Ed. Note: Today we're starting a new, periodic series where members of our community will have the opportunity to share with each other in the neat experiences they have, be them through traveling or recollecting historic games and events. This should be one more thing that helps us to grow as a community and get each other through the summer doldrums of college sports. If you have trips that you take, or historical games/events that you'd like to write about and share with the class, email us at email@example.com so that we can get you set up. Thanks to packerman for recounting his trip to Iceland for the first part of this series!
It was 11:30pm Iceland time and we were finally landing. The plane was shrouded in a dense fog, and we couldn’t see out the windows at all. The thought occurred to us that were we anywhere else, we wouldn’t be landing this plane in these conditions. Being well over 500 miles from the closest airport, there were no other choices. Down we went. The IcelandAir pilots must be used to these conditions, because their landing was flawless. The landing and plane exit were impressive. Everything moved quickly. We were herded into a small hallway to go through a passport check and customs. Curiously, we hadn’t been handed immigration paperwork to fill out. Turns out customs in Iceland might as well be nonexistent. We walked around the corner from the passport check, tried to declare the alcohol we brought with us, got laughed at, and were promptly told to go away. We followed instructions, and headed out to pick up our rental car. We had our first interaction with the natives when they offered to take our bags and drive us to the car rental agency that was just a few hundred yards from the airport. As would be a theme throughout my time there, the natives couldn’t have been nicer. We picked up our rental car, and were warned about all of the dangerous conditions in Iceland. It was written into our rental agreement that exploding doors would not be covered by insurance. (Seriously.) We put our bags in the car and proceeded to drive into downtown Reykjavik. There was a thick fog, a light rain, and a chill in the air, but we couldn’t be more excited. What did the land of the bad guys from the second Mighty Ducks movie have in store for us?!
If you travel overseas, use AirBnB. It’s magical. We rented the second floor of someone’s house for the first weekend in Reykjavik. It was stupidly cheap and quite luxurious. We got to our place around 12:30am, and decided it was time to see what the bars had in store for us. Bars in Reykjavik close at 5am, so we were going to make the most of our time.
The first thing we did was get lost. We drove around a little, went the wrong way down some one way streets, and finally found a place to park the car. Our first stop was a place called The English Pub. It looked like a fun spot, and after being made fun of a bit by some Icelandic girls for getting lost, we walked inside. Inside was a riot. They played every American’s favorite hits from the 90s, including Will Smith’s greatest hits, Backstreet Boys, and even a little Michael Jackson. They love their "rock music," and we took note of the Macklemore-esque haircuts that all the men were sporting. We started flirting with a few girls, but quickly realized they were underage. I realized this sooner than my buddy, so I tried to "switch" with him for the girl that was of age. He wasn’t buying it, but the point was moot anyway -- the girls had to make their 3am curfew. (Yes, you read that right.) About 15 seconds after they left, another group of girls sat down and started flirting with us. They were our age, and things were going swimmingly until I found out they each had three kids. Abandon ship! My buddy and I quickly made our exit and bar-hopped the rest of the night without significant incident. Those two groups of girls were very representative of everyone else we met throughout the night though. The rules are just different over there.
At 5am, we got kicked out of the bars and hung out in the street party that ensues after the bars close for another little while. We met a guy wearing a blue jumpsuit with a fur collar who explained to us the connection between the ancient Norse language and English. His name was Emil, and we’re now Facebook friends. After parting ways with Emil, we walked to a hot dog stand and got the most delicious drunk food I’ve ever had (sorry, WaHo). We returned to the house-tel at around 6am and passed out.
We were woken up around 2 hours later when another friend/fraternity brother/Georgia Tech alumnus got to the house. He had just flown in from Seattle and was exhausted. We decided to take a quick nap, so we did, and about five hours later we woke up. After some hungover babble and time wasting, we set about exploring Reykjavik. We were all starving, but we didn’t know where to go. We got some coffee from the equivalent of an Icelandic Starbucks, and collected our hungover selves. We decided to take the recommendation of Reddit and hunted down an absolutely do-not-miss buger place, Vitaburger. We walked up to the restaurant, and it was completely empty. Turns out, the spot is a tourist trap, but we found out a little too late and were starving. We decided to eat anyway and enjoyed a pretty okay meal for a very expensive price. (Iceland is an extremely expensive country to visit, as it turns out.) After our meal, we hiked up a hill to a famous Lutheran Church in Reykjavik. The church looks like a spaceship. It has a massive bell tower and a giant statue of Leif Erickson in front of it.
After exploring the church and enjoying the view of Reykjavik from the bell tower, we headed over to the concert hall. The concert hall is so much fun for architecture nerds like me. Crazy angles, honeycomb patterned windows, and a reflected honeycomb patterned ceiling. We spent way too much time in there because of my little nerd-out. Anyway, after I gave in to my friends’ demands, we left and explored the city a little longer. We saw city hall, the main shopping street, and some very interesting art. We chatted a bit with a couple of locals about things to do in the city, and we found out we pretty much already had it covered. We picked up a few items on our grocery list and headed home, only to go right back out that night.
We decided to try a different end of the strip of bars that night, and were much more pleased with the results. We met a few bikini body builders and were told all about an Icelander who was prominently featured in last week’s episode of Game of Thrones. If you ever wondered where they found The Mountain, Iceland is the place. They are very into weight lifting and body building in that country. They’re very proud of having the World’s Strongest Man three times as well.
The next morning, we met up with the remaining members of our crew (two more Georgia Tech alumni, and one of their girlfriends). The six of us ate brunch, grabbed our walkie talkies (which we had way too much fun playing with), and set off for our first site: Geysir.
Tune in next weekend for part 2 of the trip, featuring more 90s songs, more pictures, and more cities with names you can't pronounce!