Tag Archives: Icelandic language

Two days in Reykjavík

We made it!

It’s a whole different season here.  We’ve skipped fall and gone straight into early winter.  It’s colder than I expected, and that’s a little alarming, to think how wild the weather might get over the next two months.  Icelanders so far have only winced and made dire comments about cycling at this time of year.  But the Northern Lights should be good.  They’ve already shown.

Day one: after a predictably sleepless, and crowded,  flight over, the usually drab ride from Keflavík to Reykjavík was beautiful in the dawn, with the mist rising from the dry grass and the column of steam over Bláa Lónið.  We wandered around the city, getting groceries, overdosing on sugar at the first bakari we saw, and finding the best value ever on sim cards and the most pleasing cell phone service ever (from Tal), so we are all mobile-ly connected.

Totally demoralized vis-a-vis Icelandic.  So much for enhanced eavesdropping; I can catch scant words per conversation.

After a long nap (I slept through HW reassembling his bike) and on a late search for something to eat we saw our first Northern Lights- a band of green that circled the whole sky, but faded quickly.  We found ourselves gravitating to the things we did first on our last trip, and ended up at Gamla Smiðjan again for exceptional thin crust wood-fired pizza.  Their menu is full of interesting topping choices like cream cheese, peanuts, and bananas.

Sunrise is about 7am and sunset 12 hours later.  Temp +4C.  Not so bad, but coming from uncomfortably hot weather, it´s a contrast.  The locals are still eating plenty of ice cream, and there are still many cute cats out and about.

Day two:  another familiar spot for breakfast (premium waffles at Perlan), another beautifully sunny day.  We took our bikes out unloaded for some sightseeing (the harbour, Hallgrímskirkja, and Einar Jónsonn museum), then discovered that the water slide at Laugardalslaug is for grownups.  In fact, it’s sort of scary, with parts of it blacked out completely and disco lights in other parts.  At 500 kr. admission, Laugardalslaug is officially the best value in town, after the free walking tour of course.  Unfortunately, Toby doesn’t do those free walks after Sep 14.

Finished with the exceptional soup and salad buffet at Kryddlegin Hjörtu, my favorite meal maybe anywhere in Iceland, I think.  Awww, stuffed with good food.

Finally sinking in that we are actually here.  Against all odds, including a few daily odds thrown at us in the last week of traveling.

Simplest of transactions conducted in Icelandic: two.  Conversation by necessity in Icelandic: one.  Times chickened out of attempting Icelandic even though I thought I knew what to say: countless.  Humbled by communicative expertise of barely verbal toddler: once.

After trying to learn their language, I’m just in awe of how well they (nearly all) speak English, which is supposedly not so easy to learn either.  Clearly it will take more than a dedicated year to speak Icelandic half as well as the average Icelander speaks English.  That’s just depressing.

Complete story of my Iceland adventures

Æ, þad mikið um að vera!

I’ve been learning Icelandic.  Rather, now that we’re going, I’m cramming with a vengeance, trying to make up for a year’s procrastination.  Less than three hours a day is nearly no progress, and I’ve spent upwards of six hours (up early/up late) trying to feel like I’m getting somewhere.  It is hard.  It is so hard (and I usually put an obscenity in that sentence), I don’t think I’ve ever done anything more difficult with my brain.  Nothing in school, nothing at work, not even writing websites in HTML in 1991.   It requires such a complete concentration that time just flies, while the subject matter and exercises do NOT.

Icelandic is so different and complex that it makes a passage of Spanish or French look positively relaxing to me now.  After hundreds of hours, no exaggeration, I am probably able to make a sentence as elaborate and clear as I was able to in Spanish on my first day “studying”.  There is a little improvement.  I’ve got a vocabulary learning system that shows me the words I knew last time I checked, and now, and every time I run through my list of words, there are more that have become naturally available to me.  I’m glad for that, at least, because my overall progress is positively slothish. Continue reading Æ, þad mikið um að vera!