Today began at 9:30 am. A little earlier than the previous days, but not as early as tomorrow’s 8 am wake up call. We took advantage of Iceland’s lovely transportation system and took a bus to the Forlagið Publishing House. Forlagið is the largest independently owned publishing company in all of Iceland. The company enjoys a quaint office building with a modern twist. It appeared to have a very casual environment for its workers and guests. The publishing company does everything from murder mysteries to children’s stories and also markets books to be translated into other languages. Although most members of the company were on vacation, we did get to meet the Chairman of Forlagið. Meet Ranðver the cat.
Ranðver sits in a cooled office chair and sleeps all day, but on rare occasions he dislikes certain authors and potential clients that enter the room. If the cat does not approve of the client then the deal is off. So anyone hoping to get published in Iceland might want to consider cat nip.
The rest of the day I chilled out and caught up on some sleep. After several hours of sleeping and Macing off I decided it was time to continue my quest for exotic foods. We tried out a traditional restaurant known as Café Loki. There were two very intriguing items on the menu, the dried cod and the fermented Greenland shark. Dried cod has been a very important dish throughout history for Icelandic people. It would never go bad over long journeys abroad and was used in some places as a form of currency. Greenland shark is a very interesting dish because the shark itself is poisonous. Within the flesh is a toxin known as trimethylamine oxide, which breaks down and produces a similar effect to roofies. In order to eat the shark one must ferment it for several months. It eventually forms an odor so strong that only a glass jar can keep the stench contained. Greenland shark has developed the reputation of being the worst tasting food on the entire planet. And the verdict is…
GREENLAND SHARK IS THE WORST FOOD IN THE ENTIRE PLANET!!! If one were to take a rubber band and covered it in motor oil and sardines then that would be half as bad as this dish. Moral of the story is eating this monstrous creature does not give you special powers, it does not help you grow a tail, and it definitely does not make you look tougher holding that little toothpick with a little meat at the end. Therefore, DO NOT EAT GREENLAND SHARK!
Last night I discovered a champagne bar in downtown Reykjavik. I have heard champagne bars can be loads of fun, where they pop off the corks using swords. On this particular my classmate Justin and I decided to check in out.
As soon as we get to the bar these two chicks approach us from both sides and start hugging us.
One began talking to Justin and the other focused in on me. I politely introduced myself and she immediately responded “Do you want my company?” I was caught so off guard i thought she was telling me she owned a company. I responded, “what’s your company, you got a business card?
Then she quickly proposed that I buy her champagne and she would take me downstairs. Once I process that this champagne bar was more oh a brothel I began spitting out lines to get me away from there.
“I have a lady back home who will not approve”
“Well we dont have to have sex, I can just dance for you.”
“I am also gay.”
“Well I am just a girl who likes champagne and would like you to buy it for me.”
The whole situation was beyond bizarre. Strip Clubs have been recently outlawed in Iceland so there were no topless dancers or anything. Instead, there were women walking around in silk robes asking for very expensive bottles of Champagne in return for sexual favors. Moral of the story is do not go to a champagne bar in Iceland…Unless you want to.
Another day another dollarrrrrrrr. Day five proved to be fascinating. We learned in lecture that Icelandic heritage may have originated from small Celtic communities, rather than Scandinavians. We also discussed how Icelanders are very proud of their independence and patriotic attitude, but struggle to reap the benefits of international affairs. Iceland is placing some of the blame of their current economic crisis on other Scandinavian countries and the US for not lending a helping hand. We learned that one particular political group is trying to get Iceland in the European Union (EU), while others strongly oppose the helpful treaty. Iceland is afraid that the EU will impact the countries fishing rights, agricultural laws, and economical issues.
It was very interesting learning about the significance and struggles of small-state governments. Immediately after out lecture we went to the National Museum at the University of Iceland. We were able to witness amazing artifacts in history, but still the exhibit was very bias to Scandinavian culture, ignoring any Celtic heritage. As fascinating as the museum was, I had most of my fun in the gift shop. Check out todays sweet ass purchases.
Finally we got clear skies in Iceland and decided to take advantage of the hot springs. There are naturally heated pools all over the country. In the particular area we chose to go in our free time, there were 5 hot tubs, 3 giant pools, one floating area, one basketball court and 2 awesome water slides. I was afraid to bring my camera near the water so I had to take this from a distance.
After missing our bus back into town we decided to take the scenic route home. In this time we discovered that Reykjavik has majestic mountains in the close proximity. Too bad those clouds have been blocking our view for days.
Day three began with a bus ride to the University of Iceland. There we learned how sagas and manuscripts are carefully preserved. We also learned about the historical significance of the manuscripts, the value they have in the Nordic region, and the struggle to retrieve them from Denmark. In the 1600’s, most of the Sagas and Poems of medieval times were sent to Denmark under the Kings request. The people of Iceland were honored that the king felt so highly about their written works and the manuscripts were thought to be safely kept in Copenhagen. As time went on Iceland realized have valuable the manuscripts and sagas were to their culture and requested that Denmark return their work. The manuscripts were returned to Iceland in 1971 after years of arguing.
The manuscripts are often studied and used for scholarly writings. When we arrived at the University a man was translating Snorri’s Edda in Dutch. This would be the first copy of its kind. A lot of the manuscripts tell the same stories, but have different authors and therefore different versions. Scholars at the University of Iceland work to combine the different versions into a more historically accurate edition of the tales. This takes years of time and reading. It is important that they write in Icelandic rather than on translation, because there is a fear that the Icelandic language may become extinct.
After we left the University of Iceland we went to the Culture House, a museum where the manuscripts are kept. We were given a guided tour, however the tour guide seemed to have some of his facts mixed up.
After we left the Culture House we were given free time to explore and what and expedition it was. I started out by trying peppered whale steak.
It was surprisingly delicious. Minke Whale is a popular dish in Iceland because this particular species likes to eat all the fish that Icelandic fishermen are trying to catch. In order to preserve the fishing industry the whales are targeted and have become an Icelandic specialty. There is still a lot of controversy over whaling in Iceland, but it is not illegal in Iceland and no fisherman is going to argue against it.
After lunch I began my attempt to restore Iceland’s economy single handedly. Iceland is famous for their amazing wool sweaters, which I purchased two of. One has the more traditional look while the other is just the most amazing sweater ever.
The weather was nice for awhile and became gray as soon as we arrived at the ocean.
The evening ended with Puffin and more whale
I successfully made my way to the glorious country of Iceland. Upon my arrival I headed towards the customs gate unsure if I was in the right place. The man patrolling the border asked me, “Are you staying in Iceland”. I quickly responded, “I sure am” and he stamped my passport with no hesitation. I then met up with my fellow class mate Heather Morba who bravely guided me to my bus.
Once in Reykjavik we walked around until noon waiting for our rooms to be ready. It was a long four hours to wait because the majority of Iceland is shut down on Sundays. Especially since a large portion are on holiday this time of year. As Heather and I cruised the city we bumped into more and more members of our group and expanded from 2 to 5. When noon finally came around it was time for a well deserved 5 hour nap. The rest of the group showed up while I was sleeping.
At 5 pm our fearless leader, Helga Luthers, arrived at our hotel and we walked as a group to her apartment. We enjoyed a pasta dinner with several different toppings to mix in the noodles. Then we were given so free time to explore the city.
The gang and I decided to bond over some cocktails. Meet the gang:
We celebrated until the wee hours of the morning and yet the sky never looked darker than 9 pm on the East. We did not have to leave the hotel until noon, so we got plenty of time to sleep in. Our first stop was to the local duck pond. Unfortunately for the ducks, the seagulls have taken over.
It was not extremely informative, but for some reason we all learned how to eat out after reading it. bahaha funny!
Finally we went to the 871 settlement exhibition. It was very interesting to learn about the first settlers of Reykjavik and early archeological finds. This long house dates all the way back to 930 AD and was abandoned because of a moisture coming into the house. I also learned that Reykjavik translates to the Bay of Smoke, because the steamy pools.