You guys, Iceland! It was an amazing trip filled with:
ridiculously clear water,
farmhouses in the middle of nowhere selling homemade sweaters,
and natural hot springs.
It was my first "girlfriends vacation" with my travel twin Lana (Aka Bitts.) Her Icelandic spirit animal is the sheep by the way, mine is the horse. But the story I find myself telling the most since I've been back seems to be Helga, the person we rented our apartment from. Or as Bitts and I affectionately dubbed her: Helgs.
You know how international flights from New York to Europe go. You're supposed to leave at midnight, but don't actually leave until 2 in the morning because the pilot calls in sick. You land at 11 in the morning there, but your body thinks it's 5 in the morning and you didn't really sleep on the plane at all. But when you land, you have the giddy, bordering on nausea feeling of staying up all night and being in another country! It's like being in college, except at an airport instead of in a dorm!
Our first stop was to pick up some wine to have at the apartment during the week from duty free. Because everyone kept telling us we'd pay $20 for a glass of wine or a beer in Iceland! And let's be honest, Bitts and I like our wine. Especially when hot tubs are involved (which they were.) We ended up going to three duty free shops and picking out different wine all three times in the confusing (especially to a sleep deprived person) Iceland airport. Did you know you can only buy from certain duty free shops depending on whether you are coming or going in the airport?
Anyway, we picked up our car, and finally made it to our place where we met up with Helgs to get the keys. The next twenty minutes or so consisted of a lot of head nodding as Helgs explained all of the locks and keys, demanded we log into the wifi and get on our hands and knees to work the hot tub, complained about her last guests using all of the towels and gave us very detailed instructions on how to use a basic coffee maker. We just were not clicking with Helgs! It felt like she was yelling at us the entire time and we were tired and confused. I realized later, during my love affair with Iceland, that sleep deprived Americans just aren't used to the Icelandic way yet. Just because someone isn't smiling and telling you to have a nice day all the time, doesn't mean they don't like you.
But at that point, I just wanted Helgs to go away, so when she asked if we'd like a little tour around town in her car, just to point out some basics for us, I almost said no. Luckily, in my hesitation, Bitts said, sure! And that is when we had our Helgs turning point. We drove around with her for about a half an hour and it really gave us a sense of where we were and was very helpful. Here are things we got to know about Helgs during that car ride:
- Her favorite actor is Tom Hanks, who incidentally Bitts HATES.
- Her daughter's favorite actor is Tom Hanks too!
- Her daughter is good friends with George Harrison's son and went to his wedding where she met Paul McCartney, and you guessed it, Tom Hanks.
- Helgs is a real name dropper.
- She went to a Jethro Toll concert not that long ago
- Yoko Ono comes to Iceland all the time.
And then we drove by what is either the only jail in Iceland or the only jail in Reykjavik, I forget, and Helgs goes "that's the only jail, it's mostly filled with Polish people. Is the door open? See look, the door's open (it actually was) they're about to feed them a catered meal."
Bottom line: We didn't really know what she was talking about, but she totally redeemed herself and we kept bringing her up the entire trip! Saying things like, remember when Helgs told us the jail is filled with Polish people?
I guess the point of this blog post is to say that vacations are funny, and that everybody loves Tom Hanks. (Except for Lana).