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Published: February 5th 2019
Reykjavik Final Day
The weather forecast for our final day in Iceland was calling for snow. Since most of the roads we had traveled on were treacherous enough already, we chose not to head out and tempt fate with more snow scheduled to fall. We decided to intentionally sleep in a little and spend another day exploring Reykjavik.
We awoke to see snow beginning to fall. The sky was filled with dark gray snow clouds, which did not allow in the sunlight. This morning was the first time it was actually twilight at 10 AM. This is what we had expected all week. The temperature had risen a bit but was still a degree or six below zero.
The main roads in Reykjavik are well prepared for snow. First, they are not smooth surfaced cement or hard top. They are made from crushed Vulcanic ash mixed with small gravel stones. To this they add some cement as an adhesive. The result is a road surface that affords extra traction in the ice and snow.
We learned that this was not the only preparation of the roads that was unique to Iceland.
The roads and sidewalks are heated! Under the streets as well as the sidewalks are imbedded a series of pipes that are constantly flowing super-heated geothermal waters from various sources throughout the city. This heat is enough to radiate through the road base and keep most of the snow, and all the ice, from causing poor road conditions. Since the heat is essentially free, it makes financial and environmental sense and improves the safety and thus overall quality of life for the city dwellers.
Our first stop was the one of a kind Phallogical museum, or a museum dedicated to the mammalian penis. Yup, a Dick Show.
There is a very interesting story behind the museum, and I will relate the readers digest version here, for more details and much discussion, see their web site. PhalliologicMuseum.com
As a young boy, the owner was given a twizzle, or bull penis, as a joke. The twizzle was often carried by gentlemen as a weapon of protection, a walking stick or a means of punishment. The young lad was teased mercilessly by his friends who often gave him presents of other penises found on
the beach in Iceland. OK you are thinking, who finds a penis on the beach? Well you must know where to look.
In Iceland, during storms or other environmental conditions, whales, dolphins, seals and the occasional walrus will die, and the carcass will be found on the beach. So, in a sense, they found penises on the beach.
Anyway, our entrepreneur kept the penises and soon found himself the proud owner of over 100 phallus samples. A few years later he had over 200. He decided to cash in on his dicks and opened a museum. He started in Reykjavik, moved it a few times and then returned to Reykjavik where it now houses over 284 species including one human.
There is a very interesting story of the human specimen. It seems many men were racing to have their member as the first one to be donated to the museum for display. The biggest race was between a local explorer and an American, both of whom donated their privates back as long as 1971!
Eventually one of them died and you can now see his preserved organ proudly on display.
There are three or four others waiting to pass on so they can pass on their willy. One gentleman however had a better idea, why wait?
Yes, there is a man, perfectly healthy physically, but a few cards short of a full deck mentally, who has legally donated his penis, which he named Elmo, to the museum. Although the museum director did accept the donation, Elmo’s owner has yet to find a doctor willing to remove said member so the donation can be completed. They do have a photo and a rubber cast of Elmo, so please stop by and say hi if you are ever in Iceland.
In honesty, the museum was truly interesting. It is a serious display, with appropriate labels, information and scholarly presentations throughout the show. They also have a gift shop, Everything Dicks, that you can browse and bring home a standing member of the community.
From here we decided lunch was in order, but we didn’t want to spend a fortune. Bob had gotten wind of a food market, sort of like a flea market, but for food, somewhere in town. We asked at the
museum and, as luck would have it, the market was almost directly across the street!
Snow was now falling at a brisk pace. We hurried across the street and entered the black building that housed the market. This was an open-air space with 6 – 8 small permanent stalls around three walls with a sitting area in the middle. Several other tables and chairs were strategically placed about the space providing an inviting area to stop for a bite or a drink.
The “stands” were just a much smaller version of several of the larger restaurants in the area. They had a small kitchen, most had a fully stocked bar and a limited offering from their main restaurant. For our purposes, it was perfect.
We took the once around to get a lay of the land. Bob chose a herring plate and a water while I went for the meat soup and a beer. Prices were less than half of what we were paying locally, and the quality was superb. Too bad we didn’t find this place sooner.
After our noon repast, we headed back outside. Bob had
heard there was a flea market in town on the weekends. This being a Sunday, it was perfect. The market was in the Harbor area, a brisk walk across town. We bundled up against the driving snow and headed to find the market.
Along the way we stopped here and there so see the ketch in some of the stores. I was able to buy some Vulcanic cooking salt, but nothing more. (I did find a surprise for my wife, but don’t tell her.)
We had a little trouble finding the market. We did find ourselves at a most interesting spot in the harbor, however. A hot dog stand, that is, supposedly, known worldwide. Here Presidents Clinton and Bush shared a dog. Others, such as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Russian President Putin and a whole list of others tasted the unique meal. In the presence of such august company, we had to give it a try.
The dog is built upon a simple hot dog bun. To this is added a grilled and crunchy onion/red sauce mixture. The dog itself, boiled, about 8 inches long and quite thin, is laid next.
Modern Art MUseum
I have no idea what this is
Next comes a row of spicy mustard and another row of mayonnaise. I asked for mine without the mayo. These are then wrapped in a waxed paper and handed over with great fanfare.
I took a bite. The dog was good, the skin a little thicker than the US version. The added sensation of the crunchy onion and the taste of the mustard was indeed pleasing. For $3.75 it may not make it in Toledo, Costco is still $1.50 with a drink!
The flea market was somewhere near here, but where exactly, was the question. We decided to breakdown and use Ms. Google and found out we were just 100 yards away. We followed her directions and found the entry door easily.
The flea market was small compared to US standards. It was bright, airy and neatly laid out with row after row of various items found in every flea market worldwide.
There were tables of local jewelry, hand crafted items, old historic and used items, many stands selling Vulcanic salts and a small fish market with fresh, frozen salted and pickled delights. Bob, of course, was in his element.
He went all around and found a nice deal on some Salmon (Lox for you Jewish followers). He also came across some shark bites prepared in a most peculiar way, it was fermented (aka rotted).
Excited at his find, he offered me a small piece. Now, I like shark. I grill it up at home. It is like steak done right, this was not that way. When he opened the proffered container, the smell of rotted fish hit me hard. I should have backed away right then and there, but I presses on and chose a cube about 1-inch square.
Deciding I needed to get this past my nose quickly, I popped it into my mouth, big mistake. The texture was worse than the smell. It was like a ball of mucus you cough up when you have a really bad chest cold. Having so other option but to chew and swallow or puke it out, I quickly bit into the mass and almost lost my cookies.
It was like biting into an eyeball. Gooey, squishy and having no solid substance sensation. I could not bite into the mass again, so I swallowed it whole. The taste and smell lingered as did the feeling in my mouth. I quickly looked around for something to kill the taste and spied a chocolate vender at the next table. He had some samples of his wares for tasting, so I scarfed up a small handful when he wasn’t looking and jammed it in my mouth all at once. Fortunately, the chocolate was flavorful and was able to kill the fish taste and control the smell. It was brutal. Bob found it delightful.
After the flea market, we spied an Art Museum one block over. Bob has a membership that gets him into museums worldwide, so he flashed his credentials and we were admitted to the local art show. I was his guest.
I do not want to be a snob here, but I must be truthful. The museum was three floors, filled with local works of art. Some were modern art, photographic media, the written word and so on. Each gallery was large and displayed only 3 – 5 pieces leaving much empty space. One display was an empty room with one yellow square painted on the wall. At first, I thought it was an empty gallery, but no, the yellow square was the art work.
I am not an art critic by any means, but this work left a lot to be desired. There was a crate of car model paint bottles, you know the ones we used to paint plastic car models, glued together into a cube. Another display featured a fan and 4 mobiles spinning on a string. There was a video of people making faces, a wall dedicated to comic book art. I just did not see the creativity here. I have seen better work on the mall at University of Toledo during their art show. We did visit every exhibit, but each subsequent display disappointed more than the last. We stayed 90 minutes and were out, back into the snow.
It was really coming down now. It was nearly 4:30 so we decided to have a beer. It was happy hour after all. We headed toward the bar area and walked around looking at all the bars to see if there was one that looked inviting. Unfortunately, Bob is not a big drinker, so I had a hard time getting him to choose, until, finally, I gave up and we decided to head home for a little rest and relaxation before dinner.
When we arrived back to the hostel, we had three more new roommates. One was a solo traveler who just flew in from Rome. She and a friend had been traveling all over Europe since January 6. Her friend had to go back to school and our roommate was heading back to New Jersey for a brief stop home before hitting the books at the University of Delaware. She is studying nutrition and hotel management.
Our other roommates were a couple from Taiwan. They had never seen snow or experienced much cold weather. Driving in snow and ice was going to be a new a traumatic experience for the young man who was so cold, he spent most of the time in the hostel bundled in his coat. They were in for a fun time.
In order to save a few bucks, our Taiwanese friends had prepared food which they brought with them. She had made two huge pots of Ramen noodles, which they scarfed up nonstop. I wondered how two people who were so thin, could eat so much and not weight a ton.
It was about time for us to get dinner and we headed out again to find a meal. Bob wanted Indian food, I did not. We agreed to split up. He went Indian, I went to a bar and enjoyed a mountain of chicken wings and a few bears while watching the Super Bowl pregame show. I was thrilled.
Dinner done I headed back home. The snow had stopped. The heated streets and sidewalks were clear, and the winds died down. Bob got home about 20 minutes later.
I made a few calls home to the kids and the wife and thought I would watch some of the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, CBS had blocked foreign coverage over the internet, so I had to wait until morning to learn the Patriots won 13 -3. I didn’t care either way, so it didn’t matter.
Monday morning dawned and time to go home. We got up late, since we had nothing to do except get to the airport 45 minutes away. We headed back to the food market and enjoyed a delicious vanilla sweet roll and coffee. I purchased two ham and cheese sandwiches for the flight home. WOW Airlines sells food on the plane, but it is quite costly. Since we were allowed to bring food on the plane, I thought why not, so I did.
The airport was empty, we headed directly to passport control. We had boarding passes already, so we avoided the WOW counter and I avoided getting nicked for another $50 for my carry-on bag!
Iceland airport had a very interesting security set up. You go from the main entry to a gate where your passport and boarding passes are first checked. About 50 feet later you show your passport again to a uniformed agent. Next, it is down the hall to another desk to show the passport again, where you are told to get into a specific line to get your passport stamped.
Now that I have my exit stamp, I put my passport away, bad idea. I go down another hall to yet another desk to show a passport and boarding pass again. From here we are directed to TSA security and normal screening.
I put my bags on the rack, drop off my coat remove my shoes but forget to take out my computer. My bag gets flagged. Pulled out of line they ask if I had a computer, I said “yes, I forgot to take it out.” They take out the laptop, rescreen my bags and finally release me to yet another desk.
I am asked again for my passport, which I had just put away again. I dig out my passport, pass muster, then I am told to follow this young man into this room. I am asked to take off my coat, my shoes, take out my laptop, phone and anything in my pockets. Then they swab my hands, my waist and ankles. They go through my bag, ask a bunch of questions as to citizenship, where I am going, what did I buy etc.
I must have passed inspection, because they finally opened a locked door and ushered me into the area where I would walk to get D35 for boarding.
The plane was at the gate. I was first in line, so I waited less than 5 minutes. Bob was in the middle of the line, so I called him over and we passed another checkpoint asking for passport and boarding pass.
We were finally in the gate area. The attendant opened the gate and I was first in line again and got on the plane, row 8 aisle seat. The plane soon boarded, and I was thrilled to learn I was the only person in my row. So, as I write this missive, I am stretched out across three seats my back against the window as if on a couch watching TV. A splendid way to end the journey.
Iceland is BEAUTIFUL. Go in the summer. Winter is too cold and desolate. Many attractions are summer attractions and the weather can be dangerous. I am glad I went, another destination off the bucket list.
You do not need cash for anything, so don’t carry any. Credit cards are enough, but make sure one is not AMEX as sometimes AMEX is not accepted.
Driving is easy but pay attention. There are no STOP SIGNS at crossroads. We were leaving Reykjavik this morning and were almost T=boned when Bob failed to see a car coming from his left. I guessed that some roads have the right of way and others yield. Which is which; is your guess.
Everything is expensive so be prepared. Food and drink are very costly. Iceland is not a diner’s delight. Food is nothing special. Anthony Bourdain (God rest his soul) said Iceland has the worst food in the world. His words not mine.
All in all, it was a good trip. I hope this was helpful and perhaps entertaining. Please feel free to visit my website PHILFARINAAUTHOR.COM and see blogs, short stories and my books GRAVESEND, THE ENOCHIAN DILEMMA and GHOST WITCH available at AMAZON.COM.
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