We document our family's working sabbaticals as well as adventures a tad closer to home.

Our home, or the post in which I explain why I went to Ikea.

Our home, or the post in which I explain why I went to Ikea.

Part of our plan for this trip was to live normally in a foreign city. To not feel constantly like tourists. And so, it is of note that I did something yesterday truly, truly mundane. I went to Ikea.

Now, some backstory. Iceland, from what we can gather, digs Ikea (and if you watched the Ellen clip from a couple days ago you can see they are kindred). Our home is a delightful Ikea/Systa blend. All the things you want to be sleek and modern and clean are. The sofa, the bathroom. You don’t feel like you are sitting on something that smells like grandmothers. Then, there are these delightful artsy (many of them Systa’s) elements that help it feel like a home, so you don’t feel like you are living in an Ikea display, which let’s face it, would be weird.

If you’ve been curious, here’s our block.

And our building.

Inside, the blend of Ikea and not Ikea.

About 20 minutes after we took possession of the apartment and about 1 minute after I asked “Are you sure you don’t need help with that?” someone I live with, who will not be named but whose Icelandic name is Aðalbjörg Fridleifsson, dropped a suitcase onto one of our bedroom lamps. As it was from Ikea it was not the sturdiest and broke in half.

We searched for a replacement, since the lamp had a twin on the other side of the room.
Sad, lonely twin:

We found about a dozen of them at the Kolaportið flea market. Bright blue, light blue, yellow. It was a rainbow connection of old Ikea lamps. Only one was black and the owner would not part with it (it was being used to illuminate some lava rock jewelry).

So, the decision was made that I’d try to find the lamp at Ikea, which is a mere busride away. I’d get to try out Reykjavik’s public transportation system. Having enjoyed my micro rides in Lima, my Metro rides in Paris, trams in Amsterdam, train trips in Morocco, I am always excited to try out what a new city offers.

Our apartment is remarkably close to the Hlemmur bus stop, one of the two main stops in the city.

Hlemmur is also a gathering spot for people struggling, often addicts. I had my first interaction with someone who appeared to be homeless. He asked me for cigarettes in several languages. I said I didn’t have any in just one.

I purchased my ticket:

Not impressed? Well, it’s the tiniest ticket ever.

I am a nervous person so the fear of this guy disappearing was constant. Should I hold it in my hand so it doesn’t get lost in my wallet? Or put it in my wallet so it doesn’t blow away? The bus I needed ran every half hour, so I had ample time to strategize. Or worry.

The trip itself was unremarkable.
I hopped the 1 bus,

and transferred at Fjörður to the 21.

It was easy because-look!- Ikea was a bus stop.

Much like every store we’ve seen in Iceland, there was an útsala, a sale.

It’s the one word Brett feels like he’s learned in Icelandic because it is everywhere. Since the banking crash, many stores are offering up to 60 or 70% off to try to lure shoppers in a city with a 24.5% sales tax.

Once inside I was swept up in the remarkable sameness. Escalator up, galleries, cafe serving Swedish delights. While the map wasn’t in English, I knew I was looking for lýsing, or lighting.

Dear friends, I want this story to end with my victorious purchase of the lamp. It doesn’t end that way. As Brett had noted he had the same lamp in college, it appears Ikea has moved on. Instead, I purchased two black lamps that appear to be the new millenium’s version of that lamp. They were a real deal (thanks útsala). We intend to wrap them up with a note and a bottle of wine.



Expect no insight in this one folks.

Expect no insight in this one folks.