Iceland, Bitches: A continuation from yesterday.

November 21, 2012

Whaaaaaaaaaat?! And by “bitch” I mean “beautiful, intelligent, tight, coochie havers”.

Hmmmm… that started good and ended GREAT.

SATURDAY

@_dharv and I woke up pretty exhausted. We also got a note the night before that our 12 hour tour scheduled for that day was being pushed back to Sunday. So, we had a day of possibilities planned. The first possibility we grasped with are two hands each WAS more sleep. On the weekends the hotel has a “brunch” option from 11am – 2pm. We exercised that option with vigor.

After some food, we called and got ourselves involved in a bus ride out to the Blue Lagoon. Sulfur springs or hot springs or what have you, it’s a large geothermal pool filled with grey water created by boiled seaweed water filtered through lava. You get to the place and you’re given a bracelet with a microchip in it and you’re separated by genders. Once in your respective locker room, YOU SEE A MILLION NAKED PEOPLE. On the guys’ side of things, so much man ass and dude’s dongs.

Iceland, as one would expect, wants to keep their natural settings “natural”. So you’re taking into more or less a public gym locker room where you need to shower before you go into the Blue Lagoon and after. So, as with any public gym locker room – everyone is naked and in no rush to be clothed. Also, it’s a European public gym locker room and Europeans love to be naked. It’s like after years upon years of civilization and clothes they’ve returned to the beginning where hairiness and nekkidness go hand in hand.

Either way, I didn’t shower on my way into the Blue Lagoon. I probably broke a law or two by doing that. I probably broke a law or two taking one of the lava rocks from there out of there and back to America, but what the Hell do I care. FUCK YOU, COPPERS! … Actually, the non-showering before going in was due to ignorance and me keeping my eyes focused on the exit doors instead of my surroundings and noticing the signs that said I had to shower first. The rock stealing was from me being an O.G. rock stealing motherfucker who also took a lava rock from the coast of Oregon. Suck on that, Oregon Parks Department!

Once outside the locker room, you can stay inside and go to a sauna or sit in the indoor pool, but why the fuck would you do either of those things when 20 feet away is the BLUE LAGOON! So in your bathing suit, you open the door to the Icelandic free-for-all. While the people who work at the Blue Lagoon walk around in glacier like hiking gear jackets, pants, boots, hats, goggles, and gloves… again, you are wearing a bathing suit, nothing else, and walking on wet wood. It’s a thrilling series of seconds being in that temperature. It’s what I imagine those polar bear plunge people feel like before they jump into something even more terrifyingly cold, but in this scenario at the Blue Lagoon – it’s wonderfully warm.

The “lagoon” itself is between 98 and 102 degrees so it is just one long and wide hot tub. It’s shallow too, so you kind of crab walk around. It was absolutely incredible. With your head out of the water, the frigid winds whip over the water, and your body is toasty warm underneath the water. To be perfectly comfortable in this warm grey water while arctic blasts of white smoky wind careens through you and over you and you’re surrounded by snow covered peaks of frozen lava hills. It was quite memorable.

As for the microchip bracelet, well naturally, that is for the swim up bar in the Blue Lagoon. Beer, wine, and ice cream are available as you tread water and soak in the ambiance. We did have a beer – a Gull, which is kind of like a cheaper Icelandic Yuengling.

The other thing that you can get yourself involved in is the mud. The mud is silica mud. It’s white globs of mud that are in troughs scattered about on the edges of the swimming area. Since the mud is kept outside of the pool, IT IS FREEZING. Then you’re supposed to rub it on your face and make a mask out of it and leave it for 5-10 minutes, maybe longer. First, you look like you got money shotted by an elephant. Second, freezing cold liquid applied to your face while freezing cold winds whip around you is a scary mixture. My face was numb within nano-seconds. Thankfully, I had some sense and didn’t get as liberal with my mud mask as @_dharv did. She looked like she stuck her face in a vat of Elmer’s glue. But she did think her skin felt amazing afterward, so Iceland wasn’t lying.

