Loving Life in Reykjavik

It’s been quite a few days between blog posts; Eee PC is toast, and we had little or no internet access while on our road trip. We left East Iceland on Friday morning at first light: 10am with a mixture of sadness, after all I’d been there for three weeks, and anticipation at seeing Iceland in the winter in our four by four SUV, it was silver, and I can’t remember the exact make, but it rocked. Once I get home, I will post pictures of our drive, but for now I’ll be brief, because really, it is close to impossible to describe the wild desolation and grim beauty of this amazing and geologically radical country.

Nobody really warned us that the drive would be as challenging as it was. When we arrived in Reykjavik, we realized that most people and especially tourists might not attempt this in December. People looked shocked when we told them from whence we’d come…Often the narrow roads were covered in snow and ice and it was difficult to navigate our way around, over and sometimes through the mountain passes and along the coastline. Sometimes hours went by without seeing another car, and the small farms and villages we passed seemed devoid of any human life. There were a few tense moments when we thought we were lost, or might run out of gas, but these were quickly forgotten when we saw the hundreds of Icelandic horses, or the herd of wild reindeer or the apocalyptic lava fields or the turf houses or the jagged mountains rising out of the turquoise blue Atlantic Ocean.

During our road trip, the exchange rate swung crazily, so that by the time we reached civilization there was great confusion over the strength of the Canadian dollar against the Kroner. On Thursday it was I dollar equaled 181 ISK — not bad. After so long away from stores, we indulged ourselves in the shops of Reykjavik and the outlying areas, discovering too late that the Kroner had left the dollar in its dust — ($1.00 = 91 ISK – ouch), and everything we’d purchased as well as our hotel room and meals had effectively doubled in price.

Reykjavik is very Euro — most of the people are friendly and there is an amazing coffee culture here which I wish Vancouver could emulate. People hang in coffee houses writing, reading and talking in comfy chairs and couches and if you are likely to hear three or four different languages being spoken all at the same time.

There is a baby born every hour in Iceland, so the streets are full of mums pushing prams — there is no stigma around being a single mother and the social programs make ours look non-existent, so parents are not stressed over money, school, medical care…It’s oddly white middle class and that is probably what is missing here — multiculturalism, but this is a good life and an enviable one. Music is valued and most bars have DJs or live musicians and cover charges are rare — there are no problems with crime, except there was a carjacking last year, which blew everyone away, because that kind of thing just does not happen here.

BTW — nice hotel here in Reykjavik on the main street close to all the bars, shops and eating places — I’d provide the link, but I don’t know the keyboard shortcuts on this borrowed Mac, but it is called Hotel Fron. Costs about 9,000 ISK a night which used to be really cheap, but isn’t anymore.

Gotta Go. Blue Lagoon in the morning and then back here on Thursday for our final night in the Land of Fire and Ice. 😦

I will go into much detail on the road trip once I get home.

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3 Comments

Filed under Iceland 2008

3 responses to “Loving Life in Reykjavik

  1. Anita Levin

    Hi Julie:

    Are you the same Julie Burtinshaw that wrote Jenny’s Quest. If so, please contact me. I am preparing an audio CD of a reading of part of your story for Pearson Canada, and need to know how to pronounce (1) your name, (2), Estes, and (3) Captain Nagel.

    Thanks
    Anita

  2. Until now, my exposure to Reykjavik was Trivial Pursuit.

  3. For the record, as I don’t want to sully eee pc’s name: baby computer is alive and well. It was the converter that took the hit!

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