Print Story The Iceland Diaries - - Day 2
By BadDoggie (Sun Aug 22, 2004 at 09:46:54 PM EST) (all tags)
Wednesday, 11 AUG 2004 (and slightly into Thursday morning)

I'm an idiot.

I sit at computers all day. I tend a bar Saturday nights. What I don't do is walk all day, which is what I did do my very first day here. I'm in serious pain here. I should've taken a cab back to the hostel last night.

Inside: Boring stuff, gambling, barflies, Froggies, drink, Aikido and no pinball.

And a poll: Do I write my diaries like I just swallowed 30 Valiums?

The Iceland Diaries:
Preface, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3a, Day 3b, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6a, Day 6b, Day 7, Wrap-up.

I didn't really do a lot, not much that most people would be interested in. I walked a lot slower to town and tried a different route on what I thought was a parallel street. It was parallel to Sæbraut, but not all the way. Luckily, I went where I didn't mean to and found something that looked vaguely familiar.

There aren't many tall buildings, and within the town it's hard to find orientation landmarks. It's even harder when you don't really know what you're looking for. I had a map, but kept forgetting it at the hotel. There are also large maps posted in strategic locations, mainly for tourists. I managed to misread a couple of those, too, and their failure to match the surrounding streets was not the least of my reasons for finding them utterly useless.

Nevertheless, I made it back to Laugavegur (the main street) and just wandered around looking at the shops. Most shops are pretty big... and empty. A 40m2 clothing shop had two racks. Count `em: two. Not wall-length racks, just those little 2m long racks in the middle of the floor. There was also a counter but no till. I went into a coffee shop and started trying to decode the Morgenbladid.

There were five people in the coffee shop, two of them working there. When the girl didn't come to me after ten minutes, I walked up to the counter. This was a double faux pas. Just as one does not walk up to the counter, so too does one not walk to the order pick-up side of it. This was explained to me. The straining-to-understand look on my face had the girl explaining this in English before I could say a word. "Sorry. No problem. No hurry. I'll wait." I went back to my seat. Service, German-style. I'm back in familiar territory.

Checking out the natives
When in Rome Reykjav�k...
 Right next to the bank where I was able to pull 15,000kr from the ATM after shifting money between my accounts over the Net, I found a supermarket but wasn't sure of what the name was. It could've been "10-11" or maybe "loll" (pronounced "lawtl") but was probably neither of these. I wasn't going to ask and look even dumber. This turns out to have made me look dumber still.

It sounds silly to go to some foreign place to visit a supermarket, but they let me get a feel for a place. I can't explain it any more than I can explain my walking down to the shore anywhere, except to say that it gives me some indescribable sense of the people. The selection was pretty small and this was on a main street in the center of town. Everything was terribly expensive, and most items came from Denmark, the U.S. or Norway. The meat selection was rather limited, but maybe they prefer to go to butchers rather than buy meat in the supermarket.

 I stopped at a "casino" and saw that they only have video slot machines. I don't care much for them since there's no skill or any way for me to influence the outcome. I had a beer and the bartender started talking to me a bit. Seems they don't get a lot of furriners there. She was pleasant to talk to and seemed happy to talk to someone and have a chance to work on her English. I dropped a 500kr note into a machine, pressed some buttons and got 3200kr back in 50kr coins. Not enough to retire on, but it would pay for the beer and a shot of Brennev�n which she didn't believe that I, as a furriner, would be able to tolerate, much less enjoy. I got the shot for half-price, so only about double what it would cost me back home.

I wandered around town for a few hours, stopping at a bookstore and failing to find a decent Icelandic language course but grabbing a possibly useful phrasebook, then headed back to the hostel and re-checked in. I had a different room each night because I only had the reservation for Wednesday and Thursday and was counting on cancellations and no-shows for the rooms the rest of the nights. This may not be the most clever way, but I've got Friday night now.

Tonight's roommates: French. None speak German and none are too hot with English. Once can imagine the fun they'll have in town. We communicated in broken Franglais. Oh joy.

Where can you get a beer around here?
The hostel, while cheap, is far away from most things. There's a big public swimming pool next to it and a stadium behind it. Also behind it is a botanical garden, where the girl at the desk told me I could find a café. It, too, was a bit of a walk, and "just five minutes's walk straight down that path" was Icelandic English for "In fifteen minutes, you'll come to a curvy 5-way junction. None of those roads leads straight to the café, but if you walk long enough, you should stumble across it eventually."

Half an hour later, I found the place and it was full of Icelanders who were damned near melting from the heat - a blistering 26°C (79°F). The skies were clear and the sun did burn. I had liberally applied SPF-50 cream earlier this morning, something the lobster-red Icelanders clearly didn't have. I got a beer and walked around some areas of the gardens. It took me another hour to find my way back to the hostel. My tour took me around the back side of the stadium, where I saw a lot of large tents going up just past the carpark.

