Reykjavik: Dinner With Friends, Botanic Garden & Street Art

May 27

From my parking spot in front of Sigrun and Andy’s place I was surprised to see the day begin without any rain. The updated forecast for the day was cloudy with a slim chance of rain so I excitedly packed my day bag and planned to walk the city. I remembered seeing something in the guidebook about the Reykjavik botanic gardens and thought a stroll through some lush green gardens is just what I needed after all this gloomy weather.

I left the house on foot and figured I’d find directions once I was out and about. The gardens turned out to be about 40 minutes away on foot so I hesitated. In the end I figured it’d be good for me to get out and pound the pavement a bit since I’ve been mostly driving for the last few weeks and haven’t gotten much exercise. Besides, you can get to know a city more intimately when you walk it!

I along the way I passed what looked like an Olympic training center and down a grassy hill then through a beautiful tree-covered lane. I saw a small zoo on my right and I talked to the brindle striped cows laying on some rolling hills on the other side of the fence.

The gardens turned out to be absolutely lovely – and free! Oh how I dig free things! I thought about how much my mom would enjoy the place since she’s a natural plant whisperer (and my go-to person for all things green). I slowly walked on the white wooden bridges over narrow ponds, strolled through rock gardens and got lost in thought listening to the birds sassing each other in the trees above. I even encountered a ferocious Icelandic beast!:

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I always get so inspired when visiting beautiful locations. I take a mental picture of the best designs and tuck them away in my mind for when I get home and can work on my own garden – and this place gave me several fantastic ideas to try! My favorite elements from Iceland that I’m hoping to somehow incorporate in my home garden are the rolling grassy mini hills, stacked stone walls, and the turf houses.

Near the back corner of the gardens was a greenhouse. As I got closer I saw it was a cafe! Oh boy, oh boy, oh, boy! You know how I love my cafes.

I went inside Cafe Flora and it was absolutely fantastic. Gorgeous wooden garden tables and chairs, a koi pond, a big fruit laden fig tree, grape vines, a condiments table made of the trunks of trees… I was in heaven!

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Iceland_20140527_Reykjavik-123_WEB I asked the barista for a double latte and got her opinion on what she’d recommend for lunch. She said the soup of the day was a coconut curry with shrimp and parsley. I’m not big on meat any more but I thought I’d give it a try (you know, when in Rome…). It was served in a hot, lidded glass crock on a bamboo board with a few slices of fresh sourdough grain bread and a little square of butter wrapped in parchment paper.

As the girl brought me my soup I couldn’t help but do a wiggly happy dance in my chair and clap my hands. She laughed and shook her head at me and it made me realize most people probably don’t get this excited about food. I guess Gastronomy has always pleased me. Tasty food is one thing, but tasty food served up in a beautiful presentation is happiness on a whole new level. More so, tasty food presented beautifully and sourced responsibly? Oh Jeezus!  Plug your ears because I’m apt to gush about that meal for weeks.

Maybe I’m meant to be a food blogger? A traveling food blogger? Hmmm, I have an idea… oh dammit!  theveggietraveler.com URL is already taken. Fine, back to the drawing board I go. 😉

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The bread was so soft and flakey on the inside with a thick and chewy crust. I slathered each piece with the fresh butter and then dipped them into the curry soup. I was such a perfect blend of flavors! The soup was savory though the coconut gave a hint of sweetness, and there were big hearty chunks of onions, carrots, parsley, squash and butter beans. I even tried a few of the tiny shrimp and they were so fresh and tender they practically melted in my mouth.

I enjoyed my lunch and wrote for a couple of hours in the warm, deliciously earthy smelling greenhouse. I wanted to stay right there for the rest of my life. It was heaven. I would probably live in a greenhouse if it were a feasible thing to do.

The day was so relaxing and lovely, though my stomach was not being very accepting of the shrimp and I whispered an apology to it for trying to trick it into eating meat. I promised not to do it again no matter how fresh and incredible it may be.

