And you're a long way from home.
What do you do in Akureyri? Relax. Probably go hiking in summer. Search for coffee at 10am somewhere, fail miserably and go back to the hotel which luckily has a coffee machine. I had to walk to the gas station/taxi central for soda water. Bonus charges 82-87kr for a half liter bottle of Egil's plain, lemon- or apple-flavoured; 10/11 charges 102-105kr; these guys wanted 150 or 160. I took a real liking to the apple-flavoured one. It's just some essence they mix in, not juices and sugar, so it's not sweet, has no calories, and is quite refreshing. You can find flavoured waters like that in the US but I haven't found any here in Germany yet. Maybe I can find out where to get some of these fruit essences (marked as natural fruit flavours). If anyone in the food industry reads this, where do I get a couple litres of the natural stuff?
The light was stunning and I had to try and capture a shot. Maybe one day someone will give or lend me an EOS 10, or maybe I'll be able to afford pissing away a few grand on one, but I've never seen a photo which came close to showing the majestic beauty of scenes like these that didn't come from a middle format camera. Anyone have a spare Rolliflex?
With water sorted, photos taken and a big cup of fresh espresso, I got back on my Very Low Reception connection and searched for what to do here. I'd originally come hoping to meet up with the two couples I'd met in Keflavík during my food experiements last time around. I'd also wanted to get out and about, see a bit more than just Reykjavík, and Akureyri is a relatively large town as Iceland goes. There was still no E-Mail from the couples, but I wasn't going to let that get in the way. Surely with Sunday out of the way there's something to do.
Searching high, searching low
Just a second... don't they have a pretty famous art museum up here? Yes they do! There's also the house of a famous poet or something that everyone goes to see. And I have a crappy street map so I can walk around. And I have a car so I can explore a bit more. Things are definitely looking up. You'd think there'd be more people around though.
I decided to drive around a bit to see what was around. Thanks to some truck parked illegally and the mook who parked 2cm from my door, it took me 10 minutes to get the hell out of the space. After driving around and seeing no signage for anythig interesting, I went back up the long uphill road past the church ad into uncharted territory. My little maplet only showed the main streets in the "center" of town.
I managed to get lost.
I also managed to find my way back after a few minutes by the shape of the mountains across the water. I'd gone pretty far out. I came back but the parking spaces in front of the hotel were full. The other half of the lot still and some spaces though.
I couldn't be arsed to find a map to go see Davíð Stefánssonar's house. I'd seen some mention of it and it should've only been a 15-minute drive or something, but I didn't have a decent map to find the roads, there were no indicators around and anyway, I haven't read any of his stuff. Instead I walked around a lot.
I walked back down to the water to take some pictures of the town. Akureyri sits almost at the innermost point of Eyjafjörður, a large fjord to the Atlantic, due north. Yes, the Atlantic. Maybe it's the edge of Arctic. You have to look at an Arctic projection map and decide for yourself. Anyway, I was able to get a couple nice pics, but then I had to walk back in and up to get te better view of the church.
The center of Akureyri
The Akureyri Church was built in the 1930s and consecrated in 1940. The last remaining piece of the Coventry Cathedral's stained glass set is the central window above the altar which was sent to Iceland before the city was flattened in WWII. You can see from the photo that it's a long climb to get there. I never went in and wasn't that inclined to considering the probable opening hours ("Closed when it's convenient for you"), but when I make it back here, I'll go. Meanwhile, you'll have to settle for these photos.
Bricks and mortar are better
On my way back down the road, I saw the door to the bookstore was open. Joy! I walked in as the woman was turning on some lights. I asked (in Icelandic) if she was open and she said something that I didn't quite catch, but I heard not a single word of negation so I had a look around. Did she have children's books? Right there in front of me.
She tried to be helpful but I had no way of explaining what I wanted. I caouldn't even explain it in English. Basically I needed to look through the stuff she had and see what I could understand a little of. That didn't limit me to the 6-and-under stuff; I picked up some other books that seemed OK for when my skills improve.
She figured out I didn't really speak the language and started talking to me in English. There wasn't much else to do, I expect. I essplained in Icelandic that I was trying to learn the language and that children's books are excellent for that. She nodded and showed me another table full of ultra-cheap clearance stuff. It was a lot more work to go through but I did find a couple good ones, including one called Káta. According to the back, it was the 11th in a series. The author's name was German. Inside I saw the original name is Putzi in Gefahr ("Putzi in danger") and perhaps I can find the original back home at some used book shop. That would be great.
After I'd collected six books, I went to pay. They cost me less than 2000kr. A bargain.
When I got back to the hotel, I looked in the direction of the car and immediately noticed the big white "P" on the blue square sign I'd parked almost directly beneath. Sure enough, I had a parking ticket. At least the truck was gone and there were a couple empty spaces in the unmetered section. The ticket was for 850kr but I decoded enough to see that it would be only 500kr if I paid it within three days. Great. How the hell do I pay it? I saw Landsbanki mentioned and figured I could go back to the one in Reykjavík and ask there tomorrow or Wednesday.
Akureyri has the hottest of Teh Hottays?
Are you measuring in Kelvin, Celsius or Fahrenweird?
So everyone here in Iceland told me that the hottest of the hot live here. Either they heard I was coming or Icelanders have a different sense of aesthetics. I'm going with the latter, based in part on the results of Idol last Friday that had every Icelander glued to the tube. All bars with TVs had it on. And I was none to keen on either of the girls. The layers of warpaint and spackled-on lip gloss didn't help much but I saw the winner looking much more normal on some TV show this morning. And... not my style. Maybe what I think is so beautiful is, for them, so damned run-of-the-mill. I know that's the case in Germany.
I'm more partial to the girls in RVK. Maybe it's just that more of them are out and about there. I've seen a few beauties but mostly I've seen a pretty stardard mix. Maybe I should come back on a Friday.
Having checked the Net for something to do in this town, I found a few references to Karolina. It was on thatr steep hill, the same one where the church is. How did I oversee it? I went there with only one laptop and took the one remaining table against the wall, with the bar to my right and the stairs in front of me. Catty-cornered from me was a girl studying history. Some drunk here just walked up to her, plopped himself down and started talking to her. Although she's studying, she didn't tell him to piss off. Hmm...
Beer and a floor show
I don't think I'll ever understand these people
He's been a pain with this girl and others, but he bought her a beer. He'd occasionally get up and bother two other women sitting at another table and also the Australian girl talking to a bloke all the way in the corner to the side of the front door. It was then that the taxi driver arrived and tok him out. Drunk guy said goodbye to each table, and the women made the mistake of saying goodbye back to him.
Within a minute drunk guy was back inside, the taxi driver following him and standing at the door. I hope the meter's running.
I couldn't help but keep looking up occasionally as he hounded Study Girl. She took everything good-naturedly. Hmm... I'd see her eyes roll and he'd try to kiss her every time he got up to run back to the toilets or to the other table with the women who were much less receptive. The barman -- when he was around -- was oblivious to it all.
Drunk was told by the two women at another table to go away and he gave another round of goodbyes to his harem and the taxi driver helped him out the door.
Drunk Guy couldn't bear to part with his flock of women admirers. He returned and decided that sharing a bottle of white wine with Study Girl would be really swell. What a romantic. Study girl never touched the stuff and toasted with her half-full beer, all the while trying to read her history book. I don't remember which pause she looked over at me for a secpond, giving me a chance to ask what she was reading.
At last left with the taxi driver who'd been waiting more than 20 minutes. The girl and bartender both said "Finally" but I could see him outside the door. He was pissing on the sidewalk. The bartender looked over at me because I was just shaking my head. Right there on the sidewalk in full view through the windows. He asked what was up and I told him what our friend was doing. He looked over and outside but it was too late. Buddy-boy was done.
This drunk bastard is a lot stupider than me. Within five minutes he came back in, taxi driver right behind him, and started flitting like a butterfly pimp between the three tables againwhere his bitches were sitting. And was escorted to the door by the bartender, saying another round of goodbyes. And because people said goodbye back to him again, he came back in and went back to it. They never learn. I almost pissed myself laughing. I got more than the price of admission in entertainment.
The bartender finally laid down the law as Drunk boy was talking to the two women again, and escorted him nicely to the door and made sure he stayed outside. Sometimes they're too damned polite here; neither the drunk nor the barman raised their voices. Had this schmuck walked into my bar, he would've been sent right the fuck back out with as much force as I could possibly -- legally -- get away with.
Study Girl was soon joined by a friend who was offered the bottle-minus-one-glass of wine. They talked a bit as a few more people filtered in. After about three hours of this I was finished with writing and photo editing. I took a gander at the scene upstairs but everyone there was in one group or another. I went back to the hotel.
Outside the driving game was taking place again. Kids drove their cars around that simple path over the center square. The red car with the girls passed me one and the same girl riding shotgun yelled something at me but the driver wasn't having anything to do with it and kept on going. For some reason I was drawing a lot of stares.
It was very windy with gusts above 80km/h but the temperature was holding a steady 7°C at midnight when I went back out to the taxi stand to get some Coke to mix with the Brennevín. It's going to be a beast of a drive back tomorrow in this little car. I played smart at the bar and remained well under 0.05 BAC in the hopes of heading outside the town so I could see a sky full of stars and maybe the Northern Lights, but the sky was completely overcast.
I watched some TV and played on the Net a little bit as I quickly drank myself into oblivion...
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