|Thinking peaceful thoughts at a goat farm in the Icelandic countryside|
|Full of Scotch and taking chaotic selfies on the streets of Reykjavik, 4 am or thereabouts|
No, that's not right. Let's start again. How about:
This is the tale of three very smart, somewhat silly, food-loving women and their exhausting, unlikely, and unforgettable weekend in Iceland. Like the ancient Viking sagas, this tale contains feats of strength (drinking large quantities of alcohol), endurance (staying up all night), and bravery (riding Viking horses over black lava fields). And, like any good epic story, there's a lesson to be learned here: Every now and then, throw your good sense out of the window and do something completely spontaneous and quite possibly ill-advised, whether you can afford to do it or not.
That's how I ended up in those photos above, anyway - by booking a last-minute weekend trip to Reykjavik to meet up with two friends, Barbara, the Canadian (bottom left), and Eirny, the Icelander (top left). I met Barbara on my press trip to Charlevoix, Quebec last year, and we hit it off immediately. I met Eirny - who owns Burid, a fantastic cheese shop in Reykjavik - last November when I was in Iceland researching an article for Culture, the Word on Cheese. [Self promotion alert: That issue, by the way, is out now - you can pick up a copy at your local Whole Foods. So please do!]
Or maybe not.
It all happened rather quickly, but here is what I know: After a few Monday evening cocktails, some frenzied checking of fares on Hotwire, and a whole lot of Facebook posts ("I'm going to do it!" "Do it!" "I'm doing it!" "I did it!!"), I was booked to fly to Reykjavik the Thursday evening of that same week for a 3-day weekend.
Could I afford this? No. Was it irresponsible? A bit. Do I regret it? Not for one second. See why for yourself as I take you through the impromptu weekend ...
After the ladies picked me up at the airport Friday morning, Eirny took us for some traditional chocolate milk and love balls (the Icelandic name, astarpungar, means ... well ... look at the shape of that pastry and see if you can guess)
Eirny chose a new local Reykjavik spot, Kopar, for dinner and drinks. This is the drink that started it all:
|Rock crab sampler|
|Fish & chips|
|Catfish with a pistachio crust|
|Dessert & a candle for the birthday girl|
|Our fun servers|
|I don't actually know what is happening here.|
There are many, many many more photos like those above, each one more absurd than the last, and I can't honestly say I remember precisely what was happening at each moment. I do know that I spent most of the next day in bed with a throbbing head, only rousing myself, at Eirny's insistence, to go for a walk and heal a bit with the help of a delicious lamb hot dog:
|The hangover cure of champions. Or Vikings.|
|Look at that crispy duck skin!!|
The Icelandic landscape is like nothing else I have ever seen - it is, for lack of a better description, a bit like another planet. I have fallen madly in love with it, and as much as I want to somehow manage to visit every place in the world, I also want to return to Iceland as often as I possibly can.
The baby goats.
Yes. Baby goats.
|He fell fast asleep in my arms!|
But it's a good thing I did, because if I hadn't I never would have had the incredible opportunity to ride a Viking horse, one of my all time favorite experiences in my life to date. These horses are smaller than your average horse, and they're exactly the same as the ones brought by the Vikings in the settlement of Iceland. They have a special gait - it's fast, but smooth, and looks as if they're floating across the ground. That means that an inexperienced horsewoman like me can actually ride at a full gallop without knowing how to post. Heaven.
|My horse's name was Vaengur, the Icelandic word for Wing.|
But riding is hungry work, and after our nearly two hour ride we were invited into the farm kitchen for tea and cake. Of course we said yes!