(I started this last night, but had to go to bed before I could add pics and publish...)
I am in the Hague! It is beautiful. Do not use Amex checks here. Or anywhere in the Netherlands. They do not take them. HAHAHAA, SURPRISE! Well, the airport exchanges them and I have a lead on 2 places that MIGHT. Sigh. Luckily my landlady is very understanding and my flatmate (who is here with me from home) is awesome and keeps offering to lend me money in the meantime, should I need it. (I changed $300 at the airport, out of necessity, but it was only 182 Euros. Awesome. NOT.) So I still have cash, but I didn't take out enough for the week AND rent, you know? So I'll pay rent when I get my $$.
But first things first...Iceland! First of all, soooooo glad I missed the volcanic explosion the day after I left! But overall, the place is very expensive and the people were going to get a B, but I have to give them a B+ in light of my last night. (That story comes at the end of the night I ate at Dill Restaurant--though certainly not due to the waitstaff...but still. Seven Courses. I had never done that before! Pics and descriptions to follow.)
So when I first got there, it was EARLY. Like, 7am. But I was met at the airport, no problems. I got dropped off at 1912 Guesthouse--and this was new for me--it was an unmanned guesthouse! However, it was a breeze and there were no snafus--I had the door code and the key was in my door, a dark little room with a single bed, wardrobe and I think maybe a tiny table. But you know what? That was one mother-fuckin' COMFY-ASS bed. (The duvet was mostly the star.)
Sexy red doors.
This is just the street name.
It's a three-story guesthouse, WC on each floor, maybe 3-4 rooms on each floor, and best of all? 95% of the time, it was just myself and one other girl, Alison from New York. I saw her briefly as I went in initially, and then again on my last night. (The morning I left at the ass-crack of dawn, two of the rooms next to mine had their keys missing--meaning new inhabitants.) But Alison and I agreed that while it was nice to feel as if we each had the place all to ourselves, in the backs of our minds we were also thinking, "Um, I guess it's safe?"
And certainly, for the most part, yes. Bad place/bad time can happen anywhere, but Reykjavik did strike me as quite safe and easygoing. It is, however, nut-wrenchingly expensive, "bad economy" or no.
I really liked staying at that guesthouse, but mostly because I always got the bathroom, I could set up my laptop in the main room and let Jon Stewart play while I sorted out my packing in my room...no one else to worry about. You can't always plan on that. :/ But it was a reasonable price for very basic accommodations in an ideal spot. It was secluded away from douchey-ness and yet one block away from good times.
This is the big Catholic church (not that big, actually) just outside my guesthouse. Makes for an excellent landmark. That and the House of Parliament, also one block away.
(The crown is leftover from Denmark. They didn't take it down/destroy it in an effort to maintain...good feelings, for lack of a better description?)
So when I got in, I got settled and checked my email, then took a 1.5 hour catnap in an effort to be in control of my jet-lag. (Which meant I woke up just before 11am when things were getting going anyway.) I walked around the city center, which was quiet and still mostly sleepy, and the main shopping street was about five minutes away.
This is the entry way to the long strip of foodie-clothing shops.
I did not go to Asia.
Pretty scenery while shopping!
Ok! Who wants to go to hell? :D Seriously, I was tempted to try whale. (It would have been for a nice dinner, not some whimsical lunch.) I am usually excited to try something daring, but I wasn't really feeling it. I pussed out, I'm sorry. I certainly didn't want puffin (but mostly because I hear they taste like liver, not because they're cute), but I was minorly intrigued by whale, I admit it. It's a huge dish here. I did not get to sample this time, and I am also okay with that.
I did not go in here, wishing to retain at least some of my cash.
I think what they mean to say is "Tea and Coffee." ;)
There was a lot of graffiti all around Reykjavik. (You have to click on the image, I think, to read the writing and to appreciate the glittery building top.) So much of it was fun and artistic, but there was also more than a fair share of "tagging"-type bullshit...
I did buy one of these, though. It was 990IS, which was basically like an $8.50 chocolate bar? But look at those tasty BITS all in it! I got the pistachio one. And nursed it for several days, well into The Netherlands. Worth it.
Afterwards, I hit a little gay bar/cafe for lunch, in an effort to support the local gayborhood.
(I was actually at the little place to the left--this pink place was called "Megan's" and is an evening joint.)
Oh my, I had the saddest "nachos" ever, I don't think the place was really intended for actual food. She even seemed a little surprised that I wanted food.
It was an interesting place...there was "queer literature," (see, off to the left) which she at one point let me know I was more than welcome to, but I never did get to peruse the offerings to see if it was in anything other than Icelandic.
Someone has very strong opinions about something. (This was written on a flyer for something (a music group?) on the wall next to me.)
My first vacation beer of the trip! :D
So it was a cute, quiet place. I had two Icelandic beers and caught up on my writing. Afterwards, I went in search of a good lazy-yet-informative tour for the afternoon in addition to Blue Lagoon tickets, both of which I found from the same place, for a decent price.
While waiting for my tour, I had about an hour to kill, but I had pretty much seen the area and was happy to seek out a nice spot to relax while reading my book. The tours tend to pick you up from your hotel, and I didn't want to walk all the way back, so they just picked me up at a hotel a block away. There was a cute little restaurant/bar, so I had second lunch, which consisted of:
A second type of Icelandic beer and...
...this. I think it was "French chocolate cake," but names really don't matter. I know that strawberry looks small and shy, but he was really quite tasty. (Wow, getting dangerously close to potential dialogue for the post-law-school bodice-ripper I plan on publishing in order to pay rent: "He didn't taste shy...").
Anyway, I took a bunch of pics on the tour, so I think I should start another post!