Now it's just a matter of finding the place
After my usual double-espresso, soda water and a beer at 22, I dropped off my computers and went down to the main bus "terminal" in the city center. Hlemmur (the other direction and closer to me) is an actual terminal with a building. Or maybe I'm blind and managed not to see the terminal building, a distinct possibility. I just saw an open area for lots of buses. The Number 7 was already there and I ran to catch it just as the driver was ready to take off. I asked him if he did indeed go to Perlan. Yep.
We got to the stop that's as close as anything gets to the museum (although they pull right into the IcelandAir Hotel parking lot) and the driver told me I had to walk back to the light and then up a path. The path was rubble and mud. Hiking boots saved the day again.
I went to the Saga Museum. Although we think of it as meaning "great, long, round-about story", the word "saga" is Icelandic for "history". Entry was 800kr. The girl at the entrance started to speak. "You can speak Icelandic with me." An eyebrow was raised. The beautiful redhead asked me if I wanted a CD guided tour. "And how much does that cost?" I asked, knowing I'd take it unless they wanted stupid money. "It's included in the admission." Wha-hey!
The museum is small, filling only one of the four column-like structures that make up the outer support structure of the place. The other three columns are hot water tanks for Reykjavík from what I've gathered. Some reforestation has been done in this area (called Oskjuhlið) and they have an artificial geyser there which doesn't seem to be turned on in winter.
Back to the museum. It covered most of the historical high points. Filled with silicone (more life-like than wax) figures and small descriptions in Icelandic and English, I was glad to have the tour CD and happier still that no tour groups were there. Along with the wax figures, there's a silent looping video running showing the preparation of the place and the figures.
As I completed the tour and looked at the paucity of offerings at the "shop" at the end (which included some original stone or iron age clothing), I went back to the desk and asked the girl if I couldn't now have the Icelandic CD. She was surprised but happy to oblige. I was alone and she seemed bored, reading some book. She gave me a different CD player which turned out to be broken. I went back and essplained the problem. She gave me CD player I'd had before and swapped the CD.
After making my way through the 45-minute tour a second time, I handed back the gear and had a look at the rest of the building. There's a spiral staircase in the center of the building and a fountain that blows a stream of water up about five stories next to it. At the top is a restaurant and an observation deck outside.
It was cold. It was windy. I was sick. To hell with all that, I went outside and took some pictures.
View of Reykjavík from "The Pearl"
And for the terrorists, a clear view of the Reykjavík municipal airport.
I went back into the building, warmed back up with a beer (sounds strange, I know, but it worked), then went back downstairs as the water jet started shooting up five or six stories high again.l I got to the ground floor and noticed the signage. They don't quite get the concept:
Yes, the wheelchair-accessible facilities are downstairs
Seems I missed the bus by a minute. I guess it serves me right for not checking the schedule first. Instead of just freezing for 20 minutes, I thought a pylsa með öllu might be in order. There was a Shell station within a minute's walk and I had my hot dog smothered in everything (and yes, there was potato salad between bun and dog). They didn't seem to care that I ate it there nor that I was checking my phone every two minutes to see what time it was.
Be vewwy qwiet! We'we hunting Icewandic museums!
Can we go two for two?
I trudged back out in the cold and waited almost 10 minutes for a very late number 7. As the bus weaved its way through various side streets and main roads, I noticed a very familiar circle coming up. We were on Hringbraut. The Þjóðmínjasafnið should be right here, the one building I didn't check when I ended up walking to the Uni yesterday.
|I hit the stop button and risked the cold again. As I walked around the building I noticed the flags in the parking lot again. While they looked like corporate flags at first glance, I then noticed it was a sort of logo with the letter "Þ" (thorn) and something else stylised. I was sure I was in the right place as I walked in through the slidey glass doors.|
After paying the 600kr admission I walked upstairs into the main exhibit hall.
The museum has a lot on offer. Along with many displays they also have a lot of multimedia shows in Icelandic and English. While very interesting, my time was limited. It was already 15:30 when I went in and they'd said they closed at five today. I saw some interesting things and decided to take a couple pictures, no flash. A woman came up to me and I noticed the jacket and logo.
No pictures. I don't understand this, especially since I found out later that the museum shop doesn't have a single book of the collection. She told me you can't take photos here. I said in Icelandic that I was sorry and didn't know. I then dutifully showed her the camera display and deleted the photos to her satisfaction. Strangely, I didn't actually delete all the photos. One picture of some swords survived
Of course, for this fine event I was resplendent in my jeans, wooly jumper and hiking boots. No one seemed to mind as 5:00 rolled around and the place filled with people dressed very nicely. It was getting full as some guy with a tray offered me a glass of wine. Inexpensive and almost sweet, but wine nonetheless. Takk fyrir. It was getting really packed as I stood near an Icelandic-only display about old art and pigments.
