After a pleasant and well needed nap, Andrew and I went off to explore downtown. We needed some snacks for the house and wanted to get a real sense of the culture, the buzz of the town, the taste of the local flavors, so we went shopping and then found some dinner at Tacobarinn.
Icelandic is a very nuanced language. When spoken by the locals it sounds like Elvish (Elvic? Elven? Elverican?). Often if there is a double letter in a word it means that the letter is pronounced with a throaty “h” sound (Takk means thanks and sounds like tahhkh). They also have letters that we don’t have in English like ð, and Ð and sometimes a combination of letters is pronounced differently for example Hv sounds like “kv”. So, sometimes words look like they sound a certain way (and by inference mean a certain thing) but then you find out that it’s something completely different. For example this is pronounced slip-fell-ah-gid and not slip-felatio and is a paint store and not whatever you thought a slip-felatio store might be. Tacobarinn, on the other hand, is exactly what it sounds and looks like. Andrew and I spent our first dinner in Iceland at a Taco Bar (it was delicious).
We called it an early night and prayed to the Gods of Jet-lag that we’d be able to sleep through the night and feel rested on Iceland time.
Apparently, sarcastic god prayer works in Iceland because that is just what happened. We got almost 12 hours of sleep and hit day two in Iceland feeling human.
Our first stop was to a place called Alafoss. Foss means waterfall. And apparently Ala means “What you won’t find here:”. We did however buy some lovely Icelandic yarn from the Alafosslopi yarn company (I am going to knit an Icelandic sweater while on vacation). And when I say we bought yarn I mean Andrew bought yarn because I forgot to tell my bank that I was in Iceland and I am sure it was a surprise to them that after paying for my coffee in Reykjavic that morning, I was 20 miles away buying yarn.
Our trip to Akureyri was extremely cloudy, as in we were driving in the clouds. Visibility was maybe two car lengths. This was daunting to me as there are sheep all along the roadways and the driving pamphlet I got at the rental place warned about sheep crossing the road. I was afraid that I was going to drive into a cloud in our Yaris and come out on a Serta. I eventually got used to the conditions and let Andrew lay back for his traditional I-don’t-know-how-to-stay-awake-on-a-drive-that-takes-more-than-a-half-hour nap while I listened to some podcasts on the bluetooth. During the drive we stopped a few times and took in the views and attempted to touch sheep.
Our house in Akureyri is on top of a hill right above the downtown. The landlord walked us around and then invited us to come for a swim at the public pool. Iceland is big on pools and swimming. He also told us to crank the heat as much as we wanted – it’s pretty handy to live on top of a volcano/geyser. My first order of business was to call my bank and get them to reactivate my card. Our second order of business was for Andrew to call his bank and do the same as he’d received a voicemail stating they were concerned about some charges. At no time while I was using Andrew’s phone or while he was waiting for me to hang up so that he could call his bank did it occur to either of us that we were calling the same bank and could have used the same call. Let’s blame being tired.
We walked downtown for dinner and found a Spanish tapas restaurant called Goya. If you ever have the pleasure of being in this area, go to any restaurant that isn’t this one. The food was mediocre at best. I did, however, get my bacon fix for the day in bacon wrapped dates and try horse for the first time. It tasted like overly soy-sauced meat. Also on the menu was a caramel beef item. It sounded interesting but was basically like eating a cow sundae. I also ordered a house mojito – they used Sprite in it. I can’t warn you away from this restaurant enough.
After dinner we walked around a bit and climbed to a beautiful church. Iceland is a Lutheran country but has one of the most outwardly declared Atheistic populations. This did not surprise me as there were not that many churches in the area. After gawking at the church for a bit we kept walking and happened upon a botanical (Icelandic for “mostly just wildflowers”) garden.
Coming up, whale watching…