Print Story The Iceland Diaries III -- Day 8
By BadDoggie (Fri Oct 14, 2005 at 04:40:49 AM EST) (all tags)
Friday, 19 August 2005

I'm an idiot.

I know better than to mix different types of alcohols. That didn't stop me drinking vodka, then beer, then the Hot 'n Sweet and Ga Jól and other sweet-salty-licorice shots. THEN came the wine. Why wine? It seems Gauja prefers wine and since she was offering digs...

I may be an idiot but I'm not stupid.


  • Outlet shopping
  • Whale-watching
  • Theatre
  • Drinking
  • Strange girl on my lap
  • Going home with strangers
  • Oh shit
Placeholder for Blogspot link with high-res pictures which should be ready by Saturday.

"But you must not fall in love with me".

So I can stay at her place and her kids aren't so bad, but it's purely hands-off. I'm also pretty sure she'd frown on me bringing some tart home especially since she knows most of them either personally or professionally from running the bar before. As astute readers may notice, my chances of finding an accompanying tart are smaller than the chances I'll go home sober.

The cold is no better and I'm tired from work.

I went to 22 for coffee. Well, hey, the weather finally got nicer for me on a day off. I gave Halli the recipe for cod that I'd served yesterday. He asked about the special of the day that was still up from yesterday. Yes, Bjössi saw it and yes, it was funny.

So what should I do? The few tours I'd like to do either already left hours ago or are only offered on the weekend. But one thing I'd meant to do since I first got to Iceland was go whale-watching, even if only for a nice boat ride. I walked down to the harbour for a 1:00 Whale Watching trip departure with time to spare.

Reykjavík harbour The Reykjavík harbour and part of the inner sea wall

Except that departure was at 11. There's a 5:00 departure. I'll take that. Meanwhile, there's not much to do down here besides look at the four whaling boats that are still being worked on. When and if they'll ever go back out to work is still up in the air.

I took the scenic route back into town, up past the embassies and Basilika Krists konungs, or Basilica of Christ the king. It's the Catholic church I failed to identify in my original travels. I remembered that feeling of being in the right place -- the one I had when I first was here -- just washed over me. It just feels right and I can't explain how or why. I don't really fit in, save for my capacity to drink excessive quantities.

Then I started thinking about how great it would be to show mum around which immediately shot down my mood. It isn't fair, and while I've always said life isn't, this is the fucking pits. It's too much. Only a few months before I was on the verge of getting mum to agree to meet me in Reykjavík for a few days next summer.

Back at 22 Halli told me about shops in Árbær (Bus 5 to Bæjarháls). It's closer than either of the malls and there are a bunch of outlet shops there. I should have no problems making the 5pm whale-watching trip. No, really.

It definitely wasn't a tourist-infested area.

66° North After looking in a few stores, I found a nice pair of Crispis for 8500kr, about €100. Good job.

I forgot to get the TaxFree slip to get a quarter of that price back. Idiot.

To sell more cack to the tourrorists, you must do the following:
1) White T-shirts are ass. They get stained too easily. Black!
2) Print your company's Icelandic name on shirts. 66° Norður looks mega-flott and lets the ferðamenn tell everyone they were in Iceland without actually having to explain it each time.

And to anyone else selling T-shirts in Iceland:
You'll sell more if you just put a damned eth or thorn on it somewhere. Accented vowels and even the "æ" can be found in other languages. And if you write something in English, check with a native English speaker before committing yourself.

Strætó My, my, my, the weather's turning to shit. Who'd've thunk it? The skies have become overcast, it's windy and the temps have dropped more than 5° in the past hour. And isn't that the Fimmuna (Bus 5) back to town over there? Where the hell is the stop?! There wasn't a marker where the other bus let me off, either. Son of a bitch! It's getting cold, I'm running out of time and I have a 20-minute wait for the next bus. And wow, my <cough> <hack> bronchitis is kicking in! Oh joy!

I hoofed it up the road back towards town knowing there were some marked bus stops further up the road about a kilometer. On the way I stopped in an Ólis for a pylsa. It sucked, even with the potato salad. Bleah. Why isn't there a Shell around here? Their hot dogs rock.

