Iceland: The Truck Stop to Europe
Iceland Air apparently thinks that insanity is the reason people choose one country over another. Their ad campaign was specifically designed to glaze over a desirable feature of their home country in order to emphasize an inversely terrifying other feature. For example, one ad read “Iceland isn’t just known for it’s beautiful fjords and use of clean energy, but also for the fact that over 50 percent of the population believes in elves.”
Oh thank God. When we land, there’s a 50 percent chance our cab driver will swerve to avoid tiny, imaginary people. Or a blonde Orlando Bloom, depending on your interpretation of the word “elves.”
Elves did not seem to be a problem for our first cab driver Olek, but neither was the job description “cab driver.” “Hotel Keflavic,” I told him. He stares blankly. “I do not know where that is.”
A few things to note here: Hotel Keflavic is a big hotel in, imagine this, the city of Keflavic. Keflavic rests about a mile and a half from the airport. The airport at which Olek is parked. And, also, Olek is a goddamn cab driver. He seemed excited to show us that Hotel Keflavic came up on his GPS. I suspect Olek’s apartment doesn’t have running water.
Olek was born in Siberia, and *mumble mumble something about the fall of communism in Russia now living in Iceland unlike his friends who all went to Germany and Spain and whatnot*. Whatever, buddy, we all have problems.
In all honesty, Olek exuded that wonderful anti-pessimism present only in eastern Europeans. You know, that thing where they create optimism by first making the world seem like it’s utter shit. “Hey, I grew up in communist Russia where bread was rationed, so having even a broken car is good news!” Ok, he didn’t say that directly, but he did miss a turn and had trouble putting the car in reverse. (“Whenever it rains–*mumble mumble, something about communist Russia and a sticky shifter, followed by a big smile*.”)
Of course, we drove to Keflavic in the first place because we’re (i.e. I’m) an idiots. Our idea was to go to the famed “Blue Lagoons.” You know, lounge around in tepid water between flights. But because we’re cheapasses, (and we had TEN HOURS between flights), I made the bold decision to go to the nearest city. “It’s a city” I thought, “there’s got to be something.”
Before noon on a weekday, Iceland’s belief in elves is apparently the only interesting thing for visitors to witness. I now understand the challenges facing their poor tourism bureau.
So we ended up walking, one of us without a Jacket, through a rainy 50-degree day. Everything from the food to the beer was passable, absolutely nothing exceptional. Had we been sitting in volcanically-heated waters, I might have a different post. But we’re not—even the tourism office was pretty apathetic. Everything we need to experience about Iceland within 10 hours was located right in the airport.