So Anne and I got to Iceland without any problems and wandered through the airport trying to find a place to rest our weary heads. We were able to find a sheltered place in between two poles, right behind the elevator. We tried to sleep there for a number of hours and then finally gave up. The ground was so cold that even if you had a body that thought solid granite tiles were comfortable, you would have froze anyway. Luckily we moved up into the seats that were near us, because an airport security guard was making his rounds. All those that were sleeping on the ground were greeted with a lovely “HELLO. YOU CAN”T SLEEP HERE.” repeated several times until the person woke up, looked around dazed, and grunted an acknowledgement. I posted on my Facebook wall about this event.
“I really hope that airport security guard doesn’t greet his wife the way he just greeted some people in the airport… That’s a voice that… Well it wakes ya up!”
Anne and I tried to sleep for a couple more hours, but weren’t very successful. Finally the sun came up and people started moving around and were getting ready to catch a flight from the airport, or a bus into town. I decided to try and charge my iphone and was able to find a plug. After a little while a young lady with a large pile of bags on a cart came walking by. A few moments later she came walking by again. It seemed that she was looking for something and I assumed it was a place to plug in her phone. So i offered her the outlet that I was using and she thankfully accepted. Little did I know that I was meeting someone that, along with Anne, I’d be spending the rest of the day with.
Her name was Esther and she was moving from Nova Scotia to London for Law School. We hit it off pretty well, especially when I saw that she had a guitar in her pile of bags. We talked music, travel and future plans. In the conversation I found out that Esther and I were staying at the same hostel, called KEX. Anne, Esther and I ended up taking the bus into town together and hung out for the rest of the day.
The bus ride took us from the airport to the capital city of Reykjavik in about 40 min. IT was a land of lava rock that looked like a scene from Lord of the Rings.
From the bus station the three of us ended up hauling our luggage up a the side of a hill and down the other side in search of our Hostel. After about a good half hour or more of wandering and pulling of luggage we found the hostel and dropped off our luggage. I was beginning to worry that we would never find this hostel and that my arms would fall off. Dragging any kind of luggage around a city with cobble stone streets does not bode well for the person dragging.
We ended up walking around the city for a little bit as we looked for a cafe to sit down in and drink a little coffee. We ended up at a little cafe that I had seen on a “Welcome to Iceland” documentary on the plane, called LOKI Cafe. It was a cute little cafe on a street corner next to the church at the center of town. We went in a had a cup of coffee and stared out the window at the Hallgrimskirkja Lutheran Church that was a looming landmark over the city. We decided that the church would be the next place we would go. We made our way over to the church, admired the interior with its giant organ and beautiful bell tower. The church is named after Hallgrimur Petursson, an Icelandic Poet and author of the Passion Hymns. We went to the top and looked out over the city and enjoyed being able to see everything. This was from the outside one of the most unique churches i’ve ever seen, but its interior was very plain, save for the organ.
On our way outside we stopped to take pictures with the Lief Erickson statue, the explorer born in Iceland. We ended up meeting a young man from Connecticut named Curtis. He was on his way to Sweden before he started his semester abroad studying acting in London. He was also wandering around for the day and so we added him to our trio and kept on moving.
We ended up walking right by the “12 Tonar” record store where OF MONSTERS AND MEN have played in the past. So of course I just had to get a picture with anything and everything I could find that had OF MONSTERS AND MEN on it. So I did. I also found out that they were going to be playing a free outdoor concert the saturday after I left. Lets just say I was somewhat saddened by this news, but I pressed on.
Right before we left 12 Tonar I asked the owner where a good local place to eat would be. He told us to check out the place on the next street down. Well we took his advice after some debate and I’m so glad that we did. As you can see from the pictures below I enjoyed every bit of my Lamb, roasted veggies and mashed potatoes. Also had my first taste of Icelandic beer and was more than impressed. The meal and the beer makes me give a high rating for this restaurant. The staff were above and beyond pleasant and I will visit this place again when I return to Iceland.
After the meal we all said goodbye to Anne as she left for the bus station, to get back to the airport for her flight. So glad to have met her when I did. She really helped make my iceland experience memorable and I hope she made it back to Minnesota alright and that we will meet again soon.
After that I parted ways with Curtis and Esther for a couple hours to go back to the hostel, check in, and sleep. I must tell you, that was certainly a pleasant experience. I don’t remember much of it, but when it comes to sleeping, that is a very good thing.
After I awoke from my deep, jet lag induced, slumber, I stumbled into Esther and Curtis again. We spent some time at the hostels bar, enjoying some of the fine brews and snacks that were offered. One of those tasty treats were the “Devil on A Horseback”, which were dates wrapped in bacon. So delicious when consumed with a local Einstok IPA brew from the tap. Below gives you a better picture of what happened.
We went out on the town and walked into a couple different establishments, enjoying the unique atmosphere of places like The Lebowski Bar and Kantiff. The Lebowski Bar was themed after the great Cohen Brothers Cult Classic, “THE BIG LEBOWSKI.” This Restaurant has some of the best french fries i’ve ever eaten. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that they added more pepper on the fries then salt, but I will have to go back again to get a better understanding of what made them taste so good. Im up for round two!
The goal of the evening was to find and eat a world famous Icelandic Hot Dog. So after enjoying a few moments in these other establishments, we pressed on to find our goal.
THEN… after much walking and talking and looking at books that were all in Icelandic we FOUND THE HOTDOGS. It was so difficult to find this place. There were no signs with letters made out of lights that said FAMOUS HOTDOGS HERE! It was just a small stand that was well hidden behind one of the tourist bus stations. I think i know why they were so well hidden though. They were pretty darn great. They had all the usual things on it like Ketchup and such, but it also mayo, fried onions and special mustard that really gave it a unique flavor. Im actually sitting here thinking about having another one right now. So many reason to go back to Iceland.
So my time out on the streets of Reykjavik had come to and end. It was time to go back to the hostel and start to wind down and get ready for the flight the next morning.
But you can’t go on a trip around europe playing music and not take out your guitar and play some tunes before the end. I’m so glad I felt that way.
I went up to my room and got my guitar, and started playing outside with Esther and Curtis. I played some music and then gave the guitar over to Esther and she rocked out some tunes. It was a great way to just ease out of a trip and back into reality.
Then I was invited by the table next to me, that was filled with cyclists and their friends, to come over and play some music. Of course I wasn’t going to say no! I played “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel and they really enjoyed it. I found out that this group was partially from Canada and partially from the Basque Country in the north of Spain. We all moved to a different table and I gave my guitar over to the guys from the Basque and they played some spanish tunes. I recognized some of them and sang along with what I knew. The whole group was singing along and it got a little loud for 10:00pm at night. But then they handed the guitar back to me and I thought it was fitting to play “Country Roads” by John Denver. They must have been on the same wavelength because when I started to play they started to sing along with me and boy did it get loud.
We all could relate to the song and the idea of “country roads” taking us home. This was our last day here in Iceland and it was our last day on the road. We were all from different places and we all came together here at this hostel in Iceland not knowing each others stories or situations. By the end of just these few moments together there was a comrade-ray between us that we all understood. These are the moments in travel that I live for. The ones where you are understood by people who are going through the same things as you. This moment will be frozen forever in memory in the picture below. It was the perfect way to end the trip.
In the end its always about the people you meet along the way that makes travel so worthwhile. My Iceland experience wouldn’t have been half of what it was if it wasn’t for the people pictured below. Thanks you guys. And thanks to the one who brought us together. Love that there is a bigger plan in all of this and i’m excited to see what it will be.
I thought it was fitting to have this pillow to rest my weary head on for the flight back to the USA. Thanks Iceland for singing my European tour to sleep in such glorious fashion.