Print Story The Iceland Diaries II - - The End
By BadDoggie (Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 12:57:17 AM EST) (all tags)
Day 18: Keflavík, Munich
Saturday, 05 Feb 2005
-4°C (KEF) & -5°C (MUC)

I'm an idiot.

At 20, staying up all night isn't just easy, it damned near taunts you, calling you a weenie if you even think of going to sleep before 40 hours have passed. At 30 it's still possible but can be a challenge. Closer to 40 and you know you'll be paying the price.

Despite having done this last time I was here, I ended up staying up all night again, though that wasn't my intention. Of course, it never is. I'm typing notes from last night as I wait for the plane to take off. I never expected the plane to be so full today, but as every day I've spent in Iceland and documented has clearly established, I'm 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.

Check-in was easy again. I shoulda known.

The three-hour flight was as much fun as the last time I flew back. As I've already written, the sense of loss wasn't so bad because I already know not only that I'm coming back but also when. Just seven weeks. And in that time, between turbo-learning Icelandic and fixing the damned pinball machines, I have to hand over a few hours each day to my employer. Anyway, since I didn't sleep all night (again), I tried to get a nap in the plane.

The guy sitting next to me was shaking his leg like a dog does his tail the entire flight. IcelandAir in their infinite wisdom decided that a flight on which many people wanted to sleep, a slapstick comedy program would be pretty good. The loud chicken laughs both directly in front of me and behind awakened me after an entire 15 minutes of blissful unconsciousness. The meal was sitting heavy in my stomach and I didn't even eat the uncooked potato bits. And the 20-something girl behind me thought the tray table was a lot of fun to keep opening.

My hiking boot had somehow come undone. I went to relace it and saw that one of the clips had broken. Had this happened yesterday or the day before, I could've gone to 66°North and got the boots I wanted. But, nooooooooooooo. I get to take these 130-eurobuck things back to the store in Munich and the replacement selection there is pretty weak. Ass.

We landed so early that there was time to make the 12:35 SAS/Lufthansa flight to Munich. Unfortunately, they wouldn't take the ticket so I have two hours here in the airport. Big fun. At least the Tuborg Pilsner is good. If you come here, a "medium" is a normal pint/half-litre. Costing DKK 55 (7.33 eurobucks), the 3/4 litre "large" is aptly named. I have two hours, but I think I need to be able to stand if I want them to let me board the plane.

[time passes]

I'm still standing but I'm not boarding the plane. Ninety minutes, three-quarters of a liter of Tuborg, and a couple shots of Gamal Dansk ago, I wasn't allowed to board the almost empty plane to Munich that had been too tight a connection to be booked. Rules about ticket class and such.

With half an hour until boarding I finished my beer and went to the gate counter which was finally manned. I tried my luck again; I had nothing to lose. "Do you have any exit row seats on the flight to Munich?" The woman counterd my question with one of her own: "Would you like to give up your seat?"

"That was going to be my next question."

Overbooked, and how. The deal: 300 eurobucks in LH/SAS vouchers (150 cash value) and an extra leg through Austria and a two-hour wait before flying to Munich and arriving at 6:30 or so instead of 4:00. There's no chance of making it to work at the bar tonight then so that's sorted, and I probably won't make it to the þorrablót either though I've been considering it. I'm pretty soured out.

Since I'm going back to Iceland in a few weeks, these vouchers will come in handy and at this point, I'm not really in a hurry. "Would it be possible to move me up closer to the front of the plane to Vienna?" I asked. "I think we can do that."


Metal in the plane

A real metal butter "knife"!
I was seated in 6A in an MD-87 and business class is in the same 2x3 configuration as steerage with about an inch or two of extra legroom. No matter; the plane is half-empty anyway. Instead of the crap-ola I've already moaned about previously, I was served a very scrummy (and very peppery) roast beef on potato salad tray with some fresh bread and Danish blue cheese. And a beer. And no extra charge. Topping it off, the knife was not made of plastic. Because no one will believe this, I took a picture. I guess they figured the turrarists don't fly much between Copenhagen and Vienna.