I meandered back towards the house and admired the fantastic pedestrian and bicycle lanes next to the large roadway. Why do we not do this in Colorado? Cycling is so popular in the state it seems insane not to. There’s even a well-known joke about Coloradans and their obsession with cycling: How do you know if someone’s from Colorado? They carry an $8,000 bike on the roof of a $1,000 car.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen these pedestrian roads back home but Sigrun tells me it’s very common in Sweden and I’ve seen it in Denmark too. It seems simple enough; if we combined the widths of the current sidewalks into one wide pedestrian/bike road on either side of the automobile road it would save us so much grief. Less bicyclists would be killed or injured, drivers wouldn’t have to get frustrated with cyclists, and it would inevitably encourage people to travel via something other than gas-guzzling cars.

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I noticed both of my cameras were nearly drained of battery so I went back to the house to charge them while I took the forced downtime to nap and surf the web a bit. I made tentative plans with the group that I had met in Akureyri to meet for a beer at Micro Bar before they flew home. Chad and Mandi were heading back to Austin, Texas in the morning.

Sigrun arrived home and I told her about the plans for Micro Bar and she said Keir and Emily were cooking dinner that night and suggested we should all go together after we ate. I headed back out for a walk through the city since the weather was so beautiful. I didn’t want to miss a minute of non-rainy weather.

I ventured down the main shopping street and snapped photos of the colorful street art. I still find new pieces every time I walk down there. It’s incredible!

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I found a tiny little door that lead back to a small fashion shop. When I entered I found a spread of beautiful foods and another photographer who was carefully placing the food. I realized I maybe shouldn’t be there. I asked the man if he was working and he said he was the culinary photographer for a food magazine in Reykjavik and they were having a party for the publication. His name is AoThor (check out his food and people photography, it’s lovely!) and we chatted a little and traded cards before I boogied out of there because I felt like I was crashing a party I hadn’t been invited to.

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I headed South and then up the hill to the old wealthy neighborhoods on the East side of Reykjavik where the houses are grand with sprawling manicured gardens, and I even found the old cemetery. It was so beautiful and peaceful there, with trees growing up from many burial plots and stone walls cradling family burial plots. It’s exactly how I imagine a cemetery should be.

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I returned just before 8:00, and everyone eventually trickled back home and the dinner-making and the sharing of our respective days commenced. They made a delightful parmesan and broccoli pasta dish together and Keir brought out 5 Icelandic beers to share and sample. We all got a small jar to use as our beer sampling cup (mine was an olive jar. I love it!) and we worked through the brews while they thrilled me with their knowledge. Andy and Keir would be talking about something English and completely foreign to me and I’d have to stop them and request they explain it to me. I felt as if  I was a child hanging out with adults since I didn’t know half of the things they were laughing about. They were gracious though and happily explained things to me such as what a genuine  Cornish pasty is. I would very much like to try to make these!

Keir sliced up a little cake with marbled frosting and we shared it while enjoying a porter beer and then we headed out towards Micro Bar. I really enjoy all the walking I do in the city, though I’ve added it all up and I walked 4.5 hours this day alone. I think soreness is in my near future…

Andy decided to stay home since he had work in the morning. We were a bit late to Micro Bar and so we had missed Mandi and Chad, but I bought the 4 of us a round of beers and we talked until midnight and decided it was bedtime. I had worn my Loveland Aleworks t-shirt and had to get a photo of it while at Micro Bar! As we were taking the photos a few fairly intoxicated Americans started asking what all the photos were for and one of them was from Arvada, Colorado. I told them how fabulous Loveland Aleworks and all the microbreweries in Loveland are and he said he’ll have to make a point of heading up there next time he’s back home. I seem to become quite a braggart about my awesome little town when I’m away from it. 🙂

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Last Day In Reykjavik

May 3rd:

(On the evening of May 2nd) I had finally made the call to hit the road by Sunday the 4th. I told Sigrun and she offered to let me come back and stay any time if I find myself in Reykjavik again in the next 6 weeks. I also decided to attempt sleeping in the car while still at their house so that I could come inside if I got too cold.

