16 December 2005

The Iceland Diaries IV -- Day 1

15 December 2005

I'm an idiot. I drank a Starkbier (strong beer normally only available during Lent -- Augustiner Maximator if you're curious) in order to get tired and fall asleep last night before 2:00a.m. I needed to wake up by 5:15 to get to the airport. It worked, but the price was an unruly lower digestive tract. That never happened before. Maybe I shouldn't have had plain vodka for dinner.

So far, at noon in the Copenhagen airport, I've been succeeding it. Mostly.

I woke up and despite a certain siren's best efforts to keep me under the covers, I got up, got dressed and started doing an idiot check, having packed completely the night before and even remembering to charge up a spare battery for the second notebook.

A few kisses goodbye, a reassurance that I won't be falling in love with some Icelandic Hottay and I was... not out in time. I was back and forth between the bathroom, the computers, the bathroom, the bedroom for another reassurance and kiss, the bathroom, etc.

I left 40 minutes later than planned, and it worked out fine. The only problem was having lost the clip strap to hang the computer from the rollie case. I improvised by knotting the shoulder strap around the handle. It worked... mostly.

At the airport I made my way to Gate A where the Sterling gate which was thankfully devoid of people. I went to the counter and handed the girl my ticket.

Along with working in software, I'm also a bartender and part of my job is entertaining people. I do some bar flash, spinning and throwing bottles and doing various things with the mix cup, but I also do a bit of magic, small little things like slaping a bottlecap into the air, catching it and making it disappear, shifting coins, swapping bills, or if it's slow, some rope tricks. I also have some sponge balls, one of which is cut to make a clown nose.

I cut a small bit from the center into something vaguely circular and pasted it to my nose in my passport photo. When I hand over my passport I have the nose palmed. The person taking the passport has to look away to open the passport and that's when my clown nose appears. They generally see the red shit on my picture, touch it and then look up.

The girl at the Sterling counter did exactly this and burst into howliing laughter so loud it startled her cow-orker who was still on the phone. It drew the attention of security, too.

I got my exit row seat and no comment was made about my excessive hand luggage consisting not only of the rollie-case and stuffed computer bag but also a rather large camera case.

Such a stupid little thing and it does so much. I've put a smile on some stranger's face, I've had a chuckle as well, and they treat me a lot nicer. Too bad they don't ask for the passport at the damned security check. Waving a metal-detecting wand over my bare fucking feet is truly stupid and yet, they did it. Idiots.

At the airport I got busy on the last two installments of the Iceland Diaries III; I've been so swamped that I haven't been able to complete them. I forgot about all the pictures to prepare.

I couldn't buy smokes in the Munich duty-free since Denmark is part of the EU. They don't have West in Denmark, dammit.

I was supposed to be flying SAS but that turned out to be a code share or something. Not that SAS doesn't also charge for a drink of water as well as all food, but they're a major carrier. I avoid low-cost carriers like the plague. Scary Mary Schiavo may exaggerate at times but when you fly, it's best to err on the side of caution. Trust me, I'm a pilot.


The people were nice enough, the plane seemed OK, I was in the exit row on the wing, I'd be fine. The in-flight magazine was in Danish but I was able to hobble along through it. The spoken Danish announcements were a lot harder to understand and I could only pull a few words out of the jumble of potato-in-throat sounds eminating from the PA system.

The flight was uneventful, though very shaky on approach due to winds, rain, a coastline and generally less-than-ideal weather. Once in the airport I went to my normal stand for beer and the red hot dogs. It's gone. I found another place with the same. The "Red Menu" consisting of 0.5l of Tuborg, two very red hot dogs, an unsliced bun, a pile of ketchup-ish sauce, mustard resembling Gulden's and a big-ass pile of roasted onion. HuSi's Bob Abooey should come here and diarise about such a lunch. It cost DK65 (about €8.50) and was tasty indeed. I'm now on my second Tuborg and about to split for the gate to board FI205.


Some (unfortunately accompanied) woman sat down at the next table before with a massive burger. She and her friends all looked exquisite, as did the burger (about DK85 and huge with a weird bun). You gotta hand it to the Danes: they got style, and lots of it. I've never seen a Dane dressed like shit or looking ratty, something you normally see of all people at an airport. And the design of the airport -- despite the major shopping area -- is almost homey, with wooden floors and nice, non-industrial ceilings. And yet it does it's job moving waves of unwashed masses through the corridors to and from their flights. Would that other airports (Keflavík excepted) follow suit. Keflavík is even more efficient since they shove two waves comprising thousands of people each through check-in, security, passport control and gates inside two two-hour time periods. And it looks nice, too. Too bad there's a Real. Long. Hall. with no automated walkways, not that Copenhagen has peoplemovers either.

There were also a few Icelandic women, the Hottay of which had a kid in tow. The kid was on crutches from some injury and wearing a an NBA satire shirt: NPA (Natinal Porn Association). He couldn't be more than 12.

Flight 205 was full. And full of kids. Babies, really. Screaming ones. I took a couple tablets which not only contained diclofenac to ease a few aches but just happened to include codeine. We were delayed about half an hour for loading and another ten minutes due to reslotting. And we'd arrive even later, the captain informed us, because we had to fly at only 28,000 feet due to wind conditions.

Over the Færoe Islands

Over the Færoe Islands

Somewhere over Iceland

Somewhere over Iceland

Somewhere over Iceland

Somewhere over Iceland

Reykjavík -- couldn't we please land here?

Reykjavík -- couldn't we please land here?

I was thrilled. Not about getting in so late, of course, but because flying well below the normal altitude would give me a chance to take some better pictures through the astoundingly clean window at my seat.

Of more than 200 shots I hope to have at least a dozen beauties.

Customs was a breeze, my suitcase didn't need an extra hour to get itself on the carousel, and I walked straight through the green line. I let Sandra know I'd arrived two hours late and told her I'd be at the BSI bus terminal at about 6:00p.m.

Sandra called me last month, remembering I'd planned to come back around this time of year. The last person renting som apartment from her were moving out at the end of November. Would I be interested in taking it for December? It's furnished.

"What's the rent?"

"Only 35,000kr." Less than €500. For a month. Except I'm staying through January 8th.

"Oh, that's no problem. I'll just tell the new tenants they can't move in until then."

There's a catch... there always is. Based on a number of SMS messages between us over the past month, I get the feeling she likes me. A lot. A lot more than I'm interested in. She's nice, great to talk to, very helpful with my learning the language, and so totally not my type that analogies fail me.

Glub help me.

Still, I'm in Iceland, it's 5°C here versus the -6° I woke up to in Munich, pretty dark at 5pm but there's still a twilight haze despite sunset being two hours ago.

I hope I still have time to get to Bónus for some basic supplies.

I got a prime seat on the bus with a great view... of darkness. Meh. People got on and paid the woman sitting in the front right seat. While filled with mostly locals, there were some tourists. A group of British students didn't realise they actually needed to hand over the vouchers they'd received from the travel agency and had thrown them away as just more unnecessary receipts. They then tried to explain to the woman that she should call their travel agency to confirm they had vouchers. No dice, kiddo. You're each paying 1150kr. Glub help you at the hotel when you don't have the vouchers there; it's going to be even more expensive for them than for most.

Three middle-aged Japanese people got on. The ticket woman told them the ride would cost a total of 3450kr for the three of them. None of them understood a word. The Japanese woman finally realised she ought to fork over a bit of cash and pulled out a 500kr note. After a few attempts at communications failed, I chimed in with "Sanzen yonbyaku goji-en desu." The Japanese were shocked, the woman let out an "Ah so desu!", the ticket lady looked at me funny then smiled as she realised what I'd done and the tickets were finally paid, allowing the rest of the underdressed people to get on board. I received an emphatic "Arigato gozaimashita from all and replied with a "Doo-itashimashite. It's nice that I can still recall at least some basics but it sucks that I can't really converse in that language anymore.

It's a full moon but that doesn't give enough light for the construction crews. Ever see a steamshovel with about a dozen headlights all over the arm and front frame? Come on up to Iceland. The work day doesn't stop just because the sun gets tired quickly and goes down after doing its duty for four hours.

It's dark, it's evening and it's 3° (almost 40° in Fahrenweird). That's warmer than the Munich I just left.

Sandra picked me up at the BSI bus terminal. She'd sent an SMS asking if I'd arrived just as I bought a bottle of Viking beer. As I was sending her a message telling her where I was I saw her.
I was in for a few surprises:

Surprise 1: "Apartent" = room. Small room. In Sandra's house. And a shared bathroom. Still, it works and it's fairly conveniently located.

Surprise 2: I get to speak more Icelandic than expected. Her son and son's grandmother (older Hottay, not her mother she also added) were there. "Þú talar mjög góðar íslenskú."

Surprise 3: While walking down to Laugarveg to see who was around, I noticed that the voce is already starting to get gravelly. I expect it'll be gone within a week.

Surprise 4: 22's been sold. No work there for me. The owner's on a very extended holiday in Brazil, no one seems sure who's the boss, and the kitchen's gone. I understand the new owner wants to do nicer food.

Surprise 5: The coolest of the Ósóma sheep shirts is scarce. They have a lot of new designs and Gulli's eye design is doing well.I'll see if I can't update this with a picture of it. The price has also gone up but, just for me and all the mentions they get in these diaries, they're willing to do me a deal: two shirts for the price of three. Wotta bargain.

Bónus was closed. I went down to 10/11 for some basic supplies: apple-flavoured soda water, Coke (for the vodka), smoked salmon, skýr and herring in mustard sauce. They were out of the microwaveable traditional lamb soup.

Surprise 6: On the way back up the hill I stopped in at Prikið and a live band was playing somewhat ephereal music and it didn't suck. No idea what they're called but I'll find out.

Surprise 7: Rósa (from the day four of the first series) showed up to DJ just as I was leaving. I helped her bring in her stuff from the car and we talked for a few minutes. She's singing next Wednesday at Sírkus. Fantastic, I'll be there, even though that kills my plans for fucking off Sunday for a week of driving around the country looking for new stuff.

Back at Sandra's we spent rest of evening talking and getting drunk. She'd made some noodle dish which was nice. Around 10:30 her kid (about 10 years old) came in the room and grabbed the Coke bottle. I said WTF before Sandra did; there's no way an overweight kid who already can't wake up is drinking caffeine and sugar this late.

He went back to bed and the subject of weight had been broached. There's a huge difference between me at my current 72kg and the 82kg I had when my passport photo was taken, but that pales in comparison to Sandra's before and after pics.

She showed a pic of her from some years ago: small and definitely a Hottay; 'twas the kid in part. We went on about diets and health and such for a bit and what came after is hazy because I'd stopped mixing Coke into the vodka.

I passed out on the couch when she went to bathroom. I woke up around 5 with a thin blanket which I took downstairs to my room where I slept until 9.


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