I had my first guests pay me a visit in Iceland this past week; A&S came over the Thanksgiving (or as I like to say Spanksgiving) weekend. As we don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Iceland, turkey and cranberry sauce was not easily obtained, but I made a nice lamb stew with mashed potatoes, and a berry jelly stood in for cranberries.
I was glad A&S were my first guests as they're very relaxed about staying; they could see things, or they could just hang out. They could go off on their own, or we could shop together. I was also able to test out things like the Golden Circle trip, and certain activities on certain days, and see what worked best and what to change for the parents' visit in January, and then for future guests as well!
Here are some good things I learned or reinforced regarding having guests.
1. When your guests arrive, force them to take a nap. It seems like a horrible idea after all that flying, you finally get to your destination, and then you have to try and go back to sleep, but it was such a good idea to recharge the batteries and reset one's clocks to Icelandic time without too much jetlag. The sun is so low and limited in the winter that at 11:00 in the morning you feel like you should just be waking up anyway, so that was convenient.
2. Snacks. Always good to have on hand for long walks or waiting for the bus.
3. Down time for the host. Very important! I got to send S&A out on adventures and that made my time with them more fun. Plus, Reykjavík is so small that unlike pushing someone out the door in Boston or New York, you could basically find your way back without a map, or just by walking along the seacoast trails.
4. General plan versus spontaneous. I liked having a general idea about what to do on certain days, and let guests decide what would be good for them. I knew one day should be spent to rent a car, for example, so we traveled around the tourist sites. And look at some of the amazing things we saw in just one day!
kerið, gullfoss, and þingvellir are represented here, all covered in a beautiful sparkly frost.
I wasn't hot about horseback riding, in fact I was quite skeptical (see said skeptical face below). But the gals really wanted to spend their other big day on this, and they offered to pay for me, and whaddyaknow I actually had a great time! My horse Högni was super cool. The sunset light was amazing. We stopped and took a break and I took a picture of the farmdog.
The biggest bummer is that I was sore the next day in me'shoulders and me'hipz, but a goodhot tub soak fixed that. It didn't fix my chafed asscheeks, though. Still working on that. Next time, perhaps a soft layer of thermal underwear under the jeans, protecting the plenitude of hair down there.
5. Duty free Saviors. Buying liquor and wine at the Duty-free saves me and my guests a lot of money, being able to have wine with dinner, or before going out. And so much cheaper than wine here in the city.
6. Sleep. Go to bed early, it is totally worth it. Then, party late one night to take in the Icelandic weekend. Also totally worth it.
7. Surprises. I do like surprising people with a great view, or perhaps an unusual food feast. If something doesn't work out, like the several times that a store/church/venue was closed, we could be pleasantly surprised by the spontaneity of something else random around the corner. I did not expect these incredible views at Geldinganes, a peninsula/island outside of the city center, but the timing was great and S got to take a million pictures with her fancycam. These are just from my crapcam.
Thanks to visitors, I got to see so many things I wouldn't really see being here and doing my day-to-day activities. I stopped into a lot of shops, ate at new places, cooked foods for more people than just myself. I got to have my friends wear my new jewelry creations out on the town. And I began to feel more at home here than I had felt up to now. A great feeling. Takk fyrir komuna, ameríksur vinir minir!