For a second my mind started drifting

The festival starts today, and the first concert I want to see is in a little more than an hour and a half. Right now I’m in the hostel kitchen making what I suppose is either a very early dinner or a very late lunch, it being 4.22 PM. On my first day here I bought a bag of pasta, a jar of sauce, and a block of cheese, and it’s served me well thus far, making up the bulk of the dinners I’ve had here. (I figure I’ll be eating out a lot more now that the festival’s started, so wanted to save money while I could.)

Today has been rather action-packed, despite my dozing until 10 in anticipation of concert proceedings stretching to midnight or beyond. It’s the first day that hasn’t had wonderful weather, and I now fully understand all the comments made on previous days about how lucky we were in that regard. It’s overcast, extremely windy, with blowing rain. Without the windchill, the temperature is 7 C; with the windchill, I can only imagine. Suffice it to say that it’s quite chilly.

So it makes perfect sense that, after picking up my Bjork ticket and concert wristband and buying a Welcome Pass (three days of unlimited buses, pools, and museums!), I decided to make my second museum stop one that was not only quite far out of the city (and more than half a kilometer from the bus stop I got off at) but also largely outdoors.

This decision is not quite as stupid as it sounds. The museum sounded cool (buildings rescued from Reykjavik city center which would otherwise have been demolished in the name of Progress) and, in the off season, is only open for tours Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 1 PM. Since I have no idea what my Friday plans look like, this seemed like as good a time as any (and better than most) to check this particular museum off my list.

I don’t know about you, but I always forget how quickly meters add up: to me, for some reason, 500 m is not the same as 0.5 km. So when the woman at the first museum (sensibly located both inside and in the city center) said it would be a 600 meter walk from the bus stop, I thought “Fine! No problem! That’s not far!”

It was far.

Either the rain and wind had gotten worse, or the buildings in the city center were buffering me more than I’d realized, because I got totally soaked. I couldn’t see a thing, head down to avoid being blinded by raindrops that stung like hailstones. The wind was so strong that I had to lean far, far forward just to avoid falling over.

And then I got there, and the front office was locked, dark, and empty. Luckily, thankfully, I ran into someone who worked there–not anyone affiliated with the tours, but someone who knew where to take me to find out what the story was. And so I dragged the poor tour guide, a very pleasant Icelandic fellow who had clearly been looking forward to an afternoon of relaxation in the dry indoors, out into the wind and wet on a one-on-one tour. He was very nice about it, and the museum was quite interesting. I enjoyed it despite having been completely soaked on my walk over. The tour lasted a bit more than an hour, and then the kind guide helped me figure out which bus to take to get back to my hostel. Again, it was a bit of a walk from the bus stop, this time to the percussive sound of my teeth actually chattering (soaking wet jeans and cold wind are not the best combination). But then, wonderfully, I was back at the hostel, where I changed into dry clothes before heading around the corner to the huge pool complex the hotel is next to.

Given the choice between an indoor and an outdoor pool I opted for outdoor, figuring I’d see what all the fuss was about, and I am a total convert. The water was lovely, not too hot but warm enough that the cold air felt refreshing rather than startling. The pool is huge, too, probably 30 meters long. My eight-lap swim quite tired me out, although part of that is definitely that I’m more out of shape than I should be. I left the pool feeling refreshed, relaxed, and (finally!) warm.

So now I’ve eaten (while writing this) and I’m going to go put on a million layers of clothes and venture back outside, into what has become a calmer and less wet (although still very overcast) afternoon.

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