Print Story The Iceland Diaries II - - Day 14
By BadDoggie (Mon Feb 28, 2005 at 11:55:20 PM EST) (all tags)
Day 14: Akureyri, Reykjavík
Tuesday, 01 Feb 2005
AKU 8°C, RVK 6°C, mostly overcast with rain
I'm an idiot.

You may recall that last night out of boredom (rather than as a part of any festivities) I sat in my room drinking. I went outside at 1:00a.m. to go to the taxi stand for more Coke and water. The winds had completely cleared the sky of all clouds but due to the light pollution you still couldn't see many stars. I could've hopped into the car and driven 15 minutes away but I was well over .05 BAC by then. I'm such an idiot.

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.

Getting back to civilisation
Another long drive
It started getting light around 9:15. I had to go out for some water and saw a beautiful effect caused by the mountains and the low position of the sun on the horizon. There are some light clouds up at about 7000 feet AGL which are light pink from the sun and some low-lying clouds at about 3000 feet which because the mountains aren't lit up. The light winds blowing these lower clouds intensify the effect. Unfortunately, there's no way to capture this on camera. I tried. Pictures of just clouds are boring but I can't get them and any interesting bits of ground into the composition.

Thanks to the warmth yesterday, I'm hoping for an easier drive. However, a lot of the snow has melted from the mountains and some of the shots I'd hoped to get on the way back will have changed. There's still a waterfall and awe-inspiring landscapes which I'll see in daylight rather than in twilight. There's also the l-o-n-g tunnel which I'll have to take twice more tomorrow when I day-trip it to Akranes and meet up with a buddy from IRC.

I walked down to the water and had a last look around. The city is very insular. Not only does it have a fairly small population of 17,000, it's almmost completely ringed by low mountains which gave me a very closed-in feeling, despite knowing I'd be gone in a few hours. It seems like a slightly overgrown village.

I expect to make it back here some time, possibly to go snowboarding with friends (or, more likely, to watch my friends snowboarding from my window in the hostpital where I'll be bed-ridden for a few weeks with a compound fracture). When I get back, maybe I'll even be able to check out the weekend life but while I'm hopeful, I'm really only expectint to drink a few beers in Karolina or Cafe Amour and watch the kiddies driving around some more. Let's Hope I'm wrong.

If I'd had more time -- if it was summer and nicer -- I would've liked to stay a little longer, maybe day-trip it to the island of Grimsey. But I didn't. I was on the road before 11:00, stopping first at Bonus for some water and batteries for the camera, then stopping for fuel. I needed to wash my windows but there were no squeegee stations at the pumps. I looked around and saw a parking area full of cars, their owners washing them with these brushes that looked like street brooms but with a hose attached. I pulled up and waited for a slot to open up.

I thought they were overdoing it a bit, scrubbing like mad. What only hit me once I'd pulled in, turned on the water and started scrubbing myself was that there's no soap. It's 2°C out, it's wet, and there's no soap. Worse, the salt and dirt seemed glued on, as if they were low on salt and had added sugar to the salt that the plows on occasion dumped sparingly. Cold water doesn't clean so well. I probably scrubbed the once-white car for about ten minutes, concentrating on the windows. A brush, squeegee and some normal glass cleaning fluid would've done a better job and saved me ten minutes of hard work. The windows were spotty but I could see out of them again.

I managed not to get lost on the way back to Hörgárbraut which becomes Highway 1 a little further up the road. The mountains weren't so horrible this time. The rest of the snow and ice had melted and even though an almost constant drizzle and occasional rain fell for the entire drive, the weather was warm enough that the streets weren't going to be a problem. Still, people don't stay to the right until they're about two seconds from impact with you.

The views up further north are markedly different from the southwest. There are more mountains, for one. Highway 1 also follows the Norðurá River for more than 60km. It's a winding body of water which in some places spreads lazily across entire fields and at others, is fast-flowing through more restricted channels. There are more than 8 bridges over the Norðurá. BTW, the rivers is famous for salmon fishing. You have to pay for a license and since I don't fish, I didn't look into it. I did read that it's fly-only as of this year, so you dynamite-chuckers need to find somewhere else to go.

