Iceland 2005 (Day 10)

Published on 19 November 2005 in , , ,

On 19 August 2005 Catherine and myself flew out to Iceland for a ten night touring holiday round Iceland. We drove round the country and saw many an exciting and interesting thing. This is one of many blog posts about that holiday – it’s our final day, we’re in Reykjavik and by the end of the day, will be back in London.

The Story So Far…

So the story so far… Our intrepid hereos, Catherine and Andrew, went out for a pint or two the night before in an Irish bar in Reykjavik. Some Guinness was supped and the night was still young when they walked back to their guesthouse and slumped on a king size bed.

The next thing anyone knows, Andrew wakes up at 2am needing the loo. He gets out of bed, stumbles towards the en-suite bathroom…

It’s at this point that alarm bells might have rung in my head, as I staggered down the room, and staggered back. But you know how it is. Sometimes when you’re very tired and you wake up in the middle of the night, you can stagger around and sometimes walk a bit wobbly. Or is that just me?

Unfortunately the staggering probably wasn’t just tiredness as I woke up in the morning feeling quite frankly terrible. As we sat at the breakfast table, I struggled to even sip some orange juice, yet alone tuck into my final mornings worth of cheese, cooked meats and pickled herring. My stomach was churning like mad. Plus I had a bit of headache, but most importantly my stomach was in a right mess.

I staggered back to our room and dug out an Alka Seltzer, plink-plink-fizzed it with some water and gulped it down.

Yes I had some Alka Seltzer with me. And if there’s anything I would recommend anyone takes on holiday with them, it’s a few packets of this, or something similar. They are, quite frankly, life savers, and take up very little space in your luggage.

Hard this might be to believe, I don’t actually take them with me to cure me of hangovers. In fact, I think this is the first time I’ve ever used them for that purpose. I actually take them with me in case I get a dodgy stomach.

Back in 2003 I was in St. Petersburg, Russia, visiting my sister who was living out there at the time. One evening we went to a chinese restaurant off Nevsky Prospect – the main shopping centre. On arriving back at our accomodation, my stomach was churning like mad.

Having only had about two drinks, I was pretty convinced it was the food that was suspect. Thankfully I’d packed some of the old fizzy stuff (mainly cos I had expected to have drunk more vodka than I did) and it cleared it up within an hour. Ever since then, I’ve made sure whenever I’m away, I have some to make sure that, if I do have a dodgy stomach, I have something to cure it. Just a shame it didn’t stop the mosquito bites. Mind you, when I got back to Britain, I found out that my sister had taken my parents to the same restaurent. And that evening, my dad had had food poisoning…

Anyway, Back To Iceland

In a case of blind optimisim, mere moments after downing that awful tasting stuff that fizzes perturbingly, I struggled back to the breakfast room, thinking maybe I’d be able to eat something. It wasn’t to be and within minutes, I’d left Catherine to finish her breakfast, and went back to collapse on the bed.

Thankfully most of our stuff was in our suitcase already, so whilst I was lying on the bed in a state of alcohol induced trauma, Catherine didn’t have to spend too long packing all our stuff up.

A Morning In the Capital

We were told we were due to be picked up at 1:15, giving us the morning to spend in Reykjavik. Which, once I’d recovered enough to actually stand up, we decided to enjoy.

The Streets of Reykjavik

Our plan was to pop to Hallgrímskirkja church and climb the tower, calling in at the shop of the Handknitting Association of Iceland so that Catherine could look at wool and knitted things – this being something she liked.

Given my dubious state, we still managed to be wandering around by around ten, and found ourselves in a strangely deserted capital city. It was Monday, yet there was no one around. Shops were shut, streets deserted. Even worse, the Handknitting Association of Iceland was darkened and empty, despite the fact it was supposed to have opened at 10am. It was now 10:40.

Well it was a bank holiday in Blighty. Maybe it was here, too. Oh well. These things happen.


Not being far from Hallgrímskirkja church, we walked up so that we could climb the tower. Apparently you get a great view from up there.

But there was something wrong. There were lots of people in suits and posh dresses, all going into the church. The tower didn’t seem to be open.

There was a poster outside extolling some exciting church events, but the dates ended the day before – Sunday. If this was a special bank holiday Monday service, it wasn’t mentioned.

We parked ourselves on a bench and pondered what to do next. We couldn’t look at wool, we couldn’t look at the view. Why? This isn’t right for a Monday.

It was sitting down on that bench, that some pieces of the puzzle finally moved into place. And yes, I’m sure you all got it about five hours ago. But hey, I was feeling a bit fragile and my brain wasn’t working.

Finally the cogs whirred.

It was Sunday.

It wasn’t Monday.

The pub had been busy that night because it was Saturday night.

The Iceland Handknitting Association was shut cos it didn’t open till eleven on Sundays.

That crap pizza restaurant a few nights before wasn’t disturbingly empty on a Friday night, because it wasn’t actually Friday.

And the reason why there’s loads of people looking smart and going into the church is because its time for Sunday morning service, and that’s just what you do. After nine days on the road, we’d completely lost track of what day was what. And obviously that put a whole different spin on things.

Well not that much of a difference. We loitered around the church, took some photos and headed back to the Handknitting Association of Iceland’s shop which had now opened for business, so Catherine could look at chunky woolen knits and big balls of wool.


That done, and me still feeling a bit fragile, we opted for a coffee in a basement cafe called something like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, on the Laugavegur – the main shopping street in Reykjavik. Slurping away, we passed the time reading The Grapevine – an English language newspaper which proceeded to tell us about lots of problems caused by the US Navel base at Keflavik, and a truely exciting story headlined ‘Missing Man Found Asleep in Bed’. Well alls well that ends well.

Whilst Uncle Tom’s Cabin was undoubtably cosy and had great coffee, there was just one fundamental flaw. I needed to pop to the lavatory. For politeness we’ll say that I needed to sit down. So I wandered over in the correct direction, only to find myself in a dingy toilet area, featuring one cubicle and one urinal.

Nothing amazing about that until you consider that the cubicle had no door and no seat, and was nicely visible from the door which led back to the cafe area which, conviently, did not have a lock.


Wandering onwards we popped into the 10-11 store (opening hours 8am-11pm) for some sandwiches, and a pile of Icelandic sweets for people at work, and scoffed our sandwiches on a bench in a small park area, before going to look at the ducks outside City Hall.

To the airport

We’d been told to expect our minibus at the Guesthouse Isafold at 1:20, so we ambled along and went back to our room to get the luggage, which we’d left nicely lined up near the door.

The luggage had strangely disappeared, so we presumed someone had moved it into the office, so having refreshed ourselves in preperation for our flight back to Blighty, we walked up to see the manager. Who told us he’d got the time wrong. The minibus had actually been scheduled for 1, and had already been. It had popped to another nearby hotel to pick someone else up, but thankfully it had just turned up again, and was outside. We rushed on and gladly boarded.

Just one snag – we hadn’t been the only people to have been told the wrong time. Another couple were also late. The driver, with his eye on the time, drove on, leaving the guesthouse manager to wait for them, and frantically drive like a madman round the streets of Reykjavik to meet us at another hotel, where by odd coincidence, they were doing auditions for Idol. Or Pop Idol to you and me.

Everyone on board, we drove to the airport, checked in, bought some appealing looking spirit called ‘Black Death’ that delightfully comes in a bright green plastic bottle, and waited for our plane.

A few hours later, we’d fly over a dark London – the lights of the city and the river glittering away as we flew over the Dome, Westminster and more. Our holiday was almost over. Ten days in the most relaxing country in the world, ended by the franticness of picking up baggage in Heathrow Airport.

Well, you can’t have everything, and at least the tubes were running well. We’d had an utterly fantastic holiday. And now we were home.

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