Greetings, and welcome to Dinosaur Bear!
It’s been.. quite some time since my last post! While it’s true that my period of weekly posting has long since come and gone, I have tried to at least generate one post per month. This time I’m much closer to two months than one, but I do have a few reasons for that aside from sheer laziness. 😛
However, I have to say that I don’t know how frequently I’ll be posting over the summer as there is a lot going on, but that’s a discussion for another time.
In the meantime, I sort of consider this my “springtime” post. I’ll mostly be rambling about what has been going on, stuff like that. I have a lot to catch up on, but I’ll largely focus on the big bits that have transpired since early April.
For starters, SB and I have officially hit that point where a lot of our clothes are starting to wear out. Some of this is due to Icelandic weather (which is, unsurprisingly, quite hard on clothes). However some of it stems from the fact that since we moved here with only what was in our suitcases we simply don’t have huge wardrobes. Not that that normally matters, but it does mean that some articles of clothing have been (literally) stretched a bit more thin than they might have otherwise been, case in point – my gym socks:
Though to be fair, I generally wear things out and keep using them anyways [I’m still using those folders, for reference – despite them not being A4]. For example, despite having a backup pair I wore a pair of jeans here with a large hole in the crotch for months past when they probably should have been replaced.
Another thing that “wore out” was Thomas IV, who has since transcended from this mortal plane and onto the next level of pumpkin existence. We took him out to these garden boxes our building has, and before we knew it he had shed his mortal coil. Thomas IV, which was our first “big” Thomas lasted from October until late April.
Now, as for the weather here – I mean this is a springtime post after all – it’s been mostly (but not entirely) bad. I no longer expect good weather from Iceland, ever, really. However we’ve even had an Icelander tell us that it’s been a bad spring weather-wise. In fact, SB’s boss told us that this was some 100-year recording breaking May as far as rain goes (lucky us and these weather records). There was also this weird period earlier in spring where literally thousands of worms came up onto the sidewalks and roads, it was odd (and later there was a trail of gummy worms on the sidewalk too, but I think that has something to do with the Boys). However, before I get into the specifics of the weather, I also have to say that this bad weather corresponded with exam season, which always magnifies bad weather I think. That said, such conditions also encourage the consumption of copious amounts of comfort food, so let’s talk about that to start things off on the right foot.
A long running staple at the Taco household has been pancakes, and I’m happy to report that that tradition as carried over to Iceland.
We’re also pretty extensive coffee drinkers (indeed if you look in the background of the above photo you’ll see our French Press). However, we’ve also been edging out soda and bringing in more tea. Tea goes especially well with those cold, windy, and snow/rainy spring days here in Iceland.
One thing that springtime and the exam season brought back to the Taco household which it hadn’t seen much of in the past year was near-weekly baking. Both SB and I like baking, though I tend to not follow any recipe and instead just throw things together. This time around I made both sweet and savory varieties of bread, ranging from cheesy jalapeño to chocolate caramel.
The cheesy jalapeño bread was the first savory bread I’d made in a long time and it ended up quite delicious as well. I generally don’t make savory breads, but after we acquired a surplus of jalapeños I decided to make good use of them.
Now, edible bread scarcely gets a mention on this blog without a shout-out to liquid bread as well. HOWEVER, this time I have to mention a beer unlike any beer I’ve ever had before – and, I’m willing to bet, you’ve never imagined before. Yes, in all my beer blurb posts I’ve never had a beer like this one:
Looks normal enough right? In case you can’t make out the label, that’s the “Hvalur 2” beer, from the Steðji microbrewery here in Iceland. So what makes this beer special? Well. To throw word-smithing out the window, the beer is brewed with whale testicles that have been smoked with sheep shit. Feel free to reread that if you doubt what your eyes just absorbed. Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you. But click here to read it straight from the brewer themselves. Yes, this brew, consisting of such quality ingredients as “pure icelandic water, barley, [and] berry-hops” also has the pleasure of including “sheep shit-smoked whale balls.”
Yessum. Ole’ Taco knows quality when he sees it.
