Day 1 – 3rd and 4th

Alright, it’s time to write up my journal about the things that happened in Iceland. Quickly, before it all disappears from my brain.

It all started with the plane from San Francisco to Denver. Which as I recall was in the afternoon and there were no issues getting to the gate. That first leg was fairly uneventful. In Denver I had quite a layover. It was something like 4 hours. I went to a magazine shop and flipped through some photography magazines that were low on the shelf. Left the store, and found a place to sit and read a bit of my camera manual. I went to check my boarding pass, just to remember which time we were boarding, and wait a second- it was gone! So I searched through things but then figured it must have fallen out of one of my pockets, as things often do. Went back to the store and there was my boarding pass on the front counter. Alright. First adventure of the trip was over. I treated myself to a very nice steak and mashed potatoes before heading to the gate. Finished reading the camera manual and had a short conversation with a journalist who was interested in which camera I was learning about.

On the plane I met a true Icelander! He was young, but for half of the trip I thought he was in his late 20s. Turns out he was 19. And I couldn’t figure out if the little obnoxious boy next to him was his brother or his son… Anyhow, we had the typical America-is-pretty-weird conversation, and talked about various things. He gave me some suggestions for things to eat or see, and I gave him my business card (He never contacted me, but I kind of expected that). Anyhow, got very little sleep, and watched Prometheus, which I didn’t like. Arrived in Iceland at about 6 in the morning.

I made my way through immigration, and then because the customs officer – a very good looking girl – had nothing better to do she decided to scan my bag. I kind of wish she had found something suspicious so I could have chatted her up, but actually I was pretty tired and out of it so that probably wouldn’t have been the best idea.

Tired and sore, I found the Budget car rental office and sorted out the car rental details. Of course because I was renting it earlier than I said I would, it added a day onto the rental (it works on a 24 hour basis). But the guy was very friendly and even gave me a list of radio stations to try out. I was in that mood I get in when I lack sleep, but despite that I was very hungry (no food on the plane) so I grabbed a bagel and a coffee. This was the first time I got a glimpse of how expensive Iceland was, but I sort of expected that. I think it was almost $10 just for a bagel and coffee…

Went out to the car, which was a small adventure because it was freezing cold and extremely windy outside. Within a few steps I realized I had horribly misjudged the climate of the country, and I had definitely packed the wrong hat. Made my way to the car, and as the wise traveler I am I took photos of the outside of the car. Got in and warmed up, examining the map and trying to figure out how I would get to the KEX hostel. Drove to the parking lot exit, put my voucher ticket in, and then it came out AND BLEW AWAY! So crazy me, I backed up, re-parked, and tried to find the ticket. Then realized that the entire parking lot was littered with blown away parking vouchers, all frozen over slightly covered with ice. So I ran back inside and got another ticket, and went back to the ticket machine. This time I put the ticket in, and then it came out, and the bar didn’t rise. So I did it again. And again. And it didn’t work! So I pressed the help-me button, and waited. And waited. Pressed it a few more times. Waited. FINALLY after maybe 15 minutes a guy came on asking what was the matter and I told him it didn’t work! So the bar was raised and I finally got out of the airport.

Which was fine because it delayed me enough to have a nice sunrise as I rode the 30 minutes into Reykjavik, admiring the rocks and snow and natural beauty in the dawn light, while trying to figure out the appropriate speed. Actually it turns out that the first two days that I had the rental car, I had accidentally been putting the car into a semi-manual setting where it used the lowest gear until it revved up to dangerous levels and then switched. I thought it was acting a bit strange until I finally found out that to put it into regular Drive you just pull the stick down, and not push it left into manual mode.

Alright. What a loquacious start to this journal.

Drove to the hostel, and to my happy surprise I learned I could not check in until 2 pm! Which mean I was stuck in the lobby, gross feeling, probably gross smelling, and not able to sleep.

So I waited around. I decided I would try to take a small walk around the city and holy popsicles, it was cold. Yes, the temperature was negative, but that wasn’t the problem. Wind was the problem. Iceland is an extremely windy country. Which is probably because there are no trees, and the coastal areas are pretty flat.

My first encounter was bittersweet. I really enjoyed the feeling of being somewhere new, discovering little things here and there, seeing things in a different language. Different architecture. But I froze my butt walking around. I’m resilient, so I walked up to the church, peeked in, and then decided that was enough and went back to the hostel for some coffee and a bit of planning. Then I picked out a nice spot on one of the couches and proceeded to sleep a few hours. Finally got up right around 2 to check into my room and slept a few more hours.

I can’t remember what time I got up, but I felt a whole lot better and took a shower. Oh the hot water was amazing. And there was no guilt in using the hot water! Because Iceland is made of hot water. That was nice, and then went to the reception to ask about dinner places and found a British guy also asking about dinner, so asked to join him. George, a horn player, was a pretty cool guy and we went to a tapas place downtown. They had this “Iceland Feast” deal where you could try 7 various Icelandic foods, including puffin, whale, and skyr. Except it was a little pricey. Had a nice time and came back. Talked with George and an Italian named Jiacomo until I was too tired to exist any more, and retired to sleep.

Before sleeping I wrote an email to Maggie (if I don’t remember who she was, she was this really beautiful girl that I adored, but because of med school she eventually didn’t have time to develop anything after the trip):

Dearest Margaret,
It has been a long journey, and my bones ache, my brain is a bit broken, and my eyes have felt better days. But i’m happy, I made it and Iceland is proving to be wonderful. It’s cold, colder than Hoth in winter, but there are no Tantans. The wind is violent, the seas are choppy, and the clouds are gloomy, but the faces of these people seem to indicate otherwise. As cold as my ears may get, the warmth of the people I’ve met seem to make everything else not matter.

I had a really expensive dinner. It was Tapas, and I got this sampler of many basic Icelandic foods. Ate puffin, shark, whale, ling (?), sea trout, mini lobster, and this cheesecake-like dessert that was so good. I would hate to find out that if i paid less for the meal, those dishes wouldnt have tasted as good.

Made some friends already, George the horn player from the UK, and Jacamo the Italian. Spent a lot of time talking about my travels to Jacamo and he seemed to indicate that I changed his life by showing how passionate I was about it…

I really like your new profile photo. You’re gorgeous.

We’ll see how tomorrow goes! I probably won’t be emailing you everyday but I had some time and a little energy before sleeping today to send one :)

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