A couple hours later I went outside and heard a lot of stadium-type noise. I walked back to town and had another beer at the casino. Some barfly named Gunny started talking to me. It was both sad and amusing listening to her. I work in a bar on weekends and know the signs. Within 30 minutes, she was trying to work me for the double-vodka and grapefruits she'd been pulling from the old man who she'd otherwise ignore. I think they cost 1200kr or so. Not likely. I had Thai for dinner at a recommended restaurant (excellent but pricey) and headed for the square.

How do you find your lost Scot?
Look for an Irish pub
I made it all the way down to Klúbbgata (now called Aðalstræti) and back around to Hafnarstræti where I saw the Dubliner. It was pretty hard to see for all the guys in skirts drinking outside the place, but you could hear the chanting a few blocks away. For some reason, Reykjavík was overrun by Scots. I decided to move on even though the locals seemed to enjoy watching them.

I stopped at a bar around the corner that was telling every Scot who accidentally walked into the place to go to the Dubliner and tell everyone about the beer price in this bar. While a great strategy in general, it wasn't working too well, much to my relief. I was only starting to wake up and not quite ready for Gaelic warcries, even if they probably meant something along the lines of "Bring us another beer to quaff, you bastard!" After the second beer, I headed out in search of... well, I didn't know what.

How to make friends and influence drunks
Party on, dude.
I ended up back on Austurstræti and walked by Pravda again. There wasn't much going on, but it looked OK. Gin and coke was 700kr and it was so weak that I asked for just a shot of gin. That only cost 200kr - a surprisingly reasonable price. However, when I just ordered a double the next time, the price was 1300. While the barman was talking to me some quiet drunk started trying to mess with me. He stood around the corner of the bar and started staring at me, getting his face as close to mine as possible. I kept ignoring him until he said, "You know what? I think you're a cawksahcker." I saw in the barman's face this wasn't the first time Mr. Please-fuck-with-me had been there.

I turned to him and said, "Not me, dude. You're in the wrong place. You want to go to that gay club I saw on Aðalstræti. I bet you can find a cocksucker there." Barman laughed, but not Mr. Pfwm who insisted, "You are a fawking cawksahcker," as he slowly put his arm around my head to get me in a headlock. I easily lifted his arm over my head and said, "Look, I'm on vacation and I really don't need any bullshit. I'm out for some fun. And you really shouldn't fuck with people you don't know. Just leave me the fuck alone; I don't have any problems with you."

This wasn't enough for him. He reached over to do the headlock thing again. The bartender was watching as I ducked my head, took his hand in my right hand, lifted his elbow with my left and brought them gently over to my right side -- Aikido to the rescue again. I held Mr. Pfwm in a way that was only painful if he moved. He didn't. The barman asked if I was OK. "Oh, I'm fine. This guy is the one with a problem, but only if he moves." Mr. Pfwm had become surprisingly quiet. He kept looking at his arm to try and figure out what had happened and his face was one of terrible confusion.

Barman signaled Doorman, who had a little chat with the bonehead. Mr Pwfm then noticed the girls to his right and decided he was now a real ladies' man. Within half an hour he'd chased them off. Meanwhile, Barman was giving me free drinks and said he'd put me on the guest list for Saturday. Great, except I'm supposed to be in Keflavík Saturday and don't know where in Reykjavík I could stay. The hostel has two beds free, but only for girls.

Still, it's my second day and I'm already on a guest list. That works for me. I'll figure something out.

I found out that the footy was Hafnarfj�r�ur vs. Dunfermline. The game ended in a 2:2 draw so everyone was in good spirits, out on the town and quaffing again. A couple people next to me said they were headed to Jón Forseti down on Aðalstræti and that I ought to come along. The name sounded vaguely familiar but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

Until we got there.

This is the oldest building in Reykjavík, built in 1752. This was once the law and order area. Now it's mainly bars and restaurants. There's an open area where kids skateboard, a Net café, and, of course, the gay bar. "The gays complain that there aren't enough gays going there," explained one of the girls. Fine. I don't think there were more than 6 gays in the place - the dance floor was overrun by girls and their quite straight companions, none of whom could dance, not that I can.

I don't remember for certain if I walked or took a taxi back to the hostel, but I'm pretty sure I didn't hoof it. When I woke up, I saw that I'd managed to get my trousers off when I got back but I'd forgotten to take off my shoes first. My French roommates found this terribly amusing.

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The Iceland Diaries - - Day 2 | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Damn you! by komet (6.00 / 1) #1 Sun Aug 22, 2004 at 09:54:38 PM EST
Now I've got Electric Six's Gay Bar stuck in my head!

<ni> komet: You are functionally illiterate as regards trashy erotica.
In that case... by BadDoggie (6.00 / 1) #2 Sun Aug 22, 2004 at 10:18:17 PM EST
I've found this very appropriate and relevant link for you.


"Eppur si muove." -- Galileo Galilei
"Nevertheless, it moves."

[ Parent ]
What drug does BadDoggie write diaries on? by TPD (3.00 / 0) #3 Mon Aug 23, 2004 at 04:55:51 AM EST
none, he writes them on a laptop!

why sit, when you can sit and swivel with The Ab-SwivellerTM
The Iceland Diaries - - Day 2 | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback