Takk! Takk! Adventures in Iceland

Last I left it, I was about ready to depart for France, preparing myself for three days of straight travel. Well, let’s just say that I must really love travel because there were a couple of rough patches thrown in there with some amazing experiences!

I first took a plane from Indianapolis to Boston. My 8 hour layover in Boston wasn’t too eventful other than two things. First, the fire alarm went off in the airport. The airport then proceeded to tell everyone to wait for instruction, only the instruction never came. The fire alarm was going off for 15 minutes, and everyone in the terminal was just looking around at each other awkwardly. It was actually a little bit funny. It finally turned off though, and everything ended up being fine. Secondly, this random man sat next to me by the plug while I was charging my phone. He just randomly started a conversation with me, and he bought my dinner for me. I initially refused and turned him down politely, but he insisted. So, I thought, why not? He was very kind, and I think he just wanted someone to talk to. I found out that he’s from Nigeria. He’s lived in Atlanta for 15 years and was flying back to Nigeria to visit family and to see about starting up a school for teenagers that has similar education opportunities as American high schools. How amazing is that?! It’s those whom are like him that help me to see the good in humanity.

From there, I took a flight to Reyjkavik, Iceland. One of the best decisions I have every made. I seriously love Iceland so much now. There, I met up with another assistant in the city center. (side note: I made it from the airport to the bus station and from the bus station to the city center all by myself. I felt so accomplished and seriously impressed with myself). I don’t want to give a play by play of what I did in Iceland because I feel that would be boring and take too long to write and to read. So, I’ll just give the highlights. Firstly, Reyjkavik is a very small city, so it was very easy to get around.

We mostly just saw different tourist attractions. The Sun Voyager sculpture for one, which is essentially a sculpture in the shape of a viking boat made from metal. The sculpture was pretty cool to see, and not to mention that there is a beautiful mountain in the background. Iceland is essentially a giant, ancient volcano. So, all of the rock is beautiful, black volcanic rock that is everywhere. We also stopped by the church, the giant concert hall, and the lighthouse that is there, which were all pretty amazing to see. That was the first lighthouse that I’ve ever seen in person.

We also happened by a phallological museum, aka a penis museum. Now, I’m sure that to most of you that sounds ridiculous, perhaps even disgusting. Why on earth would I want to see that?! Well, firstly how many of you can say that you’ve been to a penis museum? Probably none of you. Also, it was quite interesting. There were so many different types from all different types of animals, such as sperm whales, goats, even mice! It was quite intriguing! The idea of going to a penis museum was quite strange to me, but I’m glad I did. It was a unique opportunity to try something new and try something that most people would never do.

For lunch, we ate at Stofan Cafe, which is a really adorable cafe in the heart of Reyjkavik, and it was delicious. We had fresh salmon on a bagel with cream cheese and a fresh salad, and their latte was one of the best I’ve ever had. Maybe it all tasted so wonderful because we were starving and had been walking all morning, or maybe it was just amazing. Regardless, I was very happy with it.

We also did some shopping on the main shopping street in the city center. I bought myself a handmade ear warmer, and I love it! The only thing that I’m not such a huge fan about is that Iceland is soooo expensive! My ear warmer was about 20 American dollars. It was definitely worth it though. I’m not sure that I’d be able to afford to spend multiple days there though. We also stopped by a used bookstore, because I’m me and I never travel without stopping by a used bookstore. I didn’t buy anything though because there weren’t very many books in English, and everything was hard to find because none of it was well organized. However, we did stop by another bookstore, unfortunately not a used bookstore (probably the Icelandic equivalent of Barnes and Noble), and I bought a book, in English, of Icelandic folk tales. I’m super stoked to read it!

Seeing everything was absolutely fun. The downside is that it rained all day long, and by the end of the day, we were both soaked from head to toe. Good thing I brought a change of clothes in my carry-on.

Something that I absolutely love about Iceland: everyone is so incredibly generous. It’s beyond amazing! I, unfortunately, could not store my backpack at the bus station because since my credit card doesn’t have a chip in it, I couldn’t pay for and open the locker. It took credit card only, no cash, not that I had any Icelandic Krona on me anyways. (You know, I go to Iceland on the reg. Let me just pull that out of my back pocket. *note sarcasm*) So, I thought I was facing a day with traveling with my backpack all day long, and I just knew that was not going to be a good situation. After meeting up with Stephanie, the other assistant that I traveled with, she suggested we ask the youth hostel across from the coffee shop if they knew of any other place to store my bag. The woman at the counter, after I explained what had happened, very kindly gave me the key to the baggage locker there at the hostel, even though I just came off the streets asking for a luggage locker, even though I wasn’t staying at that hostel, even though she didn’t make me pay a fee. What?! So, she let me store my bag for free, even though I was a foreigner who wasn’t staying at at that hostel? Why yes, yes she did. I told her that I was even willing to pay the fee, and she told me not to worry about it. That absolutely blew my mind. I have never met anyone so kind in my entire life. Throughout the day as well, everyone we came across had no problem switching over to English for us. The guy at the tourist center kept helping us with a smile on his face even though we went in there about three or four times. The guys at the coffee shop/bar we went to were perfectly happy to converse with us about Iceland, in English nonetheless, while we were the only ones in there.

The kindness of Icelanders really made my day and my trip. It also made me think about humanity in general. Why can’t we all be as trusting and generous as the Icelanders? Why do we constantly have to be weary of others and the potential harm they might cause us? Better even, why do people have to feel the need to harm others?  Also, why are they so kind and trusting? What is it about their culture that helps them to welcome the rest of the world with open arms? Is it because them being a small country, they are just more prone to welcome people from outside of their small island? Is it because that since there are so few of them, their whole country seems like their next door neighbors, so maybe they take on that mentality with everyone who passes through there? I’m just brainstorming here because I am genuinely curious.  If what happened to me happened in the U.S. or probably even Europe, I would have to pay the fee, or I would probably be refused access since I wasn’t staying at that hostel.

But anywys, this post was a little longer than previous, but I hope it was worth the read. Now that I’m in France, I’ll have much more to actually blog about. So, keep your eyes peeled. More to come soon.

A plus mes amis…..

P.S. I learned one Icelandic word: Takk, which means thanks! In Iceland, they say Takk, takk, which I thought was kind of fun. So, Stephanie and I spent the whole day saying Takk, instead of thank you. I feel like such a tourist doing that, but I also don’t care because I was trying to get to know the local culture. Loving all of my adventures.