We awoke this morning to howling winds rattling through the building. The guesthouse felt exposed up on the hill outside Reykjavik and we sat at breakfast wondering how many layers were necessary to face the day.
When we headed out all that was exposed was a small gap for my eyes. I’d borrowed a fantastically warm hat from my dad with fluffy ear flaps, my scarf was covering my neck and face, my ski jacket borrowed from my auntie was bulging due to all the jumpers underneath, and I could barely stretch my legs because of the tights and leggings under my trousers. Two pairs of walking socks were adequate inside my mum’s walking boots. No, I don’t own many warm clothes of my own.
The wind was ferocious. When we turned a corner it nearly knocked us off our feet. Shop signs were in danger of being ripped off shop fronts and the owners were frantically strapping them back on. A corrugated roof had come off in the night and a huge crane had been placed in the middle of the street just to clamp it back on until the winds died enough to fix it. Tiny bits of ice were falling from the sky, teeny tiny icy snow, which battered into what was left exposed of our faces.
For 4,000 ISK (about £20) we bought a Reykjavik Welcome Card which gave us free access for 72 hours to the buses, all local geothermally heated pools, and lots of museums an art galleries. Today was definitely a day to be indoors so we headed for the museums to learn some Icelandic history and stay warm.
Icelandic people are really lovely. They’re efficient and helpful – nothing is too much trouble, but laid back too. It’s a great combination of traits. Everyone speaks perfect English here, it’s quite stunning really, but I’m enjoying hearing the Icelandic language. I’ve been fascinated by it since first discovering Sigur Ros years ago. It has some unusual sounds that are quite soothing to hear. Rs are spoken with a flick of the tongue, and Ls are finished with a sound similar to ‘CL’. It sounds like nothing else I’ve heard.
After a day of battling the high winds we went to the nearest local swimming pool. Nakedness wasn’t optional in the showers and changing rooms, so it was tits and fannies everywhere, but I suppose nobody was really looking because they were used to it so I just embraced the rules and whipped of my bikini to shower. “Shall we go straight for the hot tubs on the roof?” Bekki asked. I eyed the door to the outside section, thinking of how cold that wind was going to be after a lovely warm shower. “Oh god, let’s just go for it” I said. We stormed towards the door on a mission.
SHIT! Shit shit shit! The wind blew and I hugged myself and ran to the emptiest hot tub. I must’ve looked a sight. The locals were leisurely sauntering between the tubs and the steam room, and some were even sitting out on the side in their swimming gear. The water was gorgeous but my head was absolutely freezing from being outside. The wind was blowing the water into our faces but we marvelled at the experience and the uniqueness of the situation (for us anyway). The second hot tub was really hot, 43 degrees C, and in this tub it was actually nice to have your head and shoulders out of the water so I understood why there were people sitting at the side to cool off.
Tomorrow is going to be a really special day and I can’t wait.