We’ve been working hard. I haven’t had a day off in six weeks. We either go rafting or work in the shop fixing our aging dry suits in a haze of toxic glue fumes. When Maggi or boss gathered us together this evening to tell us we can have the following day off, it only takes another twenty minutes before the car is packed and me, Yuji and Chris are speeding toward Reykjavik, the big city.
I first arrived in Iceland’s capital a month and a half ago. For being the center of everything and hosting over half of Iceland’s modest population of 300,000, it still strikes me as small and quaint. The downtown area can be covered on foot in an hour. There’s a big famous church, a lake, neighborhoods filled with the fanciest corrugated metal houses you’ve ever scene, and a shopping street that comes alive with Reykjavik’s notoriously hip bar scene every Friday and Saturday night. This is a proud city with small town charm.
On our Friday off me Yuji, Chris, and his friend Patricia de Espana meet up with Lovisa the Swede and head out east of Reykjavik. Outside the city the terrain turns into a flat valley floor of rough black basalt, an old lava flow that has since been covered in thick green moss. As you walk along the ground bounces like a giant green mattress. Vents spouting steam spot the surrounding hills and serve as a constant reminder that the forces that once blanketed the land in lava are still at work. We park near a simmering mud pot surrounded by sheep. This is Iceland at it’s finest. An hour hike brings into view a gorgeous valley that is literally steaming with boiling creeks and pools. We spend an awesome day soaking before heading back to Reykjavik. This weekend is the gay pride parade which is a pretty big deal here. One of my raft customers tells me the gay pride weekend is a bigger party than independence day. When even Grandmas come downtown to watch the parade with rainbow flags in tow you know you’re in a tolerant place.We’re excited to jump into Reykjavik’s party scene that starts to fill the countless bars and pubs around midnight on weekends. The scene is always delayed by a home drinking session where the booze is cheaper. A beer out in Iceland is typically 600 kronur at the very least. That’s $10 bucks. So when the bars finally fill up between 1 and 2am the masses are already loaded on home brews or are still sneaking swigs from can beers or hip flasks. Not so gay Pretty gay Reykjavik doesn’t disappoint. We wander the strip most of the night before heading back north to be on the river for a noon East Glacial trip. Is rafting a dangerous sport? It might be. Not because of rapids, rocks and drops, but because your raft guide might be running on zero sleep and bourbon.
Tags: Eurasia: Marco Polo-in' it, Iceland