Tag: Reykjavík

The Summer of Jon (TSOJ): Now Appearing In Iceland

The Summer of Jon has begun.

Yesterday, or two days ago, I flew from the 90 degree weather of Seattle to the 55 degree weather of Reykjavik Iceland. Almost everything went smoothly with the exception of me getting through the TSA security checkpoint and then finding my seat on the plane. It took me three attempts to get through the metal detector. The first one was because I had not emptied my pockets…rookie mistake, and the second time was because I had not taken off my belt…doh! Finally, I got through, bought a ten dollar beer for lunch (I doubt there will be a more expensive beer on my trip) and then arrived at the boring terminal S at Seatac in time to see that Egypt was on the brink of some difficulties. Thank goodness we have the Trayvon Martin case to distract us. (Guy follows someone, ends up shooting him, admits to shooting him, and there is a trial? Only in America and The Soviet Union during the Cold War.

My seat, which I had carefully selected for leg room, turned out to be a big fat lie. There was no leg room. Little graphs on the internet (I’m talking to you SeatGuru) don’t always give the full picture when making little charts of the best and worst seats. The good news was that I was sitting by a young couple, so they were going to talk to me, and the baby in front of me was cute. I don’t mind a crying baby, I have always been able to ignore that noise just ask my wife.

I did not sleep a bit on the seven hour flight, but did enjoy watching Django Unchained. It is wrong to laugh loudly when watching a movie this violent, so I am sure the young couple seated next to me wondered if I was some sadistic, tall, moron.

Arriving in Iceland by plane is usually (from my vast experience of flying in here twice) boring. Clouds, clouds, clouds, ocean, ocean, are we going to land in the ocean? Tarmac and rain. Not yesterday. It was beautiful. I could see a good chunk of the island all spread out like an egg in a frying pan. I zipped through customs and then spent the rest of the morning like a child asking when it is time to go. It was only 6:30 am and the Blue Lagoon didn’t open for another two hours. I went to an ATM pushed a few buttons and then found myself deciding if I was going to get 40,000 IK or 200,000 IK. My little hamster wheel of a brain knew the exchange rate was 125 to 1, but was that 400 dollars or 40? I ended up with more Icelandic money than I need, but there are hot dogs to buy and at least three things to do. I bought a coffee for 500 IK and then drank the precious liquid.

Soon enough it was off to the Blue Lagoon. The bus trip there was just as shocking as the last time I was in Iceland. I would be no one in Iceland owns a chainsaw. Trees don’t exist on this planet. There are some trees in Reykjavik, but most of them are wind-beaten little numbers that are just trying to survive.

The Blue Lagoon was great. I got a bathrobe this time and spent a few hours soaking in the blue waters of the lagoon. Part of my package was a buffet lunch. I had a difficult decision to make, stay in the water and wait another hour while my skin turned to mush or put on my robe and sit in the relaxing room. I went for the relaxing room. They had those zero gravity chairs (I doubt there is science supporting this zero gravity thing, but I found a chair leaned back and tried not to fall asleep. I watched the people frolicking in the waters below and then had what I thought was a moment of sleep, but when I regained consciousness there were new people all around me in their zero gravity chairs and it was time for lunch.

I did not eat on the plane and took it out on the buffet, a sushi buffet, oh the carnage. I think I ate 20,000 IK in sushi but passed on a drink since I would have to pay extra for that. I then decide it was time to wash off the Blue Lagoon and head to the hotel.

Everything went like clockwork until I went to charge my iPod. I soon found myself on an epic quest to find an iPod dock in downtown Reykjavik where the only thing you can really buy is Icelandic sweaters, wool, gnomes, books on gnomes, viking stuff, and stuffed puffin dolls. I walked until I found a blister on my foot, but eventually found the charger.

I then wandered into the Hallgrimskirkja church (good luck pronouncing that one.) The church can be seen from just about anywhere on the island of Iceland, not just the city…this is an exaggeration, but it sticks up a bit. I went in and wandered for a moment until some guy in a hoodie got onto the keyboards and busted out some serious music. His little fingers were flying, his feet were working away also. It was awesome. I stuck around until I stomach told me it was time to eat a hot dog or three.

I ended my first night by taking a sleeping pill that worked like a charm. So it is off to breakfast and then to the penis museum.

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An Icelandic dinosaur coming to life at the airport. Why? I don’t know, it is Iceland there are lots of unknowns.

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For 500 IK you too can enjoy two sips of coffee.

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The Blue Lagoon overpriced, touristy, and oh so worth it.

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A tiny panoramic picture of the Lagoon.

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Blue Lagoon hairdoo, ready for a nap.

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The entrance to the Blue Lagoon.

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The Hillgrimslakf;alkfzhvlmnieuhfkldnf church. My hotel is 25 Icelandic meters away.

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The church pews’ backs can move to look forward during services, or can swing the other way during organ recitals.

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Dude in a hoodie playing that funky music.

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The best hot dog in the world. 1 of three that I ate yesterday. 350 IK.

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The Harpa Opera Hall. I’ll be there tomorrow.

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Two more hot dogs in their little handy table.

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Businessman with a block for a head? Maybe saying something about the financial crisis in Iceland.

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Leif Erikson is like, you can go that way if you want, I’m off to AMERICA!

 

Let The Summer of Jon Begin: Top Ten

 

Top Ten things I am looking forward to during The Summer of Jon 

 

 

10. Eating three hotdogs each day while in Iceland at Bæjarins beztu pylsur.

 

 

English: Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, known as the b...

English: Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, known as the best hot dog stand in Reykjavik.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9. A full day at the Blue Lagoon. (Slippers and robe included.)

 

 

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon (Photo credit: Arian Zwegers)

8. Seeing Munch’s The Scream.

 

 

Munch The Scream lithography

Munch The Scream lithography (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7. Spending some time in the Danish Design Museum

 

 

English: Table and chairs designed by Kaare Kl...

English: Table and chairs designed by Kaare Klint at the Danish Design Museum in Copenhagen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6. Visiting the Carlsberg Brewery

 

 

English: The "Elephant Gate" at the ...

English: The “Elephant Gate” at the Carlsberg Brewery, Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5. Taking the Norway in a Nutshell tour.

 

 

Norway in a Nutshell: Flåm

Norway in a Nutshell: Flåm (Photo credit: TXMagpie)

4. Touring Potsdam on bike

 

 

Potsdam, Germany: Sanssouci Palace with vineya...

Potsdam, Germany: Sanssouci Palace with vineyard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3. Walking though Vigeland Park (Froger Park) in Oslo.

 

 

Vigeland Children

Vigeland Children (Photo credit: Will Cyr)

2. Vienna’s outdoor evening concerts/movies at city hall.

 

Vienna's Town hall (4)

Vienna’s Town hall (4) (Photo credit: Elena Romera)

1. A full day bike tour of Prague.

 

English: A panoramic view of Prague as viewed ...

English: A panoramic view of Prague as viewed from Petřín Lookout Tower. The view is approximately 180 degrees, from north on the left to south on the right.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Top Ten Concerns/Fears/Obsessive thoughts

 

 

10. The exchange rate. There is going to be some weird money on this trip. The Icelandic Kroner’s current exchange rate is about 125 to 1. This sounds good, but I don’t want to have to use skills from my Algebra 1 class in 1850.

 

 

9. Angry German bakers. I could avoid German bakers altogether but then I would have to avoid German baked goods…not gonna happen.

 

 

8. Being on time. I will show up to the airport three hours before my flight just like I am told, but once I am on the road I don’t want to spend time waiting.

 

 

7. Italians walking slowly.

 

 

6. Italians cutting in line. Okay this can be anyone cutting in line. Getting off the ferry in Victoria last week I purposely stepped in between a family that was cutting in line knowing that they couldn’t pass through customs as two groups. There is a line people! Get in the line or I will get all Clint Eastwoody on you. (Not the talking to a chair Clint Eastwood, but the Clint that stares into the sun and spits on stuff.)

 

 

5. Heat. I am a delicate flower and heat will make me wilt.

 

 

4. Not being able to speak the primary language of any country I am visiting. Yes, I am going to assume everyone will speak to me in English. My multiple years of Spanish class will probably not pay off in Iceland. Actually, my Spanish is only good for laughs these days.

 

 

3. Being stuck someplace where they play Techno music.

 

 

2. Being stuck on the plane next to someone who wants to talk too much.

 

 

1. Gypsies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Summer of Jon

Picture of George.

I am a George. There are Kramers, Jerrys, and a few Elaines out there, but I am a George. Now, I don’t mean that I act like George Costanza or want to be George Costanza, I simply mean that I enjoy humor that is uncomfortable. Kramers are people who like slapstick, Jerrys like observational humor or situational humor, Elaines are…I’m not sure of what Elaines are but I just started drinking coffee this morning and my iTunes update has me in a bit of a tither. (What happened to my interface? I am now going to have to spend ten minutes figuring out where everything is again. If you are reading this from a work camp in China my problem probably sounds minor, but let me assure you iTunes updates take a toll on the human soul.)

The Summer of George is one of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld. George freed from all of his responsibilities, plans to spend the summer in self-indulgent activities. It is the fantasy of many adults and a fantasy that I will be living for a month this summer. I have taken on a few additional work responsibilities at the old salt mine and will be getting some extra cabbage at the end of December. I should take this money and invest it in green energy or find a PO Box in the Cayman Islands to send it to, but instead I am going to ramble. By yourself? Yes, by myself. Don’t you have a family? Yes, and they are encouraging me to go which either means they love me or they can’t stand me.

Where am I heading on my Summer of Jon? Well, since I don’t have airline tickets yet I will give you a rough outline: Reykjavík, Oslo, Norwegian Fjords, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, and Munich. I have been to a few of these locations before, but this time I will be able to travel “Jon style”: Cheap hotels, getting lost without getting in trouble with my family, eating occasionally, walking fast, spending zero time looking for bathrooms, and seeing at least ten sites a day. (You might see why no one wants to travel with me.) While the details are still up in the air, I did receive the first real evidence that this trip will be taking place: my suitcase.

I will be traveling for about 30 days and taking one carry-on bag. Is this foolish? Maybe, but it isn’t like I am going to be attending the Opera in Vienna in coat and tails. Now if someone wants to meet me in Vienna and take me to the Opera, I would be happy to send along my measurements, but what I want to see in Vienna hangs on a wall and isn’t going to care if I wear shorts and a T-shirt. What I want to see in Oslo is a painting of a dude holding his face standing on a colorful bridge. You don’t need to dress up to order the best hot dog in all of Europe. (Reykjavík if you were wondering. There are three reasons to stop in Iceland: the hot dogs, the Blue Lagoon, the countryside of Iceland.) This trip will be an informal, come as you are , event.

Let the planning for the summer of Jon begin. Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!

The Flying Wiking

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.

“Yes.”

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.

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