Note: I had some trouble loading this onto the site before I left (software issues) so its a little out of date, and obviously so. My apologies
I have found another use for a bike here: transport home after a night out.
The Reykjavik night life–at least on the weekend–is famous according to the guide books, and I had hoped to see some of it during my trip. Unfortunately, things don’t get started until midnight (many bars dont even open until that hour) and I am not a night owl. My desk clerk gave me three names of bars I might enjoy, one of which serves a decent meal in the evening. I went to Thorvardssen’s at 8PM for my supper and had three glasses of wine while I waited for the evening to begin. By the time people started crowding into the dance floor at 10, I was wasted (a cheap date–yes, yes I know) but it was fun to watch people file in. Icelanders are a bit shy about the whole courting ritual, so drinking is very popular with the younger crowd. Anyway, I watched for a bit and then went home to bed, a little disappointed in myself.
It is 2AM and I am awakened by a pounding rhythm just outside my window, and laughter. The bar scene really is in full swing. Looking out, it appears the entire population is in the street below, in the drizzle. Getting dressed quickly, I go out to have a better look. It is so much fun I actually go back to the hotel for my hat and mitts. Every conceivable opportunity has been taken to turn establishments into bars. Maybe I was naive earlier, but there are bars in places I had simply not noticed previously. Coffee shops, restaurants, doorways I had thought were delivery entrances, even porches of private homes are occupied with happy partiers. Most of the crowd is really young, and absolutely hammered. I hear lots of languages spoken in the street. Girls deliver immaculate raspberries to unwilling partners (I assume the men want to go home and the women haven’t finished their pub crawl.) I hear two of these in the space of a single hour.
The guide book had indicated that you must dress up to be admitted, but that there is hardly ever an entrance fee. This appears to be the case. All the women are wearing fantastically high heels and I wonder how they are managing. Well, they aren’t. They are all wobbling from side to side, falling over on their ankles and slopping through the puddles. Many of the men wear ties. They all look terrific, but bleary-eyed. Every bar’s entrance has a line-up and the music is spilling onto the street. Most of the music is bloody awful and I recognize it. Apparently, they like bad English music. Swinging past Thorvardssen’s again I realize my desk clerk was right: the music here is of a much higher calibre, and this location is quite popular. I’m too shy to go in alone (you see? I fit right in here!) and because they have an advantage over my now sober state, any conversation I’m likely to have is going to be frustrating for me. Still, everyone is in high spirits. I don’t see a single mean drunk.
People are making eye contact with me more readily at this hour, but they are still not forward. Many of them have brought their bikes. I see more bikes locked up now than during the day, and several people are walking or riding their bikes. There is much less traffic at this hour and most of it is taxis. The bikes stand a better chance on the road. I am reminded of one of the museums I read about that made me grin: the Lost Horse Museum. It was set up to commemorate an interesting phenomenon. Apparently, drinking has always been a late night past-time here, and frequently partiers would have trouble finding their ride home. Horses would be tied up somewhere and then forgotten. Someone in the town was hired to go out and retrieve these lost horses and care for them until the owner sobered up enough to come get them the next day. Everyone would know where to find their horse in daylight hours; this location has been designated a museum. I walked past it this afternoon and wondered what could possibly be inside, but didn’t want to spend the money. I wonder now if bikes would be considered part of the lost souls parade, but then they don’t require feeding and watering, and would be safe enough locked up on the street. Anyway, it’s the same bikes I’ve been seeing during the day. And then it happens. I stumble upon my Franken bike fixie. It’s parked almost directly across from my hotel.
Rushing back to my room again, I grab my camera. The desk clerk is becoming annoyed with me because she has to keep letting me out (my key unlocks the door from the outside, but not from inside). Still, I’m okay with incurring her wrath to get a photo of this particular bike. The shots turn out less than ideally because of the light and the rain, but still I have found the bike and captured something of it.
I suppose I could hang around and watch for the owner, but the guide book says most bars don’t officially close until 5AM, and I’m already winding down again. It’s 3AM. Slipping my camera back into my coat pocket, I retire to my room again, remove my wet clothes, and rush to the hall computer where I share my discovery with you! Forgive the late delivery: the computer would not cooperate. I now share my discoveries, with images, in the full light of day and back home.
Ive also found a single bike lockup. Perhaps there are others, but Ive only found this one, on this wet and rowdy night.