Turkey Day in Ísland

Thanksgiving Thursday was another walking day. I had a solitary breakfast at the hostel, then after sunrise I walked the two miles or so along the sea to Laugavegur, the main shopping street in Reykjavik. I was pretty freaking cold, despite my layers [boots with hiking socks, tights and thermal leggings under jeans, camisole, t-shirt, light cotton sweater, medium-weight wool sweater, peacoat, Earflap Hat, clan scarf, and gloves], but it is interesting to see the more industrial part of town. I am firmly of the opinion that one cannot get the real flavor of a country by seeing just The Sights.

Here is Laugavegur:

A lot of the stores have that intimidating "our crap is expensive" look - you know, where there's a lot of empty space in the store and everything is very carefully arranged and the salespeople are very well-dressed. I check out the ones that don't, including several awesome vintage stores. One has a strapless pale pink satin 80s number that I am very taken with, especially with The Boots and tights, but it is (sorrow) ~ $70. I buy two CDs at a cool record store - one based solely on the cover art, and the other a múm album I've heard in part before.

I have some pad thai for lunch (sampling the local cuisine, that's how I roll) and continue browsing and wandering. I stumble upon a magnificent used bookstore that is practically overflowing with books - you actually can't go down some aisles because they are stacked full of books. There are a couple Americans in there whom I almost wish a happy Thanksgiving, but I don't have the nerve. I briefly browse in a surf/skate shop and laugh at the idea of buying something Billabong in Iceland to bring back to California.

I've overcome my inhibitions enough to photograph these bling halskædes in a clothing/accessories shop:

My game for the day (for the rest of the trip, actually) is seeing how far I can make it through an encounter without exposing myself as a foreigner. It's pretty easy; I can return a salesperson's greeting and thank them in Icelandic, and if I know the price of an item I don't have to understand them when they ring me up. A vague smile and a shake of the head usually suffices for the second salesperson question (you know, "Are you looking for anything in particular?" or "Can I help you find anything?").

Some street art from the area:

Yes, instructions for different methods of tying a tie!

The lava is made out of huge sequins that glittered when it rippled in the wind. There is another building with a black side decorated similarly with gigantic silver sequins to look like a snow-capped mountain, but it's too dark for a picture by the time I see it.

Here and there:

These beautiful mountains stand on several sides of the city - you can almost always see them.

The wind around sundown is unbelievable - you pretty much have to do a vector addition problem every time you want to walk in a straight line. I hear later that flights had trouble landing.

After dark, I end up back at the City Pond catching the bus back to the hostel.

Once back in my room, I nap until about nine (darn jet lag). After I wake up, I check my e-mail on the hostel computers and make small talk with the group of Germans in the lobby (YES - opportunity to use German, check!).

I'm looking at the postcards when I hear a couple American guys talking to the woman at the front desk. I'm getting impatient about this whole meeting-people thing, so I get up the nerve to approach them with something like, "I heard American accents, so I had to wish you a happy Thanksgiving."

I find out they came separately and just met; one of them is from New York and the other is from Santa Cruz (which is near San Francisco, if you didn't know - sweet coincidence). We talk a little about why we're here, how long, what we're doing, blah blah, and it turns out they're planning a road trip for Friday to Sunday.

I don't really have solid plans, though I know how to take a bus and/or ferry to a couple towns in other regions that I've picked out from guidebooks. So when they invite me along on the road trip, I say yes right away. Companions and a trip split three ways? I can recognize an adventure when it lands in my lap.

We make our plans that night. We'll do the Golden Circle tomorrow - a route out of Reykjavík that takes you through three natural attractions in the western interior - then drive along the southern coast until we reach the town of Vík. On Saturday, we'll drive to Höfn, on the southeastern tip of Iceland. On Sunday we'll come back to Reykjavík along the coast. We agree to meet our rental car tomorrow morning around eight-fifteen.


Cassandra 12/15/2008 5:56 PM  

:D :D

And reading it with the snow just makes it that much better.

It's really funny, because your mentioning of making small talk with some Germans reminds me of my little sister doing the same thing in the Grand Canyon, of all places, a couple of years ago. ^^

Q 12/15/2008 6:57 PM  

I am jealous of your language prowess.

Gretchen 12/15/2008 8:12 PM  

I'm moving to Iceland based solely on the fact that they decorate their buildings with SEQUINS.

Countrybelle 12/17/2008 4:35 PM  

that street art is incredible. wish you could've bought the eighties dress. i hate finding perfect outfits i can't afford. sigh. keep the stories coming...

Beth Kephart 12/18/2008 2:11 AM  

This is really interesting. Thank you for reminding me (by virtue of your visiting my way) to come back and read this, because I was very intrigued by earlier mentions of your trip. I've had many friends travel to Iceland but this is the first I've "seen" it. Thank you.

I wish, too, that you could have bought that dress. And I wonder what happened on your adventure.

odessa 12/19/2008 6:30 PM  

oh, all the images and your adventures sound magical! i love how spontaneous you were/are.

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