The stewardess smiled. Stews all know who's in what seat, whether they're frequent fliers, bumps, upgrades, troublemakers. She knows I was upgraded to this seat and I'm sure thinks I took a picture of my very first business class meal or something like that. I hope doing so won't get me a trip to the wrong part of Cuba for aiding and abetting Teh Terraristas. I also hope it doesn't cause SAS to start using plastic knives.

The stewardess just came over and asked me what else I'd like (nothing) and we started talking for a minute. She asked so I essplained the pic and maybe I talked too much. "You can make a weapon out of ANYthing here." I won't go into detail but I saw her eyes as she asked me how I knew about this. Let's just say I know about improvisation. There is little around that can't be made into a weapon, as I also essplained a couple years ago to the FBI twits who interrogated and searched me. She started smiling again, saw the Iceladndic books and asked if I was really learning the language. No, really? Seriously?

I have only one complaint about this leg of the trip: what do Scandinavians have against cooking potatoes fully? The never seem to manage it in much the same way as the British never manage to pull the vegetables out of the boiling water for at least an hour. The only other minor annoyance was that although the arm of the seat goes up, it won't go all the way between the seats so you really can't stretch out even if the seet next to you is unoccupied. SASPLZFIXKTHX.

Overall I like Scandinavia. I've never had any problems in any airports. The people have always been helpful and polite and not in the sugary, condescending way one might experience in the US. But I was back in Teutonic territory and Austria was a dose of reality. The ticket class written on my rerouting slip (I didn't actually have tickets) was "M" and I was pretty sure that meant steerage. The nice girl at the counter confirmed it but said maybe the Service Desk -- surprisingly nearby -- might be able to sort it.

Maybe they could but they showed no inclination or desire to do so for me. I essplained that I agreed to this bump in exchange for a class upgrade and showed my flight coupon and boarding pass from the last flight. "That's not what's on the slip, sir." Would you call your colleagues in CPH? "No." Dammit. If I'd been able to I would've cursed in Icelandic. Only available to me at the moment were languages they understood in Austria.

Back from the servicing desk, the girl at the ticket counter was talking to her co-workers. I picked up the accents. One was Spanish, one was French, and one was from I forget where (Sweden?) so we played Let's Talk Lots Of Languages. "So you'd prefer English?" I asked her. Yep. She asked how it went. Meh. She did do me a favour and blocked 8B, the middle seat. Small kindnesses are a great help when you're running on fumes.

The guy in seat 8A was really supposed to be in 7A. I found this out when a pretty Chinese girl came over with a ticket for 8A. She's in Munich for ISPO representing a textile manufacturer, but our conversation was limited and we only had an hour. At Munich we got to walk down a stairway and wait in a bus.

It was a long trek to find my suitcase which had been sitting there for the past couple hours next to the band which wasn't marked with the flight number, but my case is pretty distinctive. As I was walking out control stopped me and as soon as I saw his medallion, I went fishing in my bag for my passport. He asked me where I was coming from. "Iceland, through Copenhagen and just now from Wien, three hours late." I still couldn't find my passport. "Iceland? Go on," he told me and went scoping out his next victim.

My passport had been in my back pocket.

I still had an hour to go in the S-Bahn and U-Bahn before arriving home. While I don't necessarily want to be back here in Germany, getting home will be a welcome relief from the travelling and lack of sleep. I finally arrived home at 8:30p.m. completely exhausted. I pulled out the stuff that had to go into the fridge and went to scratch the cat. He let me know the extended absence wasn't acceptable despite the neighbour girls coming over but let me make up for it by paying him a lot of attention for the next 15 minutes.

I'd promised to at least stop in when I arrived so I walked the 60m to the bar to say hi to the girls. As I walked in, the place was getting slammed. Dead tired I jumped behind the bar, sent the other girl out and take drink and food orders and helped them get everything back under control. I worked for the next three hours. I'm an idiot.

After things calmed down I stazed to relax and chat a bit with them. I didn't go home. They closed the bar around 2 and we sat talking until 3:15a.m. when FlaG had to go. I was so over-exhausted that sleep just wasn't possible. I got to work on the computer, catching up with Stundin Okkar and Óp and bookmarking more Icelandic language resource sites I'd found.

At about 6:30a.m. I finally felt tired. I slept until 11.

The aftermath:
It's been almost five weeks since I've returned. While I've been exchanging mail with some people, I haven't heard from BEIG. I'm disappointed but not that surprised.

Finishing this took almost five weeks; I'm leaving in another two... probably. If I can get hold of Einar to get the apartment. It's very unlikely there will be another diary series for this trip.

I've been trying to get the jukebox manual but haven't heard back from Pink. I probably have to call Gully.

What is it about Icelanders?
Icelanders seem to have a strong feeling of themselves as an "us" but without the adversarial and racist "vs. them" attitude of the Japanese. They're proud of the accomplishments of other Icelanders. They're especially pleased when their national atheletes win competitions which is indeed something of note considering the national pool for any sport is less than 100,000 people.

I noticed a clear example of this "one-ness" during the arrival announcements on the flight in. Announcements are always made in Icelandic, English, and the national language of the flight's starting point, in this case, Danish. In Danish they'd said "Welcome to Keflavík". In English they'd said "Welcome to Keflavík". In Icelandic they'd said "Welcome home".

I understand this is quite common in Japan, too, but in Iceland the xenophobic streak is missing. They don't do business with another Icelander simply because he's "family" if the competition is offering a better deal1. There are no Icelanders-only clubs or meetings. If you speak the language, you're welcome there, but I know of no place non-Icelandic speakers aren't welcome. No one had a problem with me at the Pagan Society. On the other hand, not understanding the lingo means you're not really going to enjoy people talking.

This series wasn't quite as exciting as the first, nor was the trip. Sorry. The first trip was a lot of discovery and release; this time was to get a better feel for living in Reykjavík. I still want to move there.

I probably won't be back before the end of July, and I don't expect a third set of diaries from that. There may be an entry or two if I go to the Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands) and maybe a short series if I do the Great Circle and drive around the entire island, possibly getting into the center with the volcanoes and glaciers. Should the impossible occur, a diary is certainly in order if something happens with BEIG.

Realistically, my next travel series (if I write another) should be one of discovery again. This could happen as soon as I get off my ass and go to Prague for a weekend. Hilarity will probably ensue because I am BadDoggie, and I am an idiot.

Thanks for reading.

1 In Iceland there's a very good chance that the two making a deal are indeed related. Even though the relation may be back a few hundred years, they have documentation. But that on its own won't make or break the deal.

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The Iceland Diaries II - - The End | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
That's a *huge* word count... by ti dave (4.00 / 1) #1 Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 01:06:03 AM EST
for someone who didn't get laid.

I don't care if people hate my guts; I assume most of them do.
The important question is whether they are in a position to do anything about it. --W.S. Burroughs

It's called sublimation by georgeha (4.00 / 2) #3 Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 01:14:46 AM EST
You can tell how he's hedging his bets for his next trip, or the Julky fuckfest trip.

[ Parent ]
I think I'm scared by BadDoggie (4.00 / 1) #5 Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 01:22:20 AM EST
I have insight into the mind of Harlan Ellison...


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

[ Parent ]
And now, the Cliff's Notes version by BadDoggie (4.00 / 3) #2 Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 01:08:28 AM EST
I'm an idiot.
I went to Iceland.
It's beautiful there.
It's expensive as fuck.
I did stuff every day.
I took some pictures.
I ate disgusting food.
I got drunk every night.
I didn't get laid.
I'm going back anyway.


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

Heh by hulver (4.00 / 3) #4 Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 01:20:31 AM EST
It's been an interesting series, thanks for writing it up.
Cheese is not a hat. - clock
[ Parent ]
IAWTHulver by gazbo (4.00 / 3) #7 Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 01:35:04 AM EST
Very entertaining.  By its nature there was little opening for people to comment, which might have given the impression that people weren't reading it.

But they were (according to a stratified sample, n=1).

I recommend always assuming 7th normal form where items in a text column are not allowed to rhyme.

[ Parent ]
IAWGHAWH by TPD (2.00 / 0) #8 Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 02:25:23 AM EST
though I've still got a bit of catching up to do.... great series.

I'm voting this front page.

why sit, when you can sit and swivel with The Ab-SwivellerTM

[ Parent ]
Interesting series by TimM (2.00 / 0) #6 Thu Mar 10, 2005 at 01:26:04 AM EST
Thanks for taking the time to write all those up and share them. I've only been through Iceland twice (going to Scotland from the US and back on IcelandAir), and only got to look out the airport and airplane windows. It was in about May, and it still looked pretty desolate there. Still, aside from the food (which I saw in the cafeteria, though I couldn't identify a darn thing except pizza) and the language, it looked like it could be a nice place to live.

Woah there Dog, where do you think you're going? by aklats (2.00 / 0) #9 Fri Jun 17, 2005 at 06:50:34 AM EST

Please allow me to introduce myself, I am a 27 year old New Zealander, who is also a bit of a nomad. I left New Zealand in 1998 and have been living in 8 different countries since then, and have visited nearly 50. 

My name is Jay, and I have a 23 year old girlfriend, Harpa, from Akureyri, however currently I am still stuck in Essex, England for the next year or so, while she studies medicine in Reykjavik.

Ok, sorry to put you through all that...the point is, I am hoping to move to Akureyri eventually to be with Harpa and I came across your diaries on the internet (I refer, of course, to the Iceland diaries, 1 & 2). I must admit to being completely engrossed in them, reading every word, they were different from other diaries because it wasn't all "here is picture of waterfall, here is blue lagoon, wow! isnt it expensive here, this place smells funny etc etc" it really made me feel like i was seeing Iceland through your eyes, and they were very, very humorous....

And then, a note at the end of the diary saying "this is the end of the line!", no more diaries? Do you realise how many people there are in the world wondering what happened to you and "BEIG", did you ever get the pinball machine fixed in that bar, are you still moving back there...etc etc. I implore you to continue writing these diaries...I appreciate that it has to end somewhere, and that you probably feel like you've created a monster...but goddammit we're hooked!

Without wax,


The short answers by BadDoggie (2.00 / 0) #10 Mon Jun 20, 2005 at 10:28:54 AM EST
  • BEIG, nope. Didn't happen. Is that such a surprise?
  • Pinball machine: fixed enough that it works. Much work still to do.
  • Yes, I still plan to move there.
  • Other stuff from the last trip in March:
    • Met more people; I have places to stay and don't need hotels anymore.
    • Made friends with the right/wrong people to know. Right in that they owe me the favours.
    • Started talking with a new girl who'll probably be gone when I get back.
    • Kept going home alone. Even when I didn't go alone, I wasn't... accompanied, at least, not in that way.
There was indeed to be a third series resulting from a trip planned to start in about four weeks. Unfortunately, that plan's been cancelled and I'm in DC for the next two or three months. Too bad, since there definitely would have been much more of the same nonsense as in the previous 80K words. Nevertheless, I shall return, and speaking even better Icelandic than I do now.


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

[ Parent ]
Ta by aklats (2.00 / 0) #11 Tue Jun 21, 2005 at 04:13:18 PM EST
Thanks for the reply...

Sorry to hear about BEIG, but hey, we both know there is oodles of other Iceland crumpet out there...I think you just need an extended period of time there, Iceland girls can be easy, but the best ones can be notoriously difficult to nail....takes time.

Glad you are heading back, looking forward to the diaries, and i for one hope they amount to another 80k of text.

Best of luck to you!

Without wax,


[ Parent ]
The Iceland Diaries II - - The End | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback