Saturday, March 24, 2001

Reykjavik, the Smoky Bay City

23 Mar 01,
Reykjavik, Iceland
I slept in until 10am when the bright white sun became too hot & bright to bathe in its rays any longer. We got lunch at a fish & chips shop around noon. It was delicious. After some wool shopping (I found a dark gray sweater for 7,600 ISK, and I’ll be getting around 1,500 ISK back from taxes.) It’s hand made and so soft. From the shops it was out to the Blue Lagoon, a natural geothermal pool—the water in the geothermal plant runs off into the area where we’re allowed to swim.

The parking lot at the Blue Lagoon
Welcome to the Blue Lagoon


It's mineral water, don't get it in your eyes.
The water was a nice 40°C and the air was just below 0°C. On the other side of the perimeter wall of the swimming pool, the temperature is somewhere around 70°C. The water was salty and milky from all the minerals. It’s a stark contrast to the black lava fields surrounding the lagoon. We stayed for about three hours, mostly soaking in the pool. I wrote and sent off most of my postcards before we drove back to the hotel where I napped.
After being so relaxed, it was hard to get up and dressed for dinner at Perlan (the Pearl), a restaurant under a glass dome that sits on top of large metal cylinders on the top of a hill by our hotel. The floor was rotating one full revolution every two hours. Since it was McG’s birthday, we were able to get the wait staff to bring him a ‘Happy Birthday’ plate.
The candles were glass fiber cubes soaked in different chemicals to make them burn red, orange, and green at the end of metal sticks. The waiter then lit off what must have been the Icelandic equivalent of a mini-Roman candle. It burned so brightly that the lights in the restaurant seemed to go out. McG was covering his face from the sparks that were shooting out at him. Happy Birthday!

For dinner, I had a ginger salmon and some assorted apple desserts. When asked for my drink choice, I requested a glass of the Gewurstiminer Reserve. I was informed that they usually don’t sell it except by the bottle, but the waiter would look for an open bottle. He asked me “If I do not find an open bottle, I will come back?” I replied: “If you don’t find an open bottle, you don’t need to come back.” My companions joked that I had just dismissed our waiter for the evening. He returned with the glass of wine and some bread. Way to stand my ground, eh? After dinner, we thought about going out to the clubs, but the –10°C air caused a joint decision to retire for the evening. We dropped the rental car off at the Hertz near the hotel and walked—at one point ran—back to the hotel. That warmed us up just enough. Lights out was at 11:30pm.

24 Mar 01
Reykjavik, Iceland
Woke up around 10:30am, cooking in the sunlight. The walls looked blue because the light was so bright. We checked out of the hotel and caught a cab into town to kill a few hours before our bus left for the airport.

Yesterday, the lake wasn't frozen
Today, the ducks walk on ice
Lunch was soup at a place called Apotek. We visited the Cathedral and the Leif Erikson monument.
Hallgrim church & Leif Erikson
We walked back to the hotel after stopping in some galleries of local art. Caught the 2:30 bus to Keflavik International, where we arrived at 3:15pm. I used up my last kronur on a hamburger, gifts, and licorice.
Art at Keflavik International Airport
The flight home was fairly uneventful. I saw Greenland from my window, watched “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and watched the sun not set. Hopped into a cab after clearing customs.

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