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2004-05-27 - 12:44 a.m.

As my loyal readers may have noticed, what I really like to do is travel. Since my last jaunt overseas only afforded a very short stay in Iceland, I decided to give the place a second chance. I planned a trip over to Reykjavik with my friend and fellow International PlaygirlTM LV. (This International PlaygirlTM bit is new I realize, I don't say much about my secret non-superhero life here on this blog, but let's just say there's been some turmoil on that front and it's lead me to an interest in the International PlaygirlTM lifestyle.)

Before heading to Iceland, I realized what LV and I needed to really get psyche ourselves up was a good mix CD. Since Reykjavik is famed for beautiful people and outrageous nightlife, and it was our intention to be International PlaygirlsTM, clearly an International Playgirl soundtrack was in order. Here's what I came up with:

Veruca Salt - Volcano Girls
Juliana Hatfield - Houseboy
EMF - Unbelievable
Kay Hanley - Real Wild Child
Imperial Teen - Yoohoo
The Donnas - 40 Boys in 40 Nights
Iggy Pop - Lust for Life
Elastica - Yr Arse My Place
Mudhoney - Pump it Up
Ladytron - Playgirl
Primal Scream - Get Your Rocks Off
Letters to Cleo - Dangerous Type
The Get Up Kids - Beer for Breakfast
Peaches - AA XXX
The Libertines - I Get Along
Poe - Not a Virgin
The Smoking Popes - Not That Kind of Girlfriend
Sleater Kinney - I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone
The Waitresses - I Know What Boys Like
Vanity 6 - Nasty Girl
The Bangs - Fast Easy Love

The actual flight was exhausting and disorienting. 6 hours is a long time so spend squished on a plane and when we arrived, due to the time change, it was actually 10 hours later. We took a nap and then set out for provisions. We cleverly picked up the vodka at the airport duty free shop however. If you visit Scandinavia and want liquor that is the way to get it. Drinking is very expensive there and having a supply of booze at your pad will make you popular with the natives. Speaking of our pad, it was swanky. We rented a very lovely apartment in a guesthouse and our stay there was lovely. The apartment had a kitchen and living room and bedroom. The building had several balconies and a hot tub, though we never did get around to using the hot tub.
Buying groceries at the market turned out to be a smart move since restaurants were very expensive and we were often too lazy or busy to go out for food any way. This is not to say that the groceries were all that cheap. We later learned that most people in Reykjavik work several jobs to keep up with the cost of living there. Everything was very expensive. (Just to be clear, I don't live in Kansas or anything, I live in one of the most expensive US cities so I am not easily shocked by prices.)
After some lazing around and grocery shopping we took a trip over to the Blue Lagoon. I had heard varying reports about the Blue Lagoon, one guide described it as a sludgy tourist trap. I assure you the Blue Lagoon is extremely cool and if you are every in Iceland you absolutely must go, regardless of the time of year. The Blue Lagoon is a big geothermal spa and it was the perfect day to wind down a busy, tiring, jetlagged day. Even with the air being rather chilly the lagoon's steam and heat keep you pretty warm and the contrast with the air and water is even pleasant. LV and I were careful to keep our hair far from the water since we'd heard horror stories about contact with the mineral rich lagoon turning hair to a solid brick-like consistency.

After the lagoon we went back to the apartment for a shower and change. By the time we were ready for dinner it was nearly 10 pm. The thing is it was 4 hours earlier back on the US east coast and it was certainly sunny enough to be 6 pm (The sun doesn't really set in Iceland in the summer so it is quite bright well into the night). We were quite confused when we went out to look for food and we discovered that most of the restaurants were closed. We ended up with an outrageously expensive but tasty meal and one of the few eateries that was open, a restaurant called Apotek.

