Farewell, sweet passport, part 2

In November 2007 I headed off to Iceland to report for Fast Company on Iceland’s efforts to create a hydrogen-powered economy. I know what you’re thinking: ‘Iceland in November, whoo!’ Hey, this is Iceland in November:

iceland plant man

If you go to the right greenhouse on the Golden Circle tour. I spent most of one day on that tour, learning about the wildness of Iceland, its hard history and its Thingvellir, the world’s first parliament. I saw Geysir, which didn’t erupt, and Strokkur, which did.

I also hit the annual Eve Online user conference (eventually wrote about that company for Fast Company, though I’ve yet to do the big write-up I think the company deserves, as a prime example of the way Millennials will run businesses).

The tour turned out to be useful for the mood of my piece. I did some actual work in Iceland, as well. For instance, I became the first person in the world to rent a hydrogen-powered car. Happily for me, I was not the first person to crash his hydrogen-powered rental car.

hydrogen powered car

I stayed in the Hotel Holt, whose dining room served horse (but not whale), and featured one of the best collections of modern Icelandic paintings (the story is that starving artists used to pay in paintings for their meals and drinks). I had drinks at an ice bar (cold and kind of pointless), and basked in the Blue Lagoon (warm and really pleasant). On my last day, I went to the tip of Hallgrim’s Church in Reykjavik. Nearby is the Einar Jonsson house, whose sculpture garden features Jonsson’s gripping, often eerie works, like “Thor Wrestling with Age:”

Einar Jonsson sculpture

And I straddled the North American and European continents:


More on my passport and where it’s taken me to come.

(All photos are mine, and can be used with attribution)

6 thoughts on “Farewell, sweet passport, part 2

  1. I saw this headline today about the Prius recall. I ran into the same (or a similar) problem with my hydrogen rental car. I was driving on the highway to the Blue Lagoon when the car just shut down. I was able to pull over to the side of Rte 41, the Reykejanesbraut, and after a few minutes pushed the button and the car restarted, kind of like a reboot. but after another couple of kilometers it stopped again. I couldn’t get it to restart this second time. I trudged off to some little town to find a payphone (my cell phone didn’t work in Iceland) and called the rental agency. I arranged for a cab to the Blue Lagoon, where I splashed around and relaxed.

    The next day, Hertz told me there was nothing wrong with the car. They’d gone to pick it up and it started just fine and they drove it back to Reykjavik, and indeed I had no more issues with it. It was just a weird glitch. I suspect they thought I was making it up, as a nice tale for my story on the hydrogen economy.

  2. Good questions, Jennifer. Hertz stopped renting hydrogen powered cars in Iceland a few years ago. Norway opened a ‘hydrogen highway’ in 2009, which a quick search suggests is still operating. I have been wondering since I posted this about the state of hydrogen power. I know I have heard little, and the US initiatives I mentioned seem to have made little progress.

  3. California has mandated that by 2025, 15% of new vehicles sold in the state will be zero-emissions vehicles. Fuel cell cars will be among these. Hydrogen has been slow to catch on here. There’s a battery-charging parking spot at my local whole foods, but I have yet to see it occupied.

  4. California has, or had, a partial hydrogen highway, built in part around public buses that use fuel cells. But 2025 is a long way off, and what tends to happen with these public mandates is that we start to get close to the deadline, everybody realizes that the goal cannot be met, and there’s a burst of activity aimed at creating some progress, but also moving the date.

    IcelandAir is advertising on the Red Line. Every time I see them I think, ‘gee, wouldn’t it be nice to go back?’

Leave a Reply