Traveller's Tip
Points of interest:
There's a roadsign for points of interest which looks like a cloverleaf. It often leads to a particular lookout point or museum, sometimes with arrows, distance markings or both (especially if you're on a highway). Not all the points of interest are that interesting, but most are. They know where all the scenic lookouts are and have marked them for the tourists and the tracelling domestic market alike.

Bark, squeak, squeak, [         ]
I was getting a bit peckish so I stopped at Blönduós for some eats. Two major (if you consider two-lane wide undivided strips of asphalt "major") roads intersect here and there are two gas stations, maybe even a third somewhere. Anyway, the place I stopped at had a small shop plus a rather large dining area which I expect is for the buses of tourists in July and August.

A Point of Interest. What could it be?

Some monument. A town memorial it appears. No signage to explain.

My m4d 1c3l4nd1c 5k1llz let me decode that the special of the day was a chicken burger with fries and a drink and the knock-down price of only around 10 Eurobucks. I ordered it. What I heard wasn't what I meant to say, which was Ég ætla að fá tilboðið (I'll take the special). It wasn't my word choice. It wasn't my pronounciation. I had the right phrase. I moved my mouth correctly. I exhaled while speaking. A lot of squeaks came out. I tried again, pointing to the sign. Got it. While waiting for them to make the burger I picked up some postcards and wrote them while eating. It wasn't a bad sandwich, and for 800kr or so, had damned well better not be.



Another monument. With writing. I'm not sure but it appears to be
a warning to poets who dare come to the town when the heather is in bloom.

There was one section that really stood out as I drove by trying to take pictures through the rolled-down passenger window, something I don't recommed doing at 90km/h on a twisty two-lane road with blind hills in a country where the norm is to drive down the middle of the road. Luckily, I saw a Parking sign (which may be substituted for the Point of Interest cloverleaf if ample parking is available). I pulled into Grábrókargígar and walked around.


There's a collapsed cinder cone to the right (black) and the lava is covered in deep green moss. There was a lookout point which offered a nice vantage point and some views which were stunning even in winter. The trail up to the lookout point was still covered with snow.

Shortly before the Hvalfjörður tunnel there's a very nice small waterfall-slash-runoff-point. I'd wanted to hit the brakes on the way up but with the weather and traffic, I just made a note of where it was so I could shoot it when I came back. Of course, me being me, I forgot the note and the subject of it until I drove by it again. This time, however, I knew I was near Reykjavík and coming up on the tunnel. I wasn't in a hurry and there wasn't any traffic. I got the picture.

If this thing has a name I don't know what it is There were no signs.

By the time I was in Reykjavík, my voice was gone.

I found my way back to the apartment around 6pm and parked the car across the street at a meter. Great. I'll have to get up at 8:00 a.m. to feed the damned thing.

That was when it hit me: I didn't yet have a place to sleep. Hell, I'll sort that later. I had to run´to Ósóma before they closed at 6:00 p.m. to get the shirts. Gully was there and asked me how it was. I tried to tell him but by then my voice was completely gone. "What happened?" he asked. "I left my voice in Akureyri."

We talked for a few minutes. The shirts still weren't in but should be there tomorrow. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Ah the hell with it. I'll stay tomorrow, too. It's not like there's anything going on in Keflavík on a Wednesday anyway, and with the weather as it is, even if I kept the car another day, I wouldn't see a whole lot of Reykjarnesbær anyway. I have no trouble staying longer in Reykjavík. I went back to the car.


Relationships are everything
From inside the car I called Einar to see if the apartment was available for wo more days. "You can have it for free. The key's in the door." What? He said the cleaning guy is sick and the place hasn't been cleaned.

"Did I leave it such a mess?" Hell, I'd done the dishes and even wiped the counter and table. The only way to tell I'd been there was the unmade bed, the shower head and the herring and half a block of butter I'd left in the fridge.

"No, it was quite OK, but it hasn't been cleaned. It's just as you left it."

