Reykjavík area, day nine
Woke up and it felt like I’d be sleeping most of the day, but it was only half past nine, so with the right amount of will, I could have even had breakfast for free at the hotel, but I decided against it. I emailed my contact at the travel agency, Þóra Árnadóttir, the other day and pointed her to my writings about the Hótel Björk breakfast, and she asked me if it had gotten any better, so she might have talked to them.Walked down to Hlemmur, somehow the bus central and hopped on bus 1 once more, this time for Hafnarfjörður. Not many Icelanders seem to travel by bus in larger Reykjavík, except kids and the somehow poor. Again it feels more like USA than the Europe I know. (Look, behind Hlemmur, to the left, is another casino. It is called Háspenna of which há translates to “high” and spenna translates to “voltage” or “high excitement”. These places are all over town and are not for the faint-hearted. The people populating them are not the richest ones in town and the whole business is yet another way of stealing from the ones who have the least. It is quite visible that Iceland has been controlled by money-hungry people for a bit too long).
Half an hour later, the bus arrives in Hafnarfjörður. The name is a compound word of hafn meaning harbour and fjörður meaning fjord. The town centre is mainly one street and a rather hilarious tourist trap trying very hard to be very much viking, but failing this somehow with the extra totem poles and a figure of a priest or with the arms held in prayer and a cross mounted upon his head. Alright, Leifr Eiríksson went to Vinland and he probably brought some pipes and pot back home, but I doubt he started building totem poles. The priest might be more suitable, as the church must have been quite strong at the time when bishop Jón Ögmundsson changed all the names of the days that originally included the old Norse names. In German, Wednesday, Wodenstag (Wōden was the German name for Odin or Óðinn) was changed to Mittwoch, this bishop managed to remove all the Norse gods’ names from the name of days. Týsdagr became Þriðjudagr (the third day, counting from sunday), Oðinsdagr became Miðvikudag, Þorsdagr became Fimmtudagr (the fifth day), and Freyjudagr became föstudagr (fasting day), but enough history for now. Walking around town, led me to Antikbúðin. I can’t walk by antique shops – perhaps it’s an old habit, or it’s in my spine or my genes or something – I need to check if they have some old (usable) camera equipment. I love old, usable, cameras. The owner, a lady in her fifties or so, was very nice so I stopped and talked for 15 minutes or so before asking where I could get a good coffee. She recommended Súfistinn kaffihús 100 meters down Strandgötu (they even burn their own coffee, so it’s fresh and tasty). Having a caffé latte here, I found no open wifi, and asking the guy by the next table (the one with the PC) I found that the network had gone offline around the moment I came, so it’s probably my fault that as well.
A short note about Iceland and perhaps Reykjavík and drinking water. The tap water here is crystal clear. Don’t buy water bottles – it really is no point. Instead of fresh water you get worse water to far a higher price. If you’re sufficiently paranoid about bugs and so on not to trust me, well, you’re on your own.
Back in Reykjavík, I went to this place Babalú (in Skólavörðstígur) that Hildigunnur had recommended. I was a little sceptical about it, having googled it and seen it being mentioned several places as a gay bar. I don’t have much against gay places, but I think some gay bars can seem to overdo stuff a wee bit, stuff that isn’t really my cup of tea. Now, this place is nice with old second-hand furnisher (yay! respatex!), old (homemade?) bookshelves with (mostly) quite bad books (lots of Stephen King). Turn it into a bookcrossing zone and it’ll be far better.
Last night I went to a place called Kaffíbarinn, a nice and somehow artistic place, I found it strange to see a rainbow flag in the bar, but unlike other bars I’ve been to with similar effects, this is certainly not a gay bar. Babalú didn’t have a flag, though, but the bartender was a live one, so a flag wasn’t really needed. Currently old fifties jazz is on and I’ll probably be having another beer before leaving