The woman I ordered it from didn't scrunch up her face when I ordered. Either I'm getting much better at the language or she's a foreigner or... did I just squeak? I listened to myself when I answered that, no, a cold cup of Coke didn't factor too high on my wish list at the moment. Yes, I'm losing my voice. Again. Will wonders never cease?

I walked up a little further to a bus stop and waited outside in the wind, trying (and failing) to light a cigarette. Some old guy came over and started talking to me, asking me directions. Ha! His English was no better than my Icelandic but I at least managed to get across the idea that I couldn't help him. The only surprising thing is that it took him so long to realise this.

The bus came only a few minutes late. About 10 minutes later we pulled into Hlemmur I got off and as I started walking up the street, someone started talking to me in Icelandic. It was Pálmar from 22. We talked a bit as we walked up Laugarvegi but then I went left up Frakkastígi to get to the hotel to drop off the bag. He's supposed to be working tomorrow or Sunday.

I decided to wear the new boots to break them in and also because they were better fit for the weather. I didn't bother looking at the clock -- it would only depress me.

Back down to the harbour, the boats were still docked. I'd made it with about five minutes to spare. I'd even remembered the camera. As the boat with its 40-some passengers started pulling away from the dock, El Capitán started droning away with the standard safety essplanations. As soon as we got past the sea wall we started feeling the light chop of the water.


I watched the coastline as we headed off to the whaling areas and thought about how horrible it must've been only 100 years ago in the little rowboats, and this was still summer. Icelanders definitely have perseverance. I took some pictures of the coastline we were speeding past.



Half the people stayed in the cabin, the rest went up the the middle deck. I and a couple others went all the way up top. As we approached our destination, our guide came up and hooked into the PA system.

Why are they telling us the time?
An English-language phenomenon
Apparently, only English-speakers use analog clock hours to describe positions or locations. I remembered meeting Katja in Keflavík and her explanation of it. Our guide essplained how this concept worked to the rest of the passengers in her thick, sibilant, staccato accent. The joke was on her, almost everyone else was American.

She then explained what whale-watching entailed and I only then remembered my 1999 experience when I went on a similar adventure in Quebec with my (then-not-yet)ex-. While you always see whales in documentaries lurching out of the water like Polaris missiles, returning back to the water with a majestic splash, it ain't quite like that for us normal folk. In a nutshell, you stare at water and hope to see a hint of a fin. If you're really lucky, you might make out the dorsal fin and even see a piece of tail briefly leave the water, but there weren't going to be any minkes or humpbacks or orcas posing and saying "Cheese" for the camera.

The girl ad-libbed, desperately hoping someone would see something. She said to not only use our eyes but our ears and noses as well. Either could detect a whale surfacing for air. It seems our giant mammalian friends have severe halitosis.

Whale-watching There are whales around here somewhere.

We saw a lot of water.

Whale-watching They can't all be hiding.

El Capitán revved up the motors and we went to a different patch of empty Arctic water. After a couple minutes of sitting around the next patch, El Capitán did the equivalent of donuts in a parking lot. Why? No clue. Boredom, perhaps. We sat around and stared with the Miss "You mussst lookk all arrrroundt" breaking the silence every thirty seconds or so.

Whale-watching Heeeeere, whaley-whaley-whaley. Come out, come out wherever you are!

Yours truly caught sight of the first fin at one o'clock, after which every other passenger was sure every glint and glimmer of the waves he or she saw was also a fin or tail. Missy would call the clock positions as people yelled out and you could hear the chicken-shits on the middle deck running from side-to-side. "Chicken-shit" because they were hiding from the occasional light drizzle. We did see a few fins and even a couple small spouts from the surfacing whales breathing (and we were luckily upwind of them) before El Capitán took off once more.

Whale-watching You can see a fin peeking out from a wave in the middle, 2/3 over from the left

Now, though I'm not a surfer, I rode the New York City subway for five years and never had to hold on. I'm talking about the 4/5/6, the N, R and E lines. Before the track repairs and changes in 2000-2004. But with the chop as it was today, you needed to hold on to the railing, especially if the boat was underway. If you didn't, you could be launched a couple feet in the air. If you were lucky, you'd smash your jaw into the steel railing as gravity won the fight; if you were unlucky, your landing would be a bit softer and considerably damper. The water was about 1°C.

