Friday, May 10, 2013

Getting our sjór legs

As Sarah mentioned in her last entry, jet leg has proved a bit of a challenge. Not only for the kids, who seem genuinely confused that we expect them to go to sleep when it feels like noon for them, but also for Sarah and I. To wit, after barely sleeping during our flight over, and only sleeping for about two hours after we arrived, I crashed hard and didn't wake until 11am the next morning. Then, last night, I found myself tossing and turning till well after midnight.

It probably doesn't help that while its not exactly white nights in Iceland, in May, it is definitely "never quite get dark nights." It stays fully light out here until about 10pm, and then slowly dims to what could be described as "late dusk" around 1am... before reversing direction to dawn, slightly after 4am. It's a novel experience, if a disorienting one.

As a result, we've kept our ambitions low during these first couple of days, largely just exploring around Reykjavik on foot. The first day, as Sarah mentioned, involved a trip to a bakery/café, strolling couple of the main streets, and taking in the Hallgrímskirkja (the big church... since seeing it, Stella announces "let's go up in the big church today!" each morning).

Stella in front of... Stella. (Actually, this appeared to be some sort of lingerie store, but we couldn't pass up the photo op.)

Day two, involved more walking, this time to the pond and along the waterfront; as well as hot dogs at the famous Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur and dinner at Icelandic Fish and Chips (which Otto slept through, and Stella enjoyed the vast array for dipping sauces).

Stella, enjoying her hot dog, or pylsur. These are apparently popular with the late night partiers... but make a good, cheap lunch too.

Play break at a playground we stumbled across.

Walking around the "Sun Voyager" on Reykjavik's waterfront. In the background you can make out the scenic bay and flat-topped mountains beyond.

The dipping sauce spread at Icelandic Fish and Chips. In my arms, a very crashed out Otto. Definitely long days for the little guy.

What's quickly become a daily tradition is a trip to the neighborhood heated pool each afternoon. Iceland is big on their heated pools. Just a couple of bucks (and free for the kids) buys you access to a large building, with several geo-thermally heated pools ranging in temperature from "luke-warm" to "too-hot-for-the-kiddos." The kids love it, and its proven to be the perfect thing for mine and Sarah's muscles after hauling the kids around all day.

(No pool pics, since I'm not even sure cameras are allowed inside. Picture a YMCA pool filled with lots of very white people.)

Today, after another trip to the café, we decided to up the ante on the pool thing, and visit Iceland's premiere heated pool (and notable tourist trap), the Blue Lagoon. Now, its worth mentioning that, since our arrival, the weather has been on a slow downward curve. The first day was sunny and Spring-like, but by the time our bus pulled into the parking lot of the blue Lagoon today, it was all but snowing... blowing rain, which froze to my beard. Still, we braved the weather, donned our swim gear and climbed into the warm, white-blue water. As anyone who has visited the lagoon can attest, it's a pretty singular experience: Sitting in warm, supernaturally blue water, amongst lava rocks, with clouds of steam billowing past from the neighboring steam-works. Add to that the freezing rain falling from above, and exploring the various pools and grottos, and it was a worthwhile and memorable experience for all.

The Blue Lagoon, doing it's best apocalyptic spa impression.

Sarah and the kids making their way through the wasteland of lava rocks, to our waiting bus, after a long afternoon of soaking and swimming.

The kids fell asleep on the ride back home. I have a feeling that will be a reoccurring theme.

Travelling with the kids has been an experience, with all the expected highs and lows. As Sarah mentioned in her entry, Stella is doing really well. Aside for some expected power-struggling with Otto for Sarah's attention, she's been otherwise charming and easy to travel with. It's impressive how engaged and interested she seems to be in the whole journey.

Otto has -not surprisingly- had a little rougher time. Obviously, most of the stuff we are doing is above his head, and the change in schedule and life is a shock to his little system. But, it's also impressive how adaptable he is... already treating our apartment like its always been home. And, those moments when he is truly enjoying himself and having a novel experience (laughing in a pool, pointing out kitties on our walks around town, discovering a new park) are wonders to behold.

I'm sure there will continue to be lows, but the highs make it all worth while, and I feel we are quickly getting our sjór... er... sea legs.

Quick final thought, to help me remember it. In Sarah's last entry, there is a picture of the snowy wilderness of Northern Canada, that I took at probably 4am, while the rest of the family slept. For probably over an hour, I just watched terrain like that roll by... snow planes, mountains, frozen sea spider-webbed with dark cracks... Miles and miles of it... and largely uninhabited (though, occasionally, and eerily, I would see a mysterious light far below.) In all my flights (well over 100 at this point, I try counting them like sheep when I  want to fall to sleep) and experiences, I don't think I've ever seen anything like it.

OK. Time for bed. Tomorrow, we rent a car, and head for the countryside.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The apocalyptic spa looks wonderful - as does everything else! It is fun to hear about Stella and Otto's impressions and to be reading regular updates on your blog again. "Like" the new subtitle. C.