28 March 2015

Fanfest 2015 - Prelude

I had thought 2013 was going to be my only visit to Fanfest but several months ago the group who met in Iceland that year started to make plans for a return. This time around Fanfest was held earlier in the year so it would coincide with the solar eclipe which was set to be 98% totality when viewed from Iceland. Combining that with a chance to meet up with my space buddies again how could I refuse? Tickets were booked relatively late meaning I couldn't take advantage of any Iceland Air package deals. It worked out much better for me to fly with EasyJet anyway as they do direct flights from Edinburgh and also fly at respectable hours. Last time I stayed in the Cabin Hotel which was a 40 minute walk from Harpa so I decided I was going to stay much closer this time. One of my friends was already booked into  Hotel Leifur Eiriksson so I managed to secure a room there as well. Only 10 minutes walk from Harpa I was in a much better shape should I need to nip back to my room at any point.

Abandoning my family on the Tuesday before Fanfest I flew into Iceland and was immediately captured by the CCP gatecamp at the arrivals gate. The CCP party bus took a coach-load of EVE players to Reykjavik whilst feeding us beers. I was sat next to CCP Archduke who made sure I had a beer in my hand at all times. He works in the Dust514 customer support department and spent a portion of the bus journey trying to convince me to update my Dust client and give the game another try. I promised I would. After a little confusion about where I should be dropped for my hotel I was left slightly merry in the town centre to walk up the hill to my hotel. After so many beers so quickly I definitely needed a walk to burn them off a bit.

I got checked into my hotel, dumped my stuff then headed out to meet my corpies at the nearby Cafe Loki. Sadly one couple were unable to travel to Iceland due to illness which left just five of us from the previous excursion to Fanfest. This meant there was plenty of space to fit around a couple of tables whilst trying some traditional Icelandic food. I stuck with the very tasty meat soup whilst others tried rye bread with some sort of hashed fish topping. Another beer or two was consumed before we decided to head down to the Celtic Cross. On the way we were treated to a nice show of the Aurora Borealis which I later learned was visible a long way south. As may be guessed from the name the Celtic Cross is an Irish pub and we were descending on it during St. Patrick's day. This meant much drinking and the night grew fuzzy rapidly. After talking with so many people I can't remember I eventually made it back to my hotel around one in the morning.
Inside the Celtic Cross was this blurry for me too!

The following day was Wednesday and my little group had arranged to go horse riding. something I'd never done before. CCP had the great idea to start issuing passes early this time around so we met early at the Harpa to collect ours. I wasn't able to collect mine due to being on a Fansite ticket but everyone else got sorted out and we headed off to the collection point for horse riding. A short hop out of Reykjavic and we were at the ├Źshestar riding centre. The people there were wonderfully friendly and after a short introductory video on how to control their Icelandic horses we were fitted up with helmets and introduced to our horses. I managed to get up into the saddle without any of the comedic falls over the other side which you see in silly films. I was first to mount so had a decent time to try and become accustomed to sitting on the back of a living, breathing animal. It felt weird.

Before long we were off out following a soft trail laid over the lava fields. It was a little windy and snowing ever so gently but I was plenty warm. I'd by lying if I said I had any actual control over the horse. He know the route and followed it well. This became all the more evident when the five of us tried to line up for a group shot and my horse wouldn't move. If you're going to Fanfest and have a spare day you should definitely try some horse riding. These horses are small so even if you do fall (and nobody came close to) you don't have far to go.
Look at your man and back at me, I'm on horse

Dinner that evening had been booked at the slightly fancy 3 Frakkar restaurant. In 2013 we totally failed to get a table there so this time around we booked two months in advance. The focus on the menu here is traditional Icelandic food. I finally tried the fermented shark (Hakarl) I'd been avoiding and gagged on it. I tried smoked puffin which tasted smoky and mustardy and quite nice actually, I struggled with the raw texture though. I passed on the raw Minky whale 'cooked' in lemon juice. My main was Atlantic Salmon which was very tasty indeed. A slightly pricey place to eat but the food is truly wonderful. You should go.
Outside my hotel

With our many months old booking finally fulfilled we headed back to the Celtic Cross but the Tweetfleet meetup was happening so there was no chance of us getting in there. After the excesses of the previous night we decided that would be a good point to call it a day and head home for a sleep. Tomorrow was the first day of Fanfest.

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