Reykjavik: Happy Anniversary Sweetie! & No Is Not An Option

May 31

First I want to wish my hubby, Jason, a happy Vesuvio anniversary! On May 31st, 2011  he and I climbed to the top of the volcano, Mt Vesuvius, in Naples, Italy and privately said our vows to one another on a ledge overlooking Naples Bay as the clouds rolled over misting us with cool, wet air while lavender butterflies fluttered around us (no joke, it was truly epic). It was one of the best days of my life and I’m so grateful to somehow be even happier with him today than we were on that idyllic day. I love you, sweetheart! I am so grateful for your support and encouragement while I’ve been traveling and left you home with all the responsibilities. ❤

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Now back to today: The weather in Reykjavik has turned rainy again. It’s a gentle constant mist that somehow soaks your clothes more efficiently than larger drops. At least the temperature has warmed up now. It’s been about 52-57 degrees during the day and only 48 degrees at night. It makes for much more comfortable car sleeping. 🙂

I’ve been ailing from harshly negative dreams this week. Generally, when I have an extraordinarily good day the following night’s dreams are the exact opposite. For example; if I have a fun-filled day with Jason I will then dream that he and I fight and call it quits over something awful. I wonder if it’s my mind’s way of balancing out my endorphins and stress hormones? I suppose since I’m having such bad dreams it must mean I’m having far too much fun here in Reykjavik!

Sigrun and Andy headed over to Cafe Babalu and I went downtown to return the camping stove I had purchased at the beginning of the trip. When I had realized it would be so expensive to buy one here I made a promise to myself that I would only open it and use it if I really needed to. I shouldn’t have even bought it because I had absolutely no need for it once my mind was set on returning it. Any time I made my little cup-o-soups on the road I was perfectly happy eating them cold because it meant I could still return the silly stove.

I went into the Marmot store and the man remembered me and asked how my trip has been. We chatted a bit and then I asked him if I could return the stove. He said I could only return it for store credit. I decided not to take no for an answer (you know, since I’ve been practicing being bold and doing things I wouldn’t normally do). I stood there and looked around then said “but my trip is over, there’s nothing else I would need here that I could fit into my luggage.” He stared at the receipt a bit and then pulled out the (fairly hidden) signage saying returns beyond 24 hours will result in only store credit. I mirrored his silence and read the sign for an uncomfortably long time, chewing on my lip with a worried look on my face. Just as I was about to give in, because I was getting so uncomfortable in the silence, he said “Okay, for you I will make an exception. Because you’re so nice.”  I smiled as big as I could possibly manage and thanked him. I told him I will give him rave reviews online and he laughed and said “Good, but don’t tell people that I let you return this for money back.” I laughed and gave him my word (aaaand I’m just now realizing I’ll be blowing that promise…).

Because I was able to get the stove returned when normally I would have accepted the initial answer of no, and then would have sulked about it all day, I felt like I was queen of the universe! I walked back onto the street with my head held high and mentally added another item to my list of Things I’ve Learned and/or Done Out Of My Comfort Zone In Iceland.

I popped into a few chic art galleries along Laugavegur, chatted with shop-keeps and felt right at home in the city. I hadn’t realized how often I tend to create things at home until I have now spent so much time traveling. I think I’m having withdrawls from being handy! Each time I find something cute that I might consider buying my brain snaps and says “Oh hell no, you can make that for cheaper when you get home!” I’ve been taking photos of all the cute things I want to make and the list is getting frighteningly long. 😉

Sigrun jokes about how Icelandic people park wherever they want to. This is a perfect example.

Sigrun jokes about how Icelandic people park wherever they want to. This is a perfect example.

My favorite street art shot so far. <3

My favorite street art shot so far. ❤

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This is my favorite indoor-gallery piece I’ve seen so far. It’s by Tolli. It’s so beautiful and large in real life. It’s on my “if I win the lottery” list of buys 🙂

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I stopped at a cafe-by-day bar-by-night called Tiu Dropar (The Ten Drops). I ordered a latte and tried an Icelandic donut. The coffee was not so good but the donut was really yummy. It tasted like a dense funnel cake without the powdered sugar.

I walked home in the rain and stopped in to a few more shops. I found an extremely cute teacup and saucer – it was so simple and white and elegant – but when I flipped it over and saw the price was close to $50 USD I boogied out of that store as quick as possible before I broke something I couldn’t pay for. If you ever go to Iceland know this: you will spend a fortune if you don’t want to live off of peanut butter and crackers nor forgo souvenirs. Even the crappiest, made-in-china-plastic-keychains are at least $15. I even found an 8” stuffed animal for $100 at a particularly chic store. Chic must be Icelandic for expensive. 😉

I ducked into Bonus, a grocery store chain, and picked up some milk, apples and tomato sauce. I was thinking we could maybe make pizza sometime this week with the leftover shredded cheeses from when I made the quiche. I really enjoy cooking at home and doing so here in Iceland for everyone has made me feel even more comfortable.

When I arrived back at the flat Stuart had joined Sigrun and Andy. Joanna had taken her flight out of the country that morning and now Stu will be living here for the next few weeks until his new place is ready.

Sigrun and I took the car to run some errands. It’s fun to be able to help in that way since they don’t normally have a car at their disposal. We dropped off the recyclables and collected the money for them – enough to buy a fancy bottle of wine! – then we went to pick up a loaned folding bed for Stu to use while he’s staying. We got a little lost at one point but it’s fun getting to see more of the rural outskirts of Reykjavik. It’s such a beautiful area, and the old apartments we visited were absolutely charming!

Back home we decided to rearrange the entire flat to fit Stu’s new fold-out bed and make better use of the limited space. We even moved the refrigerator to a new location! It was fun; like Tetris, but with furniture.

Once the furniture shuffling was completed we ran to Vin Budin to get our wine with the money from the recyclables, and we picked up some ginger beer that Sigrun had been wanting to try. Just like most everything else I’ve tasted here in Iceland, the ginger beer was delicious. We were all a bit tuckered out so we kicked back and watched the first Xmen movie, which I’d never seen before, and then Stu cooked us all an amazing asian inspired blackbean sauce pasta. I have to learn how to make that.

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Though I’m really loving this slow-paced week of playing in Reykjavik it’s making me miss Jason all the more. I cannot wait until he arrives so I can show him all my favorite places and we can reconnect. My heart starts to pitter-patter just thinking about it!

Reykjavik: Relaxation & a Goodbye Party

May 29

I’m thoroughly enjoying this week of pretending I live in Reykjavik. It’s been so relaxing and has given my mind a break from always being on the move. There are less photos being taken some days but grand memories being made none the less. I suppose I would be comfortable saying 4 weeks of nonstop photos has earned me a week off?

We were enjoying a relaxing holiday morning at the house; I was writing and letting my pesky blister heal, Sigrun was feeling even more ill so she was resting and watching Dr Who while Andy went for a walk. Down the street the Hallgrimskirkja church bells started going off at 10:30am and just kept gonging. We thought maybe there was a wedding or something but they didn’t stop. We discussed it for a bit until Sigrun said “Wait, today is a Christian holiday. That’s why we have the day off of work.” and we both laughed that we never made the very obvious connection. I later read that the holiday is called Ascension Day.

Sigrun did a little house cleaning and I needed a break from writing so I headed to the Hagkaup market to buy ingredients for the quiche I was planning to make for Joanna’s going-away party that evening. After I got back from the store Andy fried up some Welsh cakes for the party and they were so delicious! I will certainly be adding these to my baking repertoire from here on out.

We relaxed the afternoon away until Sigrun had to go to her gymnastics meet. I started making the quiche and for some reason I was so nervous it wouldn’t taste good but, really, I suppose you can’t go wrong with eggs and cheesey goodness. It was fun cooking in a new kitchen and figuring out how to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius, and cups to deciliters. The only thing I messed up on was adding too much salt, but it was still quite tasty!

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When Sigrun returned from gymnastics we walked over to Joanna and Stuart’s flat a few blocks away. I was introduced to one of their friends named Freddie who is from Denmark and currently employed as a bartender while working on her thesis on TEDx and the spreading of innovative ideas. Everyone I’ve met here is so fascinating!

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We sat down for a dinner of quiche, a delicious veggie pizza that Stuart made, the Welsh cakes Andy made and some Pimm’s that Emily and Keir, the lovely couch-surfers from the UK I’d just met, had left behind. If you’ve never tried Pimm’s, I highly recommend giving it a go. I’m told it’s a wildly popular summer drink in the UK and if the sun is shining then out comes the Pimm’s!

We laughed and dined our way through the evening. My favorite moment of the entire evening was when Stuart noticed I’d used dill in the crust of the quiche and told us all what he thought that dill was comparable to a crying strong-man. Because, he explained, spices are supposed to pack a punch and give a distinct flavor but when you taste dill it’s this wimpy whisper of a flavor. We had a good laugh about that brilliant description.

Since Joanna and Stuart will be living apart for the next several months they’ve decided to make an extremely creative website to connect their two worlds. They will be posting songs, images, poems, etc. from their respective corners of the world and lining them up together each day finding way s to connect the two together. I think it’s fantastic! They asked if I’d take a photo for the website banner so we walked down the street to a uniquely painted joining of two buildings to use as our background.

Back at the flat we moved on from Pimm’s to Vodka-Cokes and then we sampled some Brennivin. Brennivin is an unsweetened Icelandic liquor made of potato mash and flavored with caraway, cumin and angelica. It tastes mildly of licorice and pumpernickel bread. I liked it a lot but probably couldn’t drink it often.

We talked the evening away until Sigrun and Andy headed back home since they had to work in the morning and poor, sweet Sigrun was still feeling so ill. I stayed a bit longer to chat until I had enjoyed far too much drink and figured I better head back before I was unable to.

I said my goodbyes to Joanna and wished her well since I may not see her again before she moves back to New Zealand on Saturday, was given some clothes-hangers to take to Sigrun, thanked the three for a lovely evening and off I went.

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My home-away-from-home neighborhood ❤

I walked home in the midnight sun. The night was the warmest one yet (summer is nearly here!), with my little quiche dish in one hand, an armload of colorful clothes-hangers in the other and a giant grin on my face. Halfway back to Sigrun’s I stopped and sat on a stone wall for a minute to soak in the moment. There were still a few quiet birds murmuring in the trees though it was midnight, and I could hear the sounds of traffic and a few laughing voices from an open window nearby. A lanky orange cat with a big blue collar walked atop the mossy stone fence and stopped next to me. I gave him a nice pat and told him to remember this moment. “No one else will experience this exact moment beyond you and me,” I told him, “We are very lucky to be in Iceland, and in this beautiful weather, and to be happy and healthy and safe.” He rattled a purr in answer.

By the time I got back to my bed I was even more intoxicated. Be it from the alcohol, the incredible circumstance of this past month of my life, or a perfect combination of both; I was punch drunk either way, and fell asleep with a big dopey grin on my face.

. . .

Quiche a’La Lanna

Iceland_20140529_Reykjavik-8_WEBThe Crust-

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup iced water

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 scant tablespoon tears of a strong man (dill)

Blend flour, dill and salt in mixing bowl; combine oil and icewater together and whisk until cloudy; combine flour and oil mixtures (knead it only enough to form a clump, no more, to keep crust flakey); press into pie dish and set aside.

The Filling-

4-5 eggs

~3/4 milk (more milk, less eggs for a fluffier quiche; more eggs less milk for a more substantial quiche)

2 tablespoons butter

1 small to medium red bell pepper [I love to do a mix of red, yellow and orange peppers in the quiche to make it pretty then eat the remainder of the peppers with a creamy dip while I bake the quiche… but it’s not necessary ;)]

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1-2 cups of any other shredded cheeses you like. More mozza, cheddar, feta, gouda or any herb cheese are tasty choices

3 whole green onions

Salt and black pepper to taste

Dice the white portion (about 2-3″ worth) of the green onions and dice the peppers into small uniform chunks, sauté together in 1 tbs butter. Chop the remainder of the green onions. Blend eggs, milk, shredded cheeses, green onion, salt, black pepper in a bowl and set aside. Preheat oven to 375f/190c. Once the sautéed peppers are finished, let cool for 5 minutes and combine into egg mixture. When ready to bake, pour egg mixture into crust and use a fork to squish the edge of the crust down to hug the egg. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. Let it cool 15 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!