I flew from NC to Boston and then overnight to Reykjavik. Having little international travel experience (and none to Europe) I was surprised by the elegance of our stewardesses in their skirt suits and pill box hats, and the care afforded each passenger. Unfortunately, the man across the aisle from my seat decided to not wear shoes and eat a bag of potato chips for what felt like four straight hours. Ha! Awake at midnight and the window was completely dark, awake at 1:30 and impossibly the sky was the palest pink and blue, rising above the clouds. Awake again at 2 (really, 7:00 AM) and suddenly we went from what looked like a storm cloud to being on the ground in Iceland.
It is a strange thing to travel alone to a new place. You are constantly taking in new information, seeing everything, observing everything in case you need to get back to it later. It makes you tired, but it also heightens everything. The small joys cause you to smile. You feel extra grateful for a kind bus driver and the smile from your barista when you leave probably too big of a tip (conversion rate be damned).
Two buses, a big terminal and one heel flap later, I arrived at my guesthouse. I had never been more grateful for a nap at 8:30 AM. The bells of Hallgrimskirkja chimed outside my window as I drifted to sleep.
The whole first day in Reykjavik is a cold, wet, wonderful blur. It rained off and on in chilly bursts, and I zigzagged through the streets, walking everywhere and avoiding open spaces where the wind whipped fiercest. I ate my first Icelandic hot dog under a little awning near the stand, bought some fun items at the Flying Tiger (thanks for the recommendation, Kemper!). puzzled and admired for a solid half-hour at the Handknitting Association of Iceland. I braved the bus (quite easy, as it turned out) to and from Storkurinn, a delightful yarn store that felt like home. I ended the day at Resto and enjoyed the most delicious fish soup with extra helpings of crusty bread.
Reykjavik is a comparatively small city even by my small city standards, and it feels very trendy and nostalgic to me all at once. Walking around, you get the sense of progress and vibrancy without the feelings of overwhelming busyness. It was really nice.
I learn to recognize, spending an entire day alone, that I like my own company. That I can order a beer at a pub and eat some Icelandic pancakes and not feel out of place, or really lonely. It is a grand thing to know that you like you.
I met a few of my fellow travellers that evening when they came by to say hello, and I could barely sleep from excitement over getting to see so much more beyond what I had already seen in a day. The next day, we would head to the countryside!