Date Archives May 2016

Hallgrímskirkja Reykjavik

Hallgrímskirkja can be seen from almost anywhere in Reykjavík, and if you’re new to the city, is an excellent landmark around which to orient yourself. It’s also an ideal place from which to see the city–for a reasonable fee, you can take an elevator to the top (well, almost to the top, there are a few flights of stairs involved) and get a 360° view of Reykjavík. I tried to go as close to sunrise as possible for the beautiful morning light and also because I wouldn’t have to plan my day around it the way I would if I aimed for sunset. What am I doing in the afternoon? Lots. What am I doing at the asscrack of dawn? Generally nothing. Plus, you know, if I’m going to be struck dead for crossing a church threshold, better to get it over with early in the day so my pile of smoldering ashes can make the evening news.

clock view

The elevator goes to the clock level, and I couldn’t help but peep through the grimy windows to get a sense of what I was in for once I climbed the remaining stairs. What I glimpsed was enough to get me to hop the stairs two at a time to get to the level with an unobstructed view.


reykjavik harbor sunrise

reykjavik harbor

Dang, Reykjavík, you’re beautiful. And Hallgrímskirkja, you’re a looker, too, inside and out. While I was back on the ground floor, I kept trying to get a peep of the stained glass that I knew was there, but all I could see was a sliver from around the enormous organ. So I sidled over to the elevator ticket seller and asked if there was any way I could go up to the floor where I could see the stained glass better. She led me to a side stair, and BAM: stained glass. And a replica of the church rendered in Lego!


lego replica     stained glass


stained glass detail

I made sure to drop some extra cash in their donation basket on the way out as thanks for both the peep at the glass and also for the lack of smiting. My future making stupid jokes on the internet is, for now, secure.

Long ago in days of yore, it all began with a god named Thor: The Saga Museum


saga museum exterior

saga museum statue

Well, a bit after the time of Thor, actually. The Icelandic Sagas are narratives based on the 9th, 10th, and early 11th centuries (essentially the Viking age), about the struggles that early settlers faced in the harsh climate. The Saga Museum has rendered these histories in silicone to give you a visual representation of their great heroes, infamous villains, and everyone’s favorite, the black plague. I took the audio tour, but to be honest, I did not retain much information at all–I was distracted by the couple behind me who started the audio tour something like five minutes after me, which should have kept us a consistent distance apart, but they were up my butt almost immediately and stayed that way for the entire museum. I tried skipping ahead, I tried waiting long after the audio portion of an area had ended to let them pass, but they stuck to me like my backside was giving them oxygen. It was really distracting. If this were a professional travel blog, the writer in question would probably not post about the museum at all so as not to pass along disinformation. This is not a professional travel blog however, so instead I am going to make all the jokes I couldn’t make because of the aforementioned butt-clingers. At least until I get to the really important part. You’ll know it when you see it.

 no i am not busy at all please tell me about your band“No, I am not busy at all, please tell me about your band.”

i swear to god i will do it if you mention politics one more time at this brunch marci“I swear to god I will do it if you mention politics one more time at this brunch, Marci.”

yes hello did someone mention they needed the talents of a man or a dog“Hey did I hear boobs popping out of a shirt? Just checking”

snorriI do remember that this guy’s name is Snorri, and based on that information and also his haircut, I am going to assume that he’s one of the dwarves who stayed home.

i changed my mind lets play rock paper scissors instead“Oooh, I forgot I left the oven on, let’s continue this battle later byeeee”

no really i am very interested in this book of your vacation photos“No really, I am very interested in your dream journal. I’m not staring off into space, I’m, uh…contemplating the significance. Yeah.”

someone is having a bad day“Hey I changed my mind I am definitely not a witch, it was just a phase. It was just a phase!”

saga museum“This arranged marriage is working out great. Super great. Sure, there was that incident when I found him on AdultVikingFriendFinder but other than that, it’s been really, really, really great.”

bellows“Please tell me more about how hard that level in your video game is. Go on.”

your caption hereYOUR CAPTION HERE


After the, uh, learning was done, it was time to determine whether or not we were true vikings, a process which involved putting on costumes and flailing around weapons wildly. It’s possible that I didn’t need to make fierce battle screams, but at the same time, I wanted to make it clear that I was in no way struggling with that twenty pound shield so as to better ascertain TRUE VIKING status. I think it’s safe for me to put it on my resume now. TRUE VIKING. But in which section? Accomplishments? School? Hobbies? All of them?

just a couple of vikings


true viking

bear battle

hee hee fighting a bearThe background for this epic bear fight is pretty lame, though.


Aaah, that’s better.


Give me one of every animal you have: Grillmarkadurinn Reykjavik


grillmarkadurinn exterior

grillmarkadurinn interior

fish and chips


It’s no secret that before I go somewhere that involves a flight, I do exhaustive research. Not because I’m a monster opposed to any and all spontaneity, but because I want to maximize my time. I may also be a monster opposed to any and all spontaneity, but I’ll leave that determination for a therapist. My obsessive planning reduces the chances that I’ll show up on a museum’s doorstep on the one day of the week they’re closed, that I’ll eat dinner at a crummy restaurant when there’s one I would have enjoyed more just down the street. First, if any friends have been to that area, I’ll pump them for personal recommendations. On this trip, my friend Shannon was an invaluable resource–she’s the one who warned me it gets much colder at night and that I needed to invest in some waterproof fleece-lined pants. It’s not her fault that I didn’t wear them…once. I did, however, keep them strapped to my ass the rest of the time, grateful for her suggestion. I also scour travel guides, blogs, and anywhere else that I think their tastes may align with my own–because that’s important, too. I don’t want to get recommendations from the same people in my local facebook community who would wholeheartedly recommend papa murphy’s as the best pizza place in the entire city: just because any pizza is generally pretty good (because it’s pizza), if I want something remarkable, I want a recommendation from someone who has also eaten a lot of pizza and knows what’s remarkable. I don’t want a recommendation from an unbearable douchebag. One place that has always knocked it out of the park for me recommendation-wise are the makeupalley boards, which may seem weird at first, but once you consider that it’s mostly women, generally in my age range, not afraid to try things and share their opinions and it starts to make more sense that I’d use it as a resource. One of the places that came highly recommended was Grillmarkadurinn.

We happened to be in the area around lunchtime, and stopped in. While I couldn’t have been more delighted with my fish and chips and my twenty-three dollar (USD!) fancy-pants drink, a Þórsmörk, the thing I really wanted to try on their menu, they don’t serve at lunch: a horse fillet. Hear me out: in addition to being beautiful and fun to ride and what have you, I have heard that they are also delicious. When I was a horse-crazy kid, I received a lot of books about horses for birthdays and other holidays, and checked out many more from the library in my quest to absorb all things horse. I vividly remember that one of them spoke about a European (French?) ruler (king? general? fancypants aristocrat? This was over twenty years ago, cut me some slack) who loved the taste of horseflesh so much that he would literally bathe in horse broth, eating floating chunks of meat as it pleased him. This is something that made quite an impression on young Mellzah. Not enough to be able to find any evidence of it actually being a thing, no matter how many internet searches I did for the story and for the book in question, probably borking up my amazon recommendations forever and ending up on some kind of list of potential internet weirdos. Be that as it may, whether the story is true or not (probably not), I was bound and determined to try horse if given the opportunity, so I made reservations for dinner at lunch.

When I came back that evening, some of the staff recognized me and gave me a queer look. “Weren’t you just here for lunch?” Yes, yes I was. Don’t judge me, love me.

The restaurant was much more crowded at dinner, so I didn’t feel comfortable whipping out a camera or a phone to take photos of the meal. I’m not one of those bloggers who feels no shame and stands right up on their chair to get that perfect snap, wafting my butt in a neighboring table’s face space so I can make the internet jealous of my meal while it slowly gets cold and less palatable as I arrange and rearrange the table. That will never be me. So help me god, if you’re out with me and I do that, do the right thing and pull the chair out from under me while coldly asking if I had mistaken the establishment for a jungle gym. Be the hero the world deserves.

Ahem. So given that I’d eaten lunch not terribly long before, I elected to split the horse filet with Jason, so I’d have a bit of room left in case I felt the need to try any more weird licorice candy on the way back to the hotel (that is a need that I generally always have in the presence of licorice) and so I’d also have room for puffin and langoustine sliders, another special they don’t serve at lunch. In my post-Iceland research (looking futilely for horse soup bath verification), I learned that most people consider horse to be a leaner, drier meat. I don’t know if Grillmarkadurinn lards their horse fillets (filly-ets), but my meal was juicy, flavorful, and rivaled some of the better steaks I’ve eaten–between this horse steak and the imported A5 kobe I tried (the gold beef standard), I’d actually pick the horse, as A5 is almost unpleasantly rich. I’m not going to start bathing in it, though.