Finally, a Lighthouse

It has been far too long since I wrote here, and I have no excuse. Please accept my sincerest apologies and be aware that I have officially prioritized this over my homework– don’t tell my mom.

The main reason I didn’t write about a weekend trip last week is because I didn’t go on one. For the first time since arriving in Iceland, I stayed home all weekend. On the one hand, this is a major bummer for obvious reasons, but on the other hand, it means living in Iceland has started to feel normal enough that I don’t feel those tourist urges quite so much. So that’s something.

Last weekend was a busy one, however. On Saturday we went on a road trip up to Akranes and Stykkishólmur, both on the coast north of Reykjavik and on the other side of the 5 km tunnel through hell.

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The trip got off to a later start than usual, which makes it even more unfortunate (Joe’s word, I would’ve gone with “pathetic”) that Joe slept through it. Instead we went with 4/5 of the party car. Arguably the best 4/5.

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photo cred: Manuel, whose selfie we are all in the background of.

We stopped first in Akranes, which is a small, picturesque port city. Being a port city, it is quite near a beach (surprise!), which was our first stop. We saw some happy dogs playing on the beach when we were parking, but by the time we made it down to the water they were gone, which is one of the more significant bummers of my year. But it was an unusually sunny and warm (by Icelandic standards) day, so I did something daring and kind of stupid.

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No socks, no shoes, no feeling in your toes.

Here’s a fun fact for you: Iceland ocean is really fucking cold. Like, REALLY fucking cold. Luckily I had some cozy hand-knitted socks to protect my toes from inevitable hypothermia, and I have 0 regrets. Especially because now I never have to allow my bare skin to touch northern Atlantic waters again. Been there, done that.

After this first beach, we found a nice little coffee shop to grab a drink and a bite to eat. The Brit among us ordered English breakfast tea, combatting 0 stereotypes. On the way, we stopped in a shop because it had plants, and I made a(nother) bad decision.

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God knows how I’m going to get this fella through airport security, but isn’t it cute? Besides, I need something to put in the Edgar Allan Poe mug to the right which I accidentally spiked onto the ground when I was drying it, and it’s certainly not going to hold tea anymore.

We wandered around downtown a bit, then found another beach. This one came with rocks. We even found pieces of bona fide sea glass, which I’ve never encountered before. One piece was still very clearly a shard from a bottle (my guess is Heineken, but Viking lager was also suggested as a possibility), but another piece (which I ended up keeping) is, aside from a small divot, quite indistinguishable from a natural hunk of mineral. I snagged a few other cool rocks, plus a shell or two, which prompted Manuel to ask, “If every tourist took three rocks from Iceland, how long would it take for the island to disappear?”

After beach #2, we piled back in the car for another two hours until we arrived in Stykkishólmur, close to sunset. The town itself is a lovely little port city with no shortage of charm; both Stykkishólmur and Akranes are the kind of place that would be lovely to live in for a year or two while you worked on your novel. But the best part about our destination is that I finally got to see a lighthouse.

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It’s a pretty small lighthouse, more like a lightcottage or lightshed. But I saw it and it counts. And, being a lighthouse reaching no particularly impressive height, it had to be planted at the top of a hill. The view from said hill? Lovely.

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Seeing Iceland at sunset was a surprisingly new experience. I know I’ve been here almost two months, but at 64º N latitude the sun behaves weirdly. The first couple weeks here it set really late, and now all of a sudden it’s going down at like 6:30 and pretty soon it won’t rise ever again.* But when you’re out to see them, the sunsets are stunning.

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*Not technically true but it might as well be.

Thus ended our trip to Akranes and Stykkishólmur, but not the weekend. The following day, I took a bus down to Hafnarfjörður to meet Ally for a walk around a lake he claimed to have visited twice, but was suspiciously unsure of its actual location. Miraculously, we made it both to the lake and back without getting lost or taking ridiculously long detours even once. That’s definitely true.

Here’s a surprising fact for you: Iceland is beautiful. For a floating rock barely bigger than Indiana, its landscape varies from “definitely Martian” to “suspiciously Pacific Northwestern” with a thousand variants in between.

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The lake offered the “actually feels like autumn” variant, which is admittedly a rather present vibe in Reykjavik. I may not be able to get my pumpkin spice latte and pumpkin spice Oreos with pumpkin spice tea and a side of pumpkin spice ice cream, but the trees are warming up, the air is clean and sharp, and both the sky and the streets are a constant shade of grey. I couldn’t be happier. (Unless I had a pumpkin spice latte and pumpkin spice Oreos with pumpkin spice tea and a side of pumpkin spice ice cream).

I know most people think all this rain must be utterly dreary, and I guess for some people it is, but there’s a silver lining even for those crazies who like the sun. Well, actually a multicolor lining. There are rainbows all the time in Iceland. I see at least three per week, sometimes multiple rainbows in a day. Sometimes even at the same time. We saw a triple rainbow last week.

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Pictured here: the less evasive double rainbow.

Overall, the weekend was filled with good company, unparalleled scenery, and a flock of huskies on a dock that were all yelling at the same time. It was lit. Iceland is lit. (Metaphorically though. We just went through this.) God only knows how I wound up on this quirky little island, but I’m glad I did.

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photo cred: also Manuel
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