We went to another area and saw more water. We were looking for some birds which were diving in for food. This is often a signal that whales are around; the fish are usually up near the surface only because the dolphins and whales are chasing them. We saw some dolphins.

And a couple more whale fins. Occasionally El Capitán would rev up and do donuts again. I think he was trying to wheel us around to block the view of the passengers on the rival company's boat. Either that or it was penis envy; the other company's boat has a sleek catamaran hull and cruises a good few knots faster than we did.

After a couple hours of this we headed on back for shore and it started raining. So what?

The wind had picked up, too. Big deal.

The sea was pretty choppy. Fuck it.

No, fuck me. "Everybody must come inside." WTF? This was finally going to be a fun ride and we were all being banninised to the main deck? The brave among us couldn't even sit on the middle deck. Son of a bitch!

In retrospect, it was probably a good idea. The ride back was pretty harsh and the waves were 4-6 meters and looked much more impressive (read: poop yer pants) when seen at water level. We was a rockin' and a tossin' and the theme from Gilligan's Island took hold. Ugh.

Back on shore in Reykjavík I walked through the rain to get back to 22 and suddenly remembered the play, and it's a good thing I did. Had I gone the following Monday I would've been greeted by locked doors. Tonight was closing night.

It turned out to be a passion play, but from a technical viewpoint it was interesting. They did it blackbox despite having fly rails available. The house was not quite packed with about 25 people sitting spread out among more than a dozen tables-for-six. I didn't sit alone; I had a double-gin and Coke to keep me company. And a second one after intermission.

Afterwards I went back to 22 and played that card game again w/ Anna. I think I'm slowly getting it. Halli said the new cook is OK but his English sucks. Still, he should be able to work on his own within a few weeks.

There was nothing and no one at Sírkus and nothing to do at 22. I remembered Gulli was DJing at 11 and headed over there. The jernt was all right and I grabbed a beer. Gulli told me some guy at a table near the door was playing with Slim Jim Phantom's band. He was wearing a leopard print jacket. I stayed a while and we started talking along with his fiancee (who lives with him in LA and London -- they're here for a wedding)

And here's where it gets sketchy. I made a mess of my notes. I wrote that I went back to 22 but that's unlikely. Also, the bit that I do remember about a drunk girl sitting on my lap is missing and this is the only night I was in 11. I expect I highlighted the bit about the girl and meeting up with these other people and pasted that accidentally (or undid the new typing)

As the bar closed up, the guitarist and his girl left, saying they'd been out too long and have to get up early. I should have gone home at this point since caving starts at 1:30 and I need to get some sleep. But I'm an idiot.

I stayed and sat at the bar which was filling with empties the staff were collecting from the tables. As I was working my way though another tasty pint of Viking beer a girl sat in my lap. An attractive one. This wasn't easy to do because the bar stools are formed and keep your knees a little too low to for a proper lap. So she kept shifting herself back up on me (frottage is good) and blabbering on, asking me whether I'd seen her boyfriend. He's very jealous.

This isn't so good.

Whilst struggling to sit in my lap she started talking to some guy to her other side and he looked none too pleased. Jealous boyfriend? Then she insisted on introducing us and I found out why he was unhappy: I didn't recognise him. He's a musician and supposed to be pretty famous, at least here in Iceland.

The girl started doing her part to help clean up and started drinking the partial beers and mixed drinks that were collected on the bar. Just call her "Stubs". She was pretty, but... just... no. One of the guys who worked there asked if she was with me and I said no. Then she gots to go. I sat talking to Gulli for a few minutes and here's where it gets sketchy.

Either I met the three people here in 11 or perhaps in Sírkus. Whichever it was, I ended up going off with them. I ended up going home with them. It was a couple and single woman, "San". I don't know how we started talking but we did, and my heavy coughing didn't put them off. I explained it was bronchitis and not contagious; the cold was pretty much over.

Off we went to the flat which turned out to belong to the single woman. We hung out, chatted mostly in Icelandic, I got some of the usual compliments for being able to at least follow along but I couldn't stop coughing. This carried on for a few hours. We were drinking beer and wine and had she had it, we would've emptied a bottle of vanilla extract.

And then it happened.

I didn't have to go. I certainly didn't feel any pressure anyway. But one prolonged, explosive coughing fit did it: I shit myself.

