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iceland.1

Wednesday, 6 November, 2013

Reykjavik, Iceland

This time around, I’m doing a month’s worth of Europe with Amy.

Amy’s trip of the continent actually started in England, where I showed her the best of our wonderful country; you know, the obvious places – Elland Road, Wetherspoons, Greggs etc. However, we all already know about Britain’s greatest attractions, so I won’t bother elaborating further.

Next stop, and current location, is Iceland – home of the puffin. I actually have a lot of history with the puffin, and in many ways, it is the reason I am so big and strong today.

You see, to me a puffin is not a bird, but instead a snide version of the very popular chocolate bar, Penguin. The puffin would occupy a quarter of my lunchbox, five days a week, throughout my early teens. My buddies would be eating something highly acceptable and desired, such as a Wagon Wheel, or dare I say it, a legitimate Penguin, and there I was mouth practically inside the lunchbox so that nobody could see what I was munching on.

The Puffin bar snatched away both the innocence and the optimism of a young boy and replaced it with a strong dose of cynicism. Mum, I will always love you for the budget pack up because I was forced to learn how to be tough from a young age and that’s an important trait to acquire sooner rather than later. However, when you’re too old to nip to the supermarket by yourself, you’re fully aware of which chocolate bars you’ll be getting from me, right?

Now since jumping on the travel roller-coaster of life (or some other hippie mumbo jumbo that would anger the wonderful taxpaying, hardworking writers of the Daily Mail), I’ve tried to be careful in avoiding all the tourist hotspots, and I had no desire to change that policy for this trip. So, on day one, we decided to kick start things with a trip to the doctors. Not the usual beaten track of the predictable traveller, wouldn’t you agree?

The doctors wasn’t actually planned, obviously. Amy felt unwell, thus, a visit to the GP was required. I won’t say that she was inconsiderate, because I guess she didn’t choose to be sick – but, we did only have a week in Iceland, I mean, you can be ill anytime.

Thankfully, her medicine has healed her now; so don’t worry about me, my trip got better. Although, she, as a consequence, is currently much poorer due to a lack of travel insurance – hopefully she learns her lesson, and gets sick on working days like smart people do.

The bloke we saw blew my mind. He was dressed like a professional, as any doctor should – hair combed neatly, tie on point, shoes gleaming like they had just been shined ten minutes ago. Therefore, it came as even more of a surprise when he just blurted out, “So, have you been pissing and shitting regularly?”

I guess they just skip straight past ‘urinate’ and ‘defecate’ in an Icelandic English class.

I was shocked, but also intrigued to see what other naughty words he had lined up. After all, it is not every day you get to hear a doctor swear – I spent the rest of the appointment just hoping for a follow up; you know, just something along the lines of, “Twat and arsehole both working as usual?”

I liked him a lot – he sorted Amy out with the required medicine and offered me an unexpected line to chuckle over, and then write about. So, in many ways, our trip to the doctors was worthwhile.

Although, from our personal experience, Icelandic people just don’t seem to care much for censoring thoughts. For instance, when ordering our meals part way through a tour of the south, the guide turned to a woman whose request wasn’t overly straightforward, chuckled to himself and then said, “You don’t eat meat. You don’t drink. Do you have sex?”

Was he chatting her up? Was he making a joke, that in his mind, she didn’t like all the great things in life? It’s hard to say. One thing was certain though, nobody really knew how to respond. It’s just not a normal question or joke, is it? It’s the equivalent of a doctor swearing at a patient – imagine that. Surprisingly, she never clarified on her bedtime activities.

Tour guides can generally be pretty weird, or quirky, when it comes to a guided tour here. They provide interesting facts, but then throw a whole load of Nordic mythology into the pan too – usually offering something along the lines of, “… And if you look to your left, you will see a mountain that was formed in the Ice Age, it is 253 meters high and is the home of Emelia the troll, she is feared by all men and starts eating people as soon as the sun goes down.”

All right then.

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While at the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa located in a lava field, I experienced my own version of social awkwardness – with a tight schedule we squeezed two trips into one day, only bad weather delayed the first trip’s return. Essentially meaning that I had no time to go back to the hostel and get my swimming shorts.

There is an obviously problem when it comes to visiting a giant pool without swimming shorts, and sadly, our ticket had already been bought and paid for. Should I just wear my boxers? I’m not sure adults can get away with that tactic. I was screwed. I guess a swimming costume really is essential for public swimming, huh?

When we arrived we noticed that they had a souvenir shop, we were saved! Or, so we thought. The cheapest pair of shorts in there were forty quid. They’ve lost their mind, haven’t they? Who is paying that for swimming gear? I’d rather stand on the side, fully clothed, and look like a creepy pervert than pay that much for a dip in the pool.

We then explained our situation at the entrance, and they offered us the option of renting costumes. Now, I’m all for renting a rain jacket or even a pair of hiking boots; but jumping into the holiday home for various men’s genitals wasn’t quite so appealing.

However, they informed us that it would only cost four pounds – ten times less than buying a pair – thus, I decided that I needed to stop being a prude and just share a previous man’s space. I imagine psyching yourself up to rent a pair of swimming shorts is much like chatting up Katie Price in a bar.

So, after agreeing to the staff’s less than ideal proposal, I was met with concern number two. What would they look like – oh please, Lord, not tight trunks. I simply don’t have the body for it, and even if I did, I’d feel like a complete tit! Thankfully, they came back with shorts.

Sure, they had the words ‘FOR RENT ONLY’ branded across the front in huge letters, but, they weren’t tight trunks, so for that reason I will forever be grateful.

Plus the swimming area was luxury, so I quickly forgot all about my silly shorts anyway.

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