Print Story The Iceland Diaries II - - Day 2
By BadDoggie (Wed Feb 09, 2005 at 12:57:04 AM EST) (all tags)
Day 2: Keflavík, Reykjavík
Thursday, 20 Jan 2005

I'm an idiot.

I smoked at the bar last night and it tastes like a rat curled up and died in my mouth.

I realised I left the camera connecter cable at home and will have to buy a memory card reader here at the incredibly inflated prices everything seems to cost. That or I can only take a few dozen photos over the next two weeks.


  1. Bible
  2. Blowing in the Wind
  3. Books for kiddies
  4. Baby, where you be?
  5. But they said to call
  6. Big apartment
  7. Birthday greeting
  8. Break my $BodyPart
And a poll.

The Iceland Diaries II: Preface, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10, "Food", Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 14, Day 15, Day 16, Day 17, The End.

Do you read the Bible, Brett?
'Cuz there's this passage I got memorised: Ezekiel 25:17...
For some reason I was flipping through the inevitable bible in the drawer. There are two, actually, one in Icelandic and one in German/French/English. They all only run from Matthew to the Apocalypse. For some inexplicable reason I decided to open the Icelandic one. I scanned through and it hit me: Right in Mat 1:1 it says JC is a son of David and proceeds to in order to back up the claim, lists the lineage. Fine. So far, so good, but then we get to the sticky part.

In Matthew 1:20 Joe is told to take care of his wife's kid because it's the Big Ghost, and we find out later in the story that he does. But while JC may be Joe's adopted kid, there ain't no claim to being a son of David.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not writing this stuff to start angering or trollerising those who believe in this book. It's just that I've never seen or heard this genealogical claim being questioned before and the really neat thing about it is that I first noticed it when reading a Bible in Icelandic. I'm totally succeeding it in my attempts to turbo-learn it. Four months and I notice a biblical discrepancy.

It's what? Cold and windy? In ICEland?
Gee, who'd've thunk it?
I walked down to the same shore where I'd stood at four months earlier and took a few pictures. It was then that I got my first taste of the winds my Icelandic friends had told me about. Admittedly I was standing at a shore. In winter. In the North Atlantic. But still, 50km/h winds gusting over 80 is a bit harsh.

Keflavík in Winter
Down at the bay. Note the Moon in the midday sky.
The photo doesn't do justice to the impressive sight. The Moon was almost always visible.

Keflavík in Winter

Keflavík in Summer
Just to remind you of what the place looked like back in August.

Reading is Fundamental
Excuse me sir, but aren't you a bit old to be reading Polly's Pretty Posies?
I walked down the streets I'd seen last before returning home to Munich hoping my new home would be here1. I noticed one of the buildings I'd just walked by previously housed the KEF library. I got a couple strange looks as I sat in the children's section looking through the collection and making notes about which books and authors to look for in the stores. I think the staff was as relieved as I was that no kids came over while I was sitting there.

At about 5pm the light was starting to fade and dusk was setting in, leaving a beautiful pinkish red colour in the sky. I tried to take some pictures but what the camera was able to register in no way let me see the show the sky put on: uneven layers of violet, indigo, fuchsia, and pink at the horizon, with a blue-tinged shade of yellow at the bottom of the clouds.

This is why I have to live in Iceland; when the views aren't low-lying overcast and fog, they're at least this good. I know the rhyme, but will tomorrow's weather really be a sailor's delight? According to the weather sites it'll be colder and windier. Of course, Weather here changes more often than Britney Spears' costumes during a show.

I stopped in the 10/11 supermarket on the way back to the guesthouse. My late lunch was pear-flavoured skýr ("skeer"). This is a non-disgusting Icelandic national food, similar in taste to quark but without the graininess, and similar in consistency to sour cream. There are many flavours but vanilla seems to be the most popular. Other flavours include plain, strawberry, caramel and banana but surprisingly, no licorice. They love caramel and licorice here. And salt.

