunches we got ourselves. We’d stop in a town, and hit the grocery store (or a ‘fast-food’ restaurant) for something. (Generally, sandwiches.) Get to know people early on, and you can share the first lunch – someone gets bread, someone else sliced deli-meat, a third person cheese or lettuce….

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Washing up just after breakfast

Souvenirs

It was….difficult…finding souvenirs. Wait until you get to Nata – Nata Lodge has a nicely stocked gift shop. (As opposed to Sedia Hotel in Maun, whose gift shop was just sad.) In Nata, we found everything – postcards, magnets, key chains, baseball caps (all branded with the hotel name, but they were baseball caps), books (animals of Botswana, birds of Botswana, etc.) and t-shirts, scarves and even bathing suits! Once in Victoria Falls, you’ll find plenty of options for souvenirs, but if you want something in Botswana, it’s a good place to stock up.

Wifi

So, yeah…..wifi. It’s going to be slow.  The more people on the network, the slower it is. Try to save uploading photos to off-peak times.  Generally – upon arriving at the campground/hotel, everyone wants to connect.  A few hours in, things start to quiet down, although it’s not going to be fast. It’s going to be….dial-up speed, for those of you old enough to remember dial-up.

 

 

 

Whale-watching in Iceland: A Day Tour of Husavik

I’ve gone whale-watching out of Reykjavik (August) and Husavik (early May). The first thing you need to know is it is highly unlikely that you’re actually going to see a whale – as in, a humpback whale breaching the water and the wonderful tail fin that you see in photos advertising whale-watching. That’s just probably not in the cards. What you are likely to see is the back fin of a whale as it slowly crests in the water. Very anti-climactic.

But anyway. I saw minke whales, and a tiger shark, while out from Reykjavik. In Husavik, we saw a blue whale (it breached several times over the course of about an hour.) So you’ll get to see something, just….not what you might be imagining you’ll see.

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The back fin of a blue whale

If you have time, and you’re going to be up north, and you still want to go whale-watching, I’d recommend Husavik over Reykjavik. (That’s not to say that whale-watching out of Reykjavik is bad, it’s just busier – more boats, freights, ferries, etc – so the chances of seeing something big are a bit lower.)

In Husavik, we were given enormously thick and warm winter suits – think an adult-sized onesie designed to keep you warm outdoors – because it is cold out on the Arctic Ocean in late April. The boat we were on was on the smaller side (although not small – I had no fear of waves sweeping me overboard) and had no ‘indoor’ portion – we were out in the elements for the entire two to three hour trip. We headed out over the open water, to an area where whales are known to feed, and luckily found a blue whale. (We were a little early in the season for whales) We watched the whale breach a few times, before heading back. On the return trip we were given hot chocolate, and a cinnamon bun type pastry.

For people who get motion-sick, I really really really suggest taking some kind of motion-sickness pill. Ross got a little sick on the trip back, and couldn’t enjoy the hot chocolate or pastry (I, however, got to enjoy twice as much!) The water can get choppy, so it’s a good idea to have something with you.

Before or after whale-watching, you can pop into the Whale Museum, located near the harbour. Inside you’ll find lots of information about the whales found around Iceland, the ocean, and even several whale skeletons displayed. The museum isn’t large, but it does have a second floor where most of the skeletons are located. Well worth a visit.

Another museum located just on the edge of town is the Husavik Museum, also known as the Culture House (or was when I was there in 2013.) Much like the Skogar Folk Museum, this museum gives the visitor an idea of how people lived in this whaling community. There are also stuffed examples of various mammals found in/around the area (including a stray polar bear).

If you’re staying in Akureyri and don’t have a car, you can easily take the Straeto bus to Husavik. Route 79 takes you straight there, in just over an hour. The bus stop in Husavik is near the harbour, making it very easy to find your way around. (Not that the town is so large that you could get lost). You’ll have time to go on a whale-watching tour, see both museums, tour the town, have something to eat, and catch the bus back. (I should note that there is apparently another museum in Husavik, the Exploration Museum, but I didn’t get there so I can’t speak to it’s worth as an attraction.)

And as a final note: Back in Reykjavik, the whale-watching was slightly warmer, which isn’t surprising because it was in August. The boat had an indoor, heated section, which was great because it started to rain on our way back to the harbour. If you’re only in Iceland for a short period of time, or you don’t have enough time to detour off the Ring Road to Husavik, and you still really really want to go whale-watching, you can still have an enjoyable trip out of Reykjavik. The harbour is close to the downtown core, and you can just pop by to go on a tour.

