June 29, 2009
Iceland, Day 7: Last Bits of Iceland, Penguins, and Boiled Sheep's Head
It was time to say goodbye to Iceland...starting with the leftovers in our fridge. Some of it was donated by Melkorka a few nights before, but the neglected bottle of orange juice was completely our doing. Oops.
We left behind or threw out everything except for this container of Gunnars mayonnaise. I felt that it was much too charmingly cute and quaint to be destined for the landfill. So now it's sitting on my shelf. Without the mayonnaise, of course. (It's the loveliest container of mayonnaise I've ever seen; if you ever find a nicer one I want you to show it to me, and then we can have a DUEL.)
This was the cafe/coffee shop that we went to just about every day for Greg's morning cup of coffee, but I never got anything from there. I did, however, become well acquainted with its Bible-themed wares.
GOD, WHAT IS UP WITH THESE AWESOME MURALS? One moment you're just dawdling about and then something like this shoots into your view. The poem reads:
Just look at how the mountains
so very mighty be
shart as razors at the top they span the land + sea
but don't forget that though majestic spires capped with snow
From each and every single grain of sand is where they grow
I'm quite fond of the fuzzy orange mound with stick legs and nobbly horns. Besides the shimmering mountaintop.
We quickly stopped into Sandholt (previously visited on day 5) where I picked up a danish for the road and a scoop of their Earl Grey ice cream with little crunchy chocolate bits. The texture was very smooth, creamy, and not airy, although it tasted (deceptively) light. Overall, it was excellent—think of the sort of ice cream you might get at a upscale restaurant, but conveniently made at the same place that also churns out shelves of irresistible pastries.
And then, one of the best parts of our trip happened during out last moments in Reykjavik. Aside from seeing some of the First Day of Summer celebrations, we also came upon Dead Week, the period before high school students take their final exams for graduation. How do they celebrate?
By dressing up in costumes and taking to the streets while shouting the names of their favorite football players (among other things that we couldn't understand) and wielding cans of beer (keep in mind this was happening before noon). Most of the costumes we saw were Cookie Monsters and penguins, but there were some other ones dabbled in there. Not many others though; there were just a few main groups, which made us wonder where the hell they got all these costumes. Does the school provide them? How many costume suppliers are there in Iceland anyway?
It would've been fun to join in the festivities, but we had all left our full-body penguin suits at home. Oops. If you visit Reykjavik around the First Day of Summer, be sure to pack your own costume.
I got my photos with some rowdy penguin-men.
As did Diana. :)
We got our tax refunds at the tourist center in Reykjavik. It's all good as long as you put it in the right box at the airport (or you could just do it all at the airport, but we wanted to get it done ahead of time).
For lunch, we drove to the bus station to eat at their cafeteria, Fljótt og Gott, for the sole purpose of getting...
Sheep's head. But without the hat. Or the eyes. Or the grin. And not 2-D.
Ah...you see where this is going?
Yup, that's more like it. For 1400 kroner (about $11) the bisected singed and boiled sheep's head ("svid" in Icelandic) comes with scoops of mashed potato and mashed turnip.
Here's another photo featuring Greg. Because we love him.
While having a nice chat with one of the employees, he told us how to eat the head: you've got the cheek meat, and the tongue, and...the...um, yeah. There's not much between the skin and the bone. Anything aside from the cheek meat and tongue is just flavorless skin (it's not seasoned). Icelanders don't eat the brain, as far as I know. It only takes about a minute to eat the parts worth eating.
The best part was easily the tongue. Unfortunately, by this point I forget what it tasted like. Tender and meaty? Yeah! Duh. I also like beef tongue; there's nothing odd about it. But I hate duck tongue; it taste like the globby bits of chicken fat that make me gag, made even worse by a core of bone. So it's a hard, inedible chip covered in vomitous meat. Eff. That. Eddie Lin knows what I'm talking about.
The sheep's head wasn't bad. Nothing particularly great or offensive. It's just the way it's served that's atypical. Aforementioned employee told us that back when Iceland was dirt poor kids would repurpose the bones as toys. Those were some creative kids.
There's plenty of other stuff to choose from if you don't want to stick your fork into a sheep's skull. Diana went for the buffet/salad bar-type thing, which also came with soup.
And there are cold salad things. (The photo was taken in a mirror. In case that looks confusing.)
Here's part of the food section, for example. So spacious and clean.
And a wall of skyr. Beautiful skyr.
And Icelandic chocolate treats.
And a few random things I felt were worthy of taking a photo of...
Pylsusinnep, aka Icelandic hot dog mustard! How awesome is that running hot dog dude? I bought a bottle that I have yet to use. Maybe I'll get to break it out for the Independence Day weekend.
CRONIONS! I love these things for two reasons: They're delicious fried-to-a-crisp bits of onion, and they're called CRONIONS. This is what contributed to the awesomeness of Icelandic hot dogs. I brought a pack back home and sprinkled it on pretty much anything I cooked, which mostly entailed "rice" and "vegetables." It made everything taste 500% better—maybe even 550%. Thankfully, my local Whole Foods sells it (not under the name Cronions though; it's a Danish brand) so now I will NEVER BE WITHOUT MY CRONIONY GOODNESS.
Is it ketchup? I didn't try it.
DING. PONG. !
On the way to the airport we passed the Gunnar's mayonnaise factory! Holy shizz! My excitement was so great that Greg whipped the car around into the factory's parking lot so I could get a closer look.
And there it is. I'd hang that in my room.
I was relieved when, after making a wrong turn into the residential area of Keflavik and refilling our gas tank, we finally got to Keflavik Airport. Mostly because I really had to pee.
So I did. And all was good with the world.
Greg wasn't allowed to take his container of skyr past the security checkpoint, but he was allowed to eat it before leaving the checkpoint. Here he is enjoying his last taste of skyr on Icelandic soil.
Diana plopped our tax refund envelopes into the little tax refund box. This could be you!
While we were waiting on the jet bridge to board the plane, we realized, "SHIT WE DON'T HAVE A PHOTO OF THE THREE OF US." So we took this final self-portrait. Although we look happy, we're actually dying on the inside because we don't want to go home. Writhing. Pain. We mask it well.
When I was subjected to buying a sandwich (BBQ pork with cheese) on the airplane, I really, really wished I had bough a sandwich from Hlölla Bátar. Let that be a lesson to the rest of you: pack a sandwich on your carry-on!
And that's the end of this hopefully educational / entertaining / Icelandic tourism-generating journey. We made it. It only took two freakin' months.
Posted by roboppy at 3:09 AM