The fact I even ended up with this beer is somewhat surprising. First, as I have since read, it’s apparently pretty hard to find and generally sells out quite quickly. This says more for people wanting to try sheep-shit-whale-bahz beer than anything, I think. I found two lone bottles in a Vínbúðin and picked one up not realizing that I was snagging a rare find. This leads me to my second point. I also, as usual, had no idea what this Icelandic beer actually was when I picked it up. It’s not like the bottle has a big whale scrotum with sheep shit smeared all over it on the bottle. Now, “hvalur” does mean whale in Icelandic, but I’ve only seen that word when part of “Hvalfjörður” so I didn’t recognize it when it was by itself. Still, even if I did recognize it I doubt I would have made the leap from “whale” to “sheep shit smoked whale testicle beer.”
Indeed, I didn’t even come to realize that this beer was anything special until I noticed that its consistency seemed a bit… different as I moved the bottle around. Nothing “gross,” just different. I was actually concerned it was going to be one of those dreaded malt beers, so I checked on Untappd and laughed out loud when I saw the description about Hvalur 2. There weren’t many check-ins, so I figured someone who had really disliked the beer had given it the sheep-shit/whale ball description as a joke. Then I did some research and stopped laughing.
Suddenly I was nervous.
But, not one to waste beer, I tried it nonetheless – and, you know what? It was pretty decent. Not amazing, but also not bad. In fact, I think the fact that you are drinking a beer which also has testicles, which have themselves been smoked with shit, is the biggest hurdle here. The taste? Nothing too extraordinary in and of itself.
That said, I am totally keeping the bottle.
But, to diverge from whale junk, I also feel like I’d be remiss to make a springtime post without at least a mention of spring cleaning. Despite us not having much stuff and our apartment being small, the place gets very dusty/dirty. This is largely the result of the construction site right across the road from us, and I do mean literally right across the road. So we get a lot of dust and dirt from that (thanks wind), meaning that we can easily sweep the entire apartment 2-3 times a week and generate a lot stuff (our wool blanket – Lopi – also contributes a lot of fluff). A lot of that ends up in my computer as well, so that was included in our most recent round of spring cleaning.
This exam season was a mixed bag. Like the last round of exams, the exams this time were a bit unlike what I’ve experienced before, but as mentioned then, I’ve developed a system which has worked pretty well for me. In fact, I came out of the gate doing really well this semester, locking in a 10.0 (perfect) grade in my first class, and I continued to get honors grades in the majority of my other classes as well. Heck, if not for one professor this semester would likely have been above and beyond my expectations – especially when considering that I was simultaneously writing my thesis (more on that in a bit).
However, one professor tried really, really hard to make it an unpleasant experience. Now, I can almost sense the budding “oh boy here comes the snowflake blaming everyone but themselves tirade.” And, I wouldn’t entirely say I’d blame your knee-jerk reaction. However, I’ll also say that I’ve done a lot of school (some would say too much, 😛 ) and while I’ve gotten bad grades and have had professors who I thought were bad and/or unfair (irrespective of final grade), I’ve never once had a professor who I thought was singularly out to screw me over.
Yes, I own many of my bad grades, and even those that I still gripe out, I don’t think the professor was hell-bound to destroy me specifically, and I – probably like you – always doubted the majority of such stories. Now however, I realize that it is a thing, and it happens, though probably not often.
I’m not going to waste space on this blog discussing the details, but let’s just say that a professor decided they didn’t like me (note: a professor, singular), and they used and abused their authority with surprising efficiency and track-covering. I’m really not interested in “proving” this to anyone, because the people who matter believe me. Of course I didn’t fail those classes, because where my performance could be traced (e.g. papers) I scored the best in the class (not hubris, objectively best per the grade statistics), but where there was no “trail” (e.g. anything oral) I did abysmally.
That these particular classes, with this specific professor, ended up generating the lowest class grades of my time here, and lowest exam grade since my Freshman year of high school tends to lead me to believe that the issue wasn’t on my end, especially in light of my other grades in other classes (top grade in 2 of the classes this semester, also per metrics lest you think this is just me screeching in an echo chamber) as well as the grades of assignments in that same class (also top grade).
So, THAT was frustrating and just another nail in the coffin of why I’ve not cared much for this program. Originally I was going to make an even larger rant about this, but I have since decided that would be largely a waste of my time, energy, and blog space. SO, enough about that. I’m done with my classes (have been for quite a while as of writing this) and I passed all of them, most with honors. Instead, let’s focus on the good aspects of exam season and then move on to my thesis, which was – unlike the mostly useless (for me) classes here – the main reason I even did this program in the first place.
As exemplified by Valentino, exams = lots of treats.
And, as already discussed, exams also = baking.
Exam season also meant more appreciation for the struggles of another, as we spent a lot of time watching the construction folks deal with crappy weather while we set inside drinking tea (it’s a trade-off for all the noise we have to deal with, me thinks).
I don’t know what my previous “late snow” record was in my life, but – even factoring in Boston’s late snows – May 11th most certainly shattered it.
Then, if it wasn’t snowing it was raining. It was also windy, sometimes very windy – but then again it’s so windy here that when it isn’t windy it seems odd. As someone who has lived in Northern Indiana and Boston I’m no stranger to wind. However, here you don’t go outside and say “Oh man it’s windy today.” Nope, that’s like going outside and saying “Wow, gravity sure is a thing today.” Instead, if it’s not windy, you go outside and think “Why is it so easy to walk today? Boy, leg day sure paid off!”
Jokes aside, the (mostly) unpleasant spring weather did make one thing easier – writing my thesis.
While it’s true that I “started” the thesis way back in February (arguably even earlier depending on how you define “start”), the truth is that the real crux of the work fell to a short period of time that also happened to overlap with exams. That was fun. In fairness, part of this stems from my chronic procrastination (which is either non-existent or crazy full-bore, but that’s another discussion), but I’d say the lion’s share was the result of my.. you know.. simply having NO GUIDANCE AT ALL AS TO WHAT I AM SUPPOSED TO DO. *cough*
In the end I churned out over 47,000 words in 7 days. Yes, in 7 days – all while exams were going on too. It was, needless to say,
f*cking miserable the best week of my life.
However, as with all things. This too came to pass. I really (albeit briefly – a problem of mine) impressed myself. I’ve generated a sizeable amount of research and writing in the past, but never to that extent, let alone that quickly. Keep in mind, this wasn’t just free-form writing either. Those 47,000 words also included 411 citations spread across over 450 sources. Now, I didn’t complete the thesis in 7 days, the editing process itself lasted another full week (discounting even later edits). But even if you say it took me 3 full weeks, keep in mind that the normal length of time to complete a thesis in this program is five months, with six months not being uncommon – and that’s with no classes in addition to the thesis.
If it sounds like I’m bragging, I suppose I am – and I am more than ok with that. 😛
In truth my thesis work-surge was also fueled by lots of caffeine (in various formats, but especially tea), baked goods, and ramen. Ah yes, ramen. If there is ever a truer sign of the busy student than ramen, I am not sure what it is. Plus, it’s not like SB and I are rolling in money, and even in Iceland this stuff is still quite affordable!
So yeah, lots and LOTS of busyness during that time period, and, in fact, I submitted the thesis even before I was done with my normal class exams, ah the benefits of such a crazy schedule – this was also part of why I hadn’t felt much desire to blog lately, as blogging requires typing.
While SB & I rarely celebrate things as much as we probably should (mostly an issue of mine), we did go out for sandwiches and coffee to celebrate my thesis submission!
After that we stopped into Vínbúðin to restock our beer – which was much deserved in my opinion. However, while there I spied a super fancy beer and despite the fact it cost the equivalent of $17-19 for one bottle, I decided to pick it up for when my thesis defense was over (it hadn’t been scheduled as of then, but I had hope it would be in May).
While the snow didn’t make for much of the way in celebratory spring weather, it also didn’t last super long in our area. Plus, just a couple days after our exams were over we headed off on the proverbial “Ring Road” of Iceland. That, of course, is worthy of a post in and of itself, so I’ll (likely) make a post about that in the not-too-distant future. For now I’m going to skip over our Ring Road adventure and continue on with other springtime happenings.
For one, the snow has now (hopefully, please) faded away – and we’ve even had a few sunny days – though it’s still been fairly cold (4/5C, low 40sF). Pig took advantage of our sunny days to have some “beginner yoga” classes for our new chicken buddies.
We also tried more “summer-like” foods, including light wraps, cherry tomatoes, and a cucumber-lime Sprite we found.
As a subset of spring cleaning we also “cleaned out” my beer bottle-cap collection I’ve accumulated here in Iceland. As usual, this doesn’t include tabs from cans (which is in some regards unfortunate as I’ve mostly had cans here), but even in spite of that I’ve generated a lot of new varieties that I’ll be taking home to add to my ever-growing collection.
Oh, and lest I forget, my birthday also happened! It’s not a super big deal for me since I’m 12 now – and 12 means I’m an adult. However Valentino would probably scratch me if I didn’t talk about my birthday as Valentino is big into birthdays.