Museums in and Around: Reykjavik Redux

It turns out that just about everyone I know is going to Iceland. A coworker, Ross’s sister, my friend (and hiking compatriot) Stephanie….plus Ross and I are thinking of going back next year so I’ve been doing a little research into the places I want to go. I’ve been putting together a list of things that I enjoyed doing, and places that I enjoyed visiting, in a Google Doc but then thought….yeah I should just blog it.

For the record, I haven’t seen nearly half of Iceland. I’ve been to Reykjavik twice (in August 2008 and May 2013), up to Akureyri (late April 2013), and along the south shore (albeit with a tour group) in May 2013. I haven’t made it up to the Westfjords (but it’s on the slate for next year), to Snaefellsnes peninsula, or to the east coast. So I can’t cover those, but I can cover the areas I’ve been.

So let’s start with Reykjavik, because I’ve been there twice (in August 2008 and May 2013) and that’s where most of my info comes in handy.

Reykjavik has a City Card, which comes in as a 24-hour, 48-hour or 72-hour card. Ross and I got the 24-hour card, and thought we got a good deal out of it. It allowed us to take the bus, get entrance to city pools, as well as a bunch of museums, and it gives you a discount at some stores and restaurants. The only thing I would caution, if you’re getting the card on the weekend, make sure that a) buses are running, and b) museums are open, because the time starts as soon as you purchase it.

Located close to the downtown HI hostel, the Volcano House offers a glimpse into the volcanic history of Iceland. You can watch a documentary on famous eruptions in Iceland, and tour their geologic exhibit. There’s also a small cafe onsite. You can get a 20% discount with the city card.

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Follow the red rocks to find the Red Rock Cinema

For all the sparkling, new gleam of the Volcano House, my volcanic viewing pleasure will always be with Red Rock Cinema. Shown in a home theater (think small, dated, campy), the documentary was filmed by the owner and his father. His father starting chasing volcanic eruptions in the 1950s, and Villi Knudson (the owner) has kept it up since his father passed on. This is most definitely not a swanky professionally filmed documentary with a deep-voiced narrator, but it is informative, and it is the original. When I visited in 2008, the Volcano House didn’t exist, and this is where you went. Ultimately, both documentaries give you the same information, and either one is worth checking out.

I’m not one for art museums, but I love archaeology, so any museum that gives me a glimpse into the past, I’m up for. Reykjavik 871 +/-2 (also called the Settlement Museum) is right downtown, and is the site of an archaeological dig. They found a log house on the dig, and decided to turn it into a museum. There are computerized displays around the log house describing what each section was used for – very much worth a visit to see how the vikings lived a thousand years ago, specifically in the Reykjavik area.

Similarly themed, the Saga Museum offers a look at the history of Iceland. Located a little outside the downtown core, it’s still within easy walking distance near the harbour. (From what I remember, they used locals as models for the Viking figures.) Less archaeologically themed than the Settlement Museum, it’s still fun and interesting.

Along the Ring Road towards the south, on the way to Vik and 150km from Reykjavik, is the Skogar Folk Museum. We stopped in while on a tour with Reykjavik Excursions. This local museum details life along the south shore, with fishing and whaling artifacts, as well as instruments, and traditional turf-roofed houses. It gives an excellent glimpse into life in Iceland in the early 20th century. The museum is also very close to the Skogafoss waterfall, so you can cover two things at once.

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Exhibits in the phallological museum

Back in Reykjavik, there is a….distinctly unique…museum, located along Laugavegu…the Phallological Museum.  Yes, a museum dedicated to all things phallic. It’s about a 20-minute walk from downtown Reykjavik. When I was there in 2013, they only took cash for the entrance fee (there was a bank with an ATM about a block down the road) and it was 1,000kr (or roughly $10CDN). It may or may not be worth it, depending on how much you’re willing to pay to snicker at penises. They have penises belonging to nearly all sea and land mammals found in Iceland, as well as to land mammals found elsewhere (like an elephant.) There are also quite a few other, phallic themed, items on display. I enjoyed my visit (it was a little awkward, seeing as it was myself and a guy in his late 30s who kept cringing) but like I said – you may find the price a little steep for a good snicker or two.

If penile displays aren’t quite what you want to see, you can also do a tour of Harpa, the opera house in Reykjavik. We were lucky – we went for the Eve Fanfest in 2013, so we got to spend a lot of time in Harpa for free (or rather, for the price of Fanfest tickets.) This included a concert performed by the Icelandic Opera (of all music Eve-related) and a party at the end. You can tour the building (which is a work of art itself) or take in a show.