Jul 18, 2006

The Reykjavik Social Club

Who is going ice climbing on a glacier today? And who is staying behind to socialize in Reykjavik? The guys are going ice climbing...even the one who is old enough to know better. The gal has other plans...plans to stay alive, warm and dry.

Arctic Rafting Nordic Icemeister Jon, my three guys, and Linda and Tony (a dentist and a doctor from Australia) head off to a finger of the Myrdalsjokull Glacier for a testosterone-filled day. Pete and Gabe have done some rock climbing, but this version of the sport entails spike crampons (on your shoes), helmets (take a wild guess), a harness, ice picks, and long underwear (not a legal requirement). After conquering the basics of ice-picking, rappelling, and then putting the various skills together, our Newbie Icemeisters are let down a large rim and allowed to claw their way back up. Way to go! Peter's trip evaluation: "It wasn't fun, but it was a rush."

On the way back they reward themselves with pastries and a stop at Skogafoss, where they have a New Age experience involving the waterfall and being encircled in a--yes, circular--rainbow. Far out.

Little do they know that when they return to Reykjavik they will find our guesthouse room occupied by someone else, that I have moved out, and that I haven't told them where I, or their things, have gone! But more about that later...

Today I get to spend time with some friends. I have made arrangements to meet Wincie for lunch at Hornith--an Italian cafe with delicious seafood soup. Wincie sings in the Reykjavik Cathedral Choir, and I got to know her through Bill Holm's stories. She is one of two friends who alerted me that Bill was reading one of his stories on Prairie Home Companion when it broadcast from Reykjavik last month--and the story Bill read was a funny and very poignant story about the Cathedral Choir. So I get to meet the delightful Wincie in person. We talk about literature, religion, politics, travel, music. I give her two CDs featuring the choir at St. James's Episcopal Church in Richmond: Jazz Mass, and the recording of their performance in Gloucester. John and I didn't get to hear Wincie's choir when we stopped by the Cathedral on Sunday, for they take a break during the summer. First reason to return to Iceland: to hear Wincie and her choir sing at the Cathedral.

During the afternoon I have an hour or two to spend getting to know Reykjavik a little better. I am able to identify the house where Halldor Laxness was born, as well as the one where Magnus Magnusson lived (see review of Dreaming of Iceland, April 20), each just a block apart.

Next I find the coffee shop where I am to meet Gunnella. She has recently returned from living in Edinburgh, and is getting ready to move to Tokyo for a year and a half. No one could be easier to talk to than Gunnella, and there is so much to talk about. The afternoon passes quickly, and soon her Dad, Thor, comes to the coffee shop to meet us. We discuss dinner plans, and wonder whether we should wait for the ice climbers to return. I have the bright idea of inviting them over to see if the guys have returned. Plus, I want them to see our lovely "flat": this morning I was asked by Thor and Sonja (of the guesthouse) if I would mind changing rooms, as another family was arriving that needed our quarters for a week. So, could we move a few doors down for our last night? I agreed as soon as I saw the lovely, two-storey flat, remodeled in Scandinavian modern. So much room! So, I left a note on our "old" room door, which John didn't see, and moved out.

Thor and Gunnella want me to experience dried fish and Brennivin, so we stop and pick up some of the fish, and walk up the hill to our flat. (The liquor store is closed so I am off the hook for trying Brennivin, or "the Black Death--sledgehammer schnapps" made from potatoes and caraway.) It is exciting to host friends in my new flat in Reykjavik, even if it is for just a half hour, in a flat I am to inhabit for a mere 24 hours! Still, it feels like home. When we leave, it smells like a pretty fishy home.

We are hungry and tired of waiting so Gunnella, Thor and I walk back downtown to dine at Einar Ben, a venerable establishment. Thor selects the wine, and the food is delicious, although we don't do it much justice as we are more engrossed with talking than with eating. Thor has a dry sense of humor, and Gunnella and her Dad relate memories in an endearing way, interrupting each other to finish stories ("sorry, but..."), and generally showing every sign of being on a very close bandwidth. John and Peter find us, and we all spend some time at Thor's house after dinner. Thor had travelled the Ring Road in May, so we look at his map and pictures, download pictures we have taken, and have a wonderful evening. Gunnella gives me a CD of our pictures, Thor gives me his map of Iceland, and I give Gunnella a copy I've brought her of Believer magazine. We walk home through the pre-twilight night of Reykjavik, and marvel at the day we've had.
High 54°F Low 48°F

1 comment:

Gunnella said...

:-D Ahh fun times !