The first indicator that my birthday was drawing near was a card from Meem. This time around – mostly due to absent-mindedness – I didn’t even realize the card was from Meem. However, as soon as I had opened the envelope but not yet the card I realized what it was and thus didn’t technically peek at the innards. Valentino then took up card duty and wouldn’t let me open the card until it was actually my birthday.
Interestingly enough my thesis defense did get scheduled – you guessed it, on my birthday. However, it ended up getting rescheduled a day or two beforehand, which was frustrating because I just wanted to be DONE, but was also nice because it meant SB and I got to spend my birthday together.
So, taking advantage of the fact that I am now 12 and a big boy I did absolutely nothing productive on my birthday. Or maybe I did… I can’t remember, being 12 means my memory isn’t what it was back when I was 9. Boy those were the young, carefree days of single-digit ages.
What I do remember is that we headed over to Háskólabúðin and I picked out some yummy birthday treats, consisting of some “Cowboy,” “Chicago Town” deep-dish pizza which ironically isn’t even made by a U.S. company. Regardless, Tristen thought it was super manlies.
For my birthday treat I opted for a caramel and toffee cheesecake that I’d been eyeing for awhile. I’m not a big fan of most cheesecakes anymore, but this one was a good size for SB and I to share over a couple of sittings and was quite yummy.
To shift away from my birthday, you may have noticed the Boys were wearing some neat hats in the above photo. Those came from one of their “plushie” friends! In fact, the Boys have made several hundred friends, and not only do they occasionally do “plushie mail” trades, they even have meet-ups! The Boys’ first meet-up happened recently, and even though I wasn’t there (it was the night before my thesis defense), it ended up going really well and both SB and the Boys enjoyed themselves!
I won’t bore you with the specifics of it, but the major reason I was nervous was that I had – again – been given no formal guidance as to what I should expect. To make matters worse, I got different answers from different people. It seemed to potentially be a defense, an exam, and a public lecture – all at once – and all with different informal/ad hoc requirements. That what little formal information I could gather was in Icelandic did little to help me.
However, in the end, it turned out to be a “presentation” that quickly turned into a more rigorous version of the thesis defense I’d done in undergrad. The biggest surprise ended up being that one of my examiners was one of Iceland’s ambassadors to the U.N. – because of my topic – which was cool. Unsurprisingly he ended up asking the most questions and he pretty much drove the majority of the discourse, but it was never really hostile or anything like that – just focused.
The other examiners had a few questions as well, but there were really only one or two questions which I though really came out of left field, but even then they weren’t anything outside the potential scope of my thesis.
At the end of the defense (as with my undergraduate thesis) you are asked to leave for a short while as the committee deliberates. You then sit outside and twiddle your thumbs and try not to wee yourself, and then you get called back in and they give you your grade and some additional commentary on why you got your grade and on your thesis and defense in general. I ended up getting an honors grade on the thesis – and I was really happy (and honestly surprised) about that. I had one or two constructive criticisms, all of which I agreed with as they were things I’d been critiqued on in the past, but on the whole my thesis was very well received and they suggested I try to get it published in the U.S. as well as Iceland. I was also told I should publish my undergraduate thesis, but, as I was too lazy for that, I will most assuredly be too lazy for this one as well, especially considering that it absolutely dwarfs my undergraduate thesis in scale and depth.
Once the defense was over I was feeling pretty good – plus it was the first time that bringing one of my suits to Iceland had been justified. Things got even better as by the time I got home SB was home from work and Valentino had even picked me a flower!
Later that evening I cracked open my special post-thesis Trappist. At 11% ABV and with its oak aged (in bourbon barrels) process, it was definitely a sipping beer. In fact, it tastes FAR more like whiskey than beer and as such the whole glass took me something like 1.5 hours get through – and I am someone who by most accounts probably drinks my beers too quickly in general.
So that was the end of the thesis process (aside from some minor edits and printing my own copies since the university literally makes you pay to print your thesis and then takes all your copies from you and never gives them back, but hey, school’s almost entirely free here so I can’t complain). Subsequently, that was also the end of my program in general – at least hopefully, I mean I technically haven’t graduated yet – that comes later in June. Now, there is an entire story I could tell you about how my timeline ended up being closer to what I thought it would be originally, but only after nearly a year of being told “nope, that’s impossible,” but I’ll just say that despite being told I couldn’t graduate in June, I’m graduating in June – and, lest you think “oh, ho, ho! cart before the horse my dear Taco!” – I’m gong to leave regardless or whether or not something
stupid unforeseen happens to my graduation timeline.
