Day one… (Keflavik, Reykjavik)

My good lady wife thought we should write about what we do as we do it, because otherwise we’ll forget and never be able to re-remember. She says she tried it once, with Patricia, in the Czech Republic, and it set a benchmark for all future holiday rememberings.

She may be onto something, too. There’s no way I would’ve remembered Keflavik’s tremendous display of non-native wildlife if we didn’t post about it today:

The cat stood alongside some crocodile skin shoes, and what might have once been a beaver, in surroundings that were quite distinct. The whole of Keflavik’s main terminal stank like a fisherman’s knickers, and we spent some time wondering if we were in the right place at all. All the signs said “Departures” and, having been last off the plane (to avoid several herds of squealing teenagers), the route was deserted. Unstaffed, remarkably posh duty free shops offered giant toblerones and Icelandic wool from behind dainty red ribbons, saying DO NOT ENTER CCTV. 

Anyhows. We finally managed to leave the airport building. Beautiful blue skies! Mountains! Rainbow pointing statues!

A really nice start. All the more so. Given we swiftly realised that we hadn’t been flying over vast mud flats. We’d been flying over SEAS OF VOLCANIC SCREE that look a lot like mud. Hell yeah!

So then we drove to reykjavik and I only drove on the wrong side of the road twice, which isn’t bad going really, given we didn’t die at all. Or go round roundabouts the wrong way. We passed through a grievously industrial wasteland, which proudly advertised itself as “City of the Elves,” which led us to think of miserable elves pressganged into forced labour behind the walls of one of the low, bleak warehouses. A also saw an oil pipeline, which she was very happy about. And we shared ongoing joy at the mountains. Which presented a long, low rising slab to our right; and which rose up into the mist out of a very fat slab of an island to our left. Lovely stuff. And A has just reminded me that we have a photo…

Then we arrived in Reykjavik. It’s all a bit industrial and strange. Lots and lots of corrugated iron. And not really any particularly distinct architectural styles. The sun was hammering down, though, so after being upgraded from our hotel room to a full-blown two-bed apartment, we went for a wander!

Iceland’s rocket ship to god was up the top of the road, so we started there:

With a great big axe-wielding hairy Viking out front, who’d been given to Iceland by America in 1930:

All things considered, I thought that the big hairy axe wielding Viking and I had quite a bit in common. A politely demurred, pointing out that I’m of better stature. (Either that, or “but he’s a statue.” Male hearing has never been too great in our family, but I know which version I prefer, and I’m sticking to it.)

There were lots of Japanese and English speaking people there, alongside three Icelandic toddlers, all wearing stripy outdoor pyjamas. As you do, I suppose. 

Then we went for a wander through Reykjavik, past a friendly cat:

 (We would appreciate it if no one told Nigel about this). 

The capital turned out to be very small, and filled with a remarkable number of hipsters, and large men wearing polar bear skin jackets, puffing vigorously on tremendously noxious cigars. We accidentally bought a £7 loaf from what we suspect might be Iceland’s poshest bakery, before sort of accidentally coming out of the bottom end of town without really realising we’d hit the middle. Fantastic people watching available throughout. And mountains and sea regularly visible off through the buildings, and the car parks. This picture doesn’t quite do them justice. 

There were several hen parties,; all of them bedecked, for reasons unknown, in zebra skin patterned shawls. And the city had a remarkably odd background sound effect, sort of like a horrendously tacky child coated in the dribblings of ten thousand boiled sweets, rolling around and around on the most inexcusably sticky nightclub floor. It was only after an hour or so that A pointed out that this was the sound of studded winter tyres rolling across metalled roads…

We were both beginning to feel tired, so headed across town before heading back up. And as we passed our Nth+1 gaggle of zebra hens, found ourselves walking alongside a huge frozen lake, with dozens of people walking around it.  

And then back to our apartment, via a supermarket where we spent £40 on, basically, some ham, muesli, chips, milk, and a toothbrush! Chips and bread for dinner. But, tbf, I think we’d both agree that our accidental £7 loaf is just about the most incredible bread we’ve ever tried. 

Oh! One last thing. They have Iceland in Iceland:

That kinda made my day. 

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