After a 10-minute cab ride, 50-minute bus ride, 6-hour flight to JFK, mad dash through customs, and 3 1/2-hour flight to Austin, I got home at 1:30 in the morning on Friday.
Today’s a day for laundry and unpacking and not spending any money oh god.
Here’s some random thoughts and observations on the trip that never got into a blogpost.
- I made a critical miscalculation in my desire to see the Northern Lights: there was no, way, in, hell I was going to get out of my sleeping bag in the frigid dark and open the camper door just to check if they were out. If I could get some kind of northern-lights Amber Alert on my phone, then we’re talking.
- I never mentioned cairns. Icelanders used them as navigational waypoints way back in the day, and they’re still all over the place—sometimes standing alone on a hill, sometimes in lines that stretch for miles next to the modern-day road.
- Apparently Icelanders love basketball? I saw hoops outside of most schools, and at the restaurant in Akureyi, a group at the next table were closely watching a livestream of a women’s basketball game.
- Akureyi is the second-largest city in Iceland and it has 18,041 people. The tenth-largest city has 2,546. This is a sparsely inhabited place.
- Reykjavik meanwhile is blowing up, with construction cranes on every block. I heard how hard this country was hit by the recession, but it seems they’ve turned that frown upside down. It’s the Austin of the north.
- This country is safe, I mean like leave-your-keys-in-the-ignition safe. One possible reason is a lack of class struggle:
A study of the Icelandic class system found only 1.1% of participants identified themselves as upper class, while 1.5% saw themselves as lower class.
The remaining 97% identified themselves as upper-middle class, lower-middle class, or working class. (source)
- Prices were so expensive that I kept thinking I was doing the math wrong. (It’s basically 100:1, we’re not talking advanced calculus here.)
- I was here for 15 days, and I didn’t handle Icelandic currency once. I’m not even sure what it looks like.
- Iceland takes Easter seriously. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of Easter weekend are all national holidays.
- It sounds like a cliché, but I seriously missed enough stops on this trip to justify a second trip. If I do ever come back, it’ll be in the summer, when I can visit the more remote areas that were closed this time around. And see puffins.
- It’s the last trip I’m taking with this passport. I have stamps for Australia, Finland, The Netherlands, Greece, Ireland, Hong Kong, and Thailand1.
- You can tell the Icelanders. They’re not wearing hats.
Here’s the only real memento I brought back: I collected sand from beaches in the north, south, east, and west of Iceland, plus volcanic ash (and a little water) from the glacier.