It was already 8 in the morning when we stepped out of the airport. I remember it was the first time I felt snow on my face — cold and soft and wet. I covered my head with my faux fur hoodie and adjusted the scarf on my neck to help keep me dry.
"We are heading to Half-naf-jor-dour?" I said with uncertainty as we stepped inside the bus. I spent hours watching videos before the trip so I could pronounce it properly but I still did not get it right. Suffice it to say, Icelandic words look to me like random characters being joined together to form a word.
"Hafnarfjörður. Yes, this is the right bus."
All the overhead compartments were already full so we had to put our bags on our laps. There was nothing but the sound of the radio and the roar of the engine in the background.
Groggy from lack of sleep, I leaned my head on the window. The time on the digital clock said it was 8:27 in the morning but it felt more like it was 8:27 in the evening. Peering outside, all I could see was pitch darkness followed by an occasional muted glow from a lamp post. If you gazed up at the light, you would see the wind blowing away snowflakes making them dance, twirling around in circles, before landing on the window. It's true what they say about snowflakes — they do look unique from each other.
Jeremie had his head rested on the top of his backpack. He looked tired and had his eyes closed. I don't blame him. We'd been in transit for almost an entire day and we'd been sleep-deprived. As much as I wanted to close my eyes, one of us had to lookout for the Viking hotel (cool name right?!) which was the landmark closest to the Airbnb home we rented.
The bus driver was kind enough to tell us that we had arrived at our stop. I think he kind of felt sorry for me after hearing me struggle with saying the name of the town.
I did not expect the sidewalk to be slippery. Despite wearing hiking shoes, we were having trouble walking straight on the melted snow. So we did our best, laughing our way home as we balanced ourselves by raising both arms to our sides as though walking in a tight rope, cursing every now and then when we almost slipped.
The house was neatly tucked in a small neighbourhood. It's exterior was covered with corrugated iron painted red. We briefly met one of the guests who was also staying in the same home and she showed us our room. Óskar, our host, was still asleep so we did not disturb him.
We peeled our layers of clothing, put on our pajamas, and fell into the bed as it sucked our last remaining energy.
When I came back to Earth, the sun had just began to rise though it was still slightly dark. My body told me to go back to sleep because it was still 6 AM but my gut told me to reach for my phone.
Oh yeah, we're not in San Francisco anymore.
My brain sometimes forgets where it is when I lack sleep. Like the time when Jeremie and I went to Hong Kong and we slept in the airport because all the buses and train stations were closed and we did not want to spend money on a taxi (We were on a tight budget). Then we spent the entire day walking around the city until our eyes couldn't take it anymore so we went to our hostel and dozed off. When I woke up, I was sure I was back home in my bed in Cebu so I got confused why the windows looked different. It took me about a minute to snap out of that confusion. Temporary amnesia. That's what I call it.
Feeling thirsty, I decided to head down and get some water. I tiptoed down the stairs (hoping there was nobody down there). Small figurines were planted by the steps watching people go up and down. A red lamp gave the room a surreal and warm feeling. It reminded me of Sunday mornings back home in Cebu. I'm not entirely sure why.
Halfway down the stairs, I heard a slow but steady snoring in the living room. Was there someone sleeping in the couch? I quietly finished the rest of the steps and took a peek in the living room.
Since we chose a home that's outside the city, we had to take a bus ride to get to downtown Reykjavík. There are lots of nice little shops and cafes in the downtown area and streets were decorated with Christmas lights and knick-knacks making it look like a small Christmas town.
We got a taste of Icelandic food at this restaurant called Cafe Loki. I liked my mashed fish but the portion was too big for me. And the rest of the day? We made it our mission to find a good coffee/hot chocolate place to just unwind and watch people go by.