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09 July 2011

Final Day in Iceland: All Day and All Night in Reykjavik

Day 36: Saturday, 25 June 2011

We tried to get as much sleep as possible at the hostel, because the next night we were planning for the possibility of staying out all night before our early morning flights. So we slept until 10, but had to check out at 10:30. Taking it easy, we checked emails and other internet stuff for an hour or so. I also frantically tried to help out Ueli, who had texted me that he was stranded in San Francisco at 3am with nowhere to stay.

The day's drive was short, less than 2 hours to Reykjavik. Along the way we passed along a fjord (Halfnafjorthur) with some spectacular views. We stopped at a lone church, decided against making a 2-hour hike to Glymur (Iceland's tallest waterfall), and drove offroad to find a hot spring that Georg had recommended to us. The hot spring was pretty isolated, a natural jacuzzi right by the water. We didn't really feel like jumping in, as rain had begun to sprinkle and I wanted to get to Reykjavik anyway.

Into the city we drove, stopping by a shopping outlet to look for a big flag of Iceland for me to buy. We then stopped by Höfði, a house known for hosting a meeting between Gorbachev and Reagan back in the 80s. Then we went to the Sun Voyager sculpture, a famous landmark for Iceland. Then we parked the car and checked in to our hostel, Guesthouse 101, which is a very nice and modern hostel, but the receptionist was frustratingly verbose, talking on and on as if he was on drugs or something :X

We settled in to our room and walked out into the city center. I was on a quest for my Icelandic wall flag, and the Lithuanians were on a quest for a hot dog. After a bit of searching in every tourist shop along the way, I found my flag. We then headed straight for the famous hot dog stand near the city hall and got our hot dog for ISK 300. We walked back, stopping at a cool cafe with balcony seating, where I had a delicious hot chocolate and then I stopped by the landmark Hallgrímskirkja church.

Jurate and Nerijus picked up some drinks on the way back to the hostel, but we soon realized that they weren't beers but malt drinks. So I added some of my whiskey.

We then went out looking for dinner. I wanted to try whale or puffin, while Jurate and Nerijus wouldn't have any. We first ended up at the Iceland Bar, where we shared a set of dishes including a Reindeer burger, a jar of arctic char, and some lamb. We then had a beer and walked around in the chilly evening before going to the Sea Griffing for dinner part 2. It was there that I had a whale skewer, and they had some delicious lobster soup and a redfish skewer. The whale tasted like beef, just a bit more tough and with a slightly fishy smell. It was not that great.

So we returned to the hostel to rest for a bit before our all-night binge. But we didn't get much rest - just maybe an hour spent packing our bags. And then we headed out to Kaffibarinn, a moderately sized pub that was full of people (we got in around midnight, right before a line formed outside). The Icelandic people seem to give off a naturally hipsterish vibe - a bit "too cool" but not nearly as fake as Americans. Lots of scarves and thick-framed glasses and awkward dancing in the dark. Drinks were pricey, as I had been warned. We then left and roamed the street, finding a cheap, loud bar with lots of drunk people pounding the floor. A group of guys were playing frat-level drinking games in the corner. It was around 1am and the sky had dimmed slightly.

After a round of drinks on the street, watching the spectacle of loud, drunk Icelanders, and another hot dog from that stand, we returned to the hotel. I slept for an hour, while Jurate and Nerijus went out to see the sky flame with the "sunrise."

It was 5:30 when we caught the bus to the airport. I remember only a few moments in between slumber. At the airport, I said good-bye to Jurate and Nerijus, and I waited to check-in to my flight. The problem was, the pilots for IcelandAir were on strike, and somehow this affected the staff, so everyone was running late for their flight.

I met a woman from Slovenia here for a conference and a nice older couple from Oregon (the husband is a business professor at a University in Bellingham, Washington). I made it on the flight and two hours later, I was already descending into the UK.

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