Morning of August 19 – August 24, 2015
Kyra: One night, while at Reykjavik’s Culture Night we met a group of four 16-year-old boys who told us about the man who caused the financial crisis in Iceland. Planet Money did a series on Iceland some time ago: The Island That Ran Out Of Money. UPDATE Our friend Emily sent us this article and it is imperative that you read it before visiting Iceland: Incest Prevention App for Iceland.
Ben: As I was searching for information on Iceland’s Culture Night, I stumbled across this small article from the Reykjavik Grapevine that gives some insight into Iceland’s culture (although it’s from 20 years ago): Show Up Naked On Monday And You’ll Get A Free Phone
Where we stayed
Ben: The first item of business to attend to in Iceland was lodging. In fact, this was probably the first thing we booked quite far in advance. Kyra rented a tent and two sleeping bags (with pads) from Iceland Camping Equipment. The cost was minimal especially when comparing the price to staying in a Reykjavik hotel. After 2 nights camping in a variety of $10 campsites, we found our home in our Toyota Yaris rental car. We were somewhat worried about setting up the tent in the downpour outside, so we opted to recline indoors in our small leather seats. The following day, we met up with our Airbnb host Vilborg. She was a husky, short haired, 60 year old woman who had been picking wild blueberries outside the city the day we arrived and was quick to offer us a sampling.
Kyra: She explained that they only grow for three weeks in Iceland during the summer.
Ben: Because the car rental (almost $125/day!) ate up a decent amount of our food budget, for the first few meals we opted for yogurts, and salamis from the local Bonus (essentially a small Cub Foods with a cross-eyed piggy mascot).
Kyra: We stayed in nomadic character by largely adhering to the hunter/forager diet using supplies provided to us prior to the trip by Lynn Argetsinger, my mom. Basically a lot of nuts and seeds in various forms: whole, salted, as butter, and in biscuit shape.
Ben: Then, like typical Americans, we grabbed a Cheeseburger with fries and a pizza from a tiny restaurant in rural Olafsvik, Iceland. This was a nice change of pace.
Kyra: In terms of cuisine, Iceland seems to pride itself on hot dogs and lobster bisque. Without access to Internet, we used Ben’s texting plan to phone our most inquisitive and responsible friend, Tyler, who gave us a ranking of the top places in the country for each. Luckily we were quite close to Stokkseyri, the town that is home to Fjöruborðið, famous for their Lobster Bisque. The large meal, which is incredibly rich, comes with a small pot of extra bisque and can be happily split between two.
Ben: The town that the restaurant is in happened to be gorgeous (as any Icelandic town apart from Reykjavik should be). At the hot dog stand in Reykjavik, we ordered one with everything and our meals were created in seconds. I didn’t know I would be impressed by such a simple meal being put together, but I was. The last few things we ate were at Iceland’s national day (the free, 100,000 person celebration which Kyra and I had no idea about until we landed). Two light beers and a bouquet of Fish and Chips were a great way to celebrate with the crowds of people filling Reykjavik’s streets.
Ben: Maybe you’re wondering were these particular restaurants are, what Olafsvik is, or simply, “Where is Iceland”? For your viewing pleasure, you can see the map of our route below:
- Takk Fayrir – Thank you
- Tussa/Hora – Slang, taught to us by aforementioned teenage boys. Basically degrading words towards women.
Local View and Lessons Learned
Kyra: As a sweeping blanket statement, Icelanders are pretty relaxed and have an “anything goes” mentality.
Ben: A few nice tidbits of local information we learned from our teenage friends:
- Obama is cool because he likes basketball
- You can drink at 18 in Iceland, but you can’t buy or be bought alcohol until 21…seems like a Catch 22
- Iceland had the first European female president. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, in 1980
Kyra: The boys were quick to point out that they felt American legislation around gay rights, just as with women in politics, is also incredibly antiquated.
Kyra: Icelanders use the same rhetoric to discuss immigrants from Poland as we do in talking about immigrants from Mexico.
Kyra: I now firmly believe that everyone should bring a Ben on his or her upcoming trips. 1) He can both figure out how to make any technology work and make technology work for any situation 2) Through an impressive combination of remembering every detail of the directions strangers give us and using maps, Ben can find his way anywhere 3) He knows art very well. Both what is aesthetically pleasing and about famous pieces/artists so it’s like a personal tour 4) He is almost endlessly positive. One day we stopped at Krisuvik, a series of geysers you can hike up to. The weather was John Kerrying between rain and sunshine, which made it difficult to decide if we should walk around. After getting caught in the rain halfway up the hill we opted for the warmth of our car and continued driving in the drizzle past the typically surreal landscape of Iceland. Still damp, I asked Ben if he thought it was like this throughout the year. He responded, “I don’t know, this is amazing – like look at that!” I agreed and didn’t tell him that I was referring to the rain.