I esscused myself and made a bow-legged hobble for the bathroom. The damage was extensive. This wasn't a little rabbit pellet. I'd made quite a mess and went through half a roll of toilet paper cleaning up the major damage. If I'd had some sort of plastic bag in my jacket I could've just removed the underwear and carried on. But I didn't.

I came back out and started trying to essplain that I had to leave and at that moment they all wanted to ask me a load of questions, forcing me to stay. I did my best to stay as far away from them as possible but one of them would lean over and then another would and I was pretty sure the smell wasn't my imagination though none of them seemed to notice. I finally got myself out of there and went back to the hotel. San lives near the top of the hill; it was a short -- and very uncomfortable -- walk back to the hotel.

When I got in, I quickly undressed, bagged the clothing and took a quick shower. It was 9 a.m. already. I would've preferred to be home by 5 but since I only need a couple hours' sleep and the cold was pretty much history, There shouldn't be any trouble making caving trip in 4 1/2 hours.

So far this trip I counted on someone I'd been warned not to count on, I've worked when the point of coming here was to get away from every responsibility, I seriously injured a digit and didn't go to a hospital, I blew a sure chance to take shelter under the roof of a Hottay, I went catatonic among a group of Teh Hottay models who'd picked me up and tonight I went and shit myself. Every one of these unintentionally and in a couple cases, beyond my control, but nevertheless, there you have it.

I'm an idiot.

< Then I found serenity | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
The Iceland Diaries III -- Day 8 | 7 comments (7 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Got it! It's one of these chain stories! by Rogerborg (4.00 / 1) #1 Fri Oct 14, 2005 at 05:21:30 AM EST
It's the same thing repeated over and over, with a new paragraph of failure and humilation added at the end each time.  Can I do the next one?

Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.
Not until you eat the rotten shark. by BadDoggie (4.00 / 1) #3 Fri Oct 14, 2005 at 05:37:19 AM EST
All the haggis in the world still won't prepare you for it.


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

[ Parent ]
I quote the charming UKian popular beat combo by Rogerborg (2.00 / 0) #7 Fri Oct 14, 2005 at 12:35:50 PM EST
The Macc lads.  Stopped touring in 1995, so mp3s may be thin on the ground.

Dan's Underpants

We all went down New Delih,
We had too much curry and aching bellies.
Peter got gut rot and puked on the floor,
Stez Styx banging on shithouse door.

I says, come on lads and finish your Bombay duck,
We're going to find some girls who'll give us a decent Alkaselzer.
Now Dan said he knew of this party, so we drove over there,
Belching and farting.

Stez nicked some cans of beer,
And Dan shat himself, he had diarheoa.
He said "Oh lads, it's no fun to dance."
And he goes upstairs to change his underpants.

Now he opens the window, wipes his arse,
And throws the offending bags on the grass.
He shouts "everybody come and look at this,
They're streaked with shit and they're stained with piss,
But don't look at me, they're not fucking mine."

But his loving mum had sewn his fucking name inside.

Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.

[ Parent ]
My son, perhaps you are being Called by Adam Rightmann (4.00 / 1) #2 Fri Oct 14, 2005 at 05:34:50 AM EST
have you considered that the Hand of God is pushing you towards a celibate vocation? Is there an Icelandic monastery you might visit?

I saw one or two whales on a ferry trip by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #4 Fri Oct 14, 2005 at 05:39:41 AM EST
from Nova Scotia to Maine, returning from our honeymoon. They were far off though, I would only see a small spout, or a tiny hump.

The ship was huge, no whale would want to run into it, and it was packed with antique Rolls-Royce's and Bentley's, and my 1988 Dodge Colt.

Five degrees? by CountSpatula (2.00 / 0) #5 Fri Oct 14, 2005 at 05:55:49 AM EST
Now, is this centigrade or fahrenheit?

"I've never been more afraid of a diary comment EVAR." - RapidHamster
Once... by spcmanspiff (2.00 / 0) #6 Fri Oct 14, 2005 at 08:22:23 AM EST
I saw whales breaching at under 100 yards away from a kayak. And now my girlfriend wonders why I'm so reluctant to shell out $$ for a whale-watching cruise.

The Iceland Diaries III -- Day 8 | 7 comments (7 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback