First, I am happy to report that on the fourth day here, I finally learned how to take a shower without flooding the bathroom floor. The shower stall in the little bathroom in my apartment has a fixed glass panel on the side closest to the shower head, and then just open space on the other side - no curtain. The whole bathroom is tile, and the shower is about an inch and a half higher than the rest of the bathroom floor, but there's no lip or anything at that open edge of the shower - whatever water doesn't immediately go down the drain eventually rolls right over the edge and out onto the main floor. Now, the main floor also has a drain in the far corner and a bit of a tile "backsplash" that goes up the wall, so it seems designed to get wet, but I find this whole arrangement very disconcerting. I don't WANT the rest of the floor wet when I'm done showering, because then I'm slipping and sliding around while I'm trying to dry off and go through the rest of my routine. The floor is heated from underneath so it dries pretty quickly, but not instantly, and it all depends on how big the shower runoff puddle is.
After three unsuccessful attempts at keeping the floor dry, and a lot of wet towels, I turned to Google. It seems I have happened upon one of the great mysteries of European travel. There are a lot of people talking about this on various travel message boards, and half of them say, "What are you talking about? I've NEVER stayed at a hotel without a proper American-style shower!" The other half say, "Yes, I've seen this before and was completely confused by it too," or "I just threw a towel on the floor over the puddle and let the hotel staff deal with it." I finally found one website that explained that you're supposed to turn the water OFF after each step. Rinse, water off, apply soap to something, rinse, water off, apply soap to something else, etc.
Well, it didn't feel like a very relaxing shower - it felt more like camping - but that worked. I even managed my hair (which I have completely lost control of on this trip anyway, so I had low expectations).
It's raining in Reykjavik today, but so far that means something between "sprinkling" and "sprinkling with purpose" but nothing more. I felt completely ridiculous putting my lightweight rain coat on OVER my North Face fleece-lined coat this morning, but I was both warm and mostly dry even after being out and about in the city for several hours, so fashion be damned.
I finally found the tourist information office, and collected a few brochures. While I was at the information office I picked up a new city guide, as mine was soggy from having it open to the map page while I was triangulating to find the place. I needed a place where I could study the brochures and use the internet to book the rest of my time here, so I walked a few blocks over to the city library. They have fast free wi-fi and lots of places to sit and read or do whatever on a rainy day. Perfect. There were also these characters standing in the corner - no clue what that's about.
I exchanged emails with one of the smaller tour companies, but they aren't running the tour I want to go on tomorrow because they don't have enough people, so I ended up booking it with one of the larger companies. If the number of people is small, hopefully they'll put us on one of the smaller buses anyway. So I'm all set for tomorrow to tour the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. (S-knife-else-ness) It's a longer tour, because the distance you have to travel is farther, but it's supposed to be a nature lover's paradise.
I also booked my transfer to the airport on Friday, by way of The Blue Lagoon, which is where I'll hang out for the day. More on that later.
I had lunch at a place called the Volcano House Cafe. This is a traditional icelandic dish whose name sounds like "plucked fish." The English translation is "fish stew" but that doesn't cover it either. It's hashed white fish, mashed potatoes, some sort of white sauce, topped with cheese and herbs. It's served on a bed of salad, with rye bread and butter. It was pretty good - sort of like a cross between shepherd's pie (but with fish) and a salmon patty (but not browned).
On the way back to my room, I stopped by the little grocery store again, determined to figure out the meat/cheese options so I can make proper sandwiches. The day tours always plan a lunch stop, but I like to carry food with me, as I'm usually hungry long before the planned food stop comes along. I picked up some graham crackers, more bananas, more orange juice, individually wrapped pats of butter for making scrambled eggs, a package of cheese slices (real cheese, not like Kraft singles), and this package of deli meat.
Can you tell what it is? I know it's not ham, because it's not pink enough and those packages had a picture of a pig on them. Keep in mind that my iPhone does not work while I'm out and about unless I find a free wi-fi hot spot, so there's no Google Translate option when I'm standing in the refrigerated meat room at the store. There's a picture of it on a sandwich on the label, which I find comforting. I'll give the answer tomorrow - I looked it up when I got back to my room.
My plan for this afternoon is to lay around and read a book on my Kindle. The weather tomorrow is supposed to be overcast, but less (or no) rain, hooray!