Getting plenty of exercise

Reykjavik

Reykjavik

After a good sleep on a comfy couch, I was up at the crack of dark (9am) to a breakfast of Icelandic yoghurt. I sat and chatted to Ricardo for a while before he had to leave for a job interview.

My only aim for the day was to have a KFC for lunch. Apart from that I decided to start off randomly and see where I ended up. So off I walked, heading to the coastline and following it for an hour or so. It was misty and cold. There was rain. But the air was fresh and as the cloud gradually moved, the views were fantastic and very atmospheric.

I found a little enclave of houses on the coast, one of which had some bizarre sculptures in the back garden. Later on, Ricardo told me it’s owned by an artist or a film-maker or something. It’s nice that you can just walk around the sculptures without anyone complaining.

Strange statues

Strange statues

A little further up, a rock and granite walkway leads partway across a causeway in the direction of the small island of Viðey, which apparently is “historic”. I could see what looked like a house and a church on it, but little else. There is a ferry which runs there, but I wasn’t up for the trip out assuming the ferry even runs in winter.

I headed back inland and passed the hostel on my way to the park. There I found an old washing area where women took the laundry over a hundred years ago. It’s now covered by a steel grate, but the hot water beneath releases clouds of steam and it’s very warm around it. There’s a display nearby with information on the old “laundry”, mainly in Icelandic but with a little summary in English at the bottom of each panel.

Icelandic coastline

Icelandic coastline

From there I headed towards the botanical gardens. This fairly small, but very nicely laid out… and somewhat barren at this time of year, understandably. A lot of birds still wander around and swim in the artificial ponds. They’re fairly tame, too, allowing you to get quite close to them before they turn and amble off.

Within fifteen minutes of annoying the birds, I was eating one as I located the KFC on the edge of a retail park. It’s right by McDonalds. And Subway. And Domino Pizzas. Not the best Zinger burger ever, but I had to have it to keep up the tradition. I wonder if they have KFC in Copenhagen?

There is a mall nearby (by my standards – 15 minutes’ walk) so I took a stroll over there, intending to visit the Pearl and one of the graveyards on my way back into the centre of the city. However, while I was browsing in a book store I got a text from Elfa asking if I was free for a walk around at 15:00. I checked my watch – I had twenty minutes to make it back to town. I did it in 25.

Bizarre Icelandic building

Bizarre Icelandic building

She and a friend walked me down the main street and around a few of the parliament and government buildings. Icelanders seem to like their government as much as I like mine. Mind you, with a collapsed economy you can kind of see why. Of course, all politicians are pretty much cut from the same cloth so it’s no surprise that everyone dislikes them.

Inevitably, we ended up on a coffee shop. I have the Vietnamese Jasmine tea – very nice. Unfortunately, Elfa works evenings so we had to part ways at 17:00. I think I’ll catch her tomorrow, though, and there was talk of a car possibly being involved. I was very much informed she would not be driving me to the volcanic craters in the middle of the island though!

Ricardo and Tamara were back off the the gym, so I hiked up to the pool again and enjoyed an hour soaking and swimming around. I checked out two of the hot tubs this time – 42 and 44 degrees C. Pretty burny, but nice. The steam room was good as well. The facilities were far less busy than the previous night. I think this could have something to do with it being the 13th night after Christmas, when the festivities officially end and Iceland uses it as an excuse for parades, bonfires and fireworks.

Map of Iceland

Map of Iceland

Sadly, these all take place in the provinces and little areas outside of the city centre so I didn’t get to see anything other than a fair smattering of sparklies in the sky. Ipicked up a pizza on the way home (1100 ISK for a 9″ and a Coke) which wasn’t too bad – and aparently very cheap according to my hosts. Ouch.

Well, we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Hopefully I can get hold of Elfa. I am meeting Tumi to watch the football in the evening, possibly with Gunnar as well, and I’m likely moving “home” to Gulla’s!

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