I’ll probably… maybe..? make a post about my graduation here at some point, but this summer is going to be really busy for me, so I’m not making any promises. I’ll try though.
So, aside from graduation that brings this academic chapter to a close and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t grateful for that!
Of course the end of school doesn’t mean the end of spring, especially when the end of classes and graduation are genuinely almost two months apart (it’s weird, I know). So another point of note is our increasing amount of sunlight. While it’s true that I made a post QQing about how much the darkness sucked in winter, it’s also true that the near-endless daylight has its drawbacks as well. Now, don’t get me wrong, the daylight is definitely far less depressing and energy-draining than the darkness, but if you look at my beer photo above, you’ll notice that it looks suspiciously bright outside for the time of day in which I normally drink beers at home (e.g. usually no earlier than 9:30pm). That’s because it is. Indeed, as I currently type this we have reached that point where it doesn’t actually get dark anymore (or even anything close to it) unless it’s really storming.
Depending on how you calculate your daylight (e.g. civil, maritime, meteorological, etc.) we are presently at anywhere from 20 to 22 hours of daylight. Personally, when I think of “night” I think of dark – and with that in mind, I’d say we’re closer to 23.5 hours of daylight, as there is a mere 30 minute window lately where we are anywhere near what this feller’ would call “dark.” As just one example, this photo is from around 11:15pm, which is generally around the time we’d be going to bed.
As you can see, there’s still a lot of setting that sun has to do, despite already being 11:15pm. This brings me to the downside of all that vitamin D – it’s extremely difficult to go to bed at any reasonable hour. Yes, whereas the winter made it hard to wake up, the spring has brought with it the equally difficult task of going to sleep. It’s become quite common for SB and I to be merrily going about our evening only to suddenly realize it’s 1:00am. As you can imagine, that makes a normal schedule somewhat difficult.
Now, don’t get me wrong, as mentioned, I definitely prefer this to the inverted amount of darkness that winter brought (dark at 3:30pm is something you think is cool exactly one time, not repeatedly for months). Plus, when it comes to feeding off the solar energy the long hours of sunlight are nice – at least when it’s not overcast and raining, which is most of the time. 😛 However, the late sun and early sun definitely have their problems. The other day my body decided it was time to wake up, and sure enough, the sun was up and it looked like high-noon, complete with shadows. Then I realized it was 4:00am. Getting back to sleep was not easy.
But such is life here, and in truth we’re going to keep generating getting more and more daylight until June 21st, where it will then begin the long-long slide back into a nearly equal amount of darkness. As June 21st is the first day of summer, we’ll have – again depending on how you define “daylight” – up to 24 (yes 24) hours of actual, bonafide, sunlight. That sleep masks and/or (mostly and) heavy curtains are generally considered a requirement in Iceland is no exaggeration (heck Icelandair even mailed thousands and thousands of sleep masks out as an advertising ploy).
So, anyways, what does one do when it’s supposed to be spring and you have a ton of daylight, yet it’s mostly raining and temperatures are still topping out around 6C (~43F)? Why you pretend it’s actually sunny and warm, of course! What better way to do that than to eat donuts!
Speaking of trying to summon summer, in the U.S. Memorial Day has always sort of been the de facto, yet unofficial, start of summer (at least where I grew up). Here in Iceland the U.S.’ Memorial Day obviously isn’t a holiday, but that didn’t stop us from at least trying to replicate the foodstuffs generally associated with the holiday. While we didn’t quite make it to hamburgers, we at least had things such as shrimp tacos, refried beans, and chips (Doritos no less!), guacamole and Coke.
While, once again, this didn’t seem to do much in the way of bringing in better weather (though we have subsequently hit 10C [50F] – at least briefly – on a few occasions, so maybe it did something), it did at least make us feel like it was getting closer to summer. Plus Memorial Day is an important day to celebrate, even if you are abroad.
