Sonia (aka Twinkle Toes) and I, left an unusually warm and sunny evening in San Francisco and tumbled out of a plane, rumpled and bleary eyed, into the rain and wind of Iceland the next morning. We were en route to Europe and a 19 hour stopover in Iceland on WOW Airlines turned out to be the cheapest way to get there. A day in Iceland? Sure, why not. While I am the Wondering Wanderer, I have yet to develop a sense of direction. It’s a wonder I’m not still wandering lost in the jungles of Cambodia or the back alleys of Mexico City. Upon arriving at the airport, I was pleased to discover that Icelanders appreciate good signage. This place was meant for people like me.
We zipped our coats up to our chins, and headed out to board the bus that would take us to downtown Reykjavik. The scenery rolled by pleasantly, the sky a steely grey, the land a jumble of jade grass and black volcanic rock. Reykjavik was neat as a pin and cute as a button. Tiny, colorful homes and shops lined the streets and not a piece of trash to be found. We gravitated first towards Hallgrimskirkja, the big church in the center of town as it was the most obvious landmark. It was a delightful surprise to stumble in upon an organ concert. We listened to the music boom and echo through the stone building and then rode the elevator up to the top of the steeple to get a bird’s-eye view of the city.
In order to keep our lives in balance, yin and yang if you will, we decided our next stop after church should be the Icelandic Phallological Museum. And yes, it really is what it sounds like. Apparently it’s one of the “must do’s” in Iceland. At the door we were asked if we wished to “enlarge” our experience and rent the audio tour. We declined but I took a picture of the pamphlet in case no one believed me. They had a gift shop and everything. We wondered if we opened a Vagina Museum in Aptos, if we too, could become rich and put Aptos on the map.
All of the church and museum going was hard work and we were jet lagged and hungry. We found an adorable little cafe that offered warmth, cheer, and plates of white fish with sweet potato puree and a stack of buttered green beans. We sat and ate and defrosted and watched the world go by.
A trip to Iceland would not be complete without a soak in their famous geothermal waters. The famous Blue Lagoon was too far away and booked up in advance, so we had to make do with the Reykjavik version of the YMCA, Sudurbaejarlaug. Say that three times fast. We hob nobbed with some pot-bellied old men, some kids, and a few members of what appeared to be the Russian mafia. We soaked till we were pink and pruney and then headed back out, still steaming, to the appealing and picturesque streets of Reykjavik.
We encountered more delightful signage.
We finished off our day with a stroll along the seashore. The wind whipped our hair and tugged at our clothes. This was August. Can you imagine January? It led me to wonder who on earth landed here and thought, “This looks swell. Think I’ll stay.” It was some Nordic folks, minor lords and such, looking to get out from under the thumb of slightly more major lords. While I wasn’t tempted to stay, I certainly appreciated the clean, pretty city it has become, the tall, handsome, and friendly people. I’d like to make it back someday, when I have more than 19 hours at my disposal, to get out into the country side and see some of the natural beauty Iceland is renowned for.