Time to go to Reykjavík
There's nothing to do during a winter's day.
I re-packed my suitcase while waiting for Katja (the girl I met last time in Keflavík) and her friend to arrive so we could all drive to Reykjavík. I still didn't have a hotel but if Lighthouse is a bust, Ísafold shouldn't be a problem. Or so it sounded when I'd talked to them a few days earlier. Katja called me at 5:15 to let me know their plane was in.

When she arrived, Katja was disappointed because Svala (the owner) wasn't there. As I dragged my stuff down to the car, Katja left a box of her best honey (the same stuff she has to taste 20-100 times a day for work) and a note. I managed to lock myself out of the place before clearing out my goodies from the fridge and had to wait in the snow and cold for Katja to come back down. The car was small and the boot/trunk was full of their luggage. My suitcase took one side of the back seat, the rollie case the floor and I had the computer case with two laptops on my lap. It took me three minutes to put on my seat belt.

Pick. Up. The. Phone.
a.k.a. Where the hell am I going to sleep tonight?
The drive to Reykjavík was relatively quick but trying. We had fun looking for Route 1 since the streets in KEF tend to lead to dead ends. It was -3°C that day, the car was showing it to be -2°, but before we got halfway to Hafnarfjörður, it was -8°C. We could see a glow from Reykjavík's lights. Itwasn't the beacon that is New York City from 50 miles away, but you'd have a hard time not finding town at night.

In the Reykjavík City Centre it was -7°C. That was still better than the weather in NYC.

Katja asked where I was staying as I kept calling the people from the Lighthouse Apartments every three minutes to find out if the room was available like they said it should be. Should be. Shoulda, woulda, coulda...

I finally got a busy signal instead of six rings and then voice mail so at least they were done showing the place to buyers.

After another 10 minutes of calling they answered and I was told I was "lucky" that Apartment 1a was open. It better not be costing much more than the crappy studio thing that I can almost afford. While I was still on the phone with them we passed the Reykjavík city limits sign. The owner said the keys were in the door and that I should call back tomorrow to arrange a time to meet. Ooooooookay...

The centre of Reykjavík is full of one-way streets, much like Washington DC or New York, but they're much narrower. And they were covered in snow and slush. And it's hilly. It took 10 minutes of driving around to actually find a route in due to all the one-way streets. Katja and her friend left me to go check into their hotel rooms.

Nice digs
But how much is it going to cost?
The place turned out to be pretty spacious with roughly 33m² including a kitchenette. I got comfortable and then went downtown, arriving 15 minutes too late to get anything from the liquor store. I walked down Laugervegi as if I'd been walking there yesterday and the feeling that this is the place I want to call "home" was as strong as it was four months ago. I went across the street to the 10/11 (TEE-oo-EhT-leh-voo) for some basic necessities including soda water and more skýr.

When I got back I had dinner (microwaveable traditional Icelandic lamb soup -- very tasty and definitely not disgusting) and some more schnapps. I flipped on the TV and saw I had decent reception for two channels and crap for one. I watched anyway, understanding one word out of twelve. I then called my sister for her Fastest. Birthday. Greeting. Evar. It was a bad time for her and too expensive for me. I'll call her when I get back to Germany. At about 10:00p.m. I went out.

Back to the old haunt
Is it a "haunt" if you've only been there three or four times before?
I arrived at Sirkus, bellied up to the bar and had a beer. Ýr (BEIG) showed up with a girlfriend. She seemed a bit surprised to see me and came over. We talked a bit in Icelandic , then reverted back to English as my super powers of language failed me as soon as the discussion got past "Hi. You're back? You speak the language? incomprehensible sounds" and she soon went back to her friend at the other end of the bar. Later, they moved to my side of the bar (due to gusts of cold air coming in every time the door was opened, I think) but her friend sat between us. I was the only person sitting alone in Sirkus and I felt like I had a neon sign over my head screaming, "ALONE AND FAILING IT! STAY AWAY!". Ýr left without saying goodbye.

I finished my beer and left. I'd spent most of my day sitting somewhere alone -- the guesthouse, the library, the bar. What the fuck am I doing here? I can sit around doing nothing an feeling like shit quite easily at home thankyouverymuch, and for a lot less outlay. At this time of night they normally start putting pictures of my sobriety on milk cartons.