Well, almost. Conspicuously missing was the shower nozzle (with receipt taped so he can claim it off taxes). A handshake deal, a little niceness on my part, digs for a couple days. I certainly wasn't expecting this. The parking ticket from yesterday still fresh in my mind. I mentioned the parking and he told my you can go one block up and the streets aren't metered. Hooray! I don't have to get up at Too-fucking-early a.m. to feed a meter! I brought my suitcase and rollie-case and computer bag in, then hopped in the car to find better parking. There was a spot right at the corner. Vitastigi is one-way, but there's little enough traffic that I'll be able to back it down in front of the door. This rocks.

After moving back in, I grabbed the computers and headed to 22 for a bit, making notes about today. Despite not having a voice, or perhaps because of it, the bar girl seemed to understand me better. I guess she could make out the consants enough and wasn't distracted by my mangling of their vowels and double-ells as well as my general inability to remember that the accent is always on the first syllable of every word.

I dropped the computer off and went down to the pool hall. I played a few racks but the place only had a few kiddies hanging out. I hoped things would be better at Sirkus and headed back up the hill.

Sirkus was also quiet. BEIG never turned up, although she may have already been and gone. Girl Who I Mist Have Pissed Off was there, as well as Owner and Bartender Who Doesn't Seem To Like Me Much. It was so slow I was able to get a table where I read my kiddie book for a bit. A couple girls at the table next to me looked over and giggled. We got into a brief chat about why I was reading the book when their friend came back over and announced they had to leave now.

I read and drank Thule until about 1:00 a.m. and then walked home, falling asleep to Stundin Okkar.

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The Iceland Diaries II - - Day 14 | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
so by tps12 (2.00 / 0) #1 Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 12:58:34 AM EST
You are writing all these after the fact, right? You already know whether your visit in Iceland ends with a really great climax? Are we going to be disappointed?

I'm hoping he climbs down a big volcano by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 01:07:04 AM EST
and reappears in Sicily.

[ Parent ]
My visit to Iceland WAS a climax by BadDoggie (2.00 / 0) #4 Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 01:47:21 AM EST
More than half of this was written while there, hence the phrasing of plans. Much was written within hours of whatever went on. Most of what I've written since was clean-up and fill-in.

I'd originally wanted to post daily, but as you can see, there was an awful lot going on and I'm using up a lot of words to describe it.

As to whether you'll be disappointed, I can't say. Hell, I didn't remember the last few hours until I came across some notes as I was prepping tomorrow's diary. But I'm pretty sure you'll raff a riddal bit moar befoar im' dun.


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

[ Parent ]
Point of interest symbol. by lb008d (2.00 / 0) #3 Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 01:43:26 AM EST
Was the designer of that symbol a Mac user or was Steve Jobs so inspired by Iceland that he wanted to immortalize one of its symbols on the Mac keyboard?

i always thought it looked celtic by tps12 (4.00 / 1) #5 Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 02:04:03 AM EST
And it's called a "cloverleaf," so maybe it's Leprechaunish. "Macintosh" is a Scots name, right...

[ Parent ]
There's more to that than you suspect by BadDoggie (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 02:29:20 AM EST
The original Icelandic settlers were some 6th century monks. They didn't stay so long, and the fleeing Vikings who arrived made sure the rest didn't want to stay or didn't care. Iceland's history includes some raids on Ireland and the binging back of slaves and wimmenfolk.

There's really not much there that shows any Celtic influence, and I went to museums and everything so I'm Teh Icelandic Eckspert. Influences were primarily Viking and Danish.

Norwegian + Irish - Y chromosomes = Teh Icelandic Hottay.


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

[ Parent ]
Crater lake by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 02:04:38 AM EST
was that the crater where the big rock concert a few years ago was ? If so, I"ve got a picture of it in the April (almost spring) time frame from five years back..

I'm assuming in the past trip you saw guilfloss ("the waterfall" however one spells it) and geyser and what not ?

You're thinking of Kerið by BadDoggie (2.00 / 0) #7 Tue Mar 01, 2005 at 02:14:31 AM EST
I was there during my first trip on day 3a and wrote about it and most of the Golden Circle.

Here are the links to the original Iceland Diaries series (or just search my dairies):

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


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

[ Parent ]
The Iceland Diaries II - - Day 14 | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback