For a Great Cause


I am biking around Iceland in support of Camp Oochigeas. Camp Oochigeas provides fun and meaningful experiences to approximately 680 children affected by cancer each year at no cost to their families.

On my solo ICELANDARE bike tour, I will cover at least 750 km on my road-touring bike between June 10th and June 23rd, while exploring a remarkable island on this epic photographic adventure. You can follow my journey here and DARE me to do what ever it takes for camp OOCH.

How ICELANDARE Works
Challenge me to a DARE by choosing one or more tasks from the list below, or create your own unique goal. Post the dare here using the bottom comment reply field. If I complete the dare, you make a donation to camp OOCH. Of course, if you you want to spare me the torture and deprive yourself of the satisfaction, you can simply donate HERE. Below are some dares and their suggested donation amounts to get you started.

The DARE List

    DISTANCE GOALS

  1. Bike the first 250KM – $20
  2. Bike the first 500KM – $50
  3. Reach the 750KM goal – $70
  4. Bike the unlikely stretch goal of 1000 KM – $100
    PHOTO LANDMARKS

  1. Photograph a Volcano -$15
  2. Photograph a Waterfall- $10
  3. Photograph a Glacier – $10
  4. Photograph a Lighthouse – $20
  5. Photograph a Whale – $40
    MAKING FRIENDS

  1. Find a Canadian in Iceland – $15
  2. Befriend a Sheep – $25
  3. Drink with the Locals – $20
  4. Get a Kiss from an Icelander – $35
    WHAT TO DO

  1. Ride a Horse – $50
  2. Take a Dip in a Hot Spring – $15
  3. Visit a Brew Pub or Brewery – $25
  4. Ride all Day in the Rain – $20
    ARE YOU CRAZY!?

  1. Eat Hakari (Greenlandic shark uncooked and putrefied) – $25
  2. Eat Hr√ļtspunger (Ram testicle pate) – $40
  3. Jump into the Ocean – $75
  4. Shave my Head Bald- $100
  5. Call and Talk to the Icelandic Prime Minster – $150
    A Few Ground Rules Please.

  1. Each dare will only be completed once.
  2. If more then one person challenges me to a dare, all challengers must make a donation once a dare is completed.
  3. Feel free to make more than one dare.
  4. I will consider all unique dares, provided they are legal and pose little or no risk to myself or others. ūüôā
  5. My wireless access is limited. Unless I decline a dare, please consider it accepted.
  6. If at any time I don’t think I can complete your challenge, due to a change in plans or circumstances, I will let you know right away. Please check this page often.
  7. I will make every attempt to provide proof of dare completion, however, sometimes you may need to take my word for it. Ok?
  8. Please donate HERE once I complete your dare.

GOAL UPDATE
Thank you very much for your support. The goal is to send at least one child to Camp Oochigeas by raising $3,500. Currently we are at $2,350 getting there!

Awesome!

Keep daring and giving!

Norbert Kliszczewski
Icelandare.com

COMPLETED DARES

1) Drink with the locals

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2) Visit a Brew pub or Brewery

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3) Photograph a Volcano

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4) Befriend a Sheep

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Day 16 – Reykjavik to Keflavik – 75km

Breakfast at the guesthouse was self-serve at 4:30am. On the menu, Hr√ļtspunger — ram’s testicles pickled in whey and pressed into a kind of semi dry cake slice. It tastes like a bland pate past it’s due date. Needs more spices, or salt or something, in my opinion. The orange juice washed it down nicely with only minimum aftertaste. Jay, your second dare is now also complete. Thank you for the recent donation!

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Packing quickly, I left Reykjavik before the early morning traffic and biked to the famous Blue Lagoon 50km outside of the city and just 20km from the airport in Keflavik.
Leaving the city was easier then first arriving two weeks ago. The landmarks looked familiar. The day was bright and warm.

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The Blue Lagoon (Bláa Lónid) is an accident and not an ancient bathing hot pool.
A nearby geothermic plant drilled for hot water steam to drive the electrical generator turbines.
A byproduct of the process in this coastal area is salty runoff water too corrosive for building heating pipes. This runoff water was piped into a lagoon carved inside the nearby lave field.

