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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Ísak and Þorbjörg show me around

ICELAND | Wednesday, 13 June 2007 | Views [1615]

I was mesmerized by the pretty colors of these buildings

I was mesmerized by the pretty colors of these buildings

I would like to recap my first full day in the Land of the Sagas. I surprisingly woke up at 5:30 despite being so jetlagged last night. I washed up and took a shower. The hot water stinks because of the sulfur that’s in it, so it reminds me of Rotorua. I then washed my socks and underwear by hand and hung them to dry. It felt good to have a shower after all those flights yesterday. I’m staying in the room with a man from Romania and another from Brazil. One thing that’s different about Iceland is that it’s not really flooded with young travelers, unlike Australia and New Zealand. Those countries are cheap to travel around and Iceland is often overlooked by travelers. I can officially say I’ve been to three continents (North America, Europe, and Australia). I have 4 more to go. I went to the desk and paid for my stay and then got breakfast for 700 kronur. Since it was a buffet, I pigged out. I ate toast with jelly, cereal, and had two cups of tea. Red Bull is illegal in Iceland, so I won’t find any here. I also tried this stuff that I thought was peanut butter; I’m not sure what it is, but I didn’t like it. While I ate, I was talking with this young man named Jake, from Chicago. This is his first international trip. It’s unique because we both chose very unique destinations for our first journeys. After eating, I put my backpack in the storage closet and decided to go and explore. Unsurprisingly, it was chilly out but I didn’t care. I was mesmerized by all the different colored buildings. Iceland is just like Australia in the sense that it swallows me up. I started walking toward Hallgrímskirkja, the tallest building in Reykjavik. All along I was getting pictures with the vibrantly colored buildings around me. It took about 10 minutes to walk up to the church. The façade of Hallgrímskirkja is amazing! I snapped picture after picture trying to nail that postcard shot. Also in front of the church is the statue of Leifur Eríksson, the famous explorer. The statue was donated by the U.S. in 1930 to commemorate 1,000 years of the Alþing, which is the world’s oldest governing body. I went inside Hallgrímskirkja and the interior is quite beautiful. I paid 350 kronur to go up to the tower and then took the elevator up. Up there I saw many different pictures of Hallgrímskirkja at various times of day in various types of weather. From the top I can see all of Reykjavik. I love all the different colored buildings and rooftops.

While I was up there, the bell rang and it scared me. After hanging around up there for a few minutes I went back down and walked around the altar for a few minutes. The music was incredible and I especially admired the interior. After leaving, I took more pictures of Hallgrímskirkja. I kept walking all while admiring the colorful buildings. I then walked around and stopped at this shop that sells animal skins. I saw a skin that I thought was that of a polar bear, but the owner told me that it’s of an arctic wolf. He also told me that he lived in Kulusuk for 8 years, which is where I’m headed tomorrow. I browsed around for a few minutes and then walked to the bank to cash some traveler’s checks. I got 6,389 kronur for $100. Afterward, I got a Coca-Cola Light and then walked over to the pond called Tjörnin. I watched the ducks while taking in the sight of the brightly colored buildings. I then walked down to Reykjavik Airport because I had to reconfirm my Greenland tour for tomorrow. I actually called from the bus station because I couldn’t find the actual airport building. Afterward, I stopped at the gas station across the street and got a tub of vanilla skyr, which is similar to yogurt. It tastes kind of bitter and I didn’t really like it. I took side roads back to Tjörnin. I got a picture on the bridge over Tjörnin and then passed Reykjavik City Hall and the Parliament building. I then saw the statue of Skuli Magnússon as I continued to walk. I went up to the waterfront and asked about a whale-watching tour; I found out I can get a discount with my student card. I walked all the way out and took a picture of a ship with both the U.S. and Icelandic flags flying. Afterward, I saw the ship called the National Geographic Endeavour, which does the National Geographic tours. I would love to go on one of those tours, especially since I’m a lifetime member, but they cost a fortune. You almost have to be a millionaire to go on a National Geographic expedition. I then stopped at the souvenir shop and looked at the Icelandic sweaters. They cost anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 kronur. I’m going to wait until maybe next week to get one. I also saw this hat that I liked; it’s a wool hat that covers my ears. I decided to come back later. I then walked over to the Internet café so I could write to everyone. The Icelandic keyboard is tough to get used to because of all the different letters.

