The land of fire and ice / by vanessa

Welp, there goes my airbnb rating. Whoever (me) tells you it's a good idea to bring a toddler to a place where the sun does not go away is lying. We are going on our third straight night where he is not only up at 2:30 a.m. but he's either a) using wooden puzzle boxes as floor toms or b) screaming. I swear he's never like this. Today I set out to head to the health food store here in Reykjavik, conveniently located at the end of our block. My mission was simple: find a semi-natural way to knock this child out. I hit a parenting low last night at about the same time (5 a.m.) that he was taking decorative rocks that were perched on a shelf and throwing them one by one on the floor. In Reykjavik most things close by 6 p.m. so I left at 2, allowing myself plenty of time. Unfortunately, it turns out that most things are also closed on Sunday, which I would have known had I been able to read Icelandic.

Reykjavik at 2 a.m.
Reykjavik at 2 a.m.

My son is about to turn two in August. This is a significant because it marks a time that we will have to buy another seat on the plane. So in June we booked a last hoorah as it were, electing for a vacation of vowels: Iceland, Amsterdam and Antwerp. I wanted to go to places I hadn't been before (Iceland, Belgium), and Ryan wanted to go someplace where he knew someone (Amsterdam). In retrospect, our money would have been better spent in Bali or wherever they have a Disney resort where a stranger can watch your kid while you nap for the first time since pregnancy. This will be my life until about 2025.

I know I deserve a giant eyeroll. These are first world problems and I'm incredibly fortunate to be able to travel at all. What I'm experiencing now, and have been over the last two-plus years, is the ever-evolving surprise of adjusting to a new life, one in which I find myself a parent and unable to do things like drink through the entire first day of vacation to get a leg up on jetlag. I should get it by now, but remnants remain.

Anyway, I can't really complain. Here are some things that have gone right:

  • We arrived at 6:30 on Friday morning and getting off the plane we saw Flavor Flav, Chuck D and, separately, Iggy Pop. This wasn't so much "right" as it was weird. You can take the family out of LA, but...
  • Many people will tell you to visit the Blue Lagoon while in Iceland. I nailed that reservation. I booked us at the hot springs at 8 a.m., immediately from the airport. The Blue Lagoon gets more visitors annually than total inhabitants in Iceland so to say it's a hot spot (bahaha) is an understatement. We spent over an hour soaking in the healing waters, with only a handful of other visitors, followed by banana skyr drinks and green smoothies. By the time we left we were totally rejuvenated after 11 hours of traveling. We also felt pretty smug, since we passed easily 10 times as many tourists waiting for entry on our way out. Suckas.
  • The Icelandic Opera, apparently called Harpa. It's STUNNING. Seriously, go here and stare at it any time of the day, since remember, it's basically day all the time in summer.
  • Chili lattes! How is this not a thing in the states? It's chili-infused simple syrup in a latte. Need.
  • Ryan and I have a beer at dinner! This is fun since Ryan doesn't even really drink, much less like beer, but he's been humoring me and feels very European. Because Jonah apes everything we do, we've worked out this great trick where we have the bartender pour apple juice mixed with a little club soda into a beer glass and they serve us all three drinks at once. I suppose when Jonah's older he'll read through these and know that I've been lying to him for the greater good.
  • I exploited tiny fish today and went to the fishspa. Seriously, look it up because I can't describe it to you without grossing myself out. Anyway, I sat down at the edge of a tank and hyperventilated as hundreds of minnow-like creatures immediately swarmed around my feet. I'm not even exaggerating--I full on freaked-the-eff-out, scaring the young Icelandic receptionist who didn't know exactly what to do with me. Swear to god ujayii breath saved my life. And now my feet are hella smooth.
  • Lobster! It's cheap and bountiful! Or, cheaper than I expected. There is nothing that will prepare you for how expensive it is here. It's one of those things where everyone warns you before you go, "It's really expensive," and you think, "Like, what, $5 for a Coke? I don't even drink Coke, ha!" It's more like a bag of groceries at the Ten-Eleven (named, incidentally, since it's open 'til 11 p.m. despite signage which states 24/7) is $80. Anyway, we had delicious lobster pizza tonight for about $20 and tomorrow we're going to a dive for lobster soup (thanks, Renee, Niki!).
  • There's something primordially cool about walking on the ground where the North American and Eurasian plates meet. Tectonic plates! I stand on them every day in LA, but I don't know... to be situated in between two makes me think I could take one too many steps to the left and wind up sucked into the earth. How's that for feelin' alive?

Which reminds me, I should try and force sleep. We're headed off the Golden Circle in the morning.