Icelandic Duck

On the bus from the airport into Reykjavik, there was a crazy man beside me with a grizzly beard and crumpled pieces of paper poking out of the many pockets in his camouflage jacket. He sputtered about how he “got done” at Customs for having two bottles of duty-free whiskey too many. My sister rolled her eyes and made her “Well, DICKHEAD!” face.

Meanwhile, a nervous blonde girl was looking blank. She pawed through her swanky handbag, frowning to herself, as if she had no idea how she had ended up in Iceland and the answer was hidden beneath her Evian and breath mints.

“Do you have any idea where I could stay tonight?” she asked the bus in general.

“You’ve nowhere to stay?” asked Crazy Man, leaning over the aisle. “I can help. How much are you willing to spend?”

“Oh, money isn’t a problem,” she replied as she slopped on some lipgloss. “I’m here on my own, I’ve got no plans…”

I heard the voice of The Mothership on my shoulder, “Tell her to shut up! She’s giving him waaay too much information! And you know he has a collection of large knives in that duffel bag. She’s sushi tonight, I tell you…”

But one look out the window and I forgot to care. All the guidebooks crap on about the “lunar landscape” of this country, but all the cliches are true. Beneath dark squatting rain clouds was an endless stretch of lava rocks, all weird and clumped and covered in brilliant green moss. The silvery highway slashed through the middle of it, besides a still and inky ocean.

All this contrast and emptiness was overwhelming. Crazy Guy was bragging he’d been here five times before and was offering to show Blondie around town. I just wanted him to shut up so we could all let this strange place sink in.

We spent the rest of the day wandering around Reykjavik. Having squandered our money on the flights and following day trips, it was a case of a lot of looking but not much touching. We turned into painful squealing tourists, cooing over brightly coloured houses and weird boutiques.

After pressing our noses longingly against the windows of groovy coffee shops, we ended up at Hallgrímskirkja, to get a view of the city. Just as we got to the top, it began to chuck down and the bells announced it was 4 o’clock. Thrashed by rain and ding-dong-ing, we didn’t see much of the view but it was good fun anyway. The wind was so fierce our hair stood on end, mimicking the shape of the church.

Out the front of the church I saw a duck. It’s funny how you go crazy over a duck in a foreign land, especially when it’s a land so completely removed from your own. I used to roll my eyes at Japanese tourists in my hometown, squeaking kawaiiiiiiiii! over a fat old sheep with a daggy arse. But here I was crouched beside this duck, yelling to my sister, “You have to come see this Icelandic duck!”.

I don’t know what I expected, perhaps when it opened its beak it would issue weird glacial soundscapes. But no, it just gave me a withering look and said quack in the usual manner. I took a dozen photos anyway.

quack, dammit

UPDATE: I’ve since been informed that this is obviously a goose.

Next stop was Bónus, where we bought our rations for the trip – a loaf of bread, four apples and a jar of peanut butter (along with the two-minute noodles and chocolate we bought from home, I am proud to say our entire food expenditure was a mere 400 kronur. Rawk!). Again, we embarrassed ourselves by running around the supermarket poking each other and saying, “Look at this Icelandic stuff! Hee hee!”. I even took an extra four Bónus shopping bags as souvenirs, which is quite sad. I wonder if Icelandic tourists in Scotland save their bags from Tesco? Maybe they would, if they had a little piggy on them, like Bónus.

Anyway. We rounded off our first day just sitting by the harbour, feeling the temperature drop as we ate like savages, dipping chunks of bread into the PB jar. I was just exclaiming how cute the Icelandic PB was when my sister pointed out it was American PB. Of course. Iceland is hardly the ideal clime for peanut growing, nor does it have the economic clout to lord over a country that does.

Still, it was a delicious meal, sitting there in the drizzle with really boofy hair, not quite believing we were up so high on the globe.

viking sculpture thingy

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for February 2023.

28 thoughts on “Icelandic Duck

  1. heh heh heh 🙂

    could anyone let me know if the pics look really dark on their monitor, i’m on Harvey and sometimes things look light on him but dark elsewhere… woo…

  2. Mariko is right, the pic of the viking sculpture thingy farken rawks, Miss Reykjavik!

    How long were you in Iceland with only a loaf of bread and jar of PB, though?

  3. Reykjavik! How freakin’ jealous am I, Shauners! I can’t wait to go there one day soon. Did you go to that bar made out of ice? Is that in Reykjavik? I dunno, somewhere up Lapland way. But you should go to it.

    It’s so funny how people open themselves up to crazy dudes when you’re overseas. When we were in Thailand, we were hanging out drinking whisky with these feral meets metal German dudes we’d said hi to and decided to be friends with. I’d just had a shower in my hut (albeit a shower with a cold-water hose) and put on some perfume, and the German dude smiffed me and gurgled: “Ooorrrr, so fresh.”

    I smiled and went, “Yep, I’ve just had a shower!” but, now on reflection, he had this darty Hannibal Lecter salivating look to him that I just didn’t notice since I was on holiday …

  4. *lol* at the Japanese tourists!! they’re like that in their own country too. They told me I was “kawaiiiii” just because i was excited about it snowing.

  5. Man, Shauny, you remember what I was like in Oz…cooing and shrieking over everything Australian. “Ooo a giant concrete sheep!” “Ooo a giant concrete potato!” “Ooo you have eucalyptus trees everywhere!” “Ooo supermarket!” “Ooo a bookstore!”

    Ad nauseum. But it’s fun, eh?

  6. it’s a goose? bwahahahahha! oh that makes it even more ridiculous.

    doug – we were only there 3.5 days, it’s as far at the budget would go. there’s so much more we wanted to see, we only got around a wee bit. which i shall no doubt crap on about later.

  7. I would suggest Grey Lag, the goose that is. And quite docile when they are not busy saving Rome or thinking about babies (goslings).

  8. Man, you have gone so far from home, it’s amazing. Will you drop me your current address? I have been sitting on some Canberran (sp?) schlock I’ve been wanting to mail you. Hope you’re well!

  9. Sounds like you had a great time!

    May I ask where you found out about the cheap flight? Is there a URL? If I can find something similar I might be inspired to follow in your footsteps. Apart from approaching a killer goose, that is.

  10. Shauny,

    You really are quite fortunate. That goose looks rabid, and also vaguely familiar. But I digress. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

  11. bird watchers in our midst! how sexy!

    kim – the goose had a big hunk of grass in it’s beak, hence the crazed look…

    david – we got out flights from STA who have cheaper flights if you’re under 26 (i just scraped in) and also saved a further £50 by flying in September. Just one day out of the high season made a huge difference. Then we stayed at a hostel for £18 a night and ate the bread, like I said. We didn’t get to see much in 3 and a bit days, but it was a pretty good taste of the country for the small amount we spent 🙂

  12. Stellar entry, Miss Shauny! Your photos are gorgeous. And ducks/geese are cool everywhere you go.

    Just so you know, I’m desperately jealous.

  13. (I’ve read somewhere that Macs tend to use different gammas to most computers, so that might be why you sometimes have trouble with lightness and contrast with your photos. But anyway…)

    In light of that bottom picture, I’m now wondering: do you now find that Bjork’s music has a land in which it wouldn’t be considered ‘strange’? Or does her music still seem as different in Iceland as it does here?

    As for misidentifying creatures, I knew a bloke who once pointed out of a minibus window and exclaimed, “Look at those funny looking pigs!”

    “They’re sheep,” someone else said.

    “But they don’t look like sheep,” he replied. “They’re not wooly.”

    “They’ve been sheared.”


    “Yes. They’ve had their wool shaved off.”

    He found this very amusing. “Don’t be silly! Why would anyone shave sheep?”

    “Where do you think wool comes from?”

    “From sheep.”

    “And how do you think they get it?”

    “Don’t they kill the sheep first, and then get the wool?”

    “No, they shave it off. It’s called ‘sheep-shearing’.”

    But he just didn’t believe it.

  14. Have you seen my site ? You appear to have borrowed my style !! I couldn’t make any money out of it even though people like the BBC, CNN and the Whitehouse stole my ideas – see the last story I did for details. I have taken a teaching job to pay the bills but feel it is a waste.

    By the way the BBC, unlike Britain has a constitution which they vialated by not getting in touchwhen I gave them my name and address for another programme so it is a hot pilitical issue in Britain (which includes Scotland) and there has been an enquiry so watch this space. By the way you made the Sydney Morning Herlad – that’s how I found out. I guess you bought them an AUD 500 dollar lunch that’s the way things are done these days.

    Keep going.

    The Original NDBO.ORG

Comments are closed.