I wrote to my girlfriend Chrissy and then wrote to all of my friends. I gave them an explanation of the Icelandic letters: ð, þ, æ, í, and ö. They all sound different. I then checked basketball stuff and saw that the Spurs went up 3-0 in the NBA Finals. I only stayed on for a half hour because it costs a lot. As I walked out of the Internet café there was the smell of unique food (from a nearby restaurant) in the cold Icelandic air). At 1:00, I searched around for a payphone to call Ísak. One thing I’ve noticed is that many people here work in landscaping. It shows that Icelanders are proud of the beauty of their country. I’ve also noticed that a lot of people ride bikes. I wish I had my bike right now. I walked over to the bus station and called Ísak, and he said we could meet at 5:00. I ended up losing like 65 kronur because the phone didn’t give change. An Englishman told me that’s like nothing here, but he gave me 65 kronur. He didn’t have to though. I then got a hot dog (pylsur) and a Coca-Cola Light and then walked around some more. I sat on the rocks at the waterfront for a few minutes and took pictures of the snow on the distant mountains. I then saw the metal Viking ship sculpture (Sun Craft) and I took some photos of that. I then walked back to the city centre and got a bag of chips. Cool Ranch Doritos are called “Cool American” here. I then saw some kids skateboarding and roller blading. So, I thought I’d be a kid and I rode a skateboard. I’m not good on a skateboard; I’m much better on a bicycle. I then walked over to the souvenir shop and got that hat. It was 2,875 kronur, but it will be useful in Greenland tomorrow. I then walked back to the Salvation Army and relaxed.

I’m still severely jetlagged. I fell asleep on the couch there for about two hours before Þorbjörg showed up and woke me. I felt kind of bad because I should have been out front waiting. They asked me where I wanted to go, and I asked if we had time to go to Þingvellir, but they had to be somewhere else later on. So, I asked about places they know of, so they thought of some good places and we started off. We drove south past Hafnarfjörður and stopped at this place called Rauðhólar, which has some unusually shaped volcanic rocks, including one that looks like a surfboard. It was biting cold out, but they don’t call this place “Iceland” for nothing. After hanging out for a few minutes, we kept driving. We saw some people riding Icelandic horses (they’re not ponies!). We then stopped at this lava field that is filled with moss. It was a bit surprised when my boot sunk deep into it. Þorbjörg told me that it’s considered a great place to hide a body and that this murderer once hid one there. After taking a few photos, we kept going. Ísak was going to show me another unique place, but the road to it was closed. We then drove to this small cave called Maríuhellar. It was a very unique formation! Þorbjörg told me that as a kid she used to get really excited going to the cave. There is an opening on both ends and water drips from the cave ceiling. I went through it, which was fun. By the time we were done at the cave it was almost 7:00, and we had to start heading back. We drove through Hafnarfjörður and saw some houses that were built around the lava. Hafnarfjörður is known as “The Town in the Lava” for this reason. After that, we drove back into Reykjavik. We dropped Þorbjörg off at her house and I thanked her for her time today. I never knew that Icelanders would be this warm and welcoming. Ísak then had to stop for gas and I gave him 500 kronur to get some. Gasoline is super expensive here! It is the equivalent of about $8 a gallon! After a little while, we were back at the Salvation Army and I thanked Ísak for his time. He said we could possibly go to Þingvellir on Friday. I wanted to return their sleeping bag, but my baggage still didn’t show up. So, I booked another night at the Salvation Army. I was really exhausted by then. I went to my room and I met one of my roommates. His name is Terry and he’s from Australia. He told me about his travels and how he wants to go to Antarctica and Africa. We talked for about a half hour or so. Well, I’m really exhausted now, and I fly to Greenland tomorrow. I can’t keep my head up and I’m going to sleep. See you tomorrow.

Tags: adventures

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