In Iceland They Believe in Elves

Most Icelanders believe in the existence of elves. After having been up for about 24 hours, with a short nap or two thrown in, I think I may have seen an elf or two.

Kathy and I landed in Reykjavik at the Keflavik airport at about 6:55 am (or about 3 am TO time), and were immediately stunned by the airport. It was like the whole place came flat packed from IKEA. It even smelled like an IKEA…all that blonde wood and sleek lines…I almost expected to see a blue arrow on the ground directing me through customs or to have someone hand me a allen key…. They are so efficient here that we got off the plane, got through customs and arrived at the baggage claim within about 10 minutes of landing. And to my incredible surprise, our luggage was already going round the belt line.

We got on our transport bus, and then the efficiency ended. It took ages to get to the hotel — and the landscape outside the city is truly a moonscape. I couldn’t really wrap my head around the fact that it was real and not a movie set. And every so often, apropos of nothing, there would be a park bench by the side of the road. Is it actually possible that people get out of the car for a nice picnic lunch in this Mars-like place?

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Oh the rush hour traffic…not. There are only 320,000 in the whole country. Granted, most of them live in Reykjavik, but still. It’s a bit eerie to have all these buildings and facilities and no body really around.

We did finally arrive at the Hotel Natura, although it took a little while as there seems to be a fair amount of daily turnover in this hotel. There were some very grumply people in line (and not us, we were just resigned/tired, except when the grumpy people were being jerks.) We seemed to be plagued by people in front of us asking endless questions and pestering staff about prices… after they’ve already read all the details months ago. It’s a package people, say thank you and check in. Some of us needed a shower. And breakfast. Which was good, and some of the Icelandic breakfast dishes were particularly good — like the skyr, which is like greek yoghurt, and this barley oatmeal like cereal, and the bread, oh the bread. I took a pass on the herring, the caviar from a tube, the small shot glass of cod liver oil, and the maple syrup flavour pancake goo. I”m Canadian, I know maple syrup people, and that ain’t it.

It’s not that cold, but the wind is UNREAL. We are going to have bad hair in all our photos, all week long.

We got bus passes from the hotel so after a shower and breakfast, we took ourselves into town for a wander around. It’s a really nice little city, very much a harbour town and a small town vibe. Easy to navigate (apparently) although Kathy is already stunned by my directional incompetency. She just laughs every time I say, oh yeah, I’m sure it’s that way…then she walks in the right direction.

It’s kind of amazing to be in a place where every sign is totally unpronounceable. I see a shop, read the sign, and have no idea what’s for sale inside.

Everything is so incredibly expensive, but we did go to the Bonus grocery store for some supplies. Why the Bonus “mascot” is a fairly drunk looking pig is a mystery. Lots of strange packaging — why the cat with the big muscles, wearing a where’s waldo striped t-shirt on the chocolate milk? The white milk is easy to spot. It’s called Muu.

We’re back at the hotel, we;ve used the spa (sauna, steam room, pool, hot tub), which is an experience in itself. Let’s just say the Scandanavian culture takes a different view of public nudity than say we North Americans…. You can tell which side Kathy and I play for…

After 24 hours, I’ve finally taken my contact lenses out (my eyes can breathe again!) And we’re preparing for an early bed tonight (I just realized that for all of you it’s only 1:43 pm), so we can be up and ready for our glacier tour tomorrow at 8 am sharp.

More tomorrow after our adventures with volcanos, glaciers and waterfalls. In the wise words of my 6 year old nephew, we will not be walking on the ice fields if it’s very hot out. It’s not safe.

All for now from the land of white nights, Lief Eriksson and fermented shark snacks….

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