Night Exploration In Reykjavik

A summer night in Reykjavik is night in name only. It’s more like the city is a giant 24-hour restaurant, and the management is dimming the lights to remind people they need to go home and sleep at some point. Of course, you’re free to ignore the suggestion and go strolling around.

On day three of my Reykjavik residence I noticed that almost all my exploration was in the downtown area, so I tried to branch out. I had been planted in a coffee shop all day, with a laptop and a mocha, like an art installation called “Nerd On Vacation,” and the day had vanished in one of those mental editing tricks that introspective people can play on themselves. I found myself outside at 11:00pm with too much energy and no more coffee shops. So I rode over to Tjörnin pond. I couldn’t pronounce it but I could still appreciate it.

Maybe it's a statement about the youth of today or something?

All kinds of interesting themes I could pull out of this sculpture. But the real question is: Does it impress the ducks?

Naptime for ducks!

No, the ducks are not impressed. Then seem to prefer the mermaid.

My favorite part of this photo is the ducks cuddled up to the mermaid.

Birds can really ruin your look.

A similar statue was placed on the shore about 25 meters away, but was curiously free of bird crap. Maybe it’s too hard to stand on.

One of my favorite spots to visit was the church in the city center, which was good because when I ride around randomly I tend to choose uphill more than downhill, and I found myself accidentally returning to it five or six times.

The church is the tallest building in the entire country. There’s probably a law on the books saying it has to stay that way. The sculpture is quite dramatic. A little too dramatic, perhaps…

Dang, what time is it? If only I could lean back just a little more...

“What, go to church? WHO’S GOT THE TIME? … The church does? Well that’s not fair!!”

“Sailed here, built this church on this rock, froze to death 19 times, screw it I’m going to Tahiti.”

“Built this city on rock and roll / Frozen wasteland took its toll / Goats and plunder are my scene / Didn’t tan but did turn green.”

The sunset colors around the church were astonishing. I hauled out the tripod for some HDR-style shenanigans.

While I was out and about I noticed a shift in the population. The crowds reduced, but they also turned younger and even more touristy than before. I saw small groups of people talking loudly and moving with purpose: Pub crawlers! Same as everywhere on the planet.

While I was taking pictures of the church a group of seven Germans walked over to me and surrounded me and my bike in a ring. My Oakland alarm sirens began blaring on high alert: “DANGER! LOCATE A WEAPON AND LOOK FOR EXITS!” … but I suppressed them. In Iceland, this kind of situation probably doesn’t mean the same as back home. Probably. On the other hand, intoxicated people can make poor decisions no matter where they are…

I decided to start out friendly. I reasoned that if they were looking for trouble, or wanted to prey on a vulnerable tourist, they would not have chosen me — especially when I’m dressed in my full riding gear and standing next to a bike loaded with who-knows-what kind of supplies. I could be some kind of “Crocodile Dundee” world explorer with an ugly knife in my saddle bag and a habit of using it casually.

“Wow, that is an amazing bicycle!” “What’s it called?” “How do you ride it?”

Ah, okay, it’s the usual thing. I answered their barrage of excited questions, explaining what a recumbent bike was and the different kinds. One big guy in particular said, “I have to get one of these! But I don’t know, maybe I can’t ride it?”

“Well, a lot of the time I let people do test-rides!” I said. “But I don’t think you should try because it takes a lot of balance and you might crash. Tell you what; you can try sitting down on it. I’ll hold it up.”

He hesitated, looked around at his friends, and then bellowed “Yes! I will do it!” as if they had just asked him to arm-wrestle the biggest guy in the pub, and he was committed to the disaster. He then turned to the man on his left and actually followed up with: “Hold my beer.”

I moved the handlebars forward and he stepped over the seat, then sat down while I held the brake. “Now put your foot on the pedal there, see?” I said. He wobbled a bit, then got his other leg up and he was in the riding position. His friends let out a cheer.

“Wow! This is so comfy! The back support — like an easy chair. If this isn’t from America, it should be!”

I laughed. He wobbled a little bit more, then got his legs back down and stood up. His friend gave him back his beer: Mission accomplished. We chatted a bit more and the circle broke up, then I climbed aboard and rode to another part of the square — partly because I knew they would want to see how I ride the bike, and partly because I wanted to get away. They were friendly but it was still just too uncomfortable being surrounded like that.

Now that's how you label a pack of cigarettes.

Late night munchies? THE VÖFFLUVAGNINN has you covered! Whoops, I spoke to soon; it’s closed.

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