Print Story The Iceland Diaries II - - Day 15
By BadDoggie (Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 12:51:35 AM EST) (all tags)
Day 15: Reykjavík
Wednesday, 02 Feb 2005
4°C, wing & rain
I'm an idiot.

Remember how the Akureyri Art Museum was closed Mondays? Remember how I planned to go Tuesday before driving to RVK? Well I didn't. Not until I was back in RVK.

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.

Oh what a feeling.
At least there are no traffic jams
What a shitty day to do anything. I have a drive to Akranes in front of me. It's not so far away -- only about 50km -- but with this weather, meh. I didn't get many pictures; there wasn't much to see, just rain and some fog and some flat wasteland in muted earthtones. I passed on the coffee and espresso at 22 and hit the road before 9:30 a.m.


A sign showing the winds and temps in the mountains ahead. Note the space for three-digit wind speeds.
Compass points are norður, austur, suður & vestur
The drive to Akranes was short and, while not sweet, not terribly difficult. I had to go through that damned 1000kr tunnel again. I drove straight to the Safnasvæðið á Akranes (Akranes Museum Centre) without looking at a map once and found it wasn't open until about 1300.

I had a little look at the pamphlet and despite listings of about a dozen places, there was no place I could find to sit down with a coffee and beer. Searched for a while. Supposedly there's a Pizza 67 but I couldn't find it no matter how many times I drove up and down Kirkjubraut and Skólabraut. I found out later it had closed a few months ago.

I parked and sent an SMS to DarkMind. He messaged back saying he was in class for another hour. I drove around a bit. The wind was pretty strong and I found myself down at the harbour. The waves were slamming into the seawall and at times coming over top. Did I stay in the car? Of course not. The few pics I got don't really convey how fierce the water was. While my coat protected me from the water splashing over the wall, I wasn't protected below. I got back into the car wearing wet jeans. I'm an idiot. I knew from the dialogs in one of my language books that you avoid jeans because they take forever to dry.

At the sea wall       At the sea wall

Breaker breaker

I drove around a bit more. At about 10:30 DarkMind let me know he was done with his pre-lunch classes. We sent a bunch of SMSes back and forth to each other as he gave me directions to the school that led to me finding something other than the school. When I was again stopped in front of the Post Office, he messaged back that he'd meet me there in a purple hat and cammo clothes. About 10 minutes later, the big guy got into the car and we drove back to the school, stopping briefly at his mother's place.

School daze
There are some things you never get nostalgic for
I didn't realise it was a high school. He's 17. And I'm... too damned old. We walked into the cafeteria and I got a sandwich. He had to order it since the cafeteria lady couldn't understand my lost voice squeaks. It was cheap and not so bad. Hell, I could pay more for less and worse at home. Have to remember this: cheap lunches at high school cafeterias.

We sat with a couple of his friends and a notebook for about 15 minutes and then the bell rang. Yes, Icelandic schools also employ the prison bell time notification system. He said he'd be done around 3:30 or so and that left me a couple hours for the museum. The strangest thing of it was not a single person paying the slightest bit of attention to the me as we walked around.

Tourist Time.
You don't have to dress like an idiot, but it helps.
It was no problem getting back to the museum which was a bit of a "Meh". After paying the 700kr in the main building, I had a look at the displays there. One section was the cartographic expeditions done from the Danes through WWII and even into the 1960s with NATO. That was kind of interesting but almost everything is in Icelandic. There's a big room with lots of rocks. The walls are covered, there's a display case in the middle of the room as well. Lots and lots of rocks. Heavy. There was also a display of the tunnel they bored under Hvalfjörður (Whale Fjord) along with some of the machinery used and types of rock brought up and out. That was a bit more impressive. The other section was a tribute to sports and Icelandic champions. There's something to be said for a country with 300,000 having even one world champion at anything other than Rotten Shark Eating competitions, and even more when you consider they've had quite a few. I'll let someone else say it; I couldn't give a toss about sports other than the ones I'm participating in.

The next building was a historical display of various themes, from fishing to life in the cottages to a display case of the history of telecommunications there, the latter which was about the size of an Ikea wardrobe. No pictures is the rule here, too, but somehow I found a pic in my camera of the fishing area although I have no idea how it got there. Maybe if I publish it someone might be able to figure it out.

Akranes Folk Museum

Tourist Time.
You don't have to dress like an idiot, but it helps.
I went outside to go to look at the boats on dry display and was slammed by sleet which was being blown by 80km/h (50mph) winds. Ouch. I went to another building instead, where I was informed it wasn't one of the display buildings even though the map said it was. I realised a few hours later that they may have sent me out because I wasn't wearing the admission badge. Oh well.

The sleet let up but not the wind. I went over to the boats which were interesting but locked down. I expect they only open them in summer for the busloads of tourists. Most of the vessels are small fishing boats, the coolest was a two-mast schooner.

Teh Big Boat



Teh Bakc of Teh Big Boat Reel Cloase

After an hour and a half or so, I went back into town and found a restaurant and had my espresso and beer while trying to read a Vera, one of the kiddie books I'd picked up which I could actually understand quite a bit of. An SMS came from DarkMind telling me school was out. I was the only person in the place and I asked the girl if I could leave my stuff for 10 minutes. You'd never think to to such a thing elsewhere but here it's fine. Maybe I wouldn't do it during tourist season, but today? No problem. I picked up DarkMind and we went back to the bar and talked for a while.

How 'bout another home-cooked meal?
It was approaching dinnertime. I said I'd be happy to give him a ride home. In the car he asked me if I wanted to come over for dinner. Not again! This guy's younger than Stefán! I don't want to impose. I understodd quite a bit of his side of the conversation as he rang his mother and asked if there wasn't enough for another person at the table. "No!" I said forcefully, to no avail.

I heard him say OK as he hung up with his mother. He then saíd, "You can come. It's no problem." Shit. I couldn't say no now; that would be too rude. At least dinner wasn't going to be another hot dog.

Traveller's Tip:
Always wear clean socks!
In every private home I've been in, you always take off your shoes. This is a pain in hiking boots that have clips. Most Icelanders have short boots that are easy-off, easy-on, including hiking boots with simple laves.
We went in, took off our shoes ("You don't have to do that." "Yes, I do."), and went into the kitchen where mum and mum's friend were. Younger brother and baby sister had to be called to the table again. I was introduced and said hello. Almost all conversation was in Icelandic but DarkMind had to translate for me a couple times. Dinner was a rice and fish casserole with a creamy sauce baked with cheese slices (which had to be gouda) on top. And potatoes. Very tasty. I forgot to ask for the recipe.

Brother ran out and grabbed his homework or a test or something and brought it back. English, and he did rather poorly. Baby sister, not to be bested, grabbed some homework with a high score and also the kid's section from some newspaper I didn't recognise. There were some simple puzzles and I joined in trying to solve them to everyone's amusement. I managed to get one! I also racked up a confirmed assist as I came up with half of one of the rebuses, but I was running out of steam. Speaking almost exclusively Icelandic for more than an hour was great but taking its toll mentally.

Luckily mum had to go out and DarkMind and I went back to the bar close to his place to chat a while more. I wanted to talk in Icelandic but I couldn't. We've chatted a lot on IRC and are far beyond my meagre abilities in this language, so it was English except for ordering from the bar. I managed to croak out a phrase resembling "Could you take a picture of us" to the bartender after answering that yes, I was a Yank and that I live in Germany and yes, I'm here in winter visiting friends. After the third attempt, she was sick of trying to get a decent picture and we settled on that one.

After a couple hours I drove DarkMind back home and headed back to the highway to go to Reykjavík. Rain and narrow unlit roads suck. That Night Driver driving feeling was back but because the rain would stop and start and the wipers would squeal horribly if the windscreen was dry, my concentration was constantly diverted by the need to adjust the wipers more often than the steering wheel. It was almost a relief to hit that awful section of road under construction, knowing that street lighting was only a few minutes away and my apartment only another 15 more.

Gene Gene the Dancing Machine!
Can I get some nachos with my salsa?
I'm an idiot. I forgot Pravda was closed tonight and had to walk back up the hill to the usual haunt. BEIG came over to me and asked me why it was that I wanted to go to dinner for. It seems I either I told I wanted to go for a particular reason or she understood it to mean that. I can't remember. I explained that I remember things I've written down and hadn't made any not about that. I only knew I'd said that I'd like to go to dinner with her, but not for any reason other than to go. She looked at me quizzically but my answer was accepted.

I saw some guy shaking his hips and thought "salsa". I also realised that had we been back home in Germany, I would've thought, Angeber ("Poseur", in this case), but because we were here, I didn't. Strange.

At my bartending gig, the girl I usually work with (FlaG, for the HuSians) dances flamenco and has constantly bemoaned the fact that I don't play flamenco guitar because she thinks I look perfect for it. I'm no drummer either (IQ>27) but I'm good at clapping contratiempo with or without fills. This is how I kept YFG amused last December in London on the train platforms while waiting for a Tube or DLR.

I'm sitting there at a table with my kiddie book Vera and notice I'm quietly clapping contratiempo to the music since I'd had enough to drink by that point that I wasn't so interested in reading anymore. I was burning out on learning the language.

Hey, baby, you free next month?
Totally succeeding it!
I walked to the bar where BEIG was standing and asked what she was doing at the end of March. I have two weeks I carried over from last year which I have to take off by the end of Q1 or lose. I want to move to Iceland but I'm wondering how I'll live without 30 days of annual vacation. That's the kind of stuff you get used to real fast. I've already scheduled the two weeks off work; I just haven't planned what to do with them.

So what's she doing? Nothing planned. I made a date for 24 March. I'd wanted Friday the 25th but she's working. Dinner, a movie, maybe off to a bar after that giving us both an out if it goes south. I gave her my E-Mail and have to wait for her to she writes so I have hers. I have a date! I haven't done one of those for I don't know how long. Advice would be appreciated1.

I have 6 weeks to redouble efforts so I can talk and understand mostly Icelandic. I said "You don't really like talking in English, do you" "No." "And I want to talk to you in Icelandic". I feel so pathetic that I can't just talk to her in her own language. I know I've only been learning this stuff for a few months but I'm impatient and it's frustrating, especially because I was able to handle dinner tonight. I really need to find that Icelandic course at I have 7 weeks.

I remembered the full bottle of schnapps I still had. It didn't go where I'd expected it to and I wasn't going to take it home because customs counts the tax-paid local stuff toward your limit. You won't be re-taxed on it if you can show it was bought at full taxation, but it'll count towards your 1l limit and nothing is stopping me bringing back some more Brennevín and Gamal Dansk. I grabbed my stuff from the table since I wasn't going to be reading anyway and went back home, tripping over an attractive redhead sitting at a nearby table in the process. I dropped off the book, dug out the bottle which was still protected with a sock, and made it back to Sirkus within 15 minutes. There was no queue to get in!

I had to wait almost 10 minutes for BossLady to get a free moment and handed her the bottle. "I can't sell this," she said, looking at me like I was on drugs. "I know," I replied, "It's for private use." She made sure I wasn't going to wait any longer for a beer but I insisted on paying for it: the bottle was never meant as a direct quid pro quo, and as expensive as beer is in Iceland, a €20 bottle of booze for a €7.50 beer is a pretty bad deal. I'm an idiot but I'm not stupid.

I ended up talking to salsa guy. I was right, it was salsa. "E.J." is from cuba and works as a DJ in Denmark. He's here teaching salsa for a week and hits on every woman. I guess he's playing the numbers game. Either that or selling dance lessons, either one of which benefit him. He started talking to the redhead I tripped over earlier. It comes out that she's from Memphis where I have a few friends.

Drue is also writing a diary, but the hard way: pen and a diary book with lots of empty paper pages to fill. She, too, has assigned names to the people in the bar. I think we both referred to E.J. as "Salsa Guy"; I'm "Bohemian Guy" because of the book and the jeans I was wearing. Her diary, her life, her description.

Another sorta-redhead came over. She's from Ontario, just over the bridge. Heidi is an au pair. Drue ´has no clue what that is because in USia, au pairs are common on the coasts but not in Heartland. I knew quite a few in Cincinnati (home of P&G and Boeing Engine development) but Memphis? There might be one or two somewhere there...

So there we all stood around talking and it was time to get the hell out of Dodge. Drue and I talked a bit outside and I got a picture. E.J. joined in. Someday I'll remember to find her E-Mail address (I saw it over the weekend) and send her the pic. I always keep my promises; it just might take a bit longer than expected. Unless I promised a time, too. Which I didn't.

I went home, poured myself a way-too-big glass of Brennevín and Coke, wrote a few notes about tonight and passed out on the sofa with the TV on.

1Or deleted, depending on what it is and who it comes from. Jokes are fine; stupidity lets me justify the use of my l33t delete po\\´3rz.

< Well it took just less than a month | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
The Iceland Diaries II - - Day 15 | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Date advice by Rogerborg (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 01:57:58 AM EST
Don't get pissed and start babbling that you love her.

Yes, I know this should go without saying, but we've pretty much established that you're an idiot in the presence of BEIGs.

Best of luck.

Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.

Nooooo.... by BadDoggie (2.00 / 0) #2 Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 02:56:17 AM EST
We've pretty clearly established that I'm an idiot regardless of BEIG's proximity, which just kinda greases the wheels.


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

[ Parent ]
I find that a flower wins points. by greyshade (2.00 / 0) #3 Wed Mar 02, 2005 at 11:12:53 PM EST
If I want to try to woo a girl on the first date, I bring a carnation and some small gift; usually a pair of earrings.  Women like getting suprises. 

"The other part of the fun is nibbling on them when they get off work." -vorheesleatherface
The Iceland Diaries II - - Day 15 | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback