I have now lived in Iceland for one week so I am attempting to teach myself some Icelandic. I thought one of the most useful phrases to learn would be how to order coffee. So I studied and watched videos for two nights to get the phrase down. On Sunday morning, I headed to downtown Reykjavik, practicing the phrase in my mind over and over again. I excitedly walked into the coffee shop and went to order. As soon as I got to the counter/till (I have both American and British readers ;) ) this is what happened:
Barista: "Do you speak English?" (Said with a British accent).
British Barista: "Oh, are you American?"
Me: "Yes. I guess I shouldn't practice my Icelandic on you then."
British Barista: "No, I reckon not. What would you like?"
Me: "Well, since I have great aspirations to marry a British guy and you just moved to Iceland too, would you like to get married?"
(Okay, just kidding about that last bit!)
I'll have to try another coffee shop to try out my Icelandic on an Icelander. But now I know where to go if I want to work on my British citizenship plot.
I did have another opportunity to at least say, "I don't speak Icelandic" in Icelandic to an Icelander. At the rink, one of the workers came up to me to ask something in Icelandic and I correctly figured out what he was asking (if the session was over) and replied in English. He looked surprised and instantly switched to fluent English, asking where I was from, etc. I said that I was trying to learn Icelandic and the following conversation ensued:
Me: I should have tried out my new phrase to see if I'm pronouncing it right. I've learned how to say "I don't speak Icelandic." No hablo- Oh wait, that's Spanish.
Worker: Ég tala ekki íslensku?
Me: Right, that.
(Okay, maybe that Icelandic-speaking opportunity wasn't overly successful either!)
My reaction to people speaking to me in another language in always to try to speak Spanish. I also keep wanting to ask "Parlez vous anglais?" Where is that French coming from!? A side effect of spending so much time in Italy last spring is to say "ciao" or "gratzi" instead of "takk fyrir!" And also after trying to blend in while in Germany, Switzerland, or Austria, I sometimes feel that I should greet people with "guten tag." I'm surprised I haven't tried to use my one word in Turkish, "teşekkür ederim" (thank you) in there at all yet!
Interestingly, my second attempt at ordering coffee in Icelandic was foiled when the barista right away knew I spoke English! So far coffee baristas are the only people to right away know that I am American. I've been mistaken for an Icelander multiple times a day since I've been here. A lot of that is that yes, I am in Iceland and the area that I work and live in is not touristy. But I think I figured out another element. Not only do the vast majority of Icelanders I've met have blue eyes, but a high percentage also have my up-turned/ski-jump/whatever-you-want-to-call-it nose. Like, it's way more common here than in America or England! These are my people! After I start speaking in English, most people ask if I'm from the Czech Republic, Germany, Canada, or, yes, France. Why do people always think I'm French!? I'll take that as a compliment, I suppose!
Those of you who read my blog during my year abroad, know how much I like to have a soundtrack to my travels (this was easiest to do in Pompeii, Amsterdam, and Budapest due to song titles of the respective place name). So what have I been listening to Iceland? Obviously lots of Of Monsters and Men. The Icelandic myths and legends that influenced their first album really come to life when surrounded by the scenery. Last month in Denver I saw Bastille, The Wombats, and Cold War Kids in concert and have been listening to them all a lot. My theme song since last summer has been "Anna Sun" by Walk the Moon. Other songs that defined my last semester of university were "Miracle Mile" by Cold War Kids, "Shots" by Imagine Dragons, "Chicago" by Sufjan Stevens, "Cousins" by Vampire Weekend, "Take my Love" by The Lone Bellow, "Harbour Lights" by A Silent Film, and "The Draw" by Bastille. And weirdly, I realized I just named more American than British bands. I don't think that has ever happened before! Though, of course, I am listening to George Ezra all the time because there is no better soundtrack to solo travel! Without further ado here is my Icelandic walking to/from work/home in the dark at 6 AM, 10 PM, noon (okay, it's not really dark at noon) playlist:
1) "King and Lionheart" Of Monsters and Men
2) "Miracle Mile" Cold War Kids
3) "Cassy O" George Ezra
4) "Adventure of a Lifetime" Coldplay
5) "Shots" Imagine Dragons
6) "Poet" Bastille
7) "Anna Sun" Walk the Moon
8) "Harbour Lights" A Silent Film
9) "I'm Not Over" Carolina Liar
10) "Galaxies" Owl City
11) "The Draw" Bastille
12) "Can't Stop" OneRepublic
13) "I See Fire" Ed Sheeran
14) "Beyond the Sun" Shinedown
15) "Shut Your Eyes" Snow Patrol
16) "Winter Sound" Of Monsters and Men
17) "Get Lonely With Me" George Ezra
18) "Preacher" OneRepublic
19) "Get Me a Try" The Wombats
20) "Mountain Sound" Of Monsters and Men
21) "Quesadilla" Walk the Moon
22) "Chicago" Sufjan Stevens
23) "Sorry" Meg Myers
24) "Stand by Your Gun" George Ezra
25) "Nothing Left to Say/ Rocks" Imagine Dragons
26) "Step" Vampire Weekend
27) "Give Me Love" Ed Sheeran
28) "Rhythm of the Night" Bastille
29) "Amaryllis" Shinedown
30) "Midnight City" M83
31) "First" Cold War Kids
32) "Leaving It Up to You" George Ezra
33) "Take My Love" The Lone Bellow
34) "Empire" Of Monsters and Men
35) "Letters from the Sky" Civil Twilight
36) "Geronimo" Sheppard
37) "The Adventure" Angels and Airwaves
38) "Lakehouse" Of Monsters and Men
39) "Lemon Eyes" Meg Myers
40) "Run" Vampire Weekend
41) "Winds of Change" Vance Joy
42) "Fix You" Coldplay
Prior to my arrival in Iceland, I spent a few days back in London. My visit was a mix of seeing friends and former flat mates, completing touristy activities that I somehow didn't get to during my ten months there, and visiting all of my old stomping grounds. The above photo was taken from the steps of the National Gallery. I had always intended to visit there during my year abroad, but never got around to it so I made sure to visit this trip. I think it was good that I waited since I appreciate art more after working at an art gallery last semester.
After a few failed attempts last year, I finally made it to Harrod's Ice Cream Parlour! I also found one item I could afford in the store, a cat colouring book! What a great investment!
London is known for its West End musicals and I had never seen Wicked. It was a brilliant production! Coming in to the theatre, I had no idea about the plot so I found it all quite clever!
It wouldn't be a trip to London without a stop at the Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium! The normal bookings were full so we splurged on high tea.
I like modern Celtic culture and I took a Celtic art class last summer so I checked out the temporary Celtic art and identity exhibition at the British museum. It detailed Celts from continental pre-history through the present day and also featured some of the artwork I studied during my class.
I also visited some of my favourite markets like Brick Lane (which featured the sign below) and Spitalfields.
And, of course, Camden Town!
Some of my British friends and I went to the Wig Wag Bam at the Queen of Hoxton. The roof is decorated like Grimm fairy tales and is full of bonfires.
Those of you who followed my travels last year know how I inevitably have something go wrong in each country. Well, unfortunately this trip was no exception. I went to plug in my phone in my former flat mate's room and it caught fire, turned off all the electricity in the entire flat, and totally ruined my phone. Don't believe me? Just look at the charred photos below! It was the same charger I used all last year so I don't know why it decided to act up when it did!
Charger incident aside, I had a lovely time in London!
Hi, I’m Crystal! I love to travel and am currently a graduate student in Scotland. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 27 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
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