The talk began and I was behind the speaker at a corner, unable to see anything but a crowd. Luckily, I wasn't 2 meters from the wine. I had another glass and listened to the speeches. I'd seen a Japanese man, woman and girl 15 minutes earlier. After a couple people spoke in Icelandic, a woman with a distinctive Japanese accent spoke as well. In Icelandic. I could see her husband near me looking up at his wife speaking. Amazing. Not only could she enunciate both "L" and "R", she rolled her Rs properly. Maybe I have a chance with this language after all.
Shortly afterwards, the speeches ended, a couple doors opened and a massive rush was on to the new display. I hung back, grabbing some crunchy snacks and drinking my wine. I turned and bumped into someone. I saw it was the Japanese man and before I could excuse myself normally, I said, Aa, sumimasen. It just comes out; I don't think about it. "You speak Japanese?" A little, I explained. We spoke for a minute and then all went back to mingling.
I finally decided to go around the crowd's flank and check out the Tardis-like room which managed to fit most of the people in the hallway who had pushed though to get in there. I was less than impressed. There was some fashion and some design and I don't remember what else. I was underwhelmed.
They servers kept walking up to anyone with a near-empty glass and offering a fresh one. After my third glass of wine was empty, I decided to head back home, having received considerably more than my 600krona's worth. It had become very windy and some snow had started falling, though nothing serious or accumulating. After waiting five minutes for the bus I gave up and walked back home. It only took about 15 minutes along Tjörnin.
It must be something like beginner's luck
On my way up Laugavegi home, I stopped and talked to Gully at Ósóma. No word on the shirts. They're late but coming. I went back over to 22 for a warm-up and some note-taking and met a guy named David from the US. He writes for newswire which handles weird stories that the majors never have or cover. All the weird crap you hear in TV programs or radio shows? That's the stuff. He's going to some þorrablót tomorrow. Maybe I'll join him. The bastard also met a couple girls who are taking him to Blue Lagoon tomorrow. WTF? How did he pull that off? Meh.
Gully walked in and I introduced the two who then went off to the store to see the Ósóma stuff and listen to some Icelandic music. They came back later talking about a concert. The electronica band Gusgus is playing tomorrow and Gully should be able to swing some tickets. Not necessarily my style but why not? It may yet get interesting.
One of the girls at 22, Harpa, isn't totally repulsed by me anymore. She's also willing to talk Icelandic to me, something that few are. I don't know what it is. Maybe they're just trying to be helpful and note from the accent that I don't have a clue. Or maybe they don't want to have to continually repeat themselves. Or maybe they don't want to play teacher. Whatever it is, I find myself having to constantly say "Þú kan að tala íslensku með mér" ("You can talk to me in Icelandic") but even then, they're hesitant.
The evening begins
After dropping off the computers I headed back down Laugervegi and saw a couple girls with the crappiest of the tourist maps and ended up walking them down to where they wanted to go, which was near where I wanted to go. Around the corner was the pool hall and while Æsgir was there, he wasn't working and wasn't staying. He just said hi and then was off. The tables were covered to be makeshift... tables and there was a big screen running videos that didn't really match the music being played. People were pretty much hanging together in groups so I went downstairs. There weren't too many people then but the four tables with about 25 people emptied as "Numa numa" played for the first of, by my count, at least seven times that night. I just sat and observed, alternating water and beer since I'd received an SMS from Buttercup saying she'd be down around midnight.
At least "Numa numa" was the original Eurotrash version which is slightly more tolerable than the O-Zone remake, in much the same way that a lobotomy by icepick to the inner eye orbit is slightly more tolerable than through the ear or skull.
A couple of girls started talking to me; the brunette with a boyfriend kept trying to get me to buy rounds. I wasn't up for games and said so. She agreed to buy the second round at the same time and we went to bar together to buy two rounds at once.
When it was time for the next round, the blonde (Jonina) stopped me from buying a round at the bar 30 seconds after it had been poured. Her friend is drunk and boyfriend is getting jealous. He can't be jealous of me because this girl's slobbering over one guy or another and clearly not over me. But, as Jonina pointed out, she kept coming back to the table and talking with me. So I was stuck having to do a "Hot Shot", some evil, salty, licorice-flavoured vodka. Bleah. It's on my list of "Things I Don't Need to Pick Up at the Duty Free".
At about 1am a message came from Buttercup saying she was in Pravda. I was still talking with Jonina and didn't leave for another half an hour. Jonina's number is in my phone but I don't remember if I'm supposed to call her. I'm pretty sure I also gave her my number (yes, whoops).