Yeah… I was immediately too cold. But in my typical stubborn nature I forced myself to stick it out so that I could truly experience it. I’ve never in my life had to sleep in that severe of cold and I felt like it was something I needed to do, why shouldn’t I experience it? I figured it’d be good for the soul.

I piled my coat, my hoodies and my clothes bag on top of me trying to stay warm. I turned on an audio book and tried to distract myself from how hard I was shivering. Every time I’d wake up hoping it was finally morning, I’d have only slept for 30-40 minutes. At one point I opened my eyes for a split second to check my phone and I thought it said 9:39. Woohoo! I thought. Mission accomplished! Now can get up and get moving soon! Because, you see, stores don’t open until 11am and my plan was to stick it out until it was time to run some errands. But, alas, I had looked at the clock upside down in my grogginess and it was only 6:36. Curses.

Several chapters into my Bossy Pants, by Tina Fey audio book it was finally time to get up. I got dressed, ducked inside the house to use the toilet and try to fix my disheveled hair (hooray for my new hat!), then headed down to the flea market on the harbor to see if I couldn’t find an affordable supplemental blanket or a camping cook-stove. I walked as fast as my legs could carry me to warm up and felt happy and toasty within 15 minutes.

No luck at the flea market, unfortunately, but I saw lots of neat trinkets, fresh foods and wool products. It was a neat place and not surprisingly it was nearly no different from flea markets back home. I found some badass aviator goggles at a surplus military booth that I was tempted to get just for fun 😉

Next, I hit up the tourist hut near city center to pick up some postcards and stamps, then I found a camping store to get a little butane stove so I could make soups and hot drinks while camping to keep my spirits up. I had priced them out at home and assumed I’d be able to buy one in Reykjavik for nearly the same amount… I was dead wrong. The stove ended up costing twice as much, but I had to remind myself that I couldn’t have known, and it’s still cheaper than staying in a hostel. Plus, now I have a cool little stove to take home for camping in the Rocky Mountains too!

Now that all my errands were finished I excitedly went over to Cafe Babalu, my favorite of all the cafes I’ve checked out yet, for a hot drink and something filling to eat.  Being at Babalu’s feels like being at a quirky, loving grandmother’s house who wears coral red lipstick, plays American classic boogie-woogie and dances while she bakes cookies. Not sure why it’s such a distinct feeling.

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I had made good progress on blogging and photo editing when Andy joined me for lunch and then he headed off for whatever he had planned for the day.

Just as Andy left, as I was thinking maybe I’d pack up and run to IKEA for a blanket and then come back here for another round of coffee, the barista came out into the seating area and said to the room “I’ve made a mistake and made a latte instead of an Americano. Would anyone like a free latte?”.  In my head, I was screaming like Braveheart and climbing over the bodies of fellow tourists to get to that latte first, but instead I politely raised my hand and said “Um, if no one else wants it, I will.” Now imagine Braveheart, covered in battle wounds, sipping his latte with a dainty pinky up – because that’s how I felt.

With my new hot latte I had more time to work and talk to Jason for a good hour on Skype. Oh my goodness! We had only been able to talk for a few minutes at a time all week (and during most of that I had been a bit weepy and homesick so no quality conversation had taken place) so the chance to have an extended chat where we both laughed and told stories made me so happy!

I was mentally recharged from hearing from my sweet hubby so I decided to try my hand at finding IKEA. When I stopped by Sigrun’s to tell her where I was headed and to see if she wanted me to pick anything up for that evening’s party, the house was filled with the smell of chocolate chip cookies and she and Andy were cuddled on the couch watching a show on their iPad. It was such lovely domestic scene, it warmed my heart.

It was pouring rain the entire 35 minute trip to IKEA and as I pulled in to the parking lot I realized just how big this place is. Intimidated, but not disheartened, I ran through the rain and confidently entered the store – through the wrong door. They frustratedly ushered me to the other side of the checkouts to get where I needed to be. Oops, so much for confidence, haha! I weaved my way through the bowels of the mammoth and couldn’t decide if I loved the place or hated it. I don’t like crowds, nor big box stores, but the place was so organized and efficient and they had some charming items for a lower price than expected. (Friends at home: yes, you can expect to partake in an IKEA road trip when I return!)

