Velkomin heima

Welcome home, that’s how they greet you at the airport in Keflavík, a 45 min bus ride from Reykjavík. I’m not sure if it feels like home yet, but Iceland gives me a warm welcoming: it doesn’t rain. That obviously is meant metaphorically, as it has about 10°C, in August, the month it gets the warmest in this country. It doesn’t rain but the clouds you can see are astonishing, you can see them all, cumulus, cirrus, stratus – and all the combinations, nimbostratus, cirrocumulus… you can see the sun shining in the North, while it clearly rains in the West. Iceland welcomes me with all the shades of blue I can imagine, the clouds are hanging heavy and low in a blue-patched sky. A crazy intense light blue shines down when the cloud-carpet cracks open. And then there is the sea, looking like a bathtub full of liquid lead, glittering greyish and blueish under the sky. Although all in blue as well, it differs clearly from the sky, and it’s so unexcited lying there that I feel almost a bit embarrassed that I get so nervous seeing this part of the North Atlantic. At some point you hit Greenland when you keep paddling west! Although I don’t think anyone would every consider paddling to Greenland… What else, what else? The ground is incredibly hilly, the best way to describe it is probably with the little word “raw”. It is rocky with some patches of green that makes it look a bit more friendly. Geographically spoken those little bumps are called “palsas” – they are built through a frosting and defrosting of ground water, that builds an ice lens within the bumps, that then grow together with the ice lens. This landscape looks like a giant would enjoy it for a nice back scratch. I mean, if fairies and elves live here, why not giants, too?

The little houses the Icelanders set into this landscape look like they were cuddling up with the ground. It is generally very hilly, full with ups and downs on a, let’s say, meso-scale (if you consider the palsas a micro-scale and real hills like mountains or volcanoes a macro-scale). And the houses seem to fit perfectly on top of a little hill or into a tiny valley. That makes it look so… mh, harmonic?

OK, enough of this… Where did I end up sleeping? I was so sure I’d find a couch on Couchsurfing, but the first time this plan did not work out. People are either traveling themselves or their couches were already taken. No answers even on my emergency request – August is the worst time to find accommodation in Reykjavík. So I started looking into hostels, and damn, the only free places are in 14-bed dorms for 30 Euros a night. Luckily Misa told me about, where I finally found a private room in a young couple’s place a bit outside Reykjavík for approx. 30€. Káj and Stefán welcomed me warmly, offered me the content of their fridge. Káj is 19 years old, about to finish college and working at the post office. He hates school, he says. Not the studying itself but how it is taught… Stefán just turned 21 and works at a place where he’s taking care of disabled people… Both want to leave Island, rather sooner then later. They say, the grass is always greener on the other side. They say none of the Icelandic guys who had caused the financial crisis was actually sentenced and put to jail. After a while of talking Káj concludes, capitalism is the problem. But he admits that he doesn’t understand it and even more he doesn’t know how it could be possibly solved. How to figure out capitalism? He thinks, Socialism is not the solution… at least it never worked out. When he says that, I can see how he gets sad and quite inside.

I had a good night’s sleep tonight and woke up at about 8am. It was raining. Now I understood what Stefán meant when he said yesterday I was lucky with the weather. The rain sounded like the heavy rain that never stops, like it was always there and will always be there, it sounded like it was bored from the monotonous dripping noise it makes itself. I was surprised when it actually stopped raining, so I decided to go shopping. Unfortunately I had finished all the awesome sandwiches Misa had made me and I was actually getting hungry. When I left the apartment I noticed that I had made a mistake. It didn’t stop raining. Indeed I felt like the rain was trying to trick me – it was now raining so gently and quietly, that one was about to think it stopped. The opposite was the case. The raindrops were so light and thin that they were more like a fluffy cover that was all around you. And it gets everywhere. Hence after my 10 minute walk to the shopping mall I was all wet… luckily I got myself a good rain jacket.

After my little shopping Odyssey I went to downtown Reykjavík, essentially just walking around for hours and trying to find out how this place ticks. A hell of a lot of tourists and I must admit I hate hearing German everywhere on this planet. I mean it’s nice and everything that the Germans love to travel so much… still I would appreciate to have some peace and quiet from it at least when I’m out of the country… I guess this will change as soon as the big tourist season is over – so in 2 weeks.

Here now just some first impressions of the city.

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