Iceland after an all-nighter.

This is my first blog post, though it’s the night of my 4th day in Iceland (my first landing). I’ll warn all of you that I’m actually a little drunk at the moment. Icelandic beer is really dark and really strong – 9.2% ABV. I just drank one bottle called “Lava: Olvisholt Brugghus” and one bottle called “Black Death: Drink in Peace”. The first one tasted kind of like smoke. The second one was like chocolate. Please excuse any grammatical errors in this post.

Yum.

I’ve been meaning to blog for several days, but just haven’t had the chance. Luckily, I’ve been keeping a running list of all the things I need to blog about since I arrived last Wednesday morning.

Day 1. My flight from DC left around 9PM Tuesday, and after a sleepless flight, I landed outside of Reykjavik at 6:20 AM.  Was greeted in the airport by a large poster of baby animals (fox, fawn, puppy, kitten [“the cutest lad in town”], etc.) with the slogan, “Our cutest animals welcome you to Iceland”. WTF?! After an all-nighter, I found this highly amusing.

Though I’m trekking around the world on my own, my friend Hannah is accompanying me on my Iceland trip. Her flight from Boston conveniently arrived 10 minutes after mine. We met and made our way to our rental car location.  Thus began our Icelandic adventures.

In Iceland, they have roundabouts instead of intersections and yield signs instead of stop signs. Took some getting used to, but it’s a much more efficient system. Especially since everyone drives a manual.

After discussing some crucial details with the Blue Car Rental rep., (Question: “Sooooo, what DOES our insurance cover?” Answer: “Gravel. But not to the windows”.) I got in the driver’s seat and turned the key. Nothing. Tried again. Nothing. Looked at the representative, who was peering curiously over Hannah’s shoulder through the passenger window. He said something in Icelandic. Confused, I wondered if I was being stupid, if there was something special I had to do to get this car to start. Do diesel cars start differently? Am I so sleep-deprived that I forgot how to get an engine going? Through a confusing English/Icelandic and heavily accented (on both sides, I’m sure) conversation, we figured out he’d killed the battery by leaving the doors open since 5AM, 2 hours before we arrived to the rental agency. We sat in the car as he went over to another similar model, removed the battery, and replaced our dead one with the battery of another car…..    totally normal start to the day.

We’d rented a GPS, and once our car finally got going we made our way to our hostel in Reykjavik, about a 30 minute drive.

Our cute little car, after making an emergency pull-off to photograph the obvious…(it’s a double, if you look closely).

We arrived to our hostel, KEX, around 8AM, hoping desperately to nap for a few hours. Of course, as soon as we arrived we learned we couldn’t check in until 2PM.

Inside KEX Hostel. This is where we had coffee every morning before going adventuring.

Hannah and I made our way to a coffee shop, Loki, and ordered the only thing on the menu that we could decipher: “Bagel”.  The bagel arrived, covered in a mixture of cheese and marmalade.  Yep.  Icelandic food is kind of weird.

At Loki, they were selling the CDs of a local artist. We were intrigued by the cover art.

Baaaa!……????

We inquired with a bartender later that night whether this was a real picture. He was confident that sheep can actually fly like that.

After coffee, we walked around Reykjavik, exhausted, delirious, but happy. It was freezing and windy. We hadn’t slept. This is what Reykjavik looks like:

View of Reykjavik from a church bell tower

Here is the church we climbed to take the picture of Reykjavik:

We climbed that. It was our easiest climb in Iceland.

Here is another building in Reykjavik:

We sneaked inside this and checked out the view from the top floor.

The interior of the above building was really cool, too:

The fancy building’s interior. Glassy and shapey.

Weird glassy walls and my weird windburned face

Eventually we took a 15 minute nap in our car, and when we could finally check in to the hostel, we took another 1.5 hour nap. Then we got up and kept on truckin’. We ventured down by the water, only a few blocks from our hostel. Words cannot describe the wind or the wind chill. All I can say is I couldn’t feel my face for a while. And then it hurt after it thawed. For quite a while.

On the shore by the hostel

Most popular restaurant in Reykjavik. We didn’t go. They mostly sell hot dogs.

We explored the city on foot, found a decent restaurant, enjoyed lobster wraps and really shitty Viking beer for dinner, then found a great little bar to close the night. I’m proud of the fact that after less than 2 hours of sleep since Monday night, we managed to stay awake until really late on Wednesday. Take that, adulthood.

View from near our hostel. (We climbed that mountain later on. NBD.)

Takeaways:

  • Iceland is really, really, really windy. It’s so cold by the ocean that it takes your breath away. My winter hat blew off several times and wearing a hood is pointless as it essentially creates a sail behind your head.
  • It smells a bit fishy here.
  • Viking beer is their equivalent of something like Busch Lite. We do not recommend.
  • Lobster is super cheap.  Other than lobster, food is $$$$$.
  • After not sleeping, and feeling like you’ve been in the US and Iceland in the same day, and then driving in Reykjavik “rush hour”, and eating cheese and jam mixed together on one bagel, and seeing sheep fly, and having your entire face go numb, you come to the realization that nothing in Iceland makes sense but it’s going to be really f*ckin’ awesome.

Generally how I feel about Iceland.

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