18 December 2005

The Iceland Diaries IV -- Day 3

Saturday, 17 DEC 05

I'm an idiot.

A Hottay wanted to take me home last night but I'd drunk so much that the only thing I could do was get back to my own place.

I woke up at noon with massive hangover. Sandra drank all my soda water leaving me high and dry. Tap water is OK -- great here, actually -- but in the mornings I need my soda water and/or coffay.

I started sorting through the pictures from yesterday and working on them. Unfortunately it's all being done on an LCD monitor so I'll have to redo them all when I get back home. If a particular picture sucks, check back in a few weeks.

I walked to to 10/11 for more soda water and got my soup, then to the tourist information office to pick up brochures and find some things to do. Maybe I'll make it out to the south all day tomorrow. I'm sure as hell not getting ratted tonight. I may not even be going out tonight since I heard the woman tell a couple Chinese tourists that the trip they'd had in mind would be a Bad Idea since there was a major storm coming in from the southwest.

Have a little Reykjavík streetscape, Scarecrow.
It's pretty colourful here.
The not-the-most-engaging-or-competent weather-reading woman on TV seemed to be hemming and hawing a different tune and the isobar charts didn't appear to be too threatening. Still, I'm betting the tourist info woman has a lot of experience.

I nuked the soup which, if you missed it back last year, is very, very good with lots of meat and veg. Five eurobuckies may seem a bit steep but it's hardly abnormal here and well worth it. It's also one of very few native Icelandic dishes that both taste good and are available in microwaveable form. Sandra then told me about her mother's lamb soup which is, of course, simply the best there is. Mum's soups are always the best -- excepting perhaps grandma's.

Maybe that's why the ex-wife and I never had kids: she would've starved or poisoned them. Noodles were either crunchy (After draining spaghetti that had cooked for two minutes or so I was informed she'd cooked them al dente and my culinary knowledge was called into question) or wallpaper paste. Ever seen the results of cooking capellini for 40 minutes? She was banned from the kitchen after the burnt water incident. I'm not making this up.

Anyway, around 4:30 I went with Sandra to Vitabar but wan't hungry enough to have a burger myself. I nursed my hangover with a beer as I tried to do the sudoku puzzles in Morgunblaðið. They print three a day: easy, medium and hard. I normally don't bother with the easy ones but I was pretty wrecked and figured that would be the way to go. I should be able to knock out an easy one in four minutes; it took me almost 10 but I was slowly able to start thinking again. I got the medium (normal time: 6-8 mins) done in under half an hour.

At 6pm yesterday's diary was done, as were two beers and I still wasn't feeling any better. I have to go buy some video tapes. Instead I ate some more salmon and watched a subtitled Men in Black 2, stopping and rewinding constantly because I couldn't read and register he words fast enough (I also had to repeatedly watch Lara Flynn Boyle show off her rack in some Victorian Seekrit bra despite my hatred of product placement). Who the fuck makes a VCR with no pause function? Panasonic.

Though I tried a couple other places first, I ended up in 22 because the coffee house and other bar got rid of their Net connections. Össur (from Bar 11) and Gusti were there and on their way out. The place was dead but he'd been told to keep it open for a while. For two hours I fought with blogger to get the damned entry up and with the computer to stop giving me BSODs (5 total).

When I went up for my second beer I asked the bartender if he was new. No, he's worked there for three years,mainly in the kitchen. Ha... That can't be. I worked there this summer and he wasn't there. "I was in Sweden all summer. You're the guy Halli was talking about." Yup, that was me. I bought him a shot and when he told me to choose, I said Opal. He preferred Topas which I said was fine, too. Those licorice shots are all pretty much equally vile.

I finally finished yesterday's entry and started reading and answering mail. The bartender came over about ten minutes later, the three-top table having left and only one other customer there. "I didn't hear anymore cursing so I figured you were done." Erm, yeah. I'm not good at keeping my feelings inside.

Atli aske what I was doing and I told him. He insisted I add that his name is decended from Atilla, as in "the Hun". He's also the first Icelander I've met who says he's not decended from the Vikings but from a bunch of farmers. I wasn't going to argue but soething in that idea doesn't work very well. We had another shot, this time Ga Jól. He went for the gold and I asked what the hell the difference was. The blue is more anise and the gold more licorice. He gave me a half shot of the blue to taste test and indeed, the gold is much nicer... for a given value of "nice".

So why the hell does he prefer Topas to Opal since the former is anise and the latter licorice? I got a laugh and a shoulder shrug.

People started coming in and Atli had to get busy. Some girl came in to work on the bar. The disco upstairs is closed (which I don't understand since it rakes in €13-18K on a good night). Still, Atli also had to work and I had to leave. I was going to drop off the computer, pick up the camera, go out and not get shitfaced.

Except it was raining outside. In 22 I'd checked the weather outlook for Iceland and Reykjavík. The good news: Our low temperature is still higher than Munich's high. The bad news: it's supposed to rain for the next 10 days. It had started. Maybe I'd leave the good camera at home and just take the Ixus although it red-eyes up a storm at times despite reduction.

When I walked in, Sandra was sitting with Steinur who also lives here and someone else named Siggi. Easy to remember. Would I like a piece of pizza? Not really... well... what the fuck, sure. Siggi works at a pizza place and had brought it over. It was surprisingly good, topped with pepperoni, ground beef, extra cheese and a metric buttload of garlic. We started talking and drinking beer, then vodka. They were playing a Gang of Four CD. Siggi's only 18 or so and is just discovering the punk music that I grew up with when it was a political and not fashion statement.

He asked if I wanted to hear some of his music. Why not? I'm going downstairs soon anyway. He put on the CD an I prepared for the worst. Instead I was thrown back to memories of mixing tracks in a studio late last night. What I was hearing was a very rough mix of some very good music. Very good. So good that I asked to hear all four tracks again.

We kept talking, mostly in Icelandic. I'd listen to the music, watch subtitles to some lame film on the TV (the sound was off) and occasionally ask what a word meant.

The wind outside was picking up and there was some rain, too, so I decided I was just to stay in and have an early night. Maybe I could finally take the bus tour of southern Iceland which meant getting to the pick-up point by 8:30 and it was only 1:30 now.

It only took two epoisodes of Charmed to put me out.


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