I eventually found the blanket I was looking for. I decided to get the warmest down comforter they had in stock just to save myself from another night of misery – and I figured, again, that buying this was still much more affordable than staying in a hostel and I got to take it home. I reasoned that since the sleeping bag was not warm enough to be useful in Colorado that I would leave it here with Sigrun if she wanted it so they could offer it to their next couch surfers! Win-win.

I arrived back at Sigrun’s in time to squeeze in a shower. I was getting extremely nervous about hitting the road tomorrow and decided to skip the party so I could do some planning. Sigrun and Andy were gracious about me ducking out of the party, and Sigrun and I ran back down to where I had hung the piece of street art because during my morning trip to the harbor I noticed the corner had come loose in the wind and rain already. I made a thicker adhesive and hoped a good second coat would help it last longer.

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We returned just before the party was supposed to start and pretty soon Joanna arrived, and then more lovely people arrived, and before I knew it, it was a party and I had forgotten to be nervous about tomorrow and decided to stay. Everyone was so jolly and friendly. Joanna and Stu, the lovely couple we had gone to the protests with, Sigrun’s Viking-esque cousin and his hilarious girlfriend, a gorgeous couple from Denver and Boston and their brilliant friend from Poland who is volunteering in Iceland right now, two of Sigrun’s warm and wonderful Icelandic friends, one of whom works in the largest fishery in Iceland… though now I’m having trouble remembering the name of it, and another of her Swedish friends who is a gymnast and children’s coach.  I drank “shitty Viking beer” as Andy called it, which made me laugh! It tasted just like shitty American beer and it gets you just as drunk. We laughed and talked late into the night (late for me, but not for them!). They all have a wonderful sense of humor and were completely entertaining. We talked about global politics, differences between our countries, discussed economics, human rights… it was wonderful. No small talk, all substantial topics and even though not everyone agreed on opinions there was no heated discussion. I learned more about the US native american history and current events than I’ve probably learned in my entire life. A humbling reminder how small and shielding our own little pockets of the world can be and how important it is to remember we’re all tiny ants trying to survive together on this magmatic, volatile rock hurtling through space.  We forget this when we don’t venture out and connect with people of different circumstances.

Finally, when the group decided to continue the night at a dance club, this old fuddy-duddy went to bed around 12:45am in the car with my new IKEA comforter. It had been a truly beautiful day, and I fell asleep smiling.

**SIDE NOTE for any of you who are religiously following this adventure: Now that I’m out of the city the equipment recharging spots and wireless internet availability are coming far and fewer between so I will continue to write daily but may not post anything for several days. And you may get several posts thrown at you at once. There will also probably be more iPhone snapshots instead of good images included in the blog because my editing software eats through my computer’s battery faster than anything. But you can of course look forward to seeing the good images either once I find a good place to work for a few days or after I return home. I will try to post updates on my personal or my Lucky Brake Ltd. Facebook page any time I get a 3G signal on my phone, so go ahead and follow Lucky Brake Ltd. and/or Alanna Brake for those updates if you haven’t already.

Cheers!

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Library Angel, Street Art Devil, and Chuck Norris

May 2nd, 2014:

I started the day with my usual Reykjavik routine of editing the previous day’s images, blogging and a peanut buttered apple.

Around 2:00, with my homework nearly finished, I told myself I could finally go play outside so I packed up my day-bag and hiked around Reykjavik for some miscellaneous errands. I was headed to Harpa, the honeycombed concert center, when I walked by a delicious-smelling pizzeria and had to go in. It’s called Eldsmiðjan, on Laugavegur (the main shopping street). It’s two stories tall made of mostly windows and has a lovely indoor balcony where you can nosh pizza and people watch. It was a bit pricey, about $5 for a small slice of pizza but if you’re looking to splurge it is well worth it.

After pizza, I made my way down to the concert center and got a few more photos. It was crawling with EVE Online convention-goers and so I wasn’t able to get the photos I was hoping to get. It was lovely, however, to hear so many people speaking English. It’s funny how when I’m in a different country, the moment I hear another American I immediately think, “Hi, friend! I know you!”.

