March 5, 2011

Icelandic Graffiti

One of the things I have found myself oddly fascinated with here in Iceland is the graffiti. I’m not really sure sometimes if I am looking at a commissioned mural or something a little less legal. Either way, they certainly have a knack for it over here. Here are a few photos:

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March 5, 2011

Every Trip Has One

Today has been a complete failure. We got up early so we could drive out to see a very cool glacier lake, and right from the start things went wrong.

The dining room was extra full at breakfast, so we shared a table with some women from Massachusetts who had just arrived. They wanted to chat at length, so instead of a quick bite to eat before getting on the road, we were stuck there for some time. During which it started to snow. (Nice to know that weather forecasters may be relied upon to be wrong regardless of the language in which they are lying to you.)

Stacey is an experienced snow driver, so she wasn’t concerned. We figured we’d go a little ways and if it seemed to be accumulating we’d head back. But it turned out that the snow was the least of our worries—in fact it turned to rain pretty quickly. Our real problem was the wind. It was blowing so hard that Stacey had to work to keep the car in the correct lane. There was just no way we were going for a long drive in weather like that, so we turned back.

OK. Disappointing, yes, but we’d carry on!

So we decided to go to the National Museum…which was not yet open when we arrived. OK, fine.

We headed out for a cafe that was supposed to be nearby. It wasn’t. Right, sure, OK.

So we went to nearby Hallgrímskirkja, the tallest church in Iceland. It was open, and we only had to walk through a small, freezing tornado to get in the door.

The problem is that there isn’t much to see there. It’s big selling point is that you can pay to go to the top and enjoy the great view, which we knew we wouldn’t have in this weather. So that trip only used up about fifteen minutes.

Next we thought we could do some shopping. We explored several stores; Stacey bought some gifts; I bought a tiny painting in a gallery (where I think the sweet little old lady ripped me off on the exchange rate—I don’t know; I don’t want to know; I will likely spend the next 40 years obsessing about it); we tried to find somewhere good to have lunch; we were drizzled on and endured the wind. At some point my camera stopped working for about half an hour.

Eventually we thought the weather had improved enough to attempt a shorter trip outside the city. Long story short: it had not.

We drove back to the hotel. We looked in all of the guidebooks for something fun to do, something even moderately diverting even, but by now it was almost 4 pm and everything was closing at 5 pm. So now we are hanging out in the room, listening to the insanity-inducing wind blow past our window until we are hungry enough to look for dinner.

I think we must have inadvertently pissed off some of those “Hidden People,” though I can’t for the life of me think how. That or we just used up all of our good trip mojo yesterday. Who knows.

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March 5, 2011

Iceland’s Golden Circle

We had a very busy Friday in Iceland! Most of the day was taken up visiting sites on the Golden Circle, a loop of outdoorsy tourist attractions in South Iceland, covering  about 300 km from Reykjavik and back. After the Golden Circle we went on a nice little “Hidden People” (what they call elves and such) walking tour in Hafnarfjörður and then ended the day at the Blue Lagoon in Grindavík.

The weather was clear but very windy, which made it feel colder than it really was sometimes. Most of the time the actual temperatures have been warmer than what they’re getting in Boston right now.

Some photos I took on the drive:

Two shots from our first stop, Þingvellir national park:

A photo from the drive to the second stop:

An Icelandic pony:

The geothermally active valley of Haukadalur is like a tiny version of Yellowstone:

The geyser Strokkur, which goes off every five minutes (unless it is very windy and I am waiting to take a photo):

Proof that I am actually in Iceland! Here I am at the Gullfoss (Golden Falls):

Our last stop, after a tour of the Hidden Folk, was at the popular Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. Here is a photo I took of the strange blue water before we went inside. I didn’t want to risk getting the camera wet, so no photos of the actual spa:

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March 3, 2011

Arrived in Iceland

Hello! Stacey and I arrived safely in Iceland early this morning, and, after a dark, windy drive, a light breakfast, and a short nap, we spent most of the day in Reykjavik. We’re having a good time and enjoying the strangeness of everything around us. We’re supposed to go see the Northern Lights tonight, but if I have the energy when we get back from that I’ll try to give you an idea of what else we’ve seen so far.

In the meantime, here is a photo I took at the Culture House. Feel free to caption it as you see fit.

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