17 December 2005

The Iceland Diaries IV -- Day 2

Friday, 16 December 2005

I'm an idiot.

A sure-thing German girl had invited me to go to concert. I missed it. A more than sure-thing Icelandic Hottay hung on me for hours but the night ended as usual.

Today's writing is being done with a very bad hangover some 10 hours after the stupidity.

I woke up to a very dark 9:30 a.m., got dressed and went down to the water to get some photos carrying a camera case on one shoulder and a computer case on the other. I got a few nice shots of the mountains but nothing to write home about. Either I need to get to a different area to get the shot I want or I need to modify the Earth's orbit somewhat drastically. From that vantage point the sun rises nowhere near the mountains. I stuck around for an hour and a half in the hope that the mountain tops might be hit by some light. No dice, but in the dawn light the statue looked majetic.

Sólfarinn frá Jón Gunnar Árnason

Sólfarinn, by Jón Gunnar Árnason. Click for large version.
Photo by and © me. Commercial use prohibited without license.
Private use must link or provide URL.

After a windy 90 minutes I walkd up to Laugarveg and into Prikið. At first I sat at the bar but a bunch of kids started banging on the window. Then the horde of them started coming inside, holding the door open, quickly dropping the temperature. One of the bar girls started scolding the children and then went around to the door to shoo the kids away. They came in again and shouted (in English) "We love you Sylvia" before reluctanty leaving again as the bar girl started heading back to the door. I looked around and didn't notice anyone exceptional but I guess she's on some kids' program here. She's not on Stundin Okkar. I went upstairs where there were electrical outlets to be had.

I spent most of the day in Prikið answering mail, dealing with business and trying to get Blogspot to take the damned long post. I sat upstairs in a corner writing, working on these diaries, sorting through pictures, learning to better use my camera, and basically killing the day until night comes to go out and party.

It's almost 6pm now and time to head back up the hill after a quick stop at Bónus to see if they have some soup. Four beers, a big soda water and a double espresso have been my only sustenence today.

I stopped in at Ósóma and talked to Gulli for a minute. He said he was doing some vanity surfin on his and the shop's name together and the Iceland Diaries were in the top results. There was a girl in the shop so he, as usual, started taking the piss at my expense. I replied with something in German and the girl turned around. She's on an art school semester exhange as is going back to Germany Monday. We kept talking in German, which prevented further commentary from Gulli. That didn't stop him making certain gestures any time her back was to him.

Her name is Jackie and she said a relly good band was playing at the Naked Ape tonight, asking if I'd like to go. Hells yeah! She kept talking with me and we finally left with Gully making a few more crude gestures understood worldwide.

They didn't have my lamb soup at Bónus. Dinner (breakfast really) was a bit of smoked salmon, some of the herring and some lifrakæfi with cracker bread which I ate while watching Latebær (a.k.a. Lazy Town) with Magnus, Sandra's kid. It's an Icelandic production which is shot in town at the studio... in English. So it's overdubbed. The show's supposedly very popular worldwide. One of the characters is called "Sportacus" in English and Íþrott-something-or-other in Icelandic. It's certainly... different.

I had a nice, long, hot shower, after which Sandra and I sat talking for a while. As I poured some vodka into my soda Sandra mentioned she had a bottle of "homemade Icelandic vodka". Moonshine? w00t! I tried it pure and it wasn't bad but could certainly have done with a second distillation and more filtering. Looking back today, that's wwhere the idiocy of the day really got started.

Sandra wanted to see the pics I'd taken from the air yesterday and also those from this morning and we talked some more. I didn't get out -- camera kit in tow -- until around 11:30 which is when things normally pick up anyway.

Reykjavík late afternoon in winter

Except the Naked Ape was already closed. I'd missed the concert and the girl. I'm failing it spectacularly on only my second day back. I went to Prikið and for the next couple hours sat taking pictures and talking with people, mainly in English. A professional-looking camera alone is definitely a chick magnet and the foreigner behind it speaking English reaps the benefits. Being able to speak a bit of Icelandic but falling back to English rather than struggling along in Icelandic isn't going to help my language skills but damned near every girl in the place wanted to talk to me.

