Reykjavik, day 5

Thursday 4/2:

A storm was forecast to hit Reykjavik today.  As we headed outside, Lance remarked that high winds were expected.  The wind here commands respect.  I went back to my room to add a fleece under my down parka; and a couple of the others layered up too.

As we walked thru Downtown to the Waterfront, I was glad already; it was finger-stinging cold. We looked at some sculptures along the promenade.  Then we got to a really big sculpture; Harpa, a concert hall and conference center.  It was like a honeycomb of prisms and mirrors.  The inside was intriguing.  Each side had a different design, incorporating matrices of windows, some smoked, some partially reflective.  The interior space was three-dimensional; a series of small lounge-platforms ascended one side of the building along a bold flight of steps with a transparent balustrade.  Even the ceilings carried on the cellular prismatic theme.  Mark noted that there was a bar on every floor; I bought a latte at one of them (they don’t foam the milk here).  We didn’t see the performance hall, but a brochure picture showed that it had many balconies.  (More pictures)

We walked thru a shipwreck memorial to the Northern lights Museum.  This museum presented interesting mythological and scientific details about northern lights, and showed a pleasant film of the northern lights set to music. Next we went thru the Saga Museum.  Wearing narration headphones, we walked thru a series of waxwork-like scenes from Iceland’s grim history.  There were executions, a plague, battles, and occasionally heroines and pioneers.

After this we split up.  Mark wandered off; so Shelley and I went to the Art Gallery.

Sadly, it was disappointing; it was all modern art, and most of it was pretentious and annoying.

We had a nice snack of rice pudding and tea at The Bistro in Old Town.  We went to Marmot Sports to try to return sunglasses she’d bought after losing hers, before finding hers again.  They would only give store credit; and she couldn’t find anything else she wanted at that price.  So, remorsefully, she kept them.

We ended up at the beautiful Evangelical Lutheran Church near our guesthouse.  The wind was coming up and thin snow had begun, so it was a good time to go inside. The view from the the clock-face windows in the tower was sweeping, tho Reykjavik is a mostly industrial city.  In the high-arched sanctuary, the children’s choir was practicing for their Easter concert, which was about to begin.  We sat in the back and listened; they were quite good. (More pictures)

Shelley walked back to Old Town to meet Mark and ask him to come to the concert.  I thought I’d stay.  But the church filled up with families; so I gave my seat to an elderly couple who might have been grandparents of a choir boy or girl, and went across the street to the Loki Cafe for supper. Then I headed to the guesthouse thru thickening gloom and snow to pack for our flight to Stockholm. IMG_6839

I got disoriented in some pedestrian tunnels under an interchange, and pulled out a map.  A passing Icelander who was walking his dog saw this and gave me careful directions.  Some other tourists came along and saw him doing this, so he gave them directions too.

At our lodging, it was time to address the problem of the skis.  I had no further use for them on this trip.  I’d found that it would be possible to check them to Stockholm and London, store them at Heathrow for two weeks and check them to Seattle.  But it would cost about $150 and be a huge bother; for 20-year-old skis and boots with worn-out bindings, it wasn’t worth it.  I’d sounded out some companions on the possibility of having them take the skis home for me.  They rolled their eyes; they were going to have trouble enough with their own skis. So, following the Seattle tradition of putting reusable articles on the curb, I put them in their tubular bag next to a recycle dumpster, with a note:

Free cross-country skis

Half metal edges, waxless

Men’s size 9.5

I went off to my room to shower and pack.  Pretty soon there was a knock on the door; it was Lance.  “Somebody said they saw your skis outside.”

I had a sudden vision of repeatedly and miserably  failing to disassociate myself from them–at the airport, at the Raddison Hotel in Stockholm, at the next airport–due to such kindly interventions.  “What skis?” I said.

“The ones we took out of the van just now,” he explained, supposing perhaps that the confusion of old age was starting already.

I imagined them pursuing me on trains across the English countryside, like a long black tar-baby.  “Did I bring skis?  I don’t think so.  Nope–I don’t know anything about those skis,” I assured him.

“Well, we can’t leave them outside overnight,” he reasoned.  “I’ll go have a look around.”

I went back to packing.  The next scene, I supposed, would be him knocking on the door again with my skis helpfully propped up against the corridor wall.

But this didn’t happen.  Next morning, Lance told me he’d salvaged my ski bag and would take it to Seattle for me.


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