Day 6 – The Golden Circle

Day six began with a much clearer frame of mind and I felt rejuvenated, if still a little daunted by the prospect of hopping around so much. I  decided that, in order to fix myself completely, I needed a cup of tea from the small campsite restaurant. It definitely helped. It also helped to get talking to someone new again, and this time it was the bartender. A 21 year old Polish guy who completely shamed me in my knowledge of  politics across Europe. As a UK citizen, I should try to be more aware that other countries tend to know more about our politics than I do of theirs. That and the fact that they know English puts them at an advantage in my opinion. At least now I know that Poland was a very prosperous country from the 8th century all the way to the 17/18th century, when wars started happening, and communism took place. I also learned that most European countries have both a prime minister and a president. They’re all as crooked, mostly more so than ours. Another thing that struck me about this guy was how hard he had to work. As much as we complain about our working situations, he had to reduce his sleep to 5 hours an night in order to fit in work, uni and a  little amount of time for himself. But he always emphasized that he thought it was worth it. He’ll make a good lawyer!

We saw one of Iceland’s most famous Geysers and a beautiful waterfall, of which I’ll include photos! Iceland is amazing for the variety of scenery it has. Its not just beautiful, but its boiling and freezing, mountainous and flat. I can’t imagine any of the other countries we’re going to be visiting topping Iceland for its natural beauty! In the evening, we arrived at a campsite in a small village called Vik. The campsite manager immediately struck me as looking like that guy in The Fast Show.

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He was wearing an England top and seemed less interested than he should be about taking our payments. I’ve noticed that campsites in Iceland work on a sort of honor system, relying on the campers to openly own up to whatever facilities they have used and pay for them. I had already had a shower without paying for it as no one seemed around to charge me, and I got the impression that we could easily have parked up, set up a tent and driven away the next day without paying and he would be none the wiser.

Whilst we were sat down in the communal area, we decided to be brave and try and cook pasta on our little stove we’d rented. The guy who rented us the stove assured us that as long as it wasn’t completely broken when we returned it, we wouldn’t be charged. It wasn’t long before a man sitting across from us felt we could use a little advice on how to use the stove. His name was Ben, and his partner next to him was called Tiphany. Ben was an engineer and Tiphany was a journalist for a local Parisian paper. I thought I’d share with Ben the fact that I’d noticed a lot of French people at the campsite. Ben was quick to reply, “I hate it. I wanted a holiday away from French people, not to be surrounded by them”. He may have put it more politely than that, but that was the gist that I got from him. As a means of making small talk, I asked him how he found learning English, because he was very obviously fluent in it. We agreed that English is very easy to begin learning (not that I’d remember), but then it becomes increasingly difficult with all of the rules. I replied to him saying how stupid I thought some of the rules were. Ben was quick to dismiss the idea that it could be stupid. “I will not allow it to be called stupid. These rules all have a reason and a history to them, so they should be respected”. When reading this, you might think he was a bit sharp with his tone, but he wasn’t. He was just passionate about language, and was telling us about how some people were trying to adjust the French language so it didn’t include accents. In Britain, we have a whole monarchy to keep up tradition, so it seemed bizarre to get rid of some of the traditions in the French language.

I noticed that Tiphany was engaged in the conversation, but wasn’t speaking an awful lot. When she did talk, she apologized for how little she knew English. To put her at her ease, I told her the one sentence I knew in French and how there was no excuse for me not knowing more. They were very kind about that. As part of a couple, its very easy to form roles within your partnership. The louder one and the quieter one, the organizer and the fun one etc. etc. What I really liked about Ben was he obviously had faith in Tiphany, and purposely did not translate for her. When asking about her job, he was actively as interested as us, and was encouraging her to tell us. Turns out her English was just fine, and her job sounds amazing, interviewing one of her favorite artists being her highlight. When talking about our travels, both of them were incredibly interested for brief acquaintances and repeatedly said what an amazing opportunity it was and how much they’d like to hear about how it’s going. I was amazed by how much support we got from family and friends, so it was a really lovely surprise to get it from them as well. When telling them about where we were going, Ben very audibly groaned when we said we’d be staying in the USA. I knew from listening around that there were some American people in the room, but that didn’t stop him. “I think Americans are very proud” he said within full earshot. Just like with the French, I asked him if he minded being overheard. He had no qualms about this whatsoever. In a world were being PC is the way and opinions should always be said in the most diplomatic way ever, it was very refreshing to see a man in the middle of a packed room being happy to offend most of the people in it. I hope it is coming across that his nature was just very real, and that he was very likable and positive as well. As a couple, they complimented each other well.

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