Islandbound

Or How To Explore Iceland In A Laidback Manner.

Book your flights months in advance, then forget that actual planning is involved before a holiday. Panic for a bit on checking weather forecast that Iceland only gets FOUR hours of sunshine at this time of year. Luckily not true in practice, sun thankfully sets at very sensible time of 7pm.

Engage in a very interesting conversation with best friend as to whether Eskimos live in Iceland. Adamantly declare they do not. Then proceed to confess that did not know Iceland was an island. Said best friend has still not allowed to let me live that down. Is it very wrong to assume that it’s part of the great land of Scandinavia, given their shared histories and cultures? Important lesson #1: Sometimes it’s best to let others be ignorant of your ignorance. Perhaps just nod sagely.

Get pleasantly surprised to be unknowingly upgraded to a three-bed room as opposed to booked doubles, marvel at the lovely bathroom even though the hot water is a little whiffy of sulphur because that adds authenticity to your adventure. Revel in the view of the harbour, towered over by magnificent mountains. Saunter up to your hostel reception every night in hopes that the Aurora Borealis tour will go out. It does not. Have chirpy optimism slightly crushed every night.

Have the most amazing lobster soup you will ever have in your lifetime in a little shanty on the harbour, manned by the darlingest of old fishermen. Happily he conforms to stereotype sporting an Icelandic knit sweater. I order grilled halibut. It tastes pleasantly of the freshest of fish. Best friend orders grilled minke whale, then professes to be completely amazed it does not taste of fish! Lesson #2: Whales = mammals. Mammals do not taste like fish. Ergo, whales will not taste of fish despite living in ocean and looking a lot like big fish.

Eyjafjallajökull, Hallgrímskirkja, Langjökull, Þingvellir, Þor (like Thor, axe-happy Norse god of old). The words roll off your tongue if you knew how to pronounce them in the first place.

Eat skyr. Lots of skyr. Skyr with grapes for breakfast, skyr in cheesecake. Did you know they grew bananas in Iceland? Bananas!

Try really hard not to get seasick whilst on a whale-watching tour. Really really hard. Almost fail spectacularly at one point and have barf bag at the ready but hold your nerve until you get back to the calm waters of the harbour.

Sip the most amazing, delicately spiced, soothing chai latte in a cool cafe in Reykjavik with the cool in-crowd. Admire Joseph Gordon-Levitt nattily suited up in GQ whilst best friend industriously writes postcards. Some people have their priorities right. (Btw, is it just me or has JGL suddenly become cool?)

Attempt to take a clear, sharp picture of the surreal landscape zooming past through a bus window. This will go on for a while, perseverance (read: stubbornness) is an inherent part of human nature. Then resign and just glorify in the beautiful scenery.

Scour town, nay Iceland for a beautiful (and affordable) reindeer rug before settling on a gorgeous one in soft shades of brown. Then lug it back home in a great big plastic bag. Unfurl it at home and admire how it makes your pine-effect floor look a little more luxurious. I have the rugs and wool throws, now I just need the wall-to-wall bookshelf and a library to go with it.

Fit in a dip in the Blue Lagoon before flying home. Have a mud mask. Go on, it’s good for your skin. Tough it out in the wet and dry saunas, get your back vigorously massaged by the high pressure waterfall. It’s time to go when you’re all pruney. Walk out from the Blue Lagoon all relaxed and rejuvenated, get to bus and be horrified that there are no bags in the luggage compartment. No luggage, but more importantly, no reindeer rug! Thankfully many buses identical and finally locate correct one. British African dudes find episode quite amusing as they traipse round buses with us.

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