Kinky and Stinky

Reykjavik, Iceland.

Our final half-day wraps up with the uncanny side of Iceland.

The day starts off normally with a hearty breakfast and hotel check-out. A brief drive takes us back to Solfar, radiant in daylight and enshrouded by psychedelically concentric clouds above.

Solfar Sunboat Reykjavik
Solfar under daylight and concentric clouds

Then came the obligatory twenty-something pilgrimage to the Icelandic Phallological Museum, which boasts a collection of almost 300 phalluses from nearly 100 species of animals.

Although this prestigious club is missing a human, ahem, member, fear not as a dozen European weirdos have already signed donation letters for their parts to go on display after their deaths. They must have no shame and great self-confidence, however, to complete against the six-foot tall whale phallus and the elf phallus (har har) on display here.

Icelandic Phallological Museum
The Icelandic Phallological Museum went with a ballsy logo
Icelandic Phallogical Museum Whale Penis
Whales win. The end.
Icelandic Phallological Museum Elf Penis
Ha ha, I get it…Icelandic people take their elf lore seriously
Icelandic Phallological Museum Cartoon Darth Vader
Darth Vader is pure genius

Topping off the uncanny exploits, we head over to Cafe Loki besides Hallgrimskirkja for a cheap sampling of Hakarl – the holy grail of gross-out Icelandic foods. Basically, a very ugly Greenland shark which has no kidneys and is poisonous out of the water is hung up to ferment and rot for months before these little cubes of evil are chopped and presented to us. It has made famous chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain throw up.

Perhaps we have been too well-prepared mentally, but the experience was not  as bad as feared: it tasted like a concentrated fish oil pill broke in your mouth. The aftertaste, however, goes bad quickly, releasing a kickback smell resembling a dead raccoon on the floor of a dive bar bathroom.

Hakarl Cafe Loki Reykjavik
Not as bad as its reputation, but I will not be having again

The trip needed to wrap up properly, so we visit the famous Baejarins Betzu Pylsur stand in the middle of town for a hot dog with “the works” – ketchup, mustard, mayo, chopped onions, and fried onion bits sprinkled over. Delicious and relatively cheap by Icelandic standards.

Baejarins_Betzu_Pylsur_Reykjavik_Hot_Dog
Hot dog from the famous Baejarins Betzu Pylsur stand

As we munch on our hot dogs (trying not to recall images from the museum earlier), we reflect on the Icelandic culinary tradition of eating childhood memories. Yes, this was no ordinary trip, and we fly away with a newfound appreciation for how people from different corners of the world surprise and challenge each others’ beliefs – and palates – with each visit.

Iceland Gross Foods Reindeer Horse Puffin Minke Whale Hakarl
Reindeer, Horse, Puffin, Whale, and rotten Shark served in Iceland

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins

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