After dinner we got some drinks and a hipster bar called Kaffebarrin. There was a pretty good DJ spinning mostly electro and LV struck up a conversation with some patrons at a nearby table. It wasn't long before the bar closed and we invited our new friends back to our apartment for drinks. (Although Reykjavik parties all night on weekends, the bars close at 1 am on weeknights and this was a Thursday.) We ended up hanging around these locals for much of the weekend. They turned out to be very cool and friendly. There was B a British expatriate, M an Iceland native and their lady friend S. S was an expatriate from some place in Africa with a convoluted story about being married to an Icelander who she had a child with but it seems the guy mostly cared for the baby and they were separated but intending to stay married. S was somewhat crazy, stealing people's drinks, flirting with everyone regardless of their gender. Very silly stuff. When LV and I mentioned to M and B that the women in Iceland were all quite beautiful they both quickly replied "Yes but they are all insane." S certainly fit that description.


Baby for sale (I don't think it actually says that but let's just pretend, it's more fun that way.)
I am not so sure about the sanity of Icelandic men but they all seemed to agree that their female counterparts needed their heads examined. Nearly every man we spoke to, without prompting, told us Icelandic women are all insane. I think perhaps working constantly and living on a frigid island that is in total darkness half of the year with only 110,000 people in the city would probably drive most people insane so I guess it's understandable. Insane or not these people are hot. Pretty much everyone there looked like they'd just stepped out of a spread from Vogue -- striking features, stunning clothes -- the works. I recommend a jaunt to this city to any aspiring International Playboys or Playgirls.

The other problem with having a small, dark, cold island full of hot people is it apparently produces a lot of babies. LV and I were baffled when we walked around the city on Friday afternoon and noticed that every other shop was selling baby clothes, strollers, cribs, etc. Our home city is much larger and we don't see nearly as many shops with this theme. How many kids could these people really be having? When we spoke to some locals we were informed that most people in Reykjavik have kids, even the very young people. They have a huge number of young unmarried parents. In fact, many of the people we met fell into that category. Half way through the weekend we were ready to just start asking people how many kids they have.

The biggest disappointment for our trip was the weather. It was cold and rainy most of the time. It was mostly drizzle on Friday so we walked around looking at shops and checked out the art museum. Like every place else in Scandinavia, most of the t-shirts were printed in English so we spent some time in search of clothing with Icelandic text on it. We found a cool shop called Osoma with a pretty good selection. I spent a lot of time drooling over the generally gorgeous fashionable (expensive) clothing every shop had to offer that we don't have here in the states.

We were hoping to check out the Phallological Museum (a museum all about penises) but for some reason they decided to move it out of Reykjavik and the new location was too far away to visit. We instead amused ourselves with tea shops and a very good veggie meal and a restaurant called Ecstasy's Heart Garden. (Sounds more like a porno shop than a restaurant doesn't it?)


picture of a shirt on a mannequin in a shop window with a picture of George Bush that says "Not My President"


Random funny ad we saw in front of a shop

Since it was Friday it was time to party like the Vikings. We prepped for the evening with a little nap and then a pre-party at the Apartment. Joining us were M from the night before and fellow Americans Ms Cupcakes and her beau. (We had never actually met but coincidentally wound up in Reykjavik at the same time and have a friend in common.) Mr. and Ms Cupcakes were charming, adorable and a welcome addition to our crew. We drank cool mandarin vodka drinks and then hit the bars. We checked out a great indie rock bar called Sirkus and a dance club called Kapital. Kapital was featuring a DJ called Kontrol. We drank more and hung out with M, B and S and the Cupcakes and met some more people as we traipsed through bars and clubs. We ended up with several guests back at our apartment until the wee hours of the morning. When it comes to partying Reykjavik did not disappoint.


Mr. and Ms Cupcakes

Everyone getting down at Kapital

Saturday was our day of extreme nature excursion adventure. We took a tour of the Golden Circle which includes Gulfoss and Geysir. The sights were all completely beautiful but the weather was a force to be reckoned with -- cold, soaking, hailing, snowing -- you name it. We saw some amazing natural wonders but we wound up shivering and drenched. Our clothes were completely stuck to our bodies. This is probably a big part of why I ended up getting sick when I got home, but more on that in a bit.

To the left is a picture of a geysir. They have boiling hot water shooting out of the ground in various places around the country. This particular spot is a famed tourist attraction. It may be hard to see the water shooting up because it's a gray day but the water actually shoots up pretty high into the air, the tiny specs in the background are people standing, just to give some perspective on how high the water goes. Below is a picture of a gorge and a famous waterfall called Gulfoss.


