After we spent the better part of the day lounging in an earth-heated stream in the middle of red dirt mountains, surrounded by sulfur plumes and boiling mud holes (see previous post), Hannah and I found our car and drove on, stopping periodically to take pictures of the incredible landscape that surrounded us.
Eventually we both got a little hungry, which was not ideal as our GPS search for a restaurant – in Icelandic – kept leading us to gas stations. We were in very, very remote Iceland, surrounded by nothing but fields, sheep, and snow-covered mountains. Hanger set in, and for both Hannah and me, this is an unfortunate experience. I think we both inherited the when-I’m-hungry-I-need-food-now-or-I’ma-smack-someone gene. (Thanks, Dad!). We debated “accidentally” running over one of the fat little sheepies as it crossed the road, but decided that this was not the best decision.
Finally, we came upon a hella fancy hotel in the middle of nowhere, called Hotel Ranga. Our plea of, “Can we just eat dinner here?” was quickly granted, and we were seated in a glass room amongst Iceland’s finest tourists from all over the globe. Of course, Hannah and I were covered in hot spring algae and trail mud, and definitely smelled faintly of sulfuric gas. Keepin’ it classy, as always!
We had already submitted ourselves to paying way more than we could afford for this meal, so we decided to make it count. We ordered a glass of house red apiece (living large!), and then we ordered THIS:
At this point I’ll remind you that I’ve been a vegetarian (with the exception of the occasional fish) for over six years. So, here I am, in Iceland, presented with raw reindeer and dark red puffin meat. I obviously couldn’t say no. Also, I knew going into this round-the-world trip that I’d end up cheating on my vegetables. I really do want to get the “real” cultural experience everywhere, and I know that will require me to eat some goat and some sheep parts and, in this case, Rudolph.
Since this dinner, I have also ingested the following locally enjoyed meat products:
- Shark (Putrefied shark, to be exact. More on that later.)
- Dried Fish Jerky Thing
- Lamb Stew (just a bite of Hannah’s)
- Cod Mash Stew
- Raw Salmon
Somehow, by the grace of the meat gods, I have not become deathly ill.
The day after this, Hannah and I were driving to another hiking trail and had stopped to look at a map that was posted by the road. We met some fellow travelers, 3 men from the US. During our conversation, one of them asked excitedly, “And did you guys see a puffin!?” to which we responded, “No. …But we ate one.”
Toward the end of dinner, the restaurant manager came over to our table and said, “You all are just here eating?” We responded, “Yes, we just finished a long hike”. And then he said, “Yes, you came in off the street!”. We were a bit taken aback by this curt comment. GEEZ, Viking Hotel Manager, you wanted us to put on clean clothes before dining in your restaurant? You wanted us to knock the mud from our boots before walking on your shiny wooden floors? You wanted us to NOT split an entree? OUR BAD.
In revenge, we went to a gas station, bought some beer, and camped out in our car in the darkened hotel parking lot to try to see the northern lights. The sky was incredibly clear, and the night was crisp and cold. We were told earlier in our trip that it had still been too warm for regular northern lights, but as seeing them is on Hannah’s Bucket List for Life, we wanted to try. We sat there for several hours, and we didn’t see any northern lights, but I did pee in that hater’s fancy hotel parking lot. So all was not lost.