Posts from my 2012 trip in chronological order:
Emails from Darien - Re: Thingssss...
Whaling ships, Reykjavík, 2006
September 15, 2012 at 6:35 pm
Your trip isn't too far off, is it? So exciting! I bet you have lots of plans for pictures you're going to take for your serial novel; what fun.
I had been trying hard to remember where I had put your panoramic photo of Reykjavik, as I am ready to put it on one of our log cabin walls that isn't log. Well, I went over to the old house today to retrieve some things from the attic (including a crib!), and there it was, hanging in Peter's bedroom. I said, "I'm ready for that back, Now!" Peter looked crestfallen, and then said, "Could you ask Professor Batty if he could print one for me too? I would like to pay him for it." Would you consider that? Or, maybe you'd like to take another, different panoramic this next trip? Either would be great, but only if you let me pay.
Tell me how your travel plans are shaping up! Oh, did I tell you that I got a perfect edition of Barbara from Bookmooch, sent from Australia! Planning to read it soon.
September 15, 2012 at 11:07 pm
Hi, greetings from the Flippist pre-travel anxiety center. Actually, I've got less trepidation this time—I have virtually nothing scheduled (except a meeting with old blog-pal Kristín). I have a rental bike reserved for the whole duration, hopefully it won't snow like it did last Monday! I have other copies of that pano, but I will make many new panos this trip- best to wait and see. I'd love to catch a performance by Pascal Pinon, but I think they'll be too busy with their homework! I'll be scouring the bookstores and Kolaportið for Þórbergur Þórðarson. I think you will be knocked out by Barbara, it is truly a book to be savored. Kathryn loved it.
Your slightly nervous blog-pal,
September 28, 2012 at 9:54
So Professor! I am really surprised. You used the words "anxiety" "trepidation" and "nervous" in one (1) email! I had no idea. What is the cause of these feelings? Do you not like flying? Meeting new people? Situations that are unpredictable? Divulge. Bare your soul. Not meaning to sound quite so sarcastic, just surprised at this unexpected view.
What are your dates? Might you do a major bike trek, on out to Gljúfrasteinn? And, have you ever been horseback riding in Iceland? You should do that! Maybe you'll have enough time to take the ferry out to the Westman Islands, that's a wonderful trip. My thoughts fly with you ...
yr. pal Darien
September 29, at 8:35
Hi again, Darien!
Your reading between the lines of my email has unearthed my deepest secret—I AM A NERVOUS NELLIE! If there is anything which can go wrong, I will imagine it. Actually, I've never had a fear of flying and this time I'll be flying direct so the actual travel will be nearly painless (spending the night in Boston's Logan Airport is like being in one of Dante's circles of hell!) Meeting people is easy for me- and Icelanders have always been werrry werrry nice to me. Unpredictable situations? This is possibly the first major trip I've taken that I won't have any concerns about that—I'm even staying in the same room I did last time. The weather is a concern, of course, and Lordy am I ever overdue for some of the wild stuff. In four trips I've spent over a month in Iceland and in that entire time I have only experienced one light shower in Reykjavík and an hour of rain in Reykjanesfolkvangur. 2006 was glorious- sunny and warmish every day and calm at night with northern lights. Time will tell.
I'm leaving the on the 3rd, and will return the 16th. Gljúfrasteinn is on the agenda, FINALLY! Actually, the distance there is about the same as my bike commute to work, although definitely not so flat. I've got a new camera outfit which fits on the back of my bike so I will be taking lots of pictures, including panoramas. I will be there in time to catch the end of the Reykjavík International Film Festival, and there are a couple of CD release concerts at Iðno as well. But my daily routine will include swimming and soaking at the pools every day, hardfiskur og smjör, skyrr and pylsur. Horses? I might eat some. Ferry? Now that is definitely one of my phobias, although I will take the ferry to Viðey (all of 1000 meters) for the lighting of Yoko's Peace Tower.
So there you have it.
Batty's secret fears exposed.
Whenever I have been in Iceland,
I always feel relaxed,
As if I really belong there.
I don't know exactly why that is,
But it's why I keep going back.
This time will be lower key, I'm sure.
And that's alright.
