I’m pleased to report that our Northern Lights experience was a major success despite beginning on a rather unfortunate note: Icelandair failed to deliver my mother’s bag as promised, and in our flustered hurry to leave with enough time, having waited until the last minute in the delusional hope that they’d follow through, we left our keys in the lock (yep). By the time we realized that we’re absentminded idiots, the shuttle that had picked us up was already at the main meeting point with us in it. I desperately asked the shuttle driver if we could make it to our apartment and back with a taxi before the busses left (it wasn’t as much people getting into the apartment that we were worried about as it was our ability to get back into the building at 12:30 a.m.). He immediately said he’d drive us there, “no problem.” Man, Icelanders are nice. Another example: our neighbour, a lovely woman who had offered to accept the bag for us if it happened to come after we’d left (it didn’t), buzzed me in and was, in fact, on the phone with the Airbnb guy (also an amazing human being—when we texted after we’d figured out what had happened, he said he’d come to let us into the building when we got back from the tour at 12:30 in the morning, “no problem”) to let him know that she’d found the keys. But that’s all to say that we retrieved them and saw the Northern Lights. They were magical. I don’t have a real camera, so I don’t have any pictures. But you know what? It was really nice to just stand there and take it all in rather than viewing it through a lens and worrying about aperture adjustments and setting up shots. It was also so. damn. cold.
That takes care of December 1. Moving on.
Overly detailed updates for December 2
- Mom woke up earlyish to call Icelandair to check on the status of her bag. She was told that they had attempted delivery the night before, but no one was home. WHAAAAAT? This was clearly impossible since one of us had been standing at the window staring at the passing vehicles from the hours of five to eight. I’m not kidding. We stared at traffic just to make sure that we wouldn’t miss it. This is when the Icelandair Lost Baggage Woman, with whom my mother was now practically on a first-name basis, asked to confirm our address. Turns out they had it wrong, despite having copied it from a typed document. Oh, Icelandair. ILBW then assured Mom that her bag would arrive between nine and eleven. When it hadn’t by eleven, we had more or less given up on it for the day. It came at 11:30, just as we were leaving. Moral of the story: there is no moral, really. Never trust anyone? That’s usually the moral of my stories. I’ll try to think of something less negative.
- With the whole luggage thing no longer tying us down, we did what any free spirit would: went to the National Museum of Iceland. I learned a lot. I also spent a lot of money at the gift shop. Upon exiting the building, we discovered that a small hurricane had materialized while we were educating ourselves about Vikings and whatnot. We thus decided to get on a bus.
- Next destination: Reykjavik Art Museum, Hafnarhús. This is where the collection of Errò’s work is. I’m a fan. While I was admiring one of his collages, an art student asked if she could film my mom and I for her project. We are thus now minor film stars.
- From there, we ate more hot dogs then made our way to Harpa for a tour. While you can wander around the building for free, I highly recommend paying for a jaunt through this architectural wonder. That said, I remember very little of the vast amounts of knowledge that our very informative guide imparted upon us. Blame Topamax.
- On the way back to the apartment, we stopped at a bar/restaurant. I had lamb tacos and half a Jólabjor (Christmas beer). (Fun fact: beer was illegal in Iceland until 1989. Look it up.)
- I collapsed in an exhausted, anxious, obsessive heap in our delightful Airbnb—you’ll be glad to know that mental illness takes no vacation! (Obligatory exclamation mark.) Mom went and swam in the public geothermal pool across the street (see previous post).
Less-detailed updates for December 3
- We woke up late. Sleeping’s easy when the sun doesn’t rise until well after ten.
- We went to some interesting museums
- On the advice of an Icelandic friend, we had the lobster soup (and gigantic fish skewers) at Saegreifinn, a restaurant in the old harbour. I swear, between the fish and the skyr, I’ve never had this much protein in such a short period in my entire life.
- We visited the Alafoss lopi wool factory. Yarn and outdoor swimming were the two primary themes in the pitch I gave my mother when trying to convince her to come here, so this was a necessary journey. And a journey it was: thirty minutes on the bus and a stressful walk from the stop. (It was dark and we got a little lost. Luckily, an Icelandic kid who stopped us to tell us that a cat was stuck in a tree was able to give directions in effortless English. Icelanders really know how to train their children properly.) The effort was well worth it, though. As an aside, I only realized while there that I was wearing my acrylic sheep sweater. How ironic.
- I found something to obsess about. Mom went swimming.
Today is December 4. I’m so tired I can hardly move, which is a pretty good sign that it was a full day.
More tomorrow, maybe. Or Saturday. Or Sunday. Whenever I feel like it, really.