Thursday, May 26, 2011

I could hardly drink my morning shower scotch.

From 1700-2000, I took a "Sense of Reykjavik" tour, which the four of us agreed should be called the "Taste of Reykjavik" tour. (I mean, which would you rather go on? And it involves 3 foodie tastings at 3 different places!)

Our first stop, just really pretty. I could have done without the wind.

None of us could even guess what was up with these two, even our tour guide was clueless. I almost missed them, actually, but the other girl on the tour by herself noticed them. She herself was actually fairly annoying, but I'm glad these caught her eye. (She was okay at first, but after a few hours...just...ugh. And I'm not even sure I can describe why she was annoying...I think she was just talking too much, you know? I did not pay for this tour to listen to you...)

Anyway. Bjork's house! I could see a man inside on the second floor. I hope she knows him.

This is the Church of Hallgrimur. It is very tall--you can see it from nearly everywhere and there is an amazing organ inside, which seems to get played nearly every day. You can go up in the tower, but we did not.

There were some great statues nearby, each having good stories associated with them, nearly none of which I remember. This one is something about Thor's Dream? To be fair, the guide was trying to get us to the first restaurant before 6, so I think he forgot this one.

This is a woman rising up in waves (again, no idea why), but for some reason there are tiny people caught up in the tide...


And this one was pretty cool. It's fairly famous (or at least the story behind it is?) because the woman (or angel, or God, or what-have-you) is protecting the boy. The ball (again, no idea where this comes from, but he told us) represents risk, and the boy holding it by his heart generally means that while the boy is protected, his choices are still up to him, and the risk lies with him.

The guide told the story much better, in any case.

And see, now we're inside the little restaurant whose name I never caught.

We had tea, coffee and some of the freshest fish! The pink guys on the left are trout, with sweet maple roll-up thin pancake things in the middle, and a mixture of fish-potato on the end. I'm not a huge fish person, but these were all fantastic.

Random, but I have a new respect for Icelandic. You always hear that Arabic, Japanese and English are the hardest languages, but I think this one needs to be added. And after having it explained to me how Icelandic works and where it comes from (which I will not go into incorrectly here), I cannot believe anyone can learn it. Lots of old Norse and craziness. I mean, look at this godddamn sign, will you?!

Just pretty streets.

More pretty. That is City Hall there on the right.

Better view of it. Also, this is back in my part of town...

This is basically five minutes behind my Guesthouse, and Restaurant #2 was here.

This. Whatever it says.

I think it was also some sort of historical house, but this was the room we sat in. They didn't seem to be a proper "restaurant," but it was hard to say what it was...

We had more tea and some lamb dishes. The guide described them as "lamb pate," for lack of a better description.

The grey one was more of a pate, the pink one was smoked. Both were quite good!

We walked back through the city center, where he stopped to talk to us about the House of Parliament. While we were there, this was going on with a bunch of kids. Who knows what they're doing, but there was loud music involved. Oh, and there were 2 men passed out by a bench on the ground. The police came, arrested them and marched them past us while we talked. Weird.

This was pretty neat...the guide was explaining how to find your way around Reykjavik, how the numbers go up or down (depending on where you are), but that basically this was the starting point. Zero, if you will.

We then walked down to the fishing wharf...for restaurant #3!

The view was incredible, needless to say!

This may not look like much, but it was a hearty lobster bisque. And damn was it good. Since it was pretty chilly out, this (and some bread with butter--Icelandic butter seems to be sweeter!) really hit the spot.

And no, I did not buy myself some mink whale! ;)

The tour actually went over (as he said it always does) but nearly to 2100! I was pretty anxious to get back to my guesthouse and see the city center on my own. Nothing is very far, so when it was over I was probably 5 minutes from my place. I dropped off most of my stuff and went in search of a happening-but-not-crazy bar. I ended up with Dubliners (seriously, there is one in every city in the world and I have no doubt they are not related in any way).

There was a fantastic 5 or 6 piece band playing traditional Irish music, which also involved singing and dancing. It was really lovely, especially when paired with the book I was reading and a good Icelandic beer: a Polar Bear. (Actually, Polar Bear was nothing special, but it was fun to order.)

The downside was the drunk (?) Irish man. He came and sat next to me and I was cordial and spoke with him. I am not opposed to chatting with others in bars, and just because I bring a book doesn't mean I hate conversation. But this guy was a serious douche.

It was rapidly apparent that he was either drunk or stupid (or both?) and I could not decide which. I kept turning away from him to watch the band, and when he did leave, I was ecstatic at the ease with which that success had come. But then he came back later.

Douchebag: "How's the reading going?"

EA: "Still going."

I seriously could only understand about 30% of what this guy said. And he basically started giving me shit (I think?) about why I was there. He flat-out asked why I was there.

EA: "Why are YOU here?"

Douchenugget: "Because I have to drink."

EA: "Well, I like to have a drink. I like to be around people, I like the I need a reason?"

DN: "No."

And I think at some point he said something along the lines of: "Why don't you (we?) fuck off out of here?" I don't think it was quite as obvious as that (?) and maybe he was still asking why I was there, but I played ignorant because it was easier. Right around this time he wanted to borrow my book and read it--but he said he was a slow reader and should have it back to me in 10 hours. I was pretty clear about that part, not that it makes any sense. It is very hard to decipher an idiotic drunk Irish man with a thick, working-class brogue.

Best of all, given my dilemma, I happened to look up to the top of the bar at one point, only to see a sign that read: "The worst part of being a bartender is trying to decide who's drunk and who's just stupid." I openly laughed.

It finally ended when he came up a third and final time and said, "Are you looking for someone better?" I just stared at him for several beats, with a confused look on my face, and said, "I'm not looking for anyone."

Despite the annoying fuck-wits who may have from time to time approached me, this was the first time ever that I nearly openly had to say, "And you know what? You're actually offending me. I need you to GO. AWAY." And I would have had absolutely NO PROBLEM doing just that. But luckily, he must have finally sensed that he was one mousefart away from the get-the-fuck-away-from-me talk, and he stayed gone.

So I had another beer, another singer came and played, it was lovely and I headed home around midnight. It was a 6 minute walk or so and again, I seemed to have the whole house to myself.

I got up around 815am or so for a 900am pickup to the Blue Lagoon. And that's where I'll have to pick up next time! Blue Lagoon and Dill Restaurant!

But today is good--Mladić has been arrested and it's pretty much one big party here. I'm chilling some white wine and B should be home soon. We were planning on going to a social event tonight, but it has gotten really chilly out (for the most part, it has been gorgeous every day) with rain. :( Oh well!


Triana said...

Wow! Love it all! I knew I should have stowed away in your suitcase. Thank you for the lovely write-ups, I can't wait to see more!

Ellen Aim said...

It was a really pretty place! I definitely recommend layovers there! ;) (Even with the volcano risk.)