Thursday, 8 July 2010

Já, ég er kominn! Yes, I have arrived!

Sorry for the delay in the first "real post".  I really hit the ground running here and haven't had any free time to blog!  Tonight, I finally decided to make sure I stayed in to a) sleep b) study and c) blog, instead of making my task even worse by going out and doing even more things that I would have to blog about =p

I feel like I haven't really stood still since I left Jim at the bus station.  The whole travel experience was draining.  There was a school group of 90 children also going to Iceland who managed to be in front of me during check-in AND when I had to pay my baggage fee (it was too heavy).   Apparently it was a posh school with a bunch of international students, and three of them had visa problems.  I offered to help one of them call an embassy in Reykjavík, and then had to translate the message for them that told them the number was disconnected.  In total, a 5 minute check-in process became a 1 hour and 45 minute one.  I was actually worried about missing my flight.  

The flight itself was fine.  I sat in a row of said school children, but they behaved themselves.  My Icelandic speaking odyssey began with the phrase "Ég ætla að fá kolsýrt vatn".  And success! Although I did not get sparkling water because they were out, the entire transaction was conducted in Icelandic (and I got still water in the end).  I was also able to buy my SIM card in a similar fashion.

The process after landing was standard: immigrate, get bags, customs, get on bus.  The bus ride, however, is rather non-standard.  The international airport is not in Reykjavík but in Keflavík, on the Reykjanes peninsula (this is painfully redunant, as "nes" is peninsula).  This area of Iceland is almost completely lava fields.  The landscape is very dramatic and stark.

Sadly, I don't know that I can do it justice.  Every photo I ended up taking just looks like rocks and grass.  I promise you that the actual experience is different.  Much of the vegetation is actually moss, which grows very, very thick.

I grabbed a cab from the bus station.  After telling the cab driver where I needed to go (in Icelandic), he INSISTED on speaking back in English.  Sadly, this man, while quite nice and talkative, could not speak English.  This meant he basically shouted words at me from the front seat, and I was meant to attach the intention to them:

Driver: "Come from Berlin?" 
Me:"Nei, Bretlandi" 
Driver: "World cup! Me like football" 
Me: "Oh...uhh, yeah, Britain has some Icelandic players"
Driver: "No, Iceland, fótbólti...(unreadable gesture)" 
Me: "Yeah, Iceland is more into handball." 
Driver: "Yeah! We good handball".  

Thank god the drive ended after that.   Upon arriving, I was greeted by my landlord, Paulo, a Portuguese immigrant to Iceland, and his son, Davið.  I was told I was the last person to arrive, and would be getting the "pink room".


Yes.  That is a pink lava lamp.  

The room is fine, actually, and that couch is actually a futon that unfolds.  It has proven quite comfy.  Also, once the slip covers were removed and the sheets put on, the room got a lot less pink.  The gauzy curtains, by the way, are no protection from the midnight sun nor do they provide any sort of privacy.  Oh well!

After that, I went walking around Reykjavík for a while.  I needed dinner.  I ended up in a nice bar on Laugavegur called Prikið, which was great.  I have to say I was shy and tired and this point, and gave in to speaking English.  Such a lapse will hopefully never occur again.  That small tragedy aside, the food was good.  My stroll through Reykjavík brought me to many of the places I came last time with Jim.  My favourite feature of Reykjavík, visually speaking, is Tjörnin (a rather exotic sounding name to an English speaker, but it just means "the pond").

It has a cute little island with ducks and many other birds.  The building you see on the left is Fríkirkjan, the Free Church in Reykjvík.  In Nordic fashion, it is made of boldly painted corrugated iron, which of my favourite features of Nordic architecture.  

I eventually made my way down to Ingólfstorg to meet Max.  Max did this Icelandic course last year, and I met him via Facebook.  He is now the assistant for the course.  He's an awesome guy.  Anyway, I met him, and he greeted me with Icelandic.  I completely died in my ability to say anything, a combination of shyness and tiredness (don't worry, these lapses are not an issue, now!) After the awkward "I know you but I haven't met you" part was over, we walked around and chatted for a bit.  Was nice to have a familiar person.  We walked down to the harbour, and it was nice to smell some salt in the air again.  After that, I walked home and passed out.  I slept better than I think I ever have.  Unfortunately, I only did it for six hours...

Right, this blog post is already too long.  I'm going to stop here.  I will try to catch you all up on Monday and Tuesday tomorrow, as I now have internet access from my laptop at the University and can update on my breaks.  Just to tantalise you, I promise you that I have spoken more Icelandic since this night than I for the rest of my life.  Good stories to follow! In the meantime, the rest of the photos I have taken strolling Reykjavík and such are available here.  


  1. Love this long post! So glad to see and hear about the experience you've been so excited about for so long. Keep updating - can't wait to hear more.

  2. Oh, I love your room. THAT is priceless and delightful! I'm so glad you arrived safely and are having a splendid time!