No one wants a taxi driver to laugh when you tell them where you want go, especially when that place is your hotel, or what you thought was your hotel.
When my family arrived in Iceland everything went reasonably smoothly, reasonably being defined by our travel history is arriving in the right place and not being lost. We got onto a plane in Seattle flew for 8 or 9 hours and ended up at Keflavik Airport at around 7am. We were a little tired, none of us could sleep on the flight, but we arrived on time, went and exchanged dollars for Icelandic Kroner and hung around waiting for a bus to take us to the Blue Lagoon (more on this place in another post.) We did the Blue Lagoon and then caught another bus to take us into Reykjavik. When the bus driver asked us where we were staying I said, “The Flying Viking, do you know where that is?” The bus driver laughed and then asked for the address. I tried several times to pronounce the street name. The Icelandic language is one of the greatest practical jokes in the world. There are about 50 letters (I might be exaggerating here, but it is my blog) and many of them I had never seen before. If you think German sounds like you are clearing your throat to spit, let me introduce you to Icelandic. One of my favorite jokes during our stay in Iceland was to ask for the crossword puzzle (a real knee slapper.)
So the bus driver acknowledged that the street in question existed and that I would have to take a taxi to get there because the road was too narrow for the bus. Now when you book your hotel from a computer in the Northwest corner of the United States and there are not 100’s of guides to Iceland waiting at the local bookstore…well let’s just say you might be tempted to take a risk and go for the hotel with great ratings and a low cost. Well, maybe you wouldn’t, but I would, so the Flying Viking it was.
The big bus drove us from the Blue Lagoon to Reykjavik, through what can only be described as the strangest countryside I had ever seen, like the moon covered with moss. We arrived at the bus station in Reykjavik and transferred our bags to a van.
“Vhere are you going?” the van driver asked.
“The Flying Viking.”
Van driver laughs, “The Flying Wiking? Do you hawe an address?”
“N:OEHfha;owug? NIEfuhl;a.ufg?” Finally I just showed him the alphabet soup of an address. “Do you know where this is?” I didn’t know Reykjavik was the size of a small American town but anyone who lives there for more than a week probably knows 1/4 of the people living there.
So we drove through the outskirts of the town and then into the downtown area and finally we arrived at our location, a street of typical Icelandic houses. The driver got out and wandered around for a moment and then returned with a lady who had keys to the “Flying Viking.” She led us around a house to a shed/garage that had been converted into a guest house. I tipped the van driver and we pulled our bags into the shed. The key lady didn’t speak any English so she handed over the key and disappeared.
Now it is times like this when it is hard being the dad. There were bunk beds in our shed, but there was a small kitchen, a bathroom that smelled like rotten eggs (all the bathrooms smell like rotten eggs because of the thermal water used to power everything in Iceland) and there was a television that played one channel in English, one channel in Danish and one channel in Icelandic. The English channel was a 24 hour American Christian Evangelical one, full of bad hair and brimstone.
We were tired, staying in a shed and I thought we needed at least four days to see the best of Iceland, my family was not pleased.