Actually, let's back up and talk about the very reason we were able to go to Iceland. I was presenting a paper at the International Congress of the New Chaucer Society (or NCS, for friends) in Reykjavík. When I get worked up over how difficult and punishing grad school can sometimes (often) be, I try to remind myself that it also affords me opportunities for adventures like this.
Appropriately, traveling was itself an adventure. I'll spare you the boring details--how my first leg was on a partner airline, and how I couldn't figure out where I was supposed to check in; the post-apocalyptic hellscape that is Logan International--and I'll just point out a few things.
First, there was this unlikely couple of dogs lovers. In this image, middle aged guy is pulling up pictures of his chihuahua for Paris Hilton (not the real one). These guys talked for at least half an hour.
Second, Icelandair has a Saga Class. I was not flying Saga Class, but I still thought it was cool. Because of the Sagas.
Third, Icelandair is awesome (pictured, swag). Also, much as in The Wizard of Oz, everything before Iceland is black and white.
I arrived in Reykjavík after midnight, although it was still light. It was always light. More on this later.
I spent the first morning of my first day in Iceland rather uneventfully. I was staying at KEX Hostel (which was wonderful!), and, as one does in hostels, I met some people. Unfortunately, we had almost nothing in common. We went on a pretty terrible tour and then, thankfully, split up. I think the feeling may have been mutual. Luckily, my social prospects improved immensely when I met Liam, another conference-goer who just happened to be staying in my 16-bed dorm at KEX.
Liam, who is a first year master's student at a university in England, quickly became my dear friend. We spent tons of time together before and around the conference, and once Ross and Liam's boyfriend, Nick, showed up, the four of us all hung out and got on swimmingly. As an adult, it sometimes feels like it gets harder and harder to make new, close friends, and I'm so glad I met Liam and Nick. I'm terribly fond of them both. DO YOU HEAR THAT, GUYS? MY SQUISHY AMERICAN FEELINGS ARE GETTING ALL OVER YOU. You know you love it.
Liam and I did some sightseeing, visiting two of Reykjavík's most iconic landmarks, Hallgrímskirkja (I quite liked the statue of Nordic Jesus)...
… and the Harpa, aka my very very favorite place in the city. Maybe my favorite building in the world. Harpa is a concert hall/gallery space/architectural wonderland, and it's open for wandering around almost all the time.
Liam, bless his heart, was game to go to an exhibit on Icelandic reindeer with me. I think it was worth it.
We closed out the evening (late! It's impossible not to stay up late in Reykjavík) with a noodle dinner (I went back to this place probably four times) and a long, fabulous, well-lit conversation sitting on the dock outside the Harpa. The next two photos were taken after 10pm.
I went to bed that evening unbelievably happy, full of noodles and friendship and the joy of being somewhere beautiful and new.
Up next: Chapter Two, In Which Haylie Hikes a Glacier. Stay tuned!