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About thirty years ago an Icelander claimed the water in the runoff lagoon cured his psoriasis, a claim which has since been medically confirmed. Through impressive marketing, this lagoon named shortly after the 1980 Brook Shields movie the “Blue Lagoon”, is now the most popular tourist attraction in Iceland with around 360,000 visitors each year.

Whatever it’s history, health benefits or marketing strategy, the lagoon is pretty awesome. The milky 38C-40C degree water was soothing, relaxing and a perfect remedy for my tired muscles.

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Rejuvenated, I biked the final 20km+ taking the long way through Keflavik as the 75 km traveled today grand totals to 800km of biking on my IcelanDare adventure.

Biking fast with the wind at my back, I waved to a struggling, fully-loaded cyclist heading In the opposite direction to Reykjavik. He half-waved back from across the highway, fighting his bike and the wind. A first day struggle I can relate to. I gestured to to him, then the island, and gave him a thumbs up which with a confued look he returned.

Feeling strong, invincible and changed for the better by this experience, I hope that the kid we help send to camp feels the same.

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Day 15 – In Reykjavik – 0km

This morning I became one of the 500,000 tourists who visit Reykjavik each year. Exploring the capital city around which 3/4 of Iceland’s 318,000 population lives. Of course a few remaining Dares also need attention.

I started with a visit to the indoor Settlement Exhibit. Here you can find the foundation of a Viking hut from the 10th century preserved inside a modern building built on the same site.

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The Icelandic National Museum is a well organized walkthrough the entire timeline of the land, the sea and it’s people.

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Walking past the iconic Tjörnin Pond I looked for the most recognized landmark in the city, the elegant and understated City Cathedral (Dómkirkjan). The view from the church tower is worth the 500 kronur admission.

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The inside of the Elinar J√≥nsson’s Home and Sculpture Museum was closed for a mid-day break upon my arrival. The outdoor back garden however is always open and full of his work which I found compelling.

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It was difficult to complete Peter’s Dare. LED displays are just not very common in Iceland. Finally I saw the picture below. although antiquated for sure, I thinks it’s technically an LED no? Thanks Peter!

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Strolling into Mokka Kaffi, I ordered the highly recommended waffles with jam and whip cream. Very good. The cappuccino was even better. As a side note, Icelanders love their coffee and espresso drinks. They make very good ones as a matter of national pride. I dare you to get a truly bad cup of coffee anywhere in Iceland. Below is a photo of my favorite cafe, completing yet another Dare.

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I spent the remainder of the day strolling the streets, browsing the stores and looking for the elusive Ram’s Testicles Pate or Hr√ļtspunger. It took a hot lead and a trip to a deli in the west end before success. Now I had my breakfast for tomorrow and stumbled upon a fish buffet dinner in Restaurant Reykjavik. As a second note, any fish meal in Iceland will likely be a good one.

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Back at the Butterfly Guesthouse I chatted with the Norwegian owner. In my attempt to remember a little Swedish, from back when I was ten and lived there in Malmö, we dropped the English with mixed results.

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Bedtime was right after my standard blog maintenance protocol. Asleep very early tonight in order to visit the Blue Lagoon hot bath tomorrow, before disassembling my bike and flying to Toronto at 5pm.

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Day 14 – To Akureyri and Back to Reykjavik – 48km & Bus

Today is June 22nd and my birth day. What better way to spend it than biking in Iceland!
The 48km to Akureyri proved somewhat challenging due to a long and steep climb just outside of the city. The weather was great and so was my mood. A perfect start to my day. Thank you also everyone for all the best wishes. Very appreciated.

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Akureyri is a thriving north Icelandic city second only to Reykjavik. It is often nicknamed “The Northern Capital”. What ever you call it the city is stunning and worth at least the quick walk around before boarding the bus back to Reykjavik.
Friday an evening flight out of Keflavik where I started 15 days ago.

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What’s this? A hair salon? Will I need an appointment to make good on this Dare? Well yes, actually. The place was all booked up. I remarked that all I needed was a quick shave. This peaked all’s interest. It looked like one of the waiting customers gave up her time slot, likely in anticipation of the shave, as she pulled her seat closer and leaned in.

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10 minutes later and after explaining IcelanDare to all in the salon I was bald. Well nearly. They got as short as they could without using the blade which they did not even have. For my sake, Aidan, Donnelly and the Daring Ladies, I hope it counts!

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Turns out that one of the hair stylists has a son who had Leukemia. She sincerely thanked me and did not charge me for the shave. Thank you once again to the entire crew at Amber. A great place for a hair cut if your ever in Akureyri!

As a bonus, and as pictured above, I got the kiss from an Icelander. Jay, this completes one of the two dares. The ram’s testicle pate is out of season, for real, and difficult to find. I am still optimistic Reykjavik will have a supply, mostly because I can’t imagine the demand.

Back to Reykjavik on a 6 hour bus ride through western Iceland completing my loop around the island. Tomorrow I take a day to explore the capital. Trying to make good on some final Dares by searching for a sweater, my favorite caffe, a chunk of pate and an LED display, before a final push on my bike for some R&R in the Blue Lagoon.

Finally, I leave Iceland on Friday evening from Keflavik, the airport town where I started my journey 15 days ago.

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Day 13 – Myvatn to H√ľsavik & Onwards – 110km

After a good included breakfast I left the guesthouse at Myvatn Lake.
Traveling today towards H√ľsavik, the northern village on the Arctic Ocean which turned it’s entire economy from whaling to whale watching with increased profitability.

On the way north I encountered the very first unpaved gravel road, not counting previous constructions zones. Although challenging, the 15km stretch proved vastly rewarding with little traffic and open vistas.

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After enduring 20-30km headwind I arrived in H√ľsavik logging slowly 55km and just in time for the 4 hour whale watching tour. I was glad to follow the guidebooks advice and throw on the insulated boating jumpsuit to complement my three layers of clothing. It seems that the wind in Iceland always finds a way through any armor.

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The ocean was fairly calm and the wind relatively light. We spent the first hour without seeing more than seagulls and some occasional Puffins which hold a special place in Icelandic culture and habitat.

We had researchers from the Icelandic whale institute on board. I could see that even they were getting cold and worried. No mammals in sight. One of the guides went up the crows nest to survey the area. Still nothing. I was starting to make peace with the idea that this particular outing would count towards the 2% of non-sighting when the 98% success rate was advertise on the whale watching flyer. This quickly became an $80 cruise and socializing experience as I met a group of 20 year olds from New York and Philadelphia.

Dolphins! Three of them just to starboard. We followed them for a few minutes and just as quickly as they appeared they vanished.

On the way back to the port, satisfied to see dolphins in the wild for the first time, we saw a Humpback Whale. Very cool! Another schooner joined us close by. As the whale surfaced and dived a few times I managed to snap a few shots, although understandably I did not bring a proper large telephoto lens on the bike trip. Below is a cropped enlargement.

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The onboard experience ended with some hot chocolate and cold, rock hard cinnamon buns. Much better than Air Canada.

Back on land it was now 8pm. I grabbed a 10 inch pizza at a local restaurant and ate 3/4 of it quickly. BTW. Not sure if I am loosing weight or not. Always very hungry and eating pretty much whatever I want. Full, I decided to press on for as long as I physically could towards Akureyri.
At two AM I rolled into a makeshift campsite on a farmers estate having logged a total of 110km.

I don’t really remember setting up the tent. On autopilot my camp assembled as the sun slowly came up. Quickly I was asleep.

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Day 12 – H√∂fn to Myvatn Lake – By Bus & 15km

Today I travel by bus from H√∂fn in the southeastern coast to the northern Myvatn Lake area. It was very hard to sit on the bus, speeding by some amazing scenery in the eastern fjords unable to stop on a whim to take some great photos. Other times, on a long steep accent, I was remained that the bus wasn’t so bad after all, and needed to complete my journey around Iceland in two weeks. Below are a couple of photos taken when the bus stopped for a quick pickup or a bathroom stop at a hotel or gas station.

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A past Iclandic Prime Minster √ďlafur Gr√≠msson once wrote that ” The Old Testament teaches us that God created the world in 6 days and then rested. This is not altogether true. Iceland was forgotten when He went to rest.”

This is the area he must have been talking about. It is filled with surreal past lave fields, geothermic steam vents and bubbling mud pools.

After checking in at a guesthouse, I took Cadu, my bike to which I am sorry to say I started talking to, for a quick 15km spin in the lake area. After some amazing photos it was time for a dip in the Myvatn Baths, where I met more tourist from Poland, before updating my blog and bedtime.

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I decided to take a detour tomorrow off road number one to the northern village of H√ļsav√≠k on the Arctic Ocean shore for some touristy whale watching. As a side effect, this detour would also ensure I surpass the 750km biking goal set for Camp Ooch.

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Day 11 – Skaftafell to J√∂kurs√°l√≥n – 60km

After leaving my new Polish friends to explore the park more, I biked the next 60km to Jökursálón through some of the most amazing scenery yet. The road trapped between glaciers and mountains on one side and a black rock desert and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.
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I biked fast to allow frequent photo breaks always mindful of a bus deadline of 4:30pm in J√∂kurs√°l√≥n. The once a day bus would take me to H√∂fn a port town known for it’s Lobster on the south eastern coast. My timing needs to be just right.

J√∂kurs√°l√≥n, is not a village but a lagoon full of Icebergs broken off from a glacier. This site of photogenic floating “Calf Ice” from glaciers is often used as a movie location for such films as James Bond films A View to a Kill (1985) and Die Another Day (2002), as well as Batman Begins (2005).
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I took the 40 minute amphibious vehicle tour between the icebergs. A great experience which ended with a taste of your very own ancient ice cube.

The bus to Höfn arrived just as the tour ended. I made it. Tonight I checked into a hotel after three straight days of camping and explored the local coastline after a great lobster dinner.

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Tomorrow I travel by bus through eastern Iceland and all the way north to lake Myvatn where the ground is still alive and forming.

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Day 10 – Klaustur to Scaftafell – By Bus

Before boarding the bus for the 70km ride to the Skaftafell National Park, I needed to complete a Dare at the local Systrakaffi coffee shop. My Frommer’s guidebook, which incidentally is very good, identified this stop as one of several to offer the infamous fermented shark or H√°kari.

H√°kari is a Greenlandic, uncooked and putrified shark. Since sharks have no kidneys, urea collects in their blood and the meat has a high concentrate of acid and ammonia. Fresh shark eaton raw may kill you. So, it’s cut up and placed in an outdoor klin for 3 months to let the toxins drain out. Then it’s hung out to dry and cure for another 3 months. It’s served in small pieces which deceptively look like mozzarella chees.

The staff at the caffe smirked as I asked for the shark sample along with the traditionally served Brennivín (wine that burns) 80 proof angelica root and caraway shot. The shark smell was horrible and the taste bad enough to trigger the gag reflex several times.

Its hard to to describe the tough rubbery taste. Think extra salted, acetic, stale, raw white tune meat fermented in windex. By far the most discussing food I have ever consumed. Thank you for the dare Jen!

At least the Brenniv√≠n shot or as it is also know “Black Death” helped to keep it all down. Just.

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On the bus I met two cyclists from Poland. Both members of the Polish National Nature Photographer’s Association. Three Polish photographers cycling Iceland. I know! What are the odds?! Why not a Dare?!

After setting up camp in the Skaftafell National Park, Piotrek, Romek and I set off on a 4 hour photo hike on the fringe of the Vatnajökull glacier. This is the largest glacier field in Europe and home of the May Grimsvötn volcano eruption.

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The perfect hike ended with traditional nourishment of Polish sausages and a hot tea with a shot of Polish vodka in it. At this time I would like to thank Piotrek, Romek and Poland. Amazing.

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