Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Little Time is Never Enough

My time in Iceland is coming to an end, as I suspected, far too soon.

The limited daylight hours have made me extremely lazy, so I've not done too much more in the way of sight-seeing. I did go for a small wander yesterday afternoon, down to the pond, which apart from one small corner where some warm water is pumped in (and is therefore a favourite of the local ducks, geese and swans [which Haffi and I fed some leftover bread the other night]), was completely frozen over. Naturally, I wanted to go ice-skating on it, but I had packed my sensible when I left Perth, so I didn't. In keeping with the frosty goodness, we had what I term a mini-Christmas.

Mini-Christmas involved gingerbread, nut-cookies, German chocolate bread, hot chocolate (made in a pot with real melted chocolate) with peppermint schnapps, mulled wine (which I have been dying to try and was no let down), board games, decorations, carols (which were in Icelandic so tolerable), and friendship and conversation. I was especially impressed by everyone, who often had their conversations in english. As they were all Icelandic, it was purely for my benefit. Amazingly thoughtful. It was cozy and lovely and just like a mini-Christmas, in the ice and snow (well, almost).

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SO MUCH HAPPENED in the last 24 ridiculous (finally sunk in, Tabs) hours. I did again get up really late, but you can only blame the sun so many times. It was mostly laziness. This was the only time I didn't go out for a walk. But instead, after some prelimary packing, and salacious soaking in a luxurious shower, Eric and I went to dinner at Solon. If anyone is ever in Reykjavik I highly recommend this restaurant, as the food is very good by the price reasonable. Except for the wine list. BYO from Australia. Seriously. Ship it over, it'd be cheaper. I ate the traditional Icelandic christmas platter which three different fish done three different ways, two types of pate, crispy skinned roast pork and saucy beef, with some scattered berries. Basically just a lot of meat. It was so tasty. Even the cured herring.

Eric went to warm up for his concert that night, and I went back to my room and packed. "That's a bit premature," you might say, if you knew that I was leaving at 2:30 the next day. You will see, however, that it was absolutely neccesary. I finished packing just in time to realise I was running late for the concert, so I ran up the street and snuck in to Hallgrimskirkja just before the opening number. The concert was fantastic, an extremely polished choir singing Latin hymns and christmas carols in Icelandic in the awesome architecture of the church. The acoustics in there were amazing, noted particulary in one song where the choir left the stage and stood at the sides of the church. Some of the harmonies achieved were breathtaking.

After the concert, I joined Haffi at his friend's birthday party, where I got to meet even more of his friends, who are all as crazy as my own. Before we could stop to take a breath, it was 3am. But that wasn't where we finished. We then continued along to a club, where I'm pretty sure I made a giant fool of myself dancing like an idiot. The music was incredibly corny (Great Balls of Fire, Grease, Cher, you name it!), so taking yourself seriously wasn't even an option. We partied until 6am. In Australia, I would've been able to say I partied til dawn... I eventually got to bed at 9am, just in time to get up for 10am. Haffi didn't wake up. Eric was better off, and luckily that meant that I managed to get to one of Iceland's popular attractions, the Blue Lagoon. So by the light of the midday moon, with the sun still not risen, I went for an outdoor swim, in milky turquoise water. Before you completely write me off to the loony bin, the Blue Lagoon is a naturally occurring pool which is formed by a hot spring. The algae that naturally forms in the water turns it an alien-like blue colour that is incredibly striking against the dark basalt volcanic rock. Steam floats over the whole scene and is very dramatic. From there I went straight to the airport, feeling refreshed and revitalised after my 1 hour sleep.

I didn't want to leave. I fell in love with Iceland. I got a little bit emotional at the airport, and at one point there was a tear in my eye. I'm going back, it's decided. I'll let you know when.

One quick aside before we get to my current situation: an interesting fact that I found out is that all the tap water in Iceland is fed directly from the springs - that is to say, cold water comes from the cold springs, and hot water comes from the hot springs. So awesome. No gas hot water systems here. So don't by bottled "spring" water in Iceland. Just go to your closest tap. That's why I liked the tap water so much.

So now, I'm sitting in a strange "cabin" in Heathrow Airport Terminal 4. The flight to NYC doesn't leave til 8:30 tomorrow morning. They won't let me check my bags in until 5am, so I stole into an in-airport hotel that allows you to pay by the hour. Very reasonably priced rooms and 24-hour room service (I had lasagne at midnight), with free Wi-Fi and TV and mod cons all in the space of a 3mx3mx3m cube. SO AWESOME. I need some sleep. See you in NYC.

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