Oct 4, 2011


I kissed the pastry chef goodbye and quickly escaped his room in the restaurant where, according to the rules, I was not supposed to be sleeping anyway. Then I raised my thumb and hitched out of Switzerland, crossing the Alps to Italy through the gorgeous Great St Bernhard Pass.

Two days later I crawled out of my sleeping bag, praising the relative comfort of the tiled floor in London Gatwick airport compared to the sweaty, noisy 24-bed hostel room in Milano. I grabbed a duo pack of sawdust-dry Scottish eggs from Mark & Spencer's for breakfast and a duo pack of books in an attempt to reach the luggage weight limit. Then I sat down for coffee with Alice who had descended from the North to join me on the flight to Iceland. Outside, the paintings on the plane said something about it being the Iron Maiden tour plane "Ed force one" and something else about a monster from another dimension flying it. Inside, a (the?) pilot was sleeping just next to me across the aisle. Eventually we touched down safely in sunshine, met a smiling and jolly Elsbeth in the baggage claim area and then all three of us, and our clones stowed away in our ridiculously huge rucksacks, successfully hitched the 50km to Reykjavik. Welcomed by the inimitable Frosti, we made ourselves at home in his very cosy abode, and began plotting how to conquer the island most efficiently.

Three weeks later I texted the pastry chef goodbye again, this time believing it to be for good, before starting to scramble down the mountain on which I was sure I was going to die. As I'm still here, typing, you will hear about this marvellous zen-experience later. But, for now - back to the beginning.

In Hveragerði, we had the honour of most probably being the last visitors ever to see Bobo's reincarnation as the legendary mechanical monkey of Iceland. That night, Bobo's home - Garden of Eden - burned down to the ground together with its banana trees and postcards and expensive wool sweaters. Fortunately we managed to save the best bits of it as a series of photographs. Might it have been the volcanic heat that made the whole area look like a steaming cooking pot? It sure was hot in the boiling river. We got to take a picnic-bath in there after having walked across those colorful mountains that matched Elsbeth's red hair and green sweater so well that she could have easily fused into the background and become invisible.

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