Thursday
Jul172014

Góða nótt, Iceland...

What a wonderful few days in a magic land.

Today on the train I was drawing pictures and making lists of everything I could remember...the Blue Lagoon, Gull Foss, Geysir, volcanoes old and new, the [ahem] unique Phallological Museum, tooling around Reykjavik by bike and evidence of Vikings everywhere! All I can say is that if life ever hands you the opportunity to visit this marvellous place, go. You will be made most welcome.

A tiny glimpse:

This is Gull Foss -- the Golden Falls that rush beside and through Iceland's great rift. This country is entirely volcanic, being in the unique position right at the confluence of the North American and European tectonic plates. Iceland is slowly being pulled apart -- at a rate of about 2 cm every year -- and the great rift is where it happens.

Gull Foss -- the Golden Falls

Nearby to Gull Foss is Thingvillr, an important place in the history of Iceland. It was here the world's first parliament met, where decisions were made and covenants kept. Miscreants were drowned for their crimes in these translucent waters, and marriages were made and celebrated.

Right in the heart of the rift valley, Thingvillr fills your eyes with the most amazing landscape. The current President has his summer house here, where the land has cracks that have never been explored. Apparently the cave diving is incredible. I don't think I'd have the courage to try.

Thingvillr drowning waters

Speaking of the waters, these are the waters of the Blue Lagoon. This is a volcanic hot spring, enormous in size, a small part of which has been walled off for human use. The waters are rich in sulphur and silica and have traditionally been used to bring relaxation and health back to those who bathe in them. This is a hot springs culture -- every neighbourhood and small village has a pool, and every pool has a 'hot pot', but the Blue Lagoon is really something special.

The colours of this water are so vivid they can be seen by satellite.Back in the city, the sky darkened enough one night for me to get this shot of moon rise:

Reykjavik moon

Reykjavik was rife with adventure. I will spare you the photos I took from the Phallological Museum, but suffice to say I believe the Icelandic National Handball team are ... well-represented there. It was QUITE the interesting experience, and an hysterical way to spend a rainy hour.

Instead I offer you a shot of the home of some of the Hidden Ones, the elven people who can only be seen by very few believers. This particular rock had been the source of many construction woes at the site where it was uncovered. When an expert was brought in, it was decided that the hidden ones who lived inside needed relocating to a place of their own choosing. Once the rock was moved to the centre of town among several houses and by a children's park, the construction proceeded unimpeded. Such is the power of the Hidden People.

The Hidden Ones live here.

I'll finish with the moment, long after midnight one night, when I watched the sun dip --briefly! -- into the North Atlantic:

Icelandic sunsetDidn't stay down there for long, however. Sun rose again before 3.

Takk, Iceland. I will never forget you!

 

 

More soon...

 

 

Saturday
Jul122014

Not Done Yet...Food Edition

If you follow my twitter feed, you'll know by the 'where am I?' post I put up today that I am not in Iceland any more.

I flew all night and washed up on the shores of London, England this morning. More on that later, as I am not done with Iceland yet. I am already dreaming of returning...

Iceland is a fishing nation, and though I didn't meet any Icelanders who admitted to enjoying eating shark and whale meat ... it was there.

oh, it was there...

A little more startling for me was the casual display of this famous dish:

Apparently sheep's head is a regular go-to. I took this [admittedly hasty and therefore sadly hazy] photo in the bus station cafeteria.

If it's on the bus station menu, you know it's gotta be easy to find.

But the thing that shocked me most was how Puffin seemed to be on menus everywhere. I don't know why I was shocked. I mean, apparently it is little more than a colourful chicken.

And yet... I've been angling to see a Puffin in the feathers since my adventure in Orkney a couple of years ago. They are adorable!

Is he not adorable...?

Apparently, he is also very tasty. I will spare you [and my own soft heart] a picture of Puffin Pie.

I've decided the trolls must be behind this. They want the cute puffins out of the way so they can control the tourist market.

 

Yeah...that's gotta be it.

Okay, that's it for me. I am typing this with my eyelashes on the keyboard, I swear. Will do an Iceland wrap-up next time.

 

More soon...!

 

~kc

Thursday
Jul102014

Geysir

So, in the most volcanic nation on earth, what's a good way to spend your time?

How about watching water explode out of the earth at regular intervals?

This geysir, whose name is Strokkur [they all have names, of course] is supposed to go off every five minutes or so, but I got lucky and got to watch 3 events in under a minute. Strokkur is little brother to the Great Geysir, but he's been taking a rest lately [maybe calmed by the recent volcanic activity?], and the two are among 30 or so geysers and hotpots in the immediate vicinity.

After watching a film today at Volcano House on Eyjafjallajökull [the volcano whose plume of ash stranded 100,000 air passengers in 2010, one of them my son], I feel all the more grateful for the wee bits of gas relief that these geysirs provide this explosive country.

Here's how this one blows...

Everything looks calm. The water is 100 degrees C, though, so a little warm for a dip.

Something's happening...

Suddenly, the water does a quick retreat.

Okay, then...!

Up...up...

...and it's time to run for cover!

Thirty metres of boiling sulphur water. It was amazing!

Tomorrow's my last day here, but I've other glimpses into this magical land planned for you in the coming days.

More soon!

 

~kc

 

Wednesday
Jul092014

Iceland

My, this is a beautiful place.

I've landed here almost by accident -- more or less on a whim. En route to visit my girl and do more book-ish research in the UK, I found that a stop in Reykjavik would only cost me a further $100 or so [and about 11 extra hours of flying time...].

How could I resist?

So I am here in the land of the Hidden People, geysirs, golden waterfalls, hotpots and magic. It is a brilliant place and I feel so honoured and lucky to have washed up here, even for just a few days.

Hope to give you a wee visual sampling here on the blog. Have any questions? Just ask! Bias declared up front: I'd recommend you come without hesitation.

With the inspiration this place offers, I'd be back in a heartbeat if I could. 

More research needed, don't you think?

The shot to the right was taken just before midnight, as the sun shone through this beautiful glass sculpture near the Keflavik airport.

I did watch the sun dip itself briefly in the North Atlantic, but it didn't stay down long enough to get anything like dark before dawn came again. In fact, I'm pretty sure that around here at this time of year, dusk and dawn are identical twins with a separation complex.

The world is waking up to this mystical island -- Game of Thrones shoots many of the 'North of the Wall' scenes here, and the even Ben Stiller's execrable desecration of the Walter Mitty story was made beautiful by setting it here.

The lake in the bottom of this dormant volcano was too gigantic to be captured by my lens from where I stood. That teeny white dot on the left is a person, to give you a sense of scale.

Everything here seems larger than life -- the mountains, the waterfalls, the glaciers. [Tho' the glaciers are shrinking, sadly...].

Next time I'll try to capture a bit of what it's like to stand beside the world's oldest geysir. Stay tuned!

 

More soon...

 

~kc

Friday
Jul042014

There was...

...no internet service at my house this morning.

I'm sure it's just a coincidence.

 

More soon...

 

~kc

 

Edited to add...

 

So, Telus began bombarding me with phone calls after the blog & twitter posts, and offered me the same deal as the new people get for 6 months. When I added that it seemed odd to have a policy that angers your long-standing customers to the point they think of leaving, she just didn't reply. Like -- silence. Then -- "Is there anything else I can do for you, madam?" SO frustrating. Once again, I recognize the person who called me is not the policy-maker, but it's clear from this that Telus values its employees as highly as its customers, which is to say... not at all.