Thursday, October 27, 2016

Farewell to Reykjavik

It was almost time to say goodbye to Iceland. After I left the pool, feeling deliciously relaxed, I walked to the Sandholt Bakery for a breakfast of toast and jam and coffee. I propped my book open and had a nice, leisurely read. (I'd packed The Wapshot Chronicles by John Cheever to read during this trip.)

It was a beautiful day, the warmest of my whole trip ("warm" being in the fifties) and sunny. After breakfast, I just walked around, and revisited some of the things we'd seen on the walking tour on my first day.

Gay bar

House mural
Knitting mural seen on the side of the same house as above
Sweet little house

The very last thing I did before walking home to finish packing was return to Hallgrimskirkja and buy a ticket to the tower.

Reykjavik from the church tower

Pictured above is the lawn in front of Government House, where I'd seen the northern lights the previous night. On the walking tour, we'd been told that if we looked at these two statues of Icelandic worthies, at just the right angle, it would look like one statue was "doing something naughty to the other one."

Last glimpse of Reykjavik, on the way to the bus station

I strapped on my heavy pack and walked to the station to catch the Flybus back to Keflavik. Here is where things started to go wrong. Comically at first, but later, more seriously. The bus was nearly full and when I sat down in one of the only available seats, there was barely enough room for me, with my backpack on my lap. The guy in front of me had his seat reclined all the way back, (it was 11:30 in the morning) forcing me to ride firmly pinioned to my seat, barely able to even move my arms. It soon became apparent that the guy and his girlfriend were the worst sort of Americans - those entitled,  loud, oblivious, self-satisfied Americans who ruin everything wherever they go.

It was their stupid conversation about the selfies they'd taken the night before that gave them away. (That and sociopathic practice of reclining.) I can't really judge the taking of selfies, since I indulge in this behavior myself sometimes, but to actually discuss your selfies in public, particularly in the context of how great they were? BEYOND THE PALE. Then began a self-congratulatory conversation about how they'd timed their vacation so, so perfectly. The girlfriend of the douchebag had pouffed her hair over her forehead and was wearing sunglasses which enraged me for some reason.  How dare anyone be an American with Kardashian hair and sunglasses on the flybus?  How dare you? When we arrived at Keflavik, and the douchebag stood up, his pants were half down, so I was momentarily exposed to a close up of his behind before he hoisted his underwear into position.

I dislodged my backpack from my trachea and put as much distance as possible between myself and the Americans.  Looking back, I think my extreme irritation with these people and, a few minutes later, my being nearly prostrate with dismay at when I misunderstood a sign to say that my gate was a 20 minute walk from passport control (I'd walked the same distance cheerfully enough just an hour earlier) were early signs that all was not well. Mid-flight, when everyone on the plane was oohing and aahing at the sight of Greenland out the window, I was curiously uninterested. All I could think about was my headache, the pain in my face and the fact that I was suddenly uncomfortably aware of my teeth.

Still, I was more or less OK when we landed in Baltimore at 5:30 pm, local time. US Customs has expedited the reentry process for all Americans, so perhaps five minutes after stepping off the plane, I was on the curb outside the airport and a parking shuttle pulled up almost immediately. Sweet!  I was on the road before 6:00 pm and thought I might get home in time to catch the first Clinton/Trump presidential debate.

But now the headache, which had formerly been an annoyance, turned into a searing, blinding pain that could not be ignored. In addition to that, I began to feel sick to my stomach. I felt so sick, I realized I couldn't drive a car and pulled over into a deserted northern Virginia parking lot and vomited into the grass. Then I fell fast asleep in the car - even slept through an entire thunderstorm. This became the pattern for the rest of the ride home: drive for a while, feel overwhelmingly sick, pull over, throw up, pass out. It was horrible. The worst drive of my life, bar none and I have been on some seriously awful road trips. Finally, I woke up with a start in a Food Lion parking lot in Madison, Virginia. It was 12:40 am. I had been on the road for over six hours, was still forty-five minutes from home, and the ride from BWI to Charlottesville is usually three and a half hours, even with traffic factored in. Jon, of course was frantic, although I'd been sending him regular texts about my whereabouts.  I managed to drive the rest of the way home without throwing up, but the next day I was so sick I couldn't even stand up or keep down sips of water. I must have picked up a virus. I don't think I had food poisoning because I barely ate anything (one way to have an affordable vacation in Iceland).  The next day I felt much better.

And this concludes the Iceland tales. I'm sorry it took me a month to relate what was essentially a long weekend. I really loved my solo vacation. Sometimes you need to get away from everyone. My main goal was to return home feeling refreshed, and that is exactly what happened.


  1. My theory is that you were allergic to coming home to the land of bland beige houses, or to ugly Americans abroad. But overall the trip sounds wonderful and I'm glad you did it just so I could armchair travel.

  2. What a fantastic trip! I'm hoping to pull off a solo trip in the coming months, although I don't know that I'll manage to get so far away. There is something delightful about getting away.

  3. I love John Cheever! That drive home sounds absolutely horrific. You should have stopped by me. Well, maybe not.

    Sad that I cannot even imagine taking this sort of solo trip!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing so many marvelous details about your trip.

    I am terribly sorry that you got so violently ill on your way home.

  5. What a horrific journey home. I hope you have healed. That would be traumatic after a plane ride to get sick all the way back.
    Those pictures are terrific. The landscape is bleak and the bright colors of the town offer such a great contrast. Thanks for taking us along vicariously!