diamond geezer

 Sunday, June 26, 2011

Reykjavík, 11pm ...still daylight...
Reykjavík, 11pm
(sunset today... 00:03 GMT)

The people of Reykjavik don't go out drinking often, but when they do, they really do. Friday and Saturday nights are the time, and not as early as you or I might go out back home. Come 10pm on my first night in Iceland, the main drinking street was surprisingly empty, with only a few well-wrapped earlybirds making their way bar-ward. Most of the partygoers were still at home, kicking off the night with drinks indoors before heading out part-primed. By midnight, however, Laugavegar looked quite different. The bars were full, or at least getting that way, some with well-tanked patrons hovering by the doorway. Live music burst from several interiors, generally covers of familiar inoffensive songs, including at least two separate interpretations of "Rolling Down The River". For those feeling homesick there was an English pub called The English Pub, although perhaps most similar to a London drinking establishment aimed at tourists. Beers here cost over a fiver, although it was possible to win a freebie, maybe even a "metre of beer", by spinning the Wheel of Fortune above the bar. There were more women here than men, many with a yellow flower in their hair, and they weren't averse to coming forward. One thrust herself over for a lively chat, and turned out to be a minor celebrity (not that Iceland often does major). She'd managed to persuade the Icelandic Committee on Human Names to call her son Elvis - no mean feat when officialdom jealously guards its shortlist of acceptable nomenclature - and earned a goodie bag from Graceland into the bargain. It turned out that Olga had an ulterior motive for being so friendly, which was to wheedle a free drink out of a naive visitor, but conveniently the Wheel of Fortune provided a timely freebie without another kronur being spent. I rolled on to another bar to complete the evening, where beer was thankfully a little cheaper and the clientèle more openly welcoming. And when I stumbled off to bed after three in the morning, the rest of Laugavegar carried on partying into the morning light.

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