Two weeks ago, I visited Iceland as a tourist. Now I'm back as a guide. It sounds crazy, and I don't pretend to know a fraction of what there is to know about this place, but I know enough to walk my daughter to every tourist site in old downtown Reykjavik with minimal assistance from a map. I still can't find my way around Southeast Portland without GPS, so I'm pretty pleased with myself.
Our plane took off on time, and there were no volcanic eruptions to waylay us. We checked into our hotel, raided the breakfast buffet for hard boiled eggs, skyr, and fresh quince, and then set out on foot to see the city. That's exactly what Steve and I did two weeks ago, only our hotel was downtown, right on the water. Caroline and I are staying at a slightly nicer hotel, but it's far from the action. After some of the wild weather Steve and I encountered, I was nervous when I saw snow on the ground. It may indeed be colder, but it was so sunny and wind-free that our three mile loop felt perfectly refreshing after all those hours in the car, at the airport, and on the plane. We visited Hallsgrimska, the Sun Voyager, and Laugavegur, Reykjavik's main shopping street. We popped into Isey, where I had the unique opportunity to report back to the shopkeeper about all the compliments I've received back home on one of her designs.
To my complete delight, Caroline was more focused on the little things than the landmarks--
the crazy drivers, the nerve-wracking sound that alerts pedestrians that their time in the crosswalk is running out, the streets named for historical figures from the Sagas, and the oddities on grocery store shelves. We agreed that hardfiskur is not an appealing snack food, but that Muu is a fabulous name for milk.
After lunch, we returned to the hotel for a much-needed nap. Now we're waiting with bated breath and crossed fingers to find out if the clouds and ions will cooperate long enough for us to get a glimpse of the Northern Lights.