Sunday, February 1, 2015

I'll be back!

Next trips to Iceland:
June 19 - August 2, 2015
August 28 - September 20, 2015

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Away, away & with delay

Before I take the bus to the airport, I have time to go to the Aurora Museum. It’s not exactly something I’m really keen on seeing, but it’s the only thing open this early in the morning. It’s a bit disappointing actually. Way too expensive at ISK 1600 for what little they have to offer. Although there is free coffee and tea available afterwards, but I quickly move on. The weather is getting evil, rain and gale winds. The forecast is bad today and I hope my plane makes it out on time.
I’m at the airport early and usually like to hang out there, but it’s sad. All of the Icelandic places are closing down. No more Kaffitár or Epal. Instead a new Danish coffee place that pumps loud modern music from its loudspeakers has taken over. The noise is absolutely annoying. The airport is still being renovated and who knows what else will happen. It all makes me incredibly sad. I have plenty of time to think about all of this since my plane is delayed 4 hours. Bless bless.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Today’s highlight is the exhibition at the Reykjavík Museum of Photography (Ljósmyndasafn Reykjavíkur). I always check out the current exhibition here whenever I’m in town. Admission is free and there is no excuse for not getting a bit of culture.Today’s display is by Bragi Þór Jósefsson called “Defence Force”. Here is a description of the exhibition from the museum’s website: “In 2006 the US naval air base at Keflavík closed down after more than half a century. Bragi Þór Jósefsson took these photographs on the base, after the military had departed.
 The base was established in 1951 after a defence agreement was reached between Iceland and the USA, and the Iceland Defence Force was founded. Iceland has never had any military forces of its own. The population of the base varied, peaking at about 5,700, including military personnel and their families, as well as staff of various on-base bodies. The base was a self-sufficient world with own shops, schools, hospital, cinema, sports facilities and nightspots – as well as military installations and housing. Surrounded by a security fence, the base was a foreign world, quite different from what Icelanders were used to. For many years, Icelanders had to pass through the base’s security gate and this “American” town in order to leave the country, as the international air terminal was on the military base until the Leifur Eiríksson Air Terminal was built in 1987. After the Cold War came to an end around 1990, the base lost much of its strategic importance, and its operations were gradually wound down until it closed in 2006, and the US military presence came to an end after 55 years.

At that point Bragi Þór took his photo series Iceland Defence Force, showing the abandoned US base amid Icelandic lava fields. This American ghost town had a 110-volt electrical supply (and not the Icelandic 220v), and its water supply was chlorinated according to American rules (a phenomenon unknown in Iceland, as the spring water is so pure). Few Icelanders had any experience of life on the base, and in the photographs it is seen abandoned, and unambiguously foreign.” 

Friday, January 23, 2015

A day in Reykjavík

Súsanna and I have breakfast at Grái Kötturinn. It’s one of my favorite breakfast spots in Reykjavík, and a bit crowded today. Then we head to the pool in Mosfellsbær. I’ve never been to this pool before, but S. has a car and it’s good to take advantage of that. It’s a big pool, nice and modern, and hardly any people there. There's about 2 cm of fresh snow on the ground, in fact t blows and snows like crazy. Perfect hotpot weather. But the wind eventually blows the clouds right away and a nice bit of sun shines on the peak of Úlfarsfell mountain.

After thorough soaking, we drive over to Álafoss, which I have also never seen before. Founded in 1896, it’s a wool store and factory with a long tradition. Originally it was built near the waterfall of the same name to harness the water’s energy for production. During WWII, barracks were constructed in the area for British soldiers. The region also boasts a swimming pool originally built in the 1930s, but was recently converted to a music studio that has produced many Icelandic bands. Today there is a shop selling wool products, as well as a nice café, and after looking around and having waffles, we take a nice walk along the river in the snow. By now the sun is shining bright and it feels so good on my face! Such a rare precious moment after a long, dark arctic winter.

Later, dinner is at Gló, another place I haven’t been to yet and I’m impressed. All raw food, and huge portions. After dinner, we take a long walk along the ocean, with the beautiful crescent moon accompanying us, and the stars and lights from Akranes shining bright. But in minutes the weather turns evil and the wind is blowing snow like crazy and it’s impossible to see. We pop into the downtown area for protection of the buildings, and stop in a bar for a glass of wine. On the way home, everything is white and it feels like winter again.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

On the road again

Home sweet home
My morning flight is delayed 40 minutes due to technical problems with the machine. Matta is kind enough to take me to the airport despite having to work, and we chat and sip coffee before leaving. The cat doesn’t want me to go. I’ll miss her. The flight is uneventful. I have a window seat as usual. Flying over the fjords is beautiful. I am extremely grateful, a bit melancholic but not sad. I have a good life with one foot on the island and one on the continent. I look forward to returning soon and know that one day it will be for good. 

 In Reykjavík there’s no snow and it rains like crazy most of the day. I feel like I’m in an entirely different country. I jump in a taxi, ride to Súsanna’s and let myself in with my key. After depositing my luggage, I head off to the hardware store. I really need a toilet seat! Back in the remote Westfjords, I just can’t find a seat that fits properly. My old one is held together with cable ties and its expected lifespan is very short. After finding what I need, I head straight to the post office and mail it back home, where Angela will take good care of it until I return. 

Then I jump in the bus and head to the mall to meet Björg for some shopping and a nice dinner at Hamborgarafabrikkan. In the evening I sit in Mezzo café with a mango chai latte and read. Later Súsanna and I chat until 11:30 and just after I fall asleep, my phone wakes me with a text message from Angela: fantastic display of northern lights in Ísafjörður. I’m homesick already!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

One last time

It’s almost time to leave again. Angela and I go out sledding one last time. The conditions aren’t really that great for sledding. The constant change of thaw and freeze has left the slopes slick with ice. My little blue saucer spins out of control and on the first run I make I really dumb mistake. I am racing towards the avalanche wall at top speed and panic. I dig my heel out in front of me to slow down and am promptly launched through the air in a somersault that lands me on the solid ice on my neck, head and hand.  I’m in a bit of a shock but think I’m ok. I am more stunned at how fast an accident can happen in just a moment of stupidity. I think about wearing a helmet next time. No. I just really need a new sled instead of this flying saucer. 

Back home, B. makes a nice dinner and we head out to the pool for a soak in the hottub.   

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sub-optimal elements

Our parking lot is an ice-skating rink

Crappy weather today, and I don’t say that that too often. It thaws and rains and there are heavy winds and the roads are so slick that it’s really difficult to walk. I go out at lunch for only 20 minutes and get absolutely soaked, right through my ski pants and all. The streets are nothing but foot-deep slush. The icicles fall from the roof with a huge crash. All flights are cancelled, but even in Reykjavik, affecting international flights as well. Too crappy to hike. Angela invites me over for fruit salad with ice cream and tea instead. It’s also time to take down the Christmas decorations.