October 3 - Back on the Rock
Landed without incident at 06:35 at Keflavik International Airport. Got to town on the Flybus and checked in at my apartment. I went for a morning stroll and caught Mount Esja in all its glory:
Mount Esja, Iceland 2012
I ran into one of the directors at the Reykjavík International Film Festival, she struck up a conversation and I showed her I already had her film written down in my book:
Andrea Sisson and friend, Reykjavik, 2012
I managed to squeeze in a little brekkie:
Breakfast of Champions, Prikið, Reykjavik, 2012
I picked up some groceries and my bike, and then soaked in the hot pots, and had a nap. I woke to the dulcet tones of a sound check from Biggi Hilmars—he was giving a CD release party at Fríkirkjan, the church just a few steps away from my front door. I went to the concert, which was very well done, and got these shots:
October 4 - Walking After Midnight in Reykjavik
As Sharon wanders down Baldursgata she wails a lonesome song:
I go out walking
Out in the moonlight
Just like we used to do
I'm always walking
Searching for you...
Out in the starlight
Just hoping you may be
Searching for me!
October 5 - Paradise Regained and Lost Again
Friday was an absolutely perfect day for a bike ride. Warm in the sun, cool in the shade, very little wind. I'd thought I'd take the 20 mile ride to Gljúfrasteinn, the preserved home of Nobel Prize winning writer, Halldór Laxness. Getting out of town is a bit tricky on a bicycle, however I did come across some spectacular views from the bike path:
Hamrahlið, Near Reykjavík
The Laxness home was modest and very Scandinavian, almost to the point of being severe:
The guide was familiar with the Laxness in Translation Site and we talked a great deal about Laxness and his work. The inside was exactly as it was when Laxness lived there; I was even given a special glimpse of the kitchen. I managed to sneak this pic of the master's study:
HKL's study, Gljúfrasteinn
The trip back held many photogenic vistas:
I did manage to get hopelessly confused as to which path I should take (I took a different route on my return trip) but was finally straightened out with the help of this Viking compass:
Somewhere near Mosfellbaer
October 6 - Kolaportið, Kaffi, and Kourmákur
After yesterday's adventures, I decided to take it a little easier today, sticking close to my apartment. I did go to Kolaportið, a combination flea market/grocery with a wide variety of seafood, meats, pastries and even a few vegetables:
I spent the afternoon in the company of an old blog-pal, her husband and their absolutely charming toddler:
In the evening I went to see Baltasar Kourmakur's newest film Djupið, (The Deep), a true story of a fisherman who swam seven miles in the frigid sea after his ship sank. Brutally realistic- they filmed in the ship as it was sinking!
October 7 - Lazy Sunday
More time spent at Kolaportið. People watching at its finest:
The Weaver told me to take more pictures of yummy Icelandic food:
Went to the pool, where I was treated to sun, sleet and rain. In other words: regular Icelandic weather. Afterwards, I hung out in a small bar, a thing which I almost never do. Very low key, no neon beer signs, and a very quiet crowd, it could become a bad habit:
Took more pictures after dinner. It was fairly chilly tonight, but should warm up a bit for the rest of the week.
October 8 - Monday Miscellany
Took a ride to the Old Harbour part of Reykjavík. It has undergone dramatic changes in the last 12 years. It is now full of very nice places to eat. The changes have been done for the most part by using existing buildings and keeping the new ones in proper scale, while still keeping the boatworks and other industrial uses. In a warehouse building I found the shop Farmers Market
, a place featuring Icelandic garments:
After a swim I headed up the hill to a coffeehouse near Hallgrímskirkja to meet with Maria of the Iceland Eyes
blog, we both were struck with the strange feeling of meeting someone for the first time, yet knowing an awful lot about each other- we go back to 2004! Conversation ranged from blogging (past and present), Robert Graves, writing, music, relationships and life in general:
It was a rainy night, but my new DSLR is weather proofed, so it was a good night for seeing what it could do: As I was setting up for a shot this young couple "happened" to get in the picture:
Tomorrow Yoko Ono and Lady Gaga will be in town, Yoko will be giving Lady G an award, I'm going to try to sneak in to the ceremony.
October 9 - Imagine...
