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May 27, Day 11, Reykjavik - Galleries, Hot Dogs & Perlan

My travel mates decided to stay up and out all night and then go fishing on a boat today.

I decided to use the unplanned but much needed solo time to wander the city and be a tourist.

Iceland Day 11-4

I checked out the Art Gallery which was housed in one of the most beautiful gallery buildings I'd ever seen. I think it was a former prison with an open-air courtyard and beautiful natural-light filled hallways. Then the photography museum in which a talk was happening about photography and art - and whether photography can be considered art. At least that's what I'm told since it was in Icelandic. Even in the middle of a weekday the auditorium was filled with people coming from work to hear the talk. Wished I knew some Iclenadic in that moment.

Tonnes of public art in the city. Murals, galleries, sculpture (they're really big on sculpture) and beautiful architecture. That photo above is the new city hall - reflecting the old city hall.

Visited several other smaller galleries, city hall, and took in the "Free City Walking Tour". The tour was an unexpected highlight of this trip. We really hadn't done anything like it yet in the country - just listening and learning. That's what I usually try and do in countries - talk to the people who live there. It was refreshing. The tour was quite politically slanted and done by an ex-pat hippie artist who moved back from Canada shortly before the economic crash.

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Learned lots about the history and the people of the city. Things like that grave sites are only protected for 100 years until they become public property. That 50% of the population is bankrupt, but that number would be closer to 80% if people valued their houses for what they're really worth. That, prior to the crash, people were borrowing money to buy stocks. People are leaving Iceland now, if they can. I also learned where to buy cheap stuff, have dinner and where the North66 Outlet is. Also learned of an indie cafe/music shop where they serve you free coffee as long as you stay and listen to music. Apparently most people buy the music at the end.

I suggested the dinner spot for the travel mates to meet up tonight.

I had one of the famous Hot Dogs for lunch. At first I was suspicious about what could make a Hot Dog so good and popular. This little stand has a line up all day, every day, for years. For about $1.50 you get a hot dog in a bun. The toppings include fried and raw onions, a thick mayonaise and a gravy-type sauce on top. Weird, you think. Yes, you'd be right. But damn, damn tasty. The meat is a combination of beef and lamb (I think?) - but far different from North American hot dogs. And tasty. I said that, right?

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I wandered up to the Perlan later in the afternoon to check out the weirdness of converting a former water tower to a rotating exclusive restaurant then putting a fake geysir in the middle. Walked around on top and got some pretty spectacular and unexpected shots.

Went back to pick up the travel mates because they could not locate the restaurant I suggested for dinner. They had come back to the Hostel to try to make up some sleep from the night before. Shit hit the fan about various things about this trip and last night, then they left together for dinner at a veggie restaurant (still no puffin, I guess). I hung out solo at the hostel and had a Snickers bar from the vending machine for dinner then talked to a dutch dude about New Zealand. He was going through a life crisis and had quit his engineering job. We had lots to talk about.

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After they came back, I wandered out close to midnight to catch the last sunset at the water and wander around by the water's edge. On my way back to the Hostel I got locked in the vestibule with a French dude. No, not Dijon - but Pierre (not his real name) - the Montreal Actuary who sat between us and kept me up the whole YYZ-KEF flight chatting while my travel mate pretended to sleep. Apparently Pierre and his friend were a day behind us the whole trip. It sounded like they had a bit more fun than we did with more "off the beaten path" activities. We chatted into the night and I decided to call it a last day, in Reykjavik.

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