Keflavik Airport in Iceland is the most beautiful I’ve ever been in, even taking into account a few of its drab hallways. I’d never been in airport with angular walls finished in variegated stone tiles. I broadly approved of the signage, although it is unwise to use different colours for different languages. (Which is more important, the white Icelandic or the yellow English?)

They X-ray your hand luggage upon arrival, which is a bit odd. A Marianne Sägebrecht type, half a head taller than I, stood in front of me after I walked through the metal detector and muttered something in Icelandic. I removed my little toque and was waved on through. Had I passed for Icelandic? (Later that day, a late-20s IceWigger™ at a “convenient” store flatly refused to speak to me in English, which I thought was great.)

In the arrivals lounge stood my fellow invited speakers – Molly, Eric, Shaun Inman with missus, Malarkey, and Dave Shea. “Hello, Uncle Grumpy,” Eric said, presumably reacting to my smile. But where was our esteemed host, Einar Gústafsson?

I was halfway to schlepping over to a payphone (so very passé in a technological society like Iceland) when suddenly he appeared, the picture of health at 7:00 friggin A.M. Along with him were Hugi “Huggy Bear” Þorðarsson and Haukur Már, a name that, I assure you, is not pronounced the way you think. We bundled into various cars and by God I made sure to be in the front seat of Einar’s Rav4. Molly and Malarkey rode in the back. I got all seatbelt-Nazi on Malarkey’s arse, who really needs to improve his evolutionary survivability in this way.

It is trite to remark that a drive from the airport into Reykjavík approximates a rally over the lunar landscape. That would surely be true if the moon had an Alcan smelting plant, an American military base, and dozens of inukshuks by the side of the road. (Rather like the sahibs explaining the Indians to themselves, I had to explain that the little figures made from piled-up stones were similar to inukshuks, Inuit land markers that often signified the location of a hunter’s first kill. Charming. But certainly Nordic.)

It is also trite to remark that, like San Francisco, if you don’t like the weather in Iceland it will change in five minutes. During our 40-minute drive, we enjoyed partly-cloudy sunshine, flat-out rain, hail, and snow. We arrived at the Nordica Hotel, where I was forbidden to check in until a certain time and where some kind of Muslim conference was underway. Thus began a small odyssey at this, the nicest hotel I have ever seen.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.08.15 13:11. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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