Sat Aug 13 2011: Vikings in Reykjavik!
We love fridge magnets! We're in Reykjavik right now, which is in the south-west corner of Iceland
"Why Iceland?!" was usually the first reaction whenever we told people where our next trip would be.
Not: "That sounds fantastic!" or, "I've always wanted to go!"... Also, I like the way people move their head back and their chin disappears into their neck when they ask, "Why Iceland?!?"
We thought that it seems like a cool (literally) place to motorcycle, although I don't really know that much about Iceland other than it's the home of volcanoes and Bjork (who I had a ferocious crush on back in high school) :)
Nobody is up at 8AM on a Saturday morning. In another hour, the downtown starts filling up with tour buses that
unload tourists from all over the world. All the locals are fast asleep from late partying Friday night
Trying to figure out what we're supposed to be staring at...
(aside from the obvious lack of genitalia, of course)
Oh, Art! Where would you be without Paul Simon...?
We arrived at Reykjavik at 7 in the morning, after a 5-hour red-eye flight. I don't sleep well in planes, so the cab ride from the airport to the city centre was spent in a dream state watching the cold waters of the North Atlantic crash on rocky beaches and a moonscape of black volcanic rock covered in sparse, pale green-coloured moss pass by the taxi window like a surreal TV show.
It was 31C in Toronto when we left, however we've shed almost 20 degrees of warmth - down to 11C! - the tans we've worked so hard on all summer are hidden underneath clothing that are more appropriate for a mid-December day back home.
Sleep was not on the itinerary, our hotel room was not yet available until later on in the day, so we grabbed a quick breakfast and headed to Biking Viking to pick up our motorcycles. Yes, Biking Viking. How totally cool is that name!? We met Eythor there, who not only has a proper Viking name, but with his Scandinavian looks, would not look out of place in an episode of Game of Thrones. I could totally picture him swinging a sword (or a fully loaded Givi topcase) at Sean Bean!
Neda is our trip planner for Iceland. She's done a ton of research about the history
of Iceland and all the interesting places to see. I am just hoping to run into Bjork...
Our bikes are a twin-cylinder BMW F650GS and a triple-cylinder Triumph Tiger 800 (not the XC): street bikes with dirt-bike styling. Neda used to ride an earlier version of the F650 with the single cylinder, and felt very familiar with its riding position and maneuverability. So much so that she'd decided that her next bike will probably be a BMW GS of some kind. I was very curious about the new Trumpet. The seating position is GS-like, but the power was a bit lacking. I would love to have tried a Tiger 1050.
Triumph Tiger 800 at the Biking Viking store
Neda can't decide which bike to take out
We took the bikes for a spin around Reykjavik. Fortunately the only difficult part of the city is the spelling. I still can't figure out where to put the Y and the J, because they sound the same! Although it's the largest city in Iceland, it's only the same size/population as St. Catharines. You could ride through the entire breadth of the city in about 15 minutes. Traffic so far is typically Euro-polite and orderly, and we've seen quite a few riders trundling around and posing in the city core. The street names are utterly unpronounceable and unmemorable. All the foreign syllables, accents and umlauts confuse me so much that I can only remember the first three letters of every name I read. You try it: Skólavörðustígur?
Getting used to the bikes while riding around Reykjavik
Posing in front of the Solfar Viking Ship - a well-known (and well-photographed) sculpture on the shores of Reykjavik
Solfar Viking Ship sculpture
Close-up of the Solfar Viking Ship sculpture
In the afternoon, Neda's battery on the GS died, which slightly alarmed me because of our experiences during our last ride through India, but a quick phone call to Eythor and he rode up to meet us and had the battery replaced within the hour. So far so good!
Hallgrimskirkja church is the tallest building in Reykjavik, and it was designed to resemble a melting iceberg. We were told that because of its height, you could use it to orient yourself anywhere in the city. Unfortunately, it didn't work out too well for us:
Neda: Where the heck are we?
Gene: No idea, but that's one really tall church over there...
Kraftfahrzeug Trunkenpolz Mattighofen! KTMs tooling around town. Proper dirt bikes!
We feel so softcore with our dual-sportish streetbikes. Next time we come back, we want do this!
Biking Viking meets Wooden Viking
We spent the day joining the other tourists shopping for fridge magnets in Reykjavik. We encountered a group of activists who were walking around the streets protesting the slaughter of whales. One of them was dressed up as a whale and he was chanting, "Meet me, don't eat me!". LOL! But he got the point across well. Icelanders seem to be very environmentally conscious, it seems that only the tourists are consumers of whale meat. We'll book a whale-watching tour instead. More meeting, less eating. :)
Saegriefinn or Sea Baron: A popular tourist restaurant by the harbour. They served whalemeat here but we didn't have any for political reasons.
We did have the Langostine (Lobster) soup. So fresh and delicious!
Our internal clocks are still a bit messed up and we ended up falling asleep around 8PM. In fact It's actually 3:30AM as I'm typing this out... Long day ahead of us tomorrow.
I like shopping for motorcycle gear everywhere we travel to.