Icelandic Hottays
Icelandic Hottays
Icelandic Hottay

So did every attention hound, such as afro man. "I bet you never seen a Icelander with a afrrro". That's because it looks So. Damned. Lame. Mike the Indian (AIM member, now a bodyguard), on the other hand, was quite friendly though he managed to get himself into an awful lot of shots I was trying to take of just Hottays.

Indian Mike and Icelandic Hottay w/ boyfriend

Icelandic Hottays
Icelandic Hottay
Icelandic Hottays
I left for Sírkus and was immediately informed by a very large, Nordic-looking tower of worked-out muscles that if I took one picture inside, all the rest would be outside. For evar. No photos allowed? Loada bollocks I say, but the owner, Sigga, wasn't there so no appeal was possible. I finished my beer and left for Sólon where a couple of the Hottays said they were going and had invited me to meet them there.

I didn't see them in the place which itself wasn't terribly full, a bad sign at this time of night/morning. The music was OK but there weren't many people dancing and fewer interesting people that I felt like photographing. The mood wasn't the weekend party I'm so accustomed to. Maybe Pravda would be better. While hit-or-miss, the place is usually hit. It's also very warm inside so the Hottays tend to shed most garments.

I got outside and saw it had started snowing. Fuck. It was also very windy. Double fuck. The snow crystals stung as they hit my face like a sandbaster. There was a queue outside Pravda and despite the camera, I was going to have to wait in it. Fuck that, I went next door to Hressiskálinn, but not before going to a hot dog wagon for a pylsa með öllu. And they had potato salad for it! Some girl I'd seen in Prikið came up to me and asked what I was doing. "I'm eating this pylsa and then going to Hressiskálinn." She was going there, too. Fine, I'll see you inside. There's no way I'm rushing this very messy but tasty hot dog drowning in mayo and ketchup and "mustard" and onions and roasted onions and potato salad, especially for a girl who's not only not going to sleep with me but is quite likely to introduce me to the slob she just grabbed off the dance floor who will be going home with her to take care of business. You have to keep your priorities (and reality) straight. Except there was this shit weather. I didn't rush but the dog disappeared a bit quicker than it otherwise would have. I went into the bar.

And there's where I made the next mistake. Instead of beer I ordered a double-gin and Coke. And then the third mistake: I didn't refuse it when he brought me a double G&T instead. Tonic does something bad to me. I didn't notice at the time but as I went through the photos today, I was already quite drunk and the pictures proved it. Not pictures of me (which a few people took in "revenge") but all the piss-poor, crap composition, blurry, shaky, mis-aimed 3MB disasters I discovered on the CF card in the morning. I only kept three or four out of dozens of shots.

And it was no better back at Prikið where I kept drinking, harder and faster. I did get a decent shot of the crowd at entrance, though I edited it and slammed up the fill light to so you can actually see the people all the way to the back, turning the foreground people into spotlights. Maybe that's why I'm getting paid to photograph teddy bears and not portraits.

Prikið er fullt, og mér lika!

I finally realised just how drunk I was, which was around the level of "double-vision with one eye closed". At least I don't get the spins anymore. I could barely stand and I was facing a long walk up a very steep hill. I started ignoring the Hottays who were talking to me and began switching over into that auto-pilot mode that gets me safely back into my bed. Because I know from experience that she may get annoyed with me for leaving now, but that's nothing compared to how she'd feel if I got into her bed in this useless condition. You can't shoot pool with a rope.

It was a long, hard trudge up that hill and it was made a complete hell thanks to the biting wind and stinging ice crystals masquerading as snow slamming into my face which I tried to shield with my gloved hands. My eyes stung every time I peered between my fingers. On some parts of the sidewalk there was slush, on others a powder that would be great to ski on but not the sort of thing you want to stumble uphill while drunk on.

It was about 6:30 when I walked in the door, slowly undressed and quickly lay down before gravity and alcohol could finish the job for me.


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