Name: Wrong Way Round Iceland
Destination: Hell (and back)
Distance: 1,650 kms (1,030 miles)
Vehicles: Yamaha Townmate 80cc
To Hell and back
Travels around Iceland with an inflatable Björk
A cultural tour of Iceland involving the most expensive round of beer we’ve ever bought and the worst tasting shark we’ve ever tasted. And the unthinkable happened. A Yamaha Townmate broke down. Properly, terminally broke down. Apparently leaving a bike outside on a trailer for two years and then expecting it to bounce its way round Iceland is a step too far. But Bjork enjoyed herself, apart from maybe the last one hundred kilometres.
The road to Hell (and back)
Who knew planning a trip to Hell and back would be like a trip to Hell and back?
It all started at the Pub General Meeting. To get our creative minds at full capacity we decided to hold the PGM in Marbella. This was good for many reasons but bad for one unexpected reason. That reason is Gordon. The moral of the story is never buy a crate of foreign beer because it has a comedy name without checking the strength first.
As a result, the next day no one could remember how we got back to the hotel much less if we’d planned anything.
Follow the clues
Apparently we’d created a What’s App group with the subject matter “Mums go to Iceland“. We were the only members.
Helpfully there were also some postings in the group. “That’s why mums go to Iceland!”. “Because mums are heroes!”. For some reason we seemed to be quoting straplines from adverts for Iceland supermarkets. It’s a well known fact that mums go to Iceland. It’s not as clear how you achieve “hero” status by filling a trolley with fish fingers.
There was enough evidence for us to conclude we were going to Iceland (the country) and there might be some cross-dressing involved.
We did some research on Google maps. There was a volcanic crater called “Hell”. Job done. That’s a destination and a theme right there. We now had a fully fledged plan and didn’t even need the usual long list of visas and vaccinations. All we had to do was get there.
Extensive research (Google again) turned up a blog by some GS riders (obviously) who had caught the ferry from Scotland and ridden around Iceland a bit. None of them had broken down or died so we were worried it might be a bit too easy. Then we realised they’d never left the tarmac ring road.
Unfortunately booking the ferry proved challenging since it had ceased to operate in 2012. Plan B was to ride all the way to Denmark and spend two days on a ferry, then two nights in the Faroe Islands. Only after a further two days on the ferry would we reach Reykjavik. A quick search of “the Faroe Islands” revealed it would only be marginally more interesting than spending two nights in a prison cell.
In summary, we’d have to endure nearly two weeks of monotonous travel time just getting to and from Iceland before we’d even turned a wheel.
Another plan was consigned to the bin.
Plan C was to fly in and rent local vehicles. A combination of a limited choice of extortionately priced non-comedy vehicles coupled with the fact that all the fun roads were off limits soon ruled that out.
Plan D was to fly our trusty Yamaha Townmates to Iceland. We got a quote. We felt faint.
Plan E was to ship our trusty Yamaha Townmates to Iceland. We got quotes. We felt faint.
Plan F was to sack off Iceland but that would mean having another Pub General Meeting in order to discuss a new plan and our livers were not yet fully repaired. We were also running out of letters of the alphabet.
After some creative thinking Plan G was floated. Yamaha Townmates are small. Even smaller if you take them apart. If you could squeeze two of them onto a standard pallet then the cost of freighting would surely plummet?
The first quote was a winner! We pursued this until it turned out the shipper thought we were transporting bicycles and had factored the costs down accordingly.
The second quote was a winner! We pursued this until it turned out the shipper thought we were transporting spare parts and had factored the costs down accordingly.
For some reason the shippers couldn’t get their heads round the fact that we wanted to transport mopeds to Iceland.
A renewed sense of desperation
Fed up, we did nothing for months until realising that if we didn’t actually sort it out soon we would miss the narrow weather window for the year. With a renewed sense of desperation we started over.
We picked three random shippers. One didn’t respond. Another did but omitted to answer any of the specific questions we’d raised. The last shipper’s email arrived in our inbox. It was written by someone who looked like they actually shipped stuff for a living. Questions about things we hadn’t even considered. It was helpful.
The first task they suggested we carry out was to check entry requirements for Iceland. Iceland’s Directorate of Customs advised that you could drive you own vehicle in Iceland, but not how. If Iceland didn’t routinely offer all its websites in the English language we’d have stopped there and then. It was hard work. Eventually we found a form with the catchy moniker “E9”. This is what we’d been looking for.
Papers and stamps
There was even a helpful note which said if you had any questions about completing the form to send them a live chat. We sent a live chat. Computer said no. The live chat was only available in Icelandic. Go figure. We sent an email. Three days later we got a reply saying “ask the shippers”. Groan.
We asked the shipper. Again a speedy and helpful reply. Things were looking up. We now knew what we needed to declare and who we needed to declare it to. It was only slightly less information than is needed to get a mortgage.
It was time to start building the freight cases! The blueprint for this feat of engineering was a photo of Charles in his back garden displaying a Townmate almost fitting on to a pallet.
We assured the shipper that everything was in hand. They kindly advised us of the need to only use wood which conformed to ISPM15.
ISPM what? 15 what? Who knew wood had to be heat treated and stamped to stop the spread of killer woodlice?! Some more furious internet research took place.
The road to hell was looking hellish.
To be continued…