So, aside from waiting for better weather, what are SB and I up to now that the academic year is behind us? Well, surprisingly a lot of things. As I was discussing with Meem the other day, it’s quite incredible how well your schedule manages to fill itself up. For example, I figured after the “big” project of my thesis was over I’d have more free-time, the truth is not really – I just went on to the next series of projects. Thus SB and I might actually be just as busy – if not more so – than we were during the academic year (excluding my thesis period, as that was just unpleasant). Further, as has been discussed here, we’ve also carried out most of our big planned adventures (most recently the too-be-blogged Ring Road). While we do have at least one more big adventure planned, in the meantime we’ve been fortunate enough to check off a lot of our Iceland Bucket List. However, we still have a few things we’d like to do in the Reykjavík area, and thus our quickly diminishing number of weekends have already been heavily booked – if not formally, then at least thematically.
The first of such adventures happened just this past weekend when we made our way out to the Grótta Island Lighthouse which is at the tip of the Seltjarnarnes peninsula, west of Reykjavík. This area is extremely popular for northern lights viewing within the capital region, but obviously the northern lights season has come and gone so we were mostly doing it for the coastal views and lighthouse. We decided to do it on a Saturday, and while 10C (50F), windy, and cloudy might not seem like the best early June weather, it wasn’t raining and so that makes for a good day insofar as Iceland is concerned.
On our way to the bus stop we passed a house that was installing a geothermal-heated walkway, and, since I’ve discussed this before, I figured that I would share a picture so that you could see what it looks like when still unfinished.
The bus stop was one we’d never used before, but it wasn’t too difficult to find. It was fairly close to Háskólabíó (“University Cinema”) which is a movie theater the University owns – and they even have classes in there (SB had one such class).
From there we took a bus up the peninsula and to the coast where it dropped us off in the closest thing Reykjavík has to upper-class burbs, where we then got off and walked along the northern side of the lovely “Sculpture and shore walk” that I’ve mentioned before (though I was on the southern side that time).
It was nice walk up the coast to the lighthouse, and it really didn’t get too windy until we were closer to the end of the peninsula itself. What’s really interesting about the Grótta Island Lighthouse is that, much as the name suggests, the lighthouse is technically on an island – but you can easily walk out to it during low tide. We were fortunate enough to get there during a low tide so we were able to walk out fairly close to it.
Now, if you notice that big rock “wall” in the above photo – that’s how you get out to the island during high-tide. So, I mean it’s quite possible to get out there, but it wouldn’t be easy and those rocks would be wet and they of course aren’t really even. So definitely something that is much easier to do during low-tide. The above photo is obviously looking toward the lighthouse, so here’s one looking back toward the mainland.
Of course, if the tide is really high – as in this next photo – then I don’t think it’s feasible to get out to island via foot unless you are 1) Fine getting wet and 2) Fine with a good chance of getting sucked out into the ocean.
While we were out there Pigsten was heavily eyeing some rocks, however in a surprising twist he ended up picking seashell rather than a rock! It was a very nicely formed seashell and the beach was practically covered in shells, so I can’t blame him!
The photo above with Pigsten is as close to the lighthouse itself that we got. The whole island is a nature reserve and its protected for bird nesting from May 1st to July 15th so you aren’t supposed to go out there. There were some people walking around out there of course, but we didn’t want to bother the birds so we stopped at the point where a rope had been pulled across the small sand path leading up onto the island.
After that we started walking back toward town and on the way we found a pumping station that was designed so you could see inside of it, that was pretty neat.
Once we’d made our way closer to town we hopped on the bus and quickly realized that something was going on downtown because they a lot of strees blocked off and the buses were going on crazy routes. When any major event is going on in Reykjavík they tend to close off the entire downtown area to vehicular traffic. It’s quite nice if you are a pedestrian (us), but if you are using a bus or driving it generally means that the traffic gets kind of crazy and that the buses run heavily altered routes. We ended up having to get off one bus earlier than expected so we didn’t up way out of the way, and then our second bus didn’t drop us off where we expected it would. In fact it just dropped us off behind some gas station, and even the Icelanders on board seemed just as confused as us. The plus side was that Chuck & Chica were waiting for us there too!
We then made our way toward the harbor in the Grandi district, which was where our next destination for the day was. Once we got close we realized that the harbor district was were the aforementioned event was happening as they had the whole area closed to traffic and had a stage, a bunch of tents (where we got a sample of some fish-spread on bread), etc. all set up. Right at the entrance to one of the docks they even had a one of the snow rescue vehicles for you to check out.
The only real bit of disappointment of the day came next: we realized that they were having an “open house” on Óðinn (“Odin”) an Icelandic coast guard vessel – but we’d missed it by literally less than 5 minutes. They were closing the gates right as we walked up to where she was docked. That was kind of a bummer, but we obviously didn’t know about it in advance so we couldn’t really plan for what we didn’t know was there. That said, we still got to get pretty close to Óðinn, if not board her.
At this point we were both chilly and hungry, so we headed into Kaffivagninn for some coffee and late lunch. We ended up having coffee and.. a seafood sandwich.. not the most normal pairing, but good nonetheless! The sandwich even had caviar on it, which tends to be much much less expensive in the Nordic countries based on my admittedly limited experience.
After our late lunch we made our way just up the street to our next destination – Bryggjan Brugghús – a brewery we’d been wanting to try for a good while. The brewery offers tours on the hour for most of the day, so we’d arrived a bit before the 17:00 tour. However, we immediately got vibes that the tour probably wasn’t going to end up happening because “meh.” Sure enough, when the time came (and went) no tour happened, despite us asking about it and being told to wait in a certain place. So, after a bit of waiting we decided that we’d just save money on the tour (it would have been the most expensive brewery tour I’ve ever done) and just get the beer flight that would have come with the tour anyways (which also turned out to be the most expensive beer flight I’ve ever had, of Iceland 🙂 ). Plus, most of the brewing area was setup behind glass walls (with so cool lighting) so we got to see a lot of it from a distance, further, it’s not like I’ve never done a brewery tour (or ten) before.
We had some comfy seats too, and they were right next to a cool “fountain” which involved water running down an old metal chain. It’s kind of hard to see since my phone camera really struggles anymore (unsurprising given that the phone is now five generations old) but you can sort of see it.
The glasses were really neat. Those black spaces are actually sort of mini “chalkboards” where you use chalk to write what beer is in the glass. I thought that was a really cool idea and way better than trying to keep track of which beer in the flight was which based on a piece of paper – or even worse, where they don’t even tell you which is which in the first place. We all had a nice chat and enjoyed the beers, though by the time we got to the last beer – a Double IPA no less – Pigsten and I were really starting to feel the beer happiness, especially Pigsten.
The good news is that we didn’t have anything else we really needed to do that evening other than make it home. As the buses were all on wonky routes we determined that it was quicker to just walk all the way home from where we were, and fortunately it still wasn’t raining so we had a nice long walk home. Along the way we passed by the really pretty cemetery above Tjörnin, which was looking much greener than last time I was there with Meem.
In fact, despite our apparently crummier-than-average spring, most things are really starting to green up lately. For example, this path on campus spent most of the past 6 months or so looking extremely dead, but it’s come back to full color within the past month.
Right along that path we also saw Huebert! Huebert is a bird whose species I do not know, thus Heubert is a Heubert. We first met Huebert while we were camping at Skógafoss on the Ring Road voyage, so while it’s sort of out of order to introduce him here, this is what Huebert the Huebert looks like (at least with my crappy camera).
On the way back home we decided to stop through Háskólabúðin to pick up a couple things we needed and/or had forgotten at Bónus the day before (Pig had visited the Bónus in Grandi that same day, but mostly for tea with the Bónus, not to shop for us). The problem was that SB had a bit of a headache, and I was beer happy, so we ended up with several things we didn’t need, such as bacon & maple syrup popcorn, as well as apple cinnamon rolls.
As soon as we got home it started to rain a bit, so we had good timing if nothing else! That evening we did very little aside from lounge around and then wonder how it was suddenly almost 1am despite not feeling like 1am and certainly not looking like 1am outside (even with clouds). The next day, Sunday, we got a good deal of stuff done around the apartment (and I am in fact finishing this post on Sunday!). We started off the day with some of my patented oat pancakes (again), except this time they featured blueberries. It was a good start to a productive Sunday!
Which I suppose brings us up to the present. Like of my most posts I didn’t intend for this one to be too substantial, but here it is at nearly 7300 words long. I guess that’s what happens when you live a decently adventurous life and don’t post very often – you simply generate a lot of content! Of course a lot of what I blog about is mundane, but whoever said mundane couldn’t be fun? Certainly not me. 🙂
As for the next post, that one should be about our Ring Road trip and should hopefully be appearing in the near future. After that I’m not entirely sure what Dinosaur Bear’s schedule will look like as I have a lot going on this summer including a graduation, a wedding, our biggest adventure Iceland-era adventure yet, and two substantial moves – but, for now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this “springtime” recap of our time in Iceland!
Until next time,