Friday, October 12, 2012

Puffin Burgers and other tales from Iceland. Part 1

Hotel Centrum

I am now ensconced in a modern Icelandic hotel in Reykjavik en route back home to Seattle.
I have been back home to the UK visiting family and friends, and a jolly good time was had by all, especially me. I was contemplating booking a few days stay over in Iceland on the way home, but I didn't think I would get away with it. My wife actually made the suggestion for me, bless her. "I'd never have thought of that," I lied, and promptly made the booking.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Visiting new countries for the 1st time always gets my juices flowing, so it was with some measure of excitement, I booked myself into the hotel and prepared for a night of exploration. My room was clean, if not somewhat insipid in decor, but it had a bed, plump looking duvet and a small closet to put my stuff in. It doesn't take much to make me happy.

I headed out into the cold and persistent drizzle to explore my new surroundings. There seemed to be something strange about the place, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. After the 3rd or 4th bar I peered into, it suddenly dawned on me that there wasn't anyone around. Apart from the very bored bar staff and haughty check in staff, the place was deserted. I pushed on up the main shopping street just in time to see the shop owners locking up and scuttling off home. This does not look promising, I thought to myself as I was, well..... by myself both literally and figuratively.
I wandered about looking into the empty shops and strolling up side streets in a vain search for some night life. I was getting wet and cold and my frame of mind was turning sour, so I decided to head back to the hotel. I crossed the street and stood in a large dog turd on the pavement.

"That's great, that's just f****ing great," I muttered, and promptly stood in another one as I was trying to wipe the 1st one off on some grass by the kerb.

"Am I on F****ingSlimyDogturd street or something?" I yelled at no-one in particular, and stomped off down the hill towards the hotel in a foul temper, keeping my eyes firmly on the ground.
To be honest, you could walk around Reykjavik all day with your eyes shut and not miss any sight worth seeing. Someone has done a good trade in selling concrete and corrugated iron, and the sort of paint you only find on the remnants shelf at the local hardware store. Grey is a popular color. It shows off the graffiti a treat.

Slimydogturd Street

At the bottom of the hill, I could hear the sound of laughter coming from a side street, so I popped my head round to see what was happening. There was a small cheery crowd emerging from  a restaurant in the alley, so I thought it might be worth a look. I stood just inside the door and waited for someone to help me. I was there a good 10 minutes before I stuck my foot out and tripped up one of the waiters, I didn't actually, but I really wanted to.
"Do you need something?" asked a tall person eventually. I say "person" as I was not sure of their gender.
"Need something? Me need something? Why would you possibly think I might need something? I am, after all, only standing on the inside of your establishment, which rules out waiting for a bus or a flight."
" A menu might be of some help," I suggested, calming down sufficiently to answer the question.
The wait person disappeared for another ten minutes and then suddenly reappeared. "Do you need something?" it said.

I need to digress here for a short while to describe an incident on the flight over from Seattle. I was sat on the aisle seat next to two Icelandic business men.They started to request bottles of wine before everyone had sat down, and they continued until the occupant of the middle seat passed out and spread across my seat like a jellyfish on the beach. His buddy had more stamina, and reached across the blob in the middle and punched my arm in a friendly sort of inebriated way. "Where are you from?" he asked. I told him, which prompted a whole barrage of questions about my life, and terminated in his opinion of American women. 15 minutes later, he woke up and leaned across his blob buddy again and asked me where I was from. I answered, but with a smidgen less patience this time. The questions continued until he passed out. A little later, he woke me up to ask me where I was from.

"From the same f****ing place I was when you asked me the last time you moron, now leave me alone."

I mention this as it seems to me that Icelandic people are a tad short in memory retention capabilities.

So, back to my inattentive wait person.

I asked if I could possibly have dinner. It sat me at the kitchen counter, a place I suppose for troublesome singles, and buggered off again for the rest of the night.  I did get served, and had a very nice meal of Lamb Tenderloin with Beetroot Salad and Mushroom Sauce, all piled up in a little heap on my plate. A bit of an unusual combination, but good all the same.

The leaning tower

The menu did have a few Icelandic dishes, such as Puffin Burgers, and Minke Whale Steaks, so mine wasn´t too strange.
I had to lasso my waiter to get the bill, then I took out a bank loan and a mortgage to pay for it and sauntered home feeling a little lighter in the wallet.

You ate my sister

When I got to the hotel, I sat in the bar to have a beer, and looked up at the wall. Two very menacing looking sheep were staring down at me, which made me feel guilty for my menu choice, so I turned round to see this.
All my kids have been eaten too

I gave up and stood in front of the help desk for a long time until the young man lifted up his head and acknowledged I was there. I asked for the Internet password.
"You have to pay for Wifi sir."
"Your kidding," I said.
"I'm afraid not," the clerk said, and turned his back on me to admire himself in the mirror.
"Do I have to pay for cleaning the carpets?"

He smiled one of those "you think your so funny" sort of smiles and replied that I did not, so I wiped my shoes on their nice new rug, and went to bed.


  1. Oh dear - I have stayed at places like that ... I won't suggest you try rural Slovakia then. Maybe the tourist office will be brighter and have some suggestions. Hot springs are good fun. Hope the rest of your trip is better but your post was well written and made me laugh anyhow.

    1. The hot springs were awesome, to use a well worn american expression. I'm glad I made you laugh.

  2. Thats brilliant-I was wondering about youre dirty shoes all through that!
    The tone at the beginning reminded me of that 80's TV programme cant quite remember the name.Glad you got home safely though:)

    1. Northern exposure was filmed in a small village about 50 miles away. It was lovely to see you and eat wonderful food at yours.

  3. nice........not to self not to put Iceland on my to do list!!!!

    1. The mini stay did get better, but not so good as to add it to your list

  4. AWESOME! I would definitely want those sheep to be on my side in any argument.

  5. Wow. For your next arctic voyage, may I suggest Nunavut? I hear the natives are friendly, although the architecture, which must all be flown in in pieces is most likely even less attractive than in Iceland.
    What an experience...and your account of it made me laugh! I'll stick with our local hot springs, I think. Much easier on the bank account.

    1. Me too, or maybe I'll just run a hot bath.

  6. What a journey! Wally - nothing angers me more than dirty-bastard dog owners who don't pick up afterwards. I live right next to a park and the shit that's made it's way up my hall carpet off the kiddies' shoes in the past is unbelievable! My true vocation in life would be to become a dog-shit warden! I do love dogs btw.....!

    1. You'd have plenty of work in Iceland.


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