Finding the consulate

Today I woke up with a mission. I knew there was an official immigration building in the capital area, and I wanted to find it and scope it out. The chances of getting anything done without a long-in-advance appointment were almost none, but I felt like physically locating the place was important.

The building is called The Directorate Of Immigration, and it’s at Dalvegur 18, 201 Kópavogur, Iceland. Most of the time they’re open for just five hours a day, from 9:00am to 2:00pm, on weekdays.

But first, breakfast! I marched my bags down to the basement and snuck my bike out through the back door, then picked a bakery at random and scored me a cheese croissant, which I ate while wandering around.

Snacks for the snacking.

Even more snacks, waiting nearby in case you snack the first snacks and still want snacks.

Nice to see that delightful cathedral again, the Hallgrimskirkja. I didn’t think I’d be seeing it a second time in my life. This time I poked around inside.

Personally I think the place could do with some stained glass, but I'm a tasteless American.

Saint Whatshisfacesson.

Very stylish!

I’ve never been a religious person, and I have some complaints about Christianity in particular, so I always feel a bit like an invader when I visit a place like this, as though other people might be able to see my lack of devotion just by reading my expression or posture.

This particular cathedral is also very open and illuminated, which makes me feel a bit vulnerable. Still quite marvelous, of course. But I wonder, how does this reflect on Icelanders? Do they enjoy the stark illumination because they feel relatively little shame or guilt? Does the confession booth get much use? (Actually, I didn’t even see one.) I know they certainly worry a lot, but that’s not the same thing…

Another recumbent tourist? AWESOME.

Back on the street, one block down, I spotted another recumbent! No sign of the rider, though. I wanted to leave a little note, like “Hey nice bike!” but I didn’t have any paper, and besides it would have just creeped them out.

I set out for The Directorate of Immigration on a meandering path, snapping photos and listening to a podcast.

Dude! I played that game as a kid!
Is that kid smoking?
It's bicycle-themed. Therefore I love it.
Dancers and jazz musicians!
Church of Filadelfia??
A sign I can get behind!
This is how the bouncy labyrinth got to Iceland. And it probably made the journey in the hold of that ferry boat on the East coast.

I did eventually find the directorate.

This is what the Directorate of Immigration looks like. They don't make it easy to find.

As I expected, it was appointment-only, but the signs posted outside were informative.

It turns out you can go through the entire visa application process by mail, and you only need to send one package, assuming it has all the correct paperwork inside. You can drop that package off directly at a government office, and there are several to choose from around Iceland. For example, there’s one on the East coast, just over the mountain from Seydisfjordur, called the Sýslumaðurinn á Austurlandi.

With this knowledge in hand, I decided I was going to prepare a visa extension application and submit it on the East coast, after crossing the country. That would give me the maximum time, since the extension can only be granted for the interval of time starting immediately after the application is sent.

From there I rode halfway back to Reykjavík and chomped lunch at a Vietnamese place. It wasn’t great, but it was great for Iceland. I debugged code on the laptop and read up on visa requirements. Then I rode to a nearby copy shop and confirmed they could print stuff from a USB stick. That would be important for putting the application together, which I wanted to do before leaving the capital area. I knew what Iceland was like and I didn’t want to have my plans derailed two months later because I couldn’t find a working printer anywhere for 100 miles.

I rode the rest of the way back to the AirBnB and then detoured to a fancy cafe around the corner.  Their power sockets didn’t work, but I had a decent chunk of battery time.  I attempted to fix an API error for work but made little progress. At the table to my left, three teenage girls were blathering in Icelandic, which sounded like cheerful gibberish to me with English phrases thrown in like, “Yo what the fuck?” and “Aaaanyway”. I had to suppress a grin once or twice.

Later on, at the table to my right, I listened to four girls with American accents, messing with sketchbooks and talking about how cool it is to be staying in Iceland, compared to being “back in the ‘States”.  “There’s just something about this place,” one of them said, a bit breathlessly. “I can’t even define it, but I really like what it is.”

I wanted to turn in my seat and say:  “That thing you sense but don’t know how to describe? That’s what we folks from Oakland would call ‘white privilege’.  You are deeply submerged in it here, at the intersection of Christianity and shipping lanes, far from malaria, racial tension, parasites, and war. Enjoy the fact that – like me – you fit in here without question, despite not knowing a word of the native language.”

It would not have been a helpful thing to say, I know. Not the right context…

I rode back to the house and stowed the bike without trouble, by going through the back door.  I’m learning fast! Straight to my room, and I set up my folding chair, and kept writing code until my work conference.

I also gathered my visa notes together into a useful summary. (As follows.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *