June 25, 2015

June 25, 2015

Iceland, Day 1: Arrival and Nauseam

Since we never took a honeymoon, our first anniversary was approaching, and we hadn’t stamped our passports since auld lang 2013, TheBoy and I decided to sample the best Iceland had to offer during a week in June. Spoiler alert: Lots of sheep roaming the fields, lots of lamb stew. Circle of life.

We took Icelandair, both because it flies direct from Dulles and because the best flight I ever had was Korean Air to Korea and I’ve been trying to recapture that glory for years. While Icelandair wasn’t nearly up to Korean standards (what COULD be?), they do name their planes.

No Ragnarok?

So there’s that.

Due to the curvature of the earth or some such, we left DC at 9 PM and arrived at Reykjavik at 6 AM despite an actual flight time of 6 hours. Mmkay. Our general post-flight grogginess was smacked into submission by the weather, described by our flight attendant as “Icelandic summer drizzle.”

Dude, where’s my sun?

Thankfully, we realized as we went through customs, exchanged money, and left the airport that everyone in Iceland speaks English and takes credit cards. Your humble blogger, who STILL has Jordanian dinar sitting in a desk drawer, was immensely relieved.

Those without credit can also pay with this colorful moolah.

We stayed in a short-term apartment rental. More guesthouse than Airbnb—there was a receptionist and maid service every other day. (Iceland’s major industry is tourism, and Reykjavik is jam-packed with lodgings of all sizes.) We dropped our stuff and headed out for some traditional Icelandic grub. TheBoy at regular human food, but I had “Icelandic Plate I,” which included multiple kinds of fish and sheepshead jelly. SHEEPSHEAD JELLY, guys.

Q: One of these things is not like the others, in that it’s edible. A: Mashed turnip, bottom right.

During the entire meal, I kept saying, “This is horrible. This is fantastic.” It was exactly what I wanted in that it was simultaneously disgusting and authentic. I didn’t throw up, but I was probably 85% there. Dig. Plus, the restaurant was across the street from Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland.

Can’t beat that view, other than with sunshine.

After eating/tolerating our lunch, met up with a walking tour of the city, just to orient ourselves and get a local’s perspective. Our guide, Hlolli,* showed us the Prime Minister’s residence…


…the Parliament…


…and told us all about the elves. In his words, “We call them ‘Hidden People,’ but I will call them elves for simplicity.” 54% of Icelanders believe in elves, and when you consider them spectrum of supernatural beliefs, it could be worse.

We had been up for something like 36 hours straight at that point, so we grabbed some food from a local supermarket—in which the refrigerated section was a refrigerated room—watched a little German QVC on cable, and called it a day.

In Day 2: The Golden Circle. Not about peeing, ya perv.

*Downside of having a name like "Hlolli": American tourists can't pronounce it. Upside: You get hlolli@gmail.com.

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