Afterward, it is back to the showers. I can’t tell you the last time I took a shower with no stall or anything and was just naked taking a shower with other men doing the same. Oh wait, I can’t tell you because I’ve never done that before. SURPRISE! There’s been no need for me to ever do that ever in my life before. Years of football, lacrosse, and countless other sports and never had to do that once. But 36 hours into Iceland – naked with other dudes rubbing body gel onto our butts. Ridiculous.

That night, we ate dinner at a place called The Pearl, which is a revolving restaurant. You eat in a dome that spins ever so slightly, so that every 2 hours you do a complete revolution and see all of Reykjavik. It was quite an experience too. The dinner was a Christmas Buffet, which hilariously served reindeer as an entree. And the reindeer was magnificent. I didn’t think reindeer would be bad meat, but I didn’t expect to love it. How the hell do I get reindeer meat in New Jersey?! We did get a mini-wine tasting in as well.

It was an interesting place with great people watching opportunities. There were quite a few dopplegangers at this restaurant. The first was a waitress who looked nearly identical to a former commenter, possible current lurker on this site MLF. The second and third were sitting at the table closest to us – Iceland’s Snooki and Meghan McCain. The Iceland Meghan McCain looked identical to the North American Meghan McCain. The Icelandic Snooki was more or less an approximation with how she dressed, kept her hair, and her guido muscly boyfriend who was wearing a dress shirt, but it was so tight you could see his star back tattoo easily through the shirt. There was also a great moment near the end of the night when one of their friends who was at the same restaurant, but not sitting with them came over and there was the amazing cross-continental awkwardness of the uninvited friend and her boyfriend that the other girls boyfriends don’t like. Our cultures are so different and so much the same around the world. Lastly, there was some girl wearing the shorttest, body hugging dress ever and she looked a blonder Dana (the daughter) from Homeland.

SUNDAY

We woke up, we ate, we put on many layers of clothes including long johns, and we got on a 12 hour bus ride to the middle of nowhere to hike a glacier and per chance see some Northern Lights. The bus ride to our festivities was fucking FOREVER. It was 2+ hours into the expanse of “uncharted” Iceland scenery. Our tour guide talked most of the way there telling us about what we were seeing and about Iceland in general. We learned many “facts” about Iceland. I’m guessing most of what she said was true, but she also sounded drunk, so who knows.

What we learned: Iceland is running on nearly 99% renewable energy, their water is the purest in the world, the Icelandic pony is a mutt, they eat the bad ponies, the good ones grow fur in the winter and are allowed to run wild from October to January, their farming is super high tech and at the same time doesn’t hurt the environment, they make a lot of dairy products, Iceland makes aluminum, they came to existence a little before 1000AD, but became Christian in 1000AD, their bloodline is a mix of Norwegian viking men and the hottest Irish women those viking men stole and brought over, they were founded by two Norwegians which one was a lover and the other a fighter, and there are hot springs just erupting from the Earth all over… and some other stuff I suppose.

Finally, we got to the glacier. So they call Iceland the land of fire and ice. It is pretty much Hawaii if you froze Hawaii. There are volcanoes that have spread lava everywhere that has cooled and then all the snow and ice have formed over top of it. The glaciers are the frozen water sitting on top of the caldera volcanoes. So, that’s what we were hiking around on. They gave us cramp ons (slippers with spikes) for our shoes and a ice pick/axe for our hands and they sent us out onto the glacier walking single file with a bunch of other ill-prepared people led by the quasi drunk tour guide.

No one got hurt, but there was a very real possibility at all times that someone could. That was terrifying and hilarious. Our guide, she would tell us to walk like this, kick your spikes into the ice, check for solid ground with pick/axe, keep your weight above your feet, try to walk where others already have et cetera, but the reality was if you fell you were fucked. If someone actually fell onto these slopes of ice, they would inevitably go straight into one of the holes we were deliberately walking around to avoid. Those holes? Where do they go? WHO KNOWS? Center of the Earth, maybe. The holes could be 10 feet deep or 100. And, that’s what she said, they can be tight and you can easily get stuck and hurt yourself or die from the fall – who knows. But no one did fall or even slip and we were all fine.

It was absolutely breathtakingly beautiful despite the looming danger. It would have to be right? You’ve seen Batman Begins. You’ve seen Christian Bale ninja fighting Liam Neeson on that sheet of ice and those mountains. That’s what it is. And we weren’t walking on the flat ice as more the hills with the sloping sheets of ice. Definitely an interesting and unforgettable experience.

This was followed by a short drive to a small farm where we watched a short volcano documentary. Followed by a short drive to an even smaller farm where we ate lamb stew and watched an even shorter documentary/powerpoint presentation on an Icelandic woman named Ann who traveled the world and wrote books about it in the 50’s and 60’s and is a local national hero. I also tried an Icelandic drink there called Brennivin, which is translated to “black death”. It’s schnapps for people who want to get fucked up and don’t care about taste.

After that it was time to hunt for some Northern Lights. The conditions to see Northern Lights are clear and cold and we had both of those checked. We drove around I suppose aimlessly looking at the night’s sky until someone spotted something and we pulled over on some random road around 10-11pm. We got out and at first you could see some lights, but more so you could see where the lights should be if they were really shining.

From the naked eye, the Northern Lights are white. Through a camera’s lens, they appear to be mostly green then violet and red. Everyone ran out of the bus with cameras taking pictures into the frozen night. You need a really good camera to get really good pictures of the Northern Lights. You have to futz with the manual settings and specifically need to have a camera that has a long exposure setting like 8 to 30 seconds and probably a tripod so you can let your camera work for those period of times uninterrupted. People were snapping away and some were getting something and others nothing. It was a little at first, but after 10 minutes or so the lights really began to shine.

It was a performance. The lights glow hot in one area and recede in another and then they switch. The lights will stretch and contrast across the sky and they’ll dance and move and run and form shapes and leave trails. With your eyes, it looks like smoke. It looks like smoke that is emitting from the black void and is illuminated by Lord knows what. On the camera, the green lights looks like the ghost army from Lord of the Rings Return of the King and/or Voldemort’s death eaters. It’s wild looking at something and then taking a picture of it and it looking 100% different.

Danielle’s camera could pick up the green, but others with their “you fancy, huh?” cameras could pick up other colors of the spectrum. We’re supposedly on an email chain to share such pictures. Hopefully, we get to see them. From the sounds of some of the people taking the pictures, these pictures will make you jizz … instantly. INSTA-JIZZ!

We also stopped at a few waterfalls on the way back which were also breathtaking. I think the only waterfall I’ve really ever been to was Niagra Falls. It’s impressive obviously, but it is a production and a half to go to. Not that flying to Iceland isn’t a production, but the waterfalls itself while so much smaller than Niagra, you can walk right up to it. They were 180 feet high and cascading down ice walls and you could walk right up to it like it was nothing. Very cool.

Finally got back at past midnight and crashed.

MONDAY

Woke up, packed, showered et cetera. We took a cab down to the harbor to get some seafood. Iceland is a fishing nation and we spent three days there without really eating any seafood. We were going to rectify that. Down by the harbor they have “blue houses” which are some restaurants and tourist shops in one story blue buildings that are one of the places everyone is supposed to go. We went to the Sea Baron’s restaurant, which is the most famous of them as it has been reviewed and favorably by the New York Times.

First thing first, I ordered two of their famous lobster soup, but I had to ask if they had any shark. And they did. The shark is “fermented shark”. I’ve talked about this before and copy and pasted Renzo Gracie’s story about eating this “delicacy”. For a refresher, a shark dies and the Icelanders dig an ice burial ground for it and throw the shark in. Here’s where the story takes a turn – they pee on it. The Icelanders pee on the shark to “preserve” it and then cover the shark in the snow and ice. If that’s not bad enough, they leave it like that for 6 months. Then they dig up what has got to be the worst smell in the history of working noses. Fermented shark, rotten shark, piss shark… call what you like.

I wasn’t so sure before I flew to Iceland and even in all the moments leading up that moment whether or not I was going to try shark willingly that I knew was both rotten and soaked in some human(s) piss. Well, once the woman said she had it, I immediately said I’ll have some. No idea, why, but that happened. She looked disgusted by the way. She brought out a tupperware of white fishy cubes and a tooth pick. You just spear a cube like you’re taking a shot of some awful liquid and it’s time to snack. The woman did say not to smell it, but I told her I had to – and it was everything people before me have said – it smelled awful.

Once in the mouth being chewed by my teeth and being licked by my tongue, it tasted bad. Could I tell that it had been soaked in piss? Not really, no. It did taste like rotten fish though. It was rubbery and chewy and more or less like a tough piece of sushi… but rotten. But tasting like it has spoiled a long time ago and there’s no reason that you’re eating it now because why on Earth would this be legitimately healthy or good for you. Add to that, this was the first thing that I ate that day. Wonderful. As I said to others, I never had “eat fermented shark” on my bucket list, but I can cross it off regardless.

The lobster soup was excellent and much needed after the shark.

We had an hour plus to kill before heading to the airport, so I looked over the rest of the menu and decided to try something else that I won’t be ordering anytime soon in New Jersey. This time it was whale. It’s perfectly legal to eat whale over there. As well as, puffin. I didn’t eat puffin – mostly because Danielle would’ve cried the entire time. But whale? I ate whale. It looks like beef. It looks exactly like beef. It’s consistency is beefy too, but the taste is fishy. So, fishy beef. It wasn’t bad. Danielle didn’t like it, which meant that now I had a ton of whale to eat. Too much. It came with a peanut sauce, which worked well, but I should’ve asked for hot sauce because that would’ve cut back on the extreme fishiness of the taste. Either way, it was not what I expected and it was pretty good.

For the rest of the day, I was burping up whale. Or piss shark. Who knows. The fishiness of all that whale, the shark, and the lobster never left me for the rest of Monday. It wasn’t until yesterday morning that I didn’t feel like I had that stuff in me anymore… well, truthfully I didn’t anymore.

CONCLUSION

Go to Iceland.

It’s fucking beautiful over there. There are some great restaurants and the sights are fucking absurd. There are plenty of other things that we didn’t do like puffin tours, whale watching tours, Icelandic pony ride tours, lava field tours, and so on and so on. There are tons of nature out there to be lusted after and Reykjavik is a city filled with all the restaurants and bars one would need.

I enjoyed the hell out of that place.

Takk fyrir, Iceland … Thank you, Iceland

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5 Responses to “Iceland, Bitches: A continuation from yesterday.”

  1. Kim said

    Thx for sharing your Icelandic Experience! Loved reading about it — kudos for stealing the lava rock. I stole some from the big island of Hawaii and don’t have any clue where the hell it is now.
    LOL @ your locker room description! Never thought about going to Iceland, but you have me more than intrigued!
    I’m not trying the piss shark, though.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. PWG said

    Well that is a fabulous travel review, albeit one without any pictures whatsoever, not even green-only northern lights. I want a dharv whale bukkake picture Christmas card. I would have eaten none of those things, but a reindeer Christmas dinner IS hilarious. I don’t like my food to feel like a dare, but I’m proud of you for chewing a chunk of stranger piss. I will imagine you as a grandfather at Thanksgiving dinner 50 years from now, telling your grandchildren that story for the 3rd time while they make horrified faces.

    San Francisco just banned public nudity, speaking of groups of nekkid people. Which is really too bad, because there’s nothing like a parade of nude bicyclists to startle the tourists.

    My business trip to Georgia this week involved less nudity but more Waffle Houses.

    • The second I smeared white glue-mud all over my face, I immediately said “Now is when I wish I had a camera the most.” Because I like nothing more than embarrassing pictures of myself, and what could be better than something resembling a whale facial? Stupid non-waterproof iPhones.

  3. Brandy said

    Glad you two enjoyed yor trip. I would like to request a mid-season NFL update. My Detroit Lions played so hard on Thanksgiving and still weren’t able to pull out the win and I need some help understanding what’s going on with them. That game broke my heart.

  4. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you
    relied on the video to make your point. You obviously
    know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos
    to your blog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

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