After our busy day with nature we headed back for a disco nap so we could prepare for part 2 of nightlife in Reykjavik. Some locals I contacted via friendster came by for a pre-party at the apartment with a 6 pack of beer. They were a little shy but still quite nice, as most of the locals were. They joined us for more drinks over at Kaffebarrin where we met up with B and were introduced to even more people. We eventually grew bored of Kaffebarrin and checked out Sirkus. Sirkus had a terrific DJ but it was terribly rowdy and crowded and smoky, there wasn't really any room to dance without shoving into people. I went outside for a bit for fresh air. When I headed back over there was a short line to get inside. Some horrid drunk bitches were in line behind me making a big fuss over how they simply had to get into the bar immediately because they know how cool the place is and they are addicted to it and no one could possibly need to be in there as badly as them. They then loudly went off about how they are so much taller than I am. These girls were some sort of European I think, but not Icelandic. Wherever they were from they were horribly rude and irritating and I really wanted to hit them. Some very sweet boy let me in line ahead of him so fortunately it wasn't long before they were out of my sight and I rejoined LV and B.

While we were hanging out some very rowdy viking came along and grabbed my arm, yanking me out of my chair, onto my feet, and nearly shoving me down some steps. "American?!" he asked. "Yep" I said. "That's terrible, you have that President Bush."

"Yeah well I certainly do not like him," I assured him "but there are some cool things about America. It has it's good things and bad things, like every place."

"You are going to vote for Kerry?"

"Yes of course"

(This bit about Bush was no surprise. Nearly everyone we spoke to, upon hearing our accents, wanted to know if we shared their contempt for the US President, which of course we do. Once we got that out of the way most of them seemed ok with us.)

"Do you know the Beach Boys?!"

"Well, not personally"

"I LOVE THEM!"

"okay"

The viking shoved me onto a couch, sat next to me and lifted his pant leg, "Do you know what this is?!" He had a tattoo of some faces but I couldn't really tell who it was. I shook my head. "Sorry" I said. "IT'S THE BEACH BOYS!" I should have guessed.

"Do you know Pet Sounds? And Smile?"

"Well I am not familiar with Smile, Pet Sounds is good"

"SMILE IS THE UNRELEASED BEACH BOYS ALBUM. It's FANTASTIC!"

"alright, I'm sure it is"

"They Beach Boys are not just some pop surf band. They were very experimental, very inventive. They are the best band that ever existed."

"Yeah, they're good."

"I don't think I can talk to you. I don't think you understand how awesome the Beach Boys are."

"ok"

He got up and walked off. See comment about the sanity of Icelandic men, please.

I was starting to get a little run down with the smoke, the rain, the very disorienting incessant sunlight, the lack of sleep, the cold, etc so I was starting to feel ready for bed. LV and B walked me home and went off on their own. I was finally exhausted enough not to care that it was as sunny as 4 pm even though it was 4 am.

When we got up Sunday morning we found that the weather was perfect. It was warmer and sunny and the sky was a lovely shade of blue. We were completely infuriated. We went on a little walk, just to take in Reykjavik on a nice day, before we headed over to the airport. I took a few of these snapshots:

When we first passed this we wondered if it meant something else in Icelandic. We later realized someone was being funny. The sign originally said Gum Only and someone erased part of the G. No tractors on the highway during rush hour.

Iceland's landscape looks an awful lot like space.

Any way that about sums up the trip. Sorry to report that the racy Playgirl details of the trip are top secret and will maybe some day be available when I write my tell-all Playgirl biography/expose. Sorry there are no photos of me here. I have to keep my superhero identity secret.

The real downer post script here is I got home with a raging case of what I'm calling the Viking plague. I was horribly sick all Monday and Tuesday with a high fever and sore throat and could not get out of bed. By Wednesday I was bored to tears with being stuck in the house. It's Thursday now and I'm still not quite back to my sprightly, action-packed self but the fever seems to be on its way out so hopefully I'll be ready for excitement by the holiday weekend.

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