Ég er á Íslandi (part 1)

I assure you that I have travelled before (even to Iceland), but you wouldn’t guess it from the way I planned this particular trip.

First, the timing. I missed the fact Easter exists. I don’t know (yet) what Icelanders do to celebrate Easter, but one thing I know is that they do not open supermarkets, and our arrival was 3pm on Saturday the 31st. But the supermarkets closed at 6pm on Saturday, so we just needed everything to go smoothly.

The plane left early, arrived without a hiccup, we found the exit on the second try (accompanied by me excitedly trying to read every single word in Icelandic out loud without getting arrested), got the bus, and arrived at the car rental spot with plenty time to spare. We produced the paperwork, the lovely gentleman behind the counter took husby’s credit card, and that’s when we discovered it was “unauthorised”. The terminal did not divulge what for, by whom, or why exactly it was “unauthorised”. It just refused to cooperate. Obviously, I also had my credit card with me. (Ég á kreditkort!) I also didn’t not, nor had I ever known my PIN number, because I had only ever used this card for online purchases. After some shaking and crying we came up with the idea to call the bank, and find the answers to all our questions. The gentleman behind the counter waited patiently.

The customer service of our bank seemed unimpressed by our adventures, nevertheless explained that it was the limit that was too low, and after some grumbling and complaining bumped the limit. We managed to pay for the car. “Why don’t you have a coffee?” suggested the lovely guy behind the counter, as he watched tears flowing down husby’s face. While husby got busy swallowing the coffee together with the plastic spoon, then eating the paper cup, I tested my four Icelandic words on the guy. He understood me. (Yay!) Then he responded. Using words that I did not know. It would have helped if he wanted to have a drink with me at my place or the hotel, but he didn’t.

I had a suspicion this might happen more often.

We got into the car, and I pet husby’s hand as if it were a terrified guinea pig. When his shakes subsided, we got on the way, and thanks to Google Maps found the place. Our usual schtick, perfected through six years of our relationship, is that husby refuses to trust Google Maps, I remember we should turn left when in fact we should not only turn right, but also do so three streets further, then he apologises to Google Maps, and I pretend not to gloat. We performed it perfectly – experience will do that to you. Which is how the trip to a supermarket located 200 meters from our place took us half an hour.

We filled our basket and waited in line, while I made comments on other people under my breath. I currently use four languages on daily basis, which results in me speaking English with Icelandic accent, using Oxford comma in Polish, and applying Dutch grammar to all other languages. But it was time to test the effects of my course, and I was ready.

The lady at the counter: You have to pay thirty four thousand and four kronur.
Me, seductively: Or is it…þrjátíu fjögur þúsund og fjögur kronur?
Her: *says words in Icelandic*
Me: Afsakið?
Her: *word in Icelandic*
Me: …
Her: *sighs* Would you like the receipt?
Me: Nee, bedankt (“no, thanks” in Dutch). Ehhh… nei, takk?

I could tell she was thinking “one more hour and I can go home”, only of course she was thinking that in Icelandic, so I only understood the last four words.

We now had groceries, parked our car safely outside the house, had the keys, and everything clearly went right. At this point I started feeling very self-congratulatory.

This was a mistake.

I managed to travel to Reykjavik equipped with the following:
– one thin sweater, according to which I am a member of Swedish track and field team;
– no other sweaters whatsoever (I remember myself thinking “jeez, I don’t even know how many of those I packed” – ONE. YOU PACKED ONE.);
– two pairs of leather trousers, one of which is leather cargo pants, and one is a gay porn star type black shiny thing;
– thick winter boots, regular leather boots, Converse;
– card reader, four USB cables, USB-A to USB-C cable, two Macbook chargers and two cables, three USB-A chargers for phone, tablet, e-reader, cable for the fitness band, I think you know what I am trying to say here, which is that I don’t really understand how priorities work.

But I could rest assured that while freezing my tits off I would be able to do so while thoroughly charged.

We spent the Easter Sunday in the haze of jet lag. After adjusting for time zones, sunshine accompanied us for approx. four hours longer here than it had in Amsterdam. I had a headache, head cold, an aching toe, depression, and Gods know what else, if it was awful, then it was safe to assume I had it. (I also have hypochondria, by the way.) We went for a short walk just not to be stuck inside all day, and I discovered Reykjavik wasn’t actually all picturesque. It was an odd mixture of modern and old, ruined and pristine. Hallgrímskirkja didn’t represent it any better than its numerous building sites did. I haven’t noticed that before, because we didn’t have enough time to hang around town.

And then on Monday morning, after 9.5 hours of very bad sleep we got out of bed, and when we looked outside we saw snow. It looked like in children’s movies, floating down in large clumps, silently, slowly, ruthlessly.

“I am not driving,” said husby.

Amsterdam winter is either the Song of Hail and Rain hitting you in the face very hard, or just rain hitting you in the face very hard. Sometimes snow falls, melts, freezes again, then paralyses the city. This snow looked like a fairytale. Yesterday the depression made me think “you shouldn’t have gone anywhere”. Right this moment there was nowhere I would rather be.

As long as we stayed indoors, of course.

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