I'm fucking depressed and sober, but I'm mercifully tired enough I won't be wallowing in this self-pity for too long.


1 OK, OK, about 40 minutes from here.

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The Iceland Diaries II - - Day 2 | 5 comments (5 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Travelling On Your Own by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #1 Wed Feb 09, 2005 at 01:19:32 AM EST
Samne boat here in USia as people from work here don't go out as they all drive to work. Thing is I think yanks are bit friendlier than Icelanders so I went to a bar and ended having a pub crawl with a couple of american blokes last night.

As an ex-pat Yank and barkeeper by BadDoggie (4.00 / 1) #2 Wed Feb 09, 2005 at 01:30:06 AM EST
I can tell you that Yanks are, in general, the most friendly people in bars and such1, but I can also tell you that friendliness is usually terribly superficial. Out of sight, out of mind. They'll talk to you about the most interesting or banal things, but there's no real substance. The Icelanders, as I found out last time, are generally quite warm and sincere, as you see in the original series.

Part of Thursday's evening depression was being whacked with a different reality than the one I'd experienced four months earlier. Nobody said nuthin' to me and BEIG just left without even a wave and I was sitting right there. Thinking about it now is depressing me again...

1The term "USia" for the purposes of this comment is defined as "The collective fifty (50) United States of America, its territories and posessions, excepting New York City.


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

[ Parent ]
To be honest by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #3 Wed Feb 09, 2005 at 01:47:44 AM EST
I wasn't looking for soul mates just some guys to hang out with whilst drinking beers. So superficial was fine.

New Yorkers, got agree with you there. 

[ Parent ]
re: depressed by Wise Cracker (2.00 / 0) #4 Wed Feb 09, 2005 at 06:14:28 AM EST
You've said that most Icelanders you've met are both "warm and sincere" and itching to leave Iceland. Have you considered that your reception in August was due to the fact that you were 'new'? A culture all alone at the top of the world that wants desperately to get out would crave novelty. Now you're back, you're no longer 'new'. And since they're "sincere", then their relationships go beyond the superficial. So you can still make friends, but now you'll have to do it without the benefit of being the cool new guy from the great beyond.

Also, a similar note re: Viking hotties. It's possible that the ones you've mentioned will quickly lose interest in you once they find out you're moving *to* Iceland, i.e. once you're no longer going to be their ticket out.

I'm not trying to depress you further, but I think this trip to Iceland will give you a more accurate perception of the country than your first trip. Great series, by the way.
Caesars come, and Caesars go, but Newton lives forever

Yeah, well... by BadDoggie (4.00 / 2) #5 Wed Feb 09, 2005 at 08:19:31 AM EST
Most aren't itching to leave. Some I've met (like Stefán) want to go elsewhere, at least for a few years, but Icelanders have a sense of home and community and one-ness that I touch on somewhere in these scribblings.

As to "new", there are too many tourists in the summer. I may have scored a few points by not being so lamely typical, but I was nothing terribly special: just another foreigner saying how much he loved the place and promising he'd be back. 'Cept I came back. Amongst the guys in Keflavík, that was impressive as you´'ll see tomorrow.

Teh Hotties are, for the most part, not looking for a ticket out. Again, they don't want to leave home. It's not like the former Soviet Union in Iceland. They love their home, their language, their history and culture. You may, however, have a point in that by returning, I'm not just an anonymous one night stand witha tourist. Everyone knows everyone in Iceland. A good fuck who goes away, and thus no repercussions, is a Good Thing for some. But reputation being so important, saying I'd return and doing so was a lot more important than showing up and trying to get laid.

The trip did indeed gve me a much more accurrate picture of living there, and that was intentional. It's why I went with an apartment instead of a guesthouse or hostel. Could I really live there in a sort of way?

Signs point to "Yes".

Thanks for commenting and I'm glad you like the Diaries. You have at least another 40,000 words to read before this series is done.


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

[ Parent ]
The Iceland Diaries II - - Day 2 | 5 comments (5 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback