Not much happened on days 11-14, so I figured I’d just string them all together in one post…
So….the most exciting thing about Day 11 was returning the rental car. The guy at Blue Car was soooooo nice and friendly!! Most Icelanders in the “customer service” position have been efficient, but I wouldn’t call them overly friendly. They just do their job without all the chit-chat. This guy was super chatty! It was nice….especially when your primary sources of conversation for the past several days have been yourself and a cat. Want to know the sweetest words ever spoken?? “You don’t have any speeding tickets.”, after the nice man looked at his computer. Why, of course I don’t!! I would….never….speed….in Iceland!! 😪 Seriously though, you have to be careful. The roads are narrow, there are a lot of tourists who can barely drive in their own country trying to drive in a new one while staring at scenery and pulling over constantly to take pictures ( 🖐 ). There are speed cameras strategically located, and tickets can be—get ready for this—-80,000kr!! That is like $800 for speeding!!! YEEEE-OUCH!!!!!! What’s the fine for lying?? 😉
Walked back toward the house, stopped at my little Dr. Pepper store (true to form, it’s a weekday, and they were back to 299kr), bought two, came to the house, and worked ALL day. My summer semester started yesterday, so I had to deal with that, finalize grading for the spring semester, and about a zillion other things that have to be done before I leave for Scotland on Sunday. Plus, blog for day 9.
For Day 12, I had to make some decisions. Last few days in Reykjavik…could I work every one of those days right up until my flight leaves? Yep. But I wanted to put at least one more adventure on the schedule! All work and no play makes Mary…(richer, but pale and tired!). I had a list of things on my spreadsheet that I hadn’t done yet, and started whittling them down to figure out which one I REALLY wanted to do.
I pretty quickly nixed the Saga Museum- it seems kind of cheesy and more for kids. Crossed off Aurora Reykjavik and Volcano House as well- too much money to pay for just some movie. All 3 of those things just seem a little overpriced and too tourist-impulse-buy for me. The chocolate factory could be interesting, but I’ll be in Switzerland later this summer. Those people are the chocolate gods! I’ve heard good things about the Arbaer Open Air Museum, and if it was within walking distance, I’d go. But I’m not interesting in navigating buses to get there. That left the National Museum and Culture House- things I felt I could actually learn something from, plus you get to go into both for $20 and on Saturdays there’s a guided tour at 11. Perfecto! So that would be my Saturday- Day 14. The last day.
And seriously, figuring out that, working my butt off, and blogging Day 10 were all I did on day 12. See? It’s not adventures every day around here!
Day 13. I’m in serious need of real food. Like no joke. 12 days straight of PB & J and ramen. Ugh. Yesterday, I posted on the Iceland facebook groups asking for restaurant recommendations. If I’m going to spend the money, it better be GOOD! I got a ton of suggestions and started going through them one by one, looking at websites and menus. One very disconcerting thing I saw on a lot of menus was whale meat. Yes, whale meat. I’m not going to pretend I’m not a carnivore through and through. I am. I have no issues eating meat, and I have no issues eating exotic meat. I’ve eaten agouti in Belize, and springbok, kudu, warthog, ostrich and crocodile in South Africa. In fact, I have no qualms about trying exotic meats and will seek it out. That said, I have serious issues with whale meat. This isn’t some traditional Icelandic fare that is a cultural thing in Iceland. Because I’ll be honest, I have no problem with Native Americans taking a whale or two a year because that IS their culture. But I have a SERIOUS problem with it when a country is going against all common sense and science to exploit an ENDANGERED (yes, ENDANGERED) animal- and using loopholes in international restrictions to do it. Iceland hunts two species of whales- Fin (the 2nd largest whale after the blue whale) and Minke. Fin whales are on the endangered list. Minkes are not. But knowing their slow reproductive rates, slow maturity rates, low fecundity rates, and long gestation periods (#marinebiologydegree), there is no way the species can keep up with high tech whaling operations, and it’s just a matter of time before populations decline. Iceland basically is a party to the International Whaling Commission, which banned the commercial hunting of whales in 1986. But they defy the ban, along with Norway and Japan. Why? Not to feed their own people, who don’t really even eat the stuff, but to ship the meat to Japan and to feed selfish, idiotic tourists (yes, if you eat whale meat I’m calling you a selfish idiot. #truth). Disgusting. And there was no way in hell I was going to spend a penny at any restaurant that would serve it. The other meat I saw often was horse. Horse is a different matter. I can not sit here and say “I eat cow, pig, chicken, and lamb, but no one should eat horse.” It’s a farm animal. Just because it’s cute and we have an emotional attachment really doesn’t change anything logically. For me, horse meat on the menu wouldn’t prevent me from eating at a restaurant, but I wouldn’t order it. It’s just a personal thing, admittedly emotional and not rational. If an Icelander invited me to their home for dinner (they do eat horse) and served horse, I’d eat it. But I wouldn’t purposely seek it out.
Ok, so all of that said, the whale meat thing DRASTICALLY narrowed down my dining options. You wouldn’t believe how many restaurants serve it. And I wouldn’t step foot into one of those places. I finally decided on Icelandic Street Food. Tiny menu of lamb soup, shellfish soup, or something called fisherman’s favorite. The prices are reasonable, they offer REFILLS on soup (free food refills? amazing!), have free desserts, and had fantastic reviews. I had finally made my decision! Seriously, the amount of research I put into food rivals almost everything else I do when traveling. I HATE to eat out, I’m not a huge foodie, and consider it to be a big waste of money. #experiencesnotthings #experiencesnotfood Plus, eating alone is in my top 4 things that I hate, hate, hate. It literally takes hours (days) of mentally building myself up to do it. With all of those issues, I have to make sure I am totally happy about the experience! 🙂
I woke up and didn’t eat breakfast at all. I wanted to be good and hungry for my free refill at 11:30! I literally was counting down the hours. Left the house at 11:10, because I wanted to go to the bank first and change all of my krona for pounds so I would a) have some bus money when I arrive in Scotland Sunday and b) wouldn’t have a pile of worthless money to take home. I did save one each of the cool fish coins! 🙂 Got to the bank, changed my cash, and happily walked to Icelandic Street Food. Went in the door, started looking at the menu. The cashier walked by me with a handwritten sign that said “Cash Only Sorry” and taped it to the door. I turned around and said, “No credit cards?”. He said no. FUUUUUUUUUUUCKKKKKKKKK! I had just changed all my damn krona to pounds! Fucking fine, whatever, I hate to eat out anyway. I stopped at my little store, bought 3 Diet Dr. Peppers, perused the candy aisle and found two weird chocolate bars that I had never seen before in my life, and checked out for $13. Came home, put my last frozen pizza in the oven, and found out that Anthony Bourdain had killed himself. Gutted. That guy was such an inspiration. A true traveler in every sense of the world (not a typo). Sigh. The rest of the day was spent working, getting things in order to leave, and blogging Day 10.
Day 14. The final day. The goal was to wash blankets, clean the house, go to the National Museum at 11 for the guided tour, pack, and work. After realizing just how much work I needed to do, something had to go. And what went was the National Museum. 🙁 Honestly, I’m not terribly disappointed. I feel like I’ve done enough to get a good feel for Iceland, and I am going to be traveling like a crazy woman every day for the next 6 days. It just made sense to wrap up things here, make sure I was caught up with work, and get to bed early for my 5:15am alarm so I could be at the bus stop by 6. I ate the very last of my groceries- a mish mash made up recipe of the last of my pasta, frozen veggies, tuna, pasta sauce, and garlic bread. Not Anthony Bourdain worthy, but it’s sustenance.
Now, it’s Day 15 of traveling, and I’m sitting in the Keflavik airport (about to hit send on this post), waiting to head to Scotland for 2 weeks of adventures in a brand new (to me) country. Iceland, you have been AMAZING. I never would have been here if I hadn’t clicked “refresh” on my Trusted Housesitters screen at exactly the right second and found this housesit. Oh, the adventures I’ve had! I’ll never forget them (primarily because I write them all down! 😜 #agingisabitch). This is one of those places I’d definitely come back to with Brian. I’ve only explored a tiny piece of this island. There’s a lot more adventures to be had here.
There will be one more post on Iceland- that will be a post that is not a journal, but more of a details and tips guide. My budget, things I’ve learned to help others plan their trip, things to do, things not to do, etc…. It will be a couple of days before that’s up. If you want to see it, make sure you join my mailing list right above my picture at the top of the right sidebar. I’ll send an email out when it’s done, and a link to all of my maps as well that show exactly where I went and cool places that I’ve researched but didn’t make it to….yet.