The death of the hard-drive a few days ago really threw a spanner in the works when it came to writing about Iceland. When I got it back on Thursday afternoon, it took ages to reload everything back onto it, then there was no time to write on Friday because we spent the day at the Blue Lagoon and then flew back to Heathrow on Friday night, and had no internet access at le hotel…
Enough of that!
Iceland is AMAZING!! Reykjavik is a beautiful, stylish, bustling little city, filled with cobbled streets, underground coffee shops, people dressed up as whale tails, handing out pamphlets saying ‘Meet us, don’t eat us’ to passersby, and cats! Cats everywhere!! Friendly cats, up for a pat and a cuddle ALL THE TIME! Cats that would cross the road to meet ME, rather than me stalking them, as I tend to do in Melbourne… I had a lot of great cat time here.
Everything is Reykjavik is quaint and cute and cosy and safe. It’s super lovely.
On Tuesday morning, Rich and I were up bright and early, had a bowl of muesli in our little apartment on Framnesvegur and made our way down to the docks for a tour of Reykjavik by bike. We got there stupidly early, so had a coffee at Haiti Cafe, then had a little wander around the docks.
At 9.45am, we met Ursula, a New Icelander (which is a MUCH nicer term than ‘immigrant) from Germany who was leading our group. She wheeled all the bikes out of a big shipping container, and I was given the bike named after Iceland’s most famous export: Bjork.
Away we went. First stop was the concert hall, a massive glass structure (kinda reminiscent of ACMI) on the harbour, built a few years ago when Iceland had zero money, as a way of attracting more tourists. Not sure that it has worked for them – the country is still in financial ruin – but the building is pretty amazing; like a giant glassy honeycomb.
After that we stopped at ‘the most famous hotdog stand in Rekjavik’. I didn’t see too many other hotdog stands, but it was the only stand (nay, restaurant) in Iceland that boasts Bill Clinton as its most famous customer. Ol’ Bill sure gets around – two bowls of noodle soup at that pho place in Swanston Street AND a hotdog with mustard in Iceland (he was too sissy to get one with the lot, because of the onions/public speaking thing)…
Riding on, we paid a visit to Parliament House, where the infamous Kitchenware Revolution was staged in 2008-09. When the country slipped into financial crisis, its politicians were seen doing very little, so the peeps of Iceland staged a mass protest outside Parliament House. Rather than getting violent and throwing rubbish bins (as we have seen at multiple G20 summits), a group of Icelanders descended on the lawn outside with their pots, pans and wooden spoons, and sat outside making a ruckus.
Unfortunately, someone got a little out of hand and set fire to the town Christmas tree (a gift from Denmark) so now there’s a permanent patch of dead grass in the lawn… The group sighed a little in disappointment at the news of the burning Christmas tree – the ultimate Scrooge (but for a pretty good reason, I guess).
Onwards and upwards, we cycled to the University, around a lake, Ursula pointed out Bjork’s house (a square black house with trickets on the windowsills – very unassuming and quite beautiful), then we rode back down the hill to the docks.
When we dismounted our trusty 2-wheeled steeds, we were tired and a little damp (Iceland is quite drizzly at this time of year). The perfect solution? Lobster soup on the dock. We joined two Canadians and two Americans in a funny shack on the waterfront, devoured our soup with big chunks of bread, then slowly moseyed back to Framnesvegur for a little nap…