It didn't take me long to get back in the swing of this solo travel thing and start collecting stories. The sights of the Golden Circle were pretty neat but the best part was the personal tour I received afterwards.
A woman in my small tour group of 10 was highly recommending I have the whale for my one dinner here. When I told her I'd had it in Japan, our driver chimed in, "Here it is different and much better. The fat on the steak melts in your mouth." This sounded good to me. So when we reached our last stop of the tour, I asked him to drop me off in downtown Reykjavik Whale- near a place where I can get a good whale dinner. He took this as an opportunity to offer some Icelandic hospitality and after he confirmed I was traveling alone, invited me out to dinner. I sat at my window seat in the middle of the bus as we dropped off the other guests at their downtown hotels (with a quick detour to Bjork's house) thinking how do I always get myself in to these situations.
We had to return the bus to the depot on the outskirts of the city before getting in my guide's personal vehicle, a black Hummer H2 that he uses for off-road tours. He hesitated to turn on the car and rather turned to me and said, "I've been trying to think of a way to say this that won't make you uncomfortable..." (I immediately felt uncomfortable.) "…but I can't. Would you like to go to the thermal bath with me?" This was the number one item on my Iceland to do list that I didn't think I was going to get around to so I was excited about this. Then he proceeded to talk about how we barely knew each other and it might be awkward getting naked and going in the pools together. Well, yeah, now it felt awkward.
The geothermal bath is a year-round cultural practice. Many people traditionally go to start their day or wind down after work. There is a strict showering process that takes place in gender-segregated locker rooms, with attendants suggesting more soap if they catch one not washing enough* A friendly attendant stopped me before the shower and asked my name. I told her and she said, "Oh, I am looking for someone named Brenda. I thought that might be you."
Outside the locker room my guide was waiting for me and we walked in the cold afternoon air to the beginner 40*C pool. After some 45 minutes of pool hopping and some chitchat he admitted he wasn't sure what my name was but thought it might be Brenda.
I took another shower and was relieved to get my clothes back on and be heading to a restaurant for a more traditional evening of getting to know a new travel friend. That's when Bjorn dropped the next bomb on me. "I'm glad you were agreeable to my crazy idea. Because it might not be my last." WHAT?! "If you are willing, I'd like to cook you dinner. I have some very good whale meat at home." No one had ever said THAT to me before. I asked if he was a good cook. He said yes.
Back in the car on the way to the suburbs I was thinking how nice it is that he welcomes solo travelers to his home and that he probably gets to meet a lot of people this way. It was just then that he said, "I want you to know I've never done this before. I just enjoyed our conversation earlier and wanted to get a chance to continue it." Oh jeez.
Bjorn prepared a very nice dinner of whale steak, cod, and potatoes, paired with a Spanish red wine. We shared travel stories at the beautiful dining table in the atrium by the garden until it was time for me to get to the airport for my 2 am flight. He was so kind to treat me to all these experiences and a lift to the airport. Honestly I never expected anything like this and I am thankful for all the kind souls traveling brings in to my life.
*Anyone that has ever lived with me or traveled with me knows that I enjoy a good shower so no, this did not happen to me. Since the showers are wide open and fully nude, I did witness this happen to two other women.
About the Authors: Sharon and Jon combine their passion for coaching and teaching with their love of adventure. Jon has been a professional ski instructor for nearly three decades so they spend their winters in the Colorado Rockies and the summers in Bali, coaching driven individuals to go for it when it comes to following their dreams. Change can be fun! Surf, Ski, Yoga, Meditation, and new experiences build confidence and inspiration.
Sharon and Jon live the life of their dreams. Zelement Club is their way of inviting others to join them in this adventure.