Best-laid plans and all that. The minute my head hit the pillow last night, I was asleep. Although my guesthouse was in the center of the city (next to the tall church you saw in the featured image for this post) there was very little noise. I slept peacefully. No waking in the still-lit evening to take in the busy Reykajavik nightlife. No Icelandic beer. It wasn’t to be. Ah well, there will be other nights … and more beer I’m sure.
In the middle of the night I was awakened with the sudden weight of a four-legged creature astride my chest. Momentarily startled, I then remembered the guesthouse keeper had warned me that if I left my ground-level window opened at night I might be visited by the inn’s resident cat. I opened my eyes to a furry face, whiskers and amber eyes staring intently at me, paws enthusiastically kneading the soft fluff of the down comforter. It was Rocky, the orange tabby of the guesthouse. After some required petting, he settled down at my side and slept with me all night. A finer sleeping partner I’ve seldom had — Rocky moved nary a muscle during his deep sleep. I doubt whether I moved a muscle either as I quickly lapsed into slumber.
The morning breakfast table at the guesthouse was a gustatory and cultural delight. It reminded me of the morning meals I’d had in Scandinavia, not a surprise since both come from similar traditions. Various types of breads, fresh jellies and cheeses, vegetables, smoked meats and fish, and the ever-present muesli. It was delicious.
Just as delicious was the conversation around the breakfast table shared by the guests of the inn. We comprised a veritable United Nations of travelers — Swiss, German, Austrian, several Americans, Danish, Australian. Our plans for Iceland were just as varied. An engineer from Switzerland was taking 22 days to backpack the entire breadth of the island, from north to south. A family of five from Australia was setting out on a car trip around the ring road. A deaf studies professor from Los Angeles was in Iceland for only two days before embarking to a conference in Scotland. A Danish woman was here to visit friends.
It was lovely and exciting. There’s no better way to spend time in a country than at the homes of local people as they serve as hosts to other travelers. It’s an enriching experience.
I’m just as surprised at the number of solo travelers who I’ve met so far. Before I’d even left the airport, I met two women, traveling separately, who were both alone. In the guesthouse, I met people of both genders visiting Iceland solo. Not surprising, I guess. It’s a land of great hospitality and safety. Known as one of the safest countries in the world, there have been only 26 murders here — since the year 2000. It’s the third least likely country to be killed in and its violent crime rate is miniscule. Hitchhiking is still practiced.