I had planned to go back that evening to get some more evening photos but in the few days I’ve been here the length of the daylight has gotten longer by a total of 56 minutes (the days get longer by 6-7 minutes every sunset and every sunrise during the month before the summer solstice. It’s amazing how quickly it changes.) and doesn’t get fully dark until just after midnight now.

I was hankering for a latte and Sigrun had recommended Cafe Haiti down by the water so I stopped in and set up camp. They roast their own fair-trade coffee, so I had high hopes. It was fairly good, though the smell of fish from the harbor was a little overpowering (I enjoyed the ambiance for the first 15 minutes but then the charm wore off).  I think I’ve been spoiled by having so many delicious coffee shops in my hometown that I’ve now become a bit of a coffee snob. ::she says, as she pricks her pinky up to the sky and turns her nose up, jokingly::

As I finished writing the previous day’s blog post I overheard an American man aggressively questioning the sweet barista where he can get his money changed over. I’m sure he was just tired from his flight but I wanted to save the poor girl from his demanding demeanor so I piped up and let him know that as far as I’ve experienced, and according to everything I’ve read, there is absolutely no need for having cash since even the smallest stores in the smallest towns take cards. He stared blankly at me for a moment and then asked me if my computer was a Mac or PC. He then preceded to tell me how his Outlook disappeared and he was hoping maybe I could help him. I had a PTSD-style flashback to my techie days and decided to play ignorant about technology. “My husband is my tech support, without him I’d be dead in the water too, sorry!”  …hey, it’s at least a half truth 😉

I chatted with the man a bit longer and he said he was from San Francisco, here on a skiing trip. He asked where I was from and I told him. He began to tell me how he lived in Boulder for a few years but his phone rang and in mid sentence he answered it and turned away. It was his tech support from work so I was off the hook.

I finished up my coffee and updated my Google Map and then headed to the public library a few blocks away. Before I left my hometown, Loveland author, Marissa Bloom, gave me a copy of her newly published book All Are Family for me to donate to the library. When I walked in I noticed how beautiful the place is. It’s white and a chic orange, with modern furniture and books and lots of canvased art for checking out (isn’t that the neatest idea??).  I walked up and chatted with the woman at the counter of the children’s section about what I was hoping to accomplish. Because of my nervousness and our language barrier it took her a while to understand what I was trying to say. I gave her the book to show her, and pointed out Marissa’s signature in the book. Suddenly, after a second round of explaination, her eyes widened a bit and she hugged the book and said “This… please tell the author this is a very generous gift and we to thank her.”  I asked if I could take a photo of her with the book as verification and she laughed a bit and said yes. No matter how many photos I took, she wouldn’t smile. But I promise she was very sweet about the whole thing. I thanked her for her help, and she told me they still need to put the barcodes on the book before it can be on the shelves but she will put it out soon.

Loveland's Marissa Bloom officially has a book in the children's section of the Reykjavik City Library!

Loveland’s Marissa Bloom officially has a book in the children’s section of the Reykjavik City Library!

Feeling very proud of myself for accomplishing a goal I had been nervous about, I quickly walked home to meet Sigrun and Andy so we could go to dinner. I had promised to take them out for a meal before I leave as a thank you and they chose a Pakistani restaurant.

When I got home, I asked Andy if he would help me with another project I needed to finish before I leave Reykjavik. He does a lot of work with local bands and he has experience with pasting up flyers around town so I asked him to help me make up some paste for a secret project. 🙂 A few days earlier I had purchased a paintbrush at the hardware store and so we packed up the paintbrush and wheat paste in tupperware then walked to dinner.

You see, before I left Loveland I was given a piece of art by a local artist to add to the robust street art scene in Reykjavik. I was thrilled to be a part of bringing Loveland art to Iceland! I can’t claim to have made the beautiful piece, but I did get to pick the spot and help hang it. Do you recognize the artist’s style?

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The dinner was delicious at the Pakistani restaurant, and we capped the meal off with ice cream from Reykjavik’s most famous ice cream shop. Sigrun told me how Icelanders were mad about ice cream even though it’s so cold here. I thought that was pretty funny!

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While eating the ice cream we walked the streets to find a good place to hang this art piece. I decided on my favorite spot, between two other amazing works of art. Andy pasted the piece up as I filmed and we boogied out of there as fast as we could towards home. Oh my nerves! I’ve never done anything like that before. The chill of the wind quickly overpowered my nervousness about hanging the art and I just wanted to get warmed up.

Back home, we talked and drank wine. I told them I had made the decision to head out for the Ring Road on Sunday and wanted to try sleeping in the car to make sure my sleeping bag would be warm enough. I went to bed in the car around midnight and awoke an hour later, shaking I was so cold. I layered the bag with my coat, a hoodie and put my duffle bag on my feet. It was enough to uncomfortably get through the night but I will definitely be searching for blankets at the flea market, or at IKEA if I can’t find any at the market.

That’s all for now, but I thought I’d leave you with this restaurant we passed on our way to dinner. I let out a big guffaw when I saw it:

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Iceland: A Looong Day 1

If it’s not scary, it’s not worth doing.

I certainy have to keep reminding myself of that. I even stuck a note on my laptop screen with that statement to keep it fresh in my mind.

I’ve been looking forward to this adventure for months and now here I am, completely exhausted, lonely, out of my comfort zone, a little lost, and a lotta homesick already. But it’s guaranteed that’s how every proper adventure starts, right? You have to rip yourself out of your comfort zone in order to grow and be changed by an experience.

April 29, 2014: The plane ride was smooth and safe, though there wasn’t much sleeping thanks to a wailing baby and some men who talked and laughed loudly any time the baby wasn’t crying. This morning at 7am I retrieved my rental car then drove along the coast in Kevflavik seeking any attractions my GPS pointed out. It was lovely enough, but for some reason I didn’t feel a connection with the area and wondered if I’d made a mistake by expecting too much too soon. Today was bitterly cold; the kind of chill-you-to-the-bone ocean wind cold. And gray; the kind of I-may-never-see-sunlight-again gray; and drizzly; and the kind of windy that makes me understand why the girls in Iceland wear braided locks so often. I visited a marina and watched a fisherman fold his nets for the next run. I saw the viking row-ship replica that was built exactly like one that was excavated in the 1800’s. This repica actually made a safe voyage in the 1990’s from Iceland to Greenland, Newfoundland and then America.

Once I finished at the Viking museum I tried to nap in the car but was too cold and tired to relax. I needed a pick-me-up so I checked to see if my sweet hubby back home would be awake yet and after a short Skype call where I blubbered like a nincompoop and he reminded me how I told him I’d probably do this for the first week or two, I decided to head up the coast to Reykjavik and see if I couldn’t find my couch-surfing host’s place and a cafe with wifi so I could start writing.

Now in Reykjavik (WRECK-a-vec) I’m even more grateful I wound up with a GPS unit though I hadn’t requested it. I would be so panicked in this city without one. The driving style here is as if each driver, including the monster semi trucks meant for snow, is driving a zippy little bumper car that only goes one speed: fast.  If you’re in the way they either roar around you at the last minute instead of rear-ending you or lay on the horn. I actually sightly enjoy it, it reminds me of how Californians drive, but when I don’t know where I’m going and every other street is a oneway it can make a girl razzle-dazzle-frazzled in no time.

My hosts wouldn’t be home until 8pm, and it was only 3, so I parked on the correct street and hoped I was close to their flat since I couldn’t find it. I took a few deep breaths (I’d been awake for nearly 24 hours now) and packed my day bag so I could start walking toward a massive church I’d driven past earlier. I figured they had  to have a water-closet I could use.

It was a fairly relaxing afternoon. I visited the church and went up into the bell tower (but no bathroom?!?), wandered around and forced myself to get lost while shooting some street art (though I was so tired and the sky was so gray I had little desire to do so), and bought a warm, green, second-hand wool hat since my own pitiful hat was worthless in this Icelandic wind. This new hat lifted my spirits a lot – it’s funny how just being a little warmer can change my entire outlook on the day. I found a cute little corner cafe called “C is for Cookie” and quickly learned it was one of Frommer’s top rated places in all of Iceland. My latte and brownie were absolutely divine though I couldn’t finish either thanks to my stressed out stomach.

The smells in Reyvjavik are beautiful and distinct and strong. It’s like the air here carries more scent than back home. Briny sea breeze, eggy-sulfer from the hot tap water that is funneled straight from geothermic locations, mouth-watering dinners being cooked in the many unique food joints, and an odd burned toast smell I keep noticing when I’m not even near a bakery. I’ll have to ask my hosts what that is. I started to wonder if I was having a mini stroke… 😉

While walking down Hverfisgata the day took a turn for the eventful. I heard a man running and looked to my right just in time to see him come running/stumbling out of an alley, miss the curb, and land on his face with a sickening thud in the middle of the street. He didn’t get up. A few cars swerved around him and kept going. I and several other pedestrians jogged over to him and he was still not moving. A man shouted in Icelandic to the nearest driver and made the universal finger-phone sign for “call for help!”. The nearest driver who would have hit the man if he hadn’t noticed him, jumped out and started the call. I couldn’t understand what they were saying but I think they were discussing if they should move him out of the street. Blood was beginning to pool around the unconscious man’s open mouth. Cars in both directions were honking and trying to speed around the caller’s stopped car and narrowly missing our little group surrounding the man. We all held our hands up to signal there was something going on in the road. One car even drove completely up onto the curb to get around the scene.

A new man got out of his Audi, a very slick looking businessman, and started talking to and shaking the unconscious man as he started to stir. The phone man and Audi man then helped pick up and move him to the sidewalk so cars could pass.  Finally the injured man tried standing up and the gentlemen helped him. He was either extremely drunk or still reeling from the fall. His face was dripping blood and I couldn’t tell exactly where it was coming from but it looked like his lips were split from chin to nose on his left side. His left cheek was massively swollen and yellow and purple. I looked back at the puddle of blood that was now being picked up by passing tires. When I looked back, the man was staggering and trying to walk away though the others were saying he should stay. I decided I wasn’t being of any help and so I decided to it was time to go. I looked back as I turned the corner and watched the man stagger into the street again, cars honking, and off into another alley. I heard the ambulance and as they rounded the corner I flagged them down and told them which direction he was moving in and off they went.

I was a little disappointed in myself that my first reaction to the scene was to take photographs of instead of helping the man, though I resisted. I was the third person to reach him, and thus couldn’t help any further, but I still felt ashamed that I wanted to document it. I suppose that means I’d be a good war photographer? Ick, I prefer not to analyze that any further…

That event shook me up a bit so I decided to walk back to my car and see if I couldn’t sleep. It was 6:00pm. I was too cold and shaken up to sleep so I looked over my maps, tried to catch up on FaceBook (thank the heavens for TMobile’s free international 3G data) until 7:45 when Sigrun emailed and said she was home. I packed a night’s clothing into my day-bag and went to meet her. She is tall, blonde, lovely, and extremely kind. She is a teacher’s aide at a local elementary school and loves painting and music. I was so happy to finally meet her and have a warm place to stay that I hugged her immediately. I showered then we chatted while she made a tasty mushroom, onion and pepper pasta dish and then we went for a walk and she showed me more around town.

The sunset in Iceland right now comes around 9:30pm and is incredible. The vibrant colors that last barely 5 minutes in Colorado last almost an hour. The sun came out for the first time since I’d arrived and painted the clouds in a soft salmon color. There is that famous Iceland lighting!! We walked through the bustling streets until almost 11pm. My feet were so sore from walking as briskly as we did but the warmth from it felt very nice.

When we came back to the flat I got to meet Sigrun’s boyfriend, Andy. He’s wonderful and kind too. He’s from the UK, is a kindergarten teacher and studying to get Icelandic residency.

I finally dropped into my sleeping bag around midnight, texted Jason a goodnight or two and let the hum of the refrigerator lull me to sleep, a mere 36 hours since I last slept.