Greetings, and welcome to the Din & Tonics’ 2018 tour blog! If you’re reading this, I’m sure you want to know what exactly it is that we’ve been doing since we left the United States. I am here to fill you in on our all-too-brief travels in Reykjavík, Iceland, our first tour stop. Iceland, a nation near the Arctic Circle that houses only about 350,000 people, is a country that belies its name in a few ways. Most obviously, it is not covered in ice, and due to the ocean currents, the temperature near the coast rarely dips too far below freezing in winter. What is perhaps less known, though, is the warmth of the place’s culture: the incredibly generous culture of the locals more than made up for its occasionally chilly weather.
We met up and departed Boston Logan International Airport on an Icelandair vessel at about 8pm EST on May 28th. We caught up with each other quickly after a four-week break, ate dinner, and then prepared for a 5 hour flight and a 4 hour time change. Most of us had barely slept a wink when we stepped out into the cold rain that awaited us at Keflavík International at 6 am. We rode the shuttle into Reykjavík, a colorful and vibrant little city, and killed a little time exploring before checking into our spacious but confusingly laid out Airbnb. A group dinner was arranged at a great noodle restaurant near the church Hallgrímskirkja. After, some of us went out to a rooftop bar to take in views of the city.
The next day was free and full of sightseeing: seven of us woke up early to go on a “Golden Circle” tour around protected geological areas in the southwest of Iceland. Our tour took us to Þingvellir national park, the site of the oldest continuously operational parliament in the world. It is famously located right on the fissure between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates! We also visited Geysir, a hot spring, and Gullfoss, a dramatic and beautiful waterfall. While we were out beyond the borders of the city, others stayed behind and explored downtown Reykjavík. Some of us regrouped and went for a run out to the peninsula of Seltjarnarnes. Following that, we changed into our very special Din tour T-shirts and traveled to our first performance of tour! It was a relatively low-key affair at Kex Hostel, an up-and-coming hostel located on the city’s coastline. Arnar, the event manager for the hostel, was very gracious to us and we had a great time debuting our sound to a European crowd. Some of us bar-hopped after the gig while others returned home to keep catching up on sleep.
A brief aside: if you ever visit Iceland, make sure to bring a mask or use very good blinds! During the summer months, it always seems like the daytime, as the country is so far north. I kept needing to remind myself to go to sleep when I would return to our Airbnb at 2 am in broad daylight.
Like all my previous stays in Iceland, the last day seemed to arrive far too soon. I woke up at 1 pm and went immediately for a traditional Icelandic lunch at Café Loki with a few others. We enjoyed the dark, sweet rye bread and sheep’s-head jelly more than we were expecting! That night, we had two back-to-back performances, the first at a miniature concert hall in Hannesarholt, the former home of the first prime minister of Iceland (now a restaurant!).This was an intimate affair in which we got to show our music to a small but very enthusiastic audience. Next, we had a more relaxed evening gig in a converted old cinema called Gamla bíó with the Icelandic all-male choir Bartónar. While we couldn’t understand a whole lot of what the group was saying on-stage, we found them to be an extremely affable group of people behind the scenes, with a killer sense of humor.
Our last night after the final gig was spent hanging out with Bartónar and friends at Kaffibarinn, a bar that has long been host to Reykjavík’s artistic elites. We chatted with a number of interesting and colorful characters until long past an ideal bedtime, but the conversations were worth it.
The next day, we woke up, headed back to the bus terminal, and went to the airport. If I had been awake enough to think in complete sentences, I probably would have had something sentimental to say about leaving so soon, but for the time being I could only look toward our next stop in London.
Many thanks are due to all of the wonderful people who made this tour stop possible (Þakka þér fyrir, guys)! Next time you hear back from us, we’ll be talking about our stop in London and Oxford. Until then, please stay tuned!
With fire and ice,
Ethan Craigo #237