Well, it's not a date, but we're meeting
My idiocy becomes so clear in hindsight
I walked the short way to Pravda. The guy at the door thought I was someone else and we had a brief exchange "Yeah, it's relatively dead out tonight." "Strange, that." He waved me in. I finally met up with Buttercup and her friend from the last time and some other girl from Ukraine at the downstairs bar. We talked for a bit, then went upstairs and got the primo couch. Buttercup was celebrating her Monday birthday tonight. Uh-huh. I let myself get stuck on purse guard duty once
2 and watched some girls dance among themselves. It was quite amusing to see some drunk guys try to dance with the girls, and the ones who didn't literally fall over themselves still crashed and burned as the girls split.
Misery loves company.
The girls will be back, the boys will be drunk, and if there are no flowers tonight, I'll be here. It's just too early.
The Latvians came back but we didn't say a whole lot. They wanted to go somewhere else for a bit. I decided to head back to the pool hall. On my way out I talked briefly with the Pravda doorman. He's British. We got on great for what little conversation there was. "Yeah, I'm just visiting for a couple weeks, going out and writing."
Sod this for a lark
I can do better than this.
The doormen at the pool hall let me right in, no queue. Jonina was gone and the atmosphere was headed downhill. I had one beer, played a slot machine and made another 2000kr profit which would've been 3500 if I hadn't got greedy. I was holding my alcohol level just below "stupid" but it was borderline.
I went back to Pravda and some SMS came from Buttercup. She's getting tired and is going home soon. I was sitting at the bar more or less across from her but she didn't see me. She was on one of the downstairs couches and she and her friend were sitting with a couple guys. Buttercup was furiously tapping away at her cellphone. I messaged her back a simple "Bye." She really was so cool the night I met her. I dunno what happened.
[Update: while writing this, I finally got an answer from the shitballs at Postbank to my urgent request for help only four days after having sent it. My reply wasn't the most friendly, but I think I kept it professional enough that I wouldn't be too embarassed by it if it was read in open court.]
Maybe I can't do better than this.
If all else fails, there's always alcohol
It was about 4 and I headed up to Sirkus. I had to stand in the short queue for a good 15 minutes because Woman I Must Have Really Pissed Off was at the door. I got in (probably because a few people had left and no one else was waiting who could be allowed in ahead of me), got to the bar and watched some really drunk girls dancing. Some even more drunk Potatohead came by trying to take my beer out of my hand. I saw BEIG and waved. She smiled back. Is Mr Potatohead her boyfriend? What a twat. There's no accounting for taste, not that I really believe I'm the best thing out there, but still...
The saga of BEIG continues
Maybe alcohol wasn't the answer
In a short time it was drinks up. I got a last bottled Budweiser (Budvar, not A.B., and 66cl) so I'd have something for outside. I went over and asked Ýr if I'd said or written something to upset her. No, why? That whole thing about not even saying goodbye last week. No, she and her friend just went. I think this is one of those cultural things I'll be bashing my head into the table about. So what could I have said? She never read the Diaries? Nope. Rósa never gave her the link? Nope.
I'd probably had three or four swigs too many because I told her what I'd written. Pretty much verbatim about her incredibly beautiful eyes. She looked stunned and said she was flattered. She also said she'd never heard it before and while that's a fairly standard response for appreciated flattery, I think she was serious. We talked a bit and I learned she wants to learn German and to play guitar. Heh. I could teach her to do both these things and in exchange she could teach me Icelandic.
Was she leaving? No, she's staying inside with the others who work there. Damn. I did get a kiss goodnight and with the "problem" resolved, I went out with the others. It was raining a little, more a heavy falling mist really, but a few groups of people stood around and rambled on. I don't remember what everyone was saying partly due to the alcohol but mainly because my memory was much more interested in the fact that Ýr came out about 15 minutes later, saw me and came over.
We talked a bit more and in retrospect, I probably should've asked for water instead of beer. I didn't need the alcohol; it makes me talk too much. She'd really never heard anyone say that about her. Guess what else no one had said to her before. Yep. I pretty much blurted out that I could really spent the rest of my life staring into her eyes, but lightened it a bit by adding that it would probably get pretty boring for her after a little while.
Gobsmacked. I could've hit her with Mjöllnir and not got such a look, but it wasn't a bad one. She was genuinely flattered. She weren't expecting to hear anything like that and I wasn't really expecting to say it, either.
She was absolutely beautiful there standing in the rain. Not sober, sure
3, and a little tired, but stunning. We talked for a couple more minutes and then... another good-night kiss. But there was no turning of heads to meet lips, no deep embrace, none of that glub-I-wish-it-would-happen-just-this-once romantic movie stuff. Not for me.
I stumbled home and passed out, but not before I managed to get undressed. At least she doesn't hate me. It's a start.
1You're welcome, Rogerborg.
3No one ever is at 5:00 a.m. Saturday morning here.
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