Yoko Ono and Lady Gaga were in town, Yoko gave Lady G an award in a private ceremony in the new Harpa hall on the waterfront (I was not invited):
I explored the inside of the hall- the construction of the windows is a thing to behold:
I spent some time on the Seltjarnarnes peninsula, and went to the salt-water pool there. My swimming pass wouldn't work, the attendant laughed and said "That's for the city pools, you're in the country now!" The pool was very nice indeed, although I'm not big on the way salt water feels on my skin.
The evening, of course, was Yoko's. She lights the Imagine Peace Tower
every year on this date, the date of John Lennon's birth, and it remains lit until the anniversary of his death in December. It was somewhat controversial when it opened in 2007, but the city residents seemed to enjoy its presence and it is now also lit at Christmas and New Years. The only complication for me was that I had to take a dreaded ferry to Viðey island, where the light-tower is and where the ceremony takes place. There was a nice big tour boat at the ferry, but it left just before I got in line. I ended up on a tiny ferry, about the same size as the boat which sank in Djupið. I shared a seat with some freelance photographers, I sensed the trip wasn't as big a thrill for them as it was for me:
There were thousands of people on the island and Yoko did appear, undaunted by the light rain, with sincere greetings to the crowd and the world at large:
The tower was lit a section at a time, while John's Imagine
played. It was very nice:
Afterwards we all stood around waiting for the ferries, on the trip back (on the big ferry) I did meet some scouts from Georgia (not the US state.) A nice end to a memorable night.
October 10 - Nótt og dag og nótt
Wednesday rained. All day. Not a deluge, but one could get quite wet with no trouble at all. There was a show at Faktorý
(formerly Grand Rokk
) in the evening, so I wandered out in my raincoat. As I strolled to the club I was tempted by the sight of this tableaux to get my own Icelandic "souvenir:"
Reykjavík Ink, Tattoo Parlor
I have been in this club many times, but never when it felt so "tropical" (heat and humidity) as it did last night. I've been meaning to catch the techno/goth trio Samaris
for some time (they don't tour much, being in high school) and was duly impressed by their spooky vibe:
October 11 - Gastronomics
It did rain off and on throughout the night, but by Thursday morning the weather broke clear over the "hood":
I was out and about: the pool, Friða Frænka antiques, Nautholsvík, and when it started to sprinkle again, I headed for the safety of Kríngland, the big shopping center. I was tempted by some sushi, but knew I would be going out to eat later tonight:
! Not the herb (although there was plenty of that) but the Restaurant in the Alvar Aalto designed Nordic House in Reykjavík:
Seven courses of food and six courses of wine (plus a little Icelandic IPA thrown in.) This "warm potato salad" was nothing like my mother used to make:
And two courses of dessert, including this delight "made with blueberries from Þingvellir":
October 12 - Brief Impressions of a Frantic Friday
Another beautiful day, warmish with no rain, I pedaled out to Grotta, an out of service lighthouse on the west end of town, desolate and picturesque:
Spent much of the day taking pictures around town. Tonight I went to Þjóðleikhúsið (The National Theatre) where I saw another exemplary performance. This time it was Jónsmessunótt
, an original dark comedy. Afterwards I took a stroll through the downtown:
The downtown really comes to life after 2300. The clubs are full of beautiful people, even Harpa "dresses up" for the evening:
I caught a glimpse of this little afterparty outside city hall:
October 12-13 - Night in the City
City Hall, Reykjavík, 2012
Night in the city.
A stranger in a strange land.
Each new vista encountered in my nocturnal ramble akin to to watching a silent play from another culture.
On the surface, everything is self-evident.
Underneath are hidden contexts and meanings.
An event, no doubt, perhaps an anniversary celebration.
The mannequin dressers were working late- it was nearly midnight.
They moved with grace, purposefully.
Ballerinas in a mimed ballet.
October 13 - Culture Night
I took coffee with one of the Laxness in Translation contributors, Silja Aðalsteinsdóttir, a most illuminating afternoon. Our conversation started with Salka Valka and went numerous places from there. Silja writes theatre reviews for TMM (Timarít Mals og Menníngar
) and she suggested I see John Logan's play Rautt
(Red) which was about the painter Mark Rothko. So it was that I found myself Saturday evening outside the Borgarleihusið
(the City Theatre of Reykjