reykjavik, anyone?

i've just returned from a trip to reykjavik, iceland with pictures that i hope will do the place justice. two important points, though: it was my first trip and i didn't stay nearly as long as i wanted to (a little over a week in june). that said, our trip begins in san francisco, a mere four days after completing my second aids ride and amid a very real feeling of postpartum ride depression. it's typical to feel intense nostalgia for lifecycle after it's over, and my thought was that traveling to a place i've never been would be just the ticket. so off i flew to the northernmost part of europe with my incredibly fun friend, julie, in tow. we stopped off in boston for a short layover, a drink, the sketchiest lunch ever, and a bit of immature running around the airport, and then we were up in the air again. i felt exhausted in this really confused way by the time we were over greenland, and looking out the window into the clear, crisp daylight one only experiences in the stratosphere, it occurred to me it was 12:00 AM. the "midnight in the sun" thing, while scientifically fascinating, proved to be a theme i'd have trouble getting used to while in iceland.

nightime over reykjavik.

julie'd arranged for a "cab" to pick us up from the airport. in reality, it was a bright blue mercedes bus of some kind driven by an equally as colorful local guy who told us lots of stories about iceland, his daughter in school in the states, the weather and the economy. and all in the 45 minutes it took us to get to our hotel, a room with a view, which turned out to be bonkers for the price. fancy, sweet, and right in the heart of the city, too. the furniture, like the architecture, we'd find, is quite modern, and quite... unique to iceland. i mean, what the hell IS this?

there was a lot of walking around and quite a lot more eating. i quickly decided prikið was my favorite place, both for coffee and breakfast. the bar itself has multiple personalities. it's cozy inside, with two booths and one (maybe two) tables. each time i was there they were playing american soul music. and the good stuff, too: tina turner's
i can't stand the rain, al green's love and happiness, etc. all of which julie and i sang aloud with (and possibly chair danced to). the breakfast menu ranges from cereal, or a delicious bagel with skyr (icelandic strained cheese) to the "hangover killer," which consists of a "hangover sandwich" a "bruce willis" milkshake with jack daniel's and a painkiller tablet. and at night the whole thing morphs into the place to be for hip-hop. awesome.


americano (what else)?

reykjavik is known for its architecture and art, and as i took it all in, it was pretty obvious why that is. there are many features and landmarks worth visiting, such as the hallgrimskirkja, a lutheran cathedral designed by state architect guðjón samúelsson, which i thought was super-impressive and very nordic looking.

so nordic.

i have a lot of other shots from just walking around. the city of reykjavik itself is very charming and cute, and the museums were all beautiful. and free! there's a lot of street art, art-art, performance art, and otherwise. the locals were out in their shops and everywhere, and i became more inspired everytime i saw something or met someone. highlight: i met gaga skorrdal in her store and she tried to convince me that not only did the multi-textured pulled-wool "whale" cap she placed on my head look beautiful, but that i should buy it immediately. i have no idea why we didn't take a picture of that interaction, because the hat was very, very cool. just not my scene. gaga is charming in person, and i'll be sure to visit her when i go back to iceland.

inside the photography museum.


gaga's shop and gallery.

in the middle of the week we took a rented car through the haukadalur valley to geysir and gullfoss. the valley is some of the most beautiful and geologically active land i've ever seen.


"capri-sonne": driving to geysir.


we took a puffin watching boat tour as well, during which the captain of the sightseeing vessel convinced me it'd be a bad idea to actually eat a puffin, despite my insistence that it was featured on menus all over the city. apparently only tourists do that, and i think julie was relieved to hear i'd given up on the idea. a lot of the restaurants in the central part of reykjavik were selling whale, as well. i'm not convinced the locals eat whale either, but i'd have abstained anyway. i'm pretty sure eating a whale is like eating a person.

too cute to eat. seriously.

puffins aren't so graceful in the air, but the landscape makes up for them.

bláa lónið, or "blue lagoon" in grindavik was easily the highlight of the trip. if you haven't been to iceland before and you do nothing else, do this. blue lagoon consists of the super-clean silica and sulfur rich runoff from a geothermal power plant called svartsengi. it's a supernaturally blue pool of water the color of hpnotiq, with a giant natural steam vent right in the middle of it that boils over frequently and adds more warmth to the already naturally 104 degree water. it's like nothing you've ever seen before, and your skin will feel amazing when you're out. also, they serve beer at the edge of the water, so if you can drag yourself along the lava rock to the bar, i recommend a nice, cold viking.

this. was awesome.

steamed europeans.

every harbor city has a harbor "walk" of some sort, and reykjavik is no exception. there's a lot of construction going on at the moment as they complete the concert hall there, but we were still able to see "solfar", the semi-abstract viking ship sculpture by jón gunnar arnason, which is really pretty much magical on a clear day.


we stopped in toronto on the way back to san francisco and holy-crap-it-was-pride! so, grumpy but somehow still motivated, we rented the tiniest kia ever and proceeded to cram a weekend of drinking and dancing into a short, thirteen hour layover. highlights: a drag show featuring all concepts of gender, the pet shop boys, julie being attacked by a gigantic makeout bandit, and me getting "married" to a drunken gayboy who wouldn't tell me his name (so i called him "amir"). we were surrounded by beautiful people, but managed to attract the trashiest girls ever. the bonus was that their idea of buying us drinks was to bring over whole pitchers of beer. each. i actually, really, honest-to-goodnessly made a new pen-pal friend from norway, too. at some point we ate the worst thai food ever thrown together. dear french-canadian boys: you're gorgeous, but no one is allowed to put peanut butter in pineapple fried rice. thanks. after the bars closed, we drove to the hilton "because it's fancy" singing mister mister's book of love with interpretive spirit fingers and everything, and promptly fell asleep in the parking lot (but not before turning on the seat warmers). all true. so fun.

i have tons of other pictures at the link below,
so if you enjoyed the highlights, check them out:

click me! click me! click me!


aids/lifecycle nine.

me and awesome annette on red dress day.


yet another amazing experience over and done, but a thing i still struggle to describe. it's so hard to translate all of the feelings we walk away with to our friends and families who weren't there. i can say that we all jump in for different reasons, and those reasons may bend and change from year to year. the ride itself becomes a whole community of people doing this good thing, and for seven days of pain, triumph, and mind-blowing hard work, all we know is each other. we eat together, sleep together, and encourage each other through the most beautiful landscapes one minute and the most difficult challenges the next. i've made great friends and i feel like i change a little more each time for the better from that part alone. we get to do this wonderful thing together and experience all of that enrichment, and then we get to be real heroes too; to each other, and to anyone touched by the AIDS epidemic. it's awesome.

i'm already signed up for next year's ride. bring it on, year three!