Trek Women
October 10, 2007

Wanderlustful...

Europa_084 I was about 9 years old when I learned that when you grow up you can be a foreign exchange student. I knew that when I was old enough, that’s what I was going to do. In high school, I was accepted to be part of the AFS intercultural exchange program. AFS picks where you get to study and my country turned out to be Iceland. Iceland? Iceland! As far as I knew, no one in my little Chicago suburb of Darien, IL had ever been there. I couldn’t believe my luck.

I spent the summer between my junior and senior year living on a dairy and sheep farm with a wonderful family. My host parents didn’t speak much English (we did a lot of hand signaling); but my two host sisters and their younger brother did. They used to ask me to write down the lyrics to pop songs so that they could get the words right when they sang along. In return, they taught me how to ride Icelandic ponies, milk cows, bale hay, feed lambs – oh, and they helped me dye my hair pink. It was the 80s after all and I had the adventure of a lifetime.

I decided to get my Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota because it offered a one-year scholarship to study at the Haskoli Islands (University of Iceland). I wanted to go back and experience more of this mythical, enduring, rugged land and its people. I won the scholarship and spent a year in Reykjavik learning to speak Icelandic and studying Scandinavian culture. Iceland is where my wanderlust began and it still has my heart.

For years, I’ve wanted to take Russ and Wayne there and finally this past long holiday weekend I had the chance. We visited some of my favorite old haunts and discovered new ones like the Viking Sun Ship sculpture. At least once a day, we hit Baejarins Beztu (City’s Best) Pylsur (hot dog) stand for the tastiest dog with everything on it that kronur (Icelandic money) can buy. At night, we did the “runtur” (pub crawl) when the Vikings of today let loose and the crawl at any moment could turn into a brawl. It’s pretty wild, just like Iceland’s landscape.

Yesterday, after Russ and Wayne went to the airport to continue on to Copenhagen, I stopped by the country’s Trek dealer, Orninn, to say hello and meet the store’s sales manager, Ragnar Ingolfsson. I had been hoping to go for a bike ride, but just didn’t have enough time during this visit. Ragnar gave me a tour and introduced me to Jona, one of the owners. Orninn sells about 150 bikes a day during its busy summer season, which is incredible for a country with a population of only 300,000. Reykjavik is lined with bike paths and perfect for hybrids and road bikes while the countryside calls out for mountain biking at its burliest.

After checking out the shop, Ragnar graciously drove me around the city and showed me the neighborhood where he and his family live as well as a stop at Perlan (part museum, 5-star rotating restaurant and hot water storage facility) for a final view of Reykjavik. I learned that Ragnar’s got a bit of the wanderlust himself –- a couple of years ago he cycled Cuba and next week he’s traveling to Thailand to bike with friends to Cambodia. 

All too soon, it was my turn to head off to the airport and back to Capitol Hill. This trip might be over; but I’ll go back again. Once you’ve got the wanderlust, there’s always another adventure waiting to happen.

Comments

Terrific photos! Looks like a beautiful time of year to visit Iceland. Happy to hear you had a good trip.

Posted by: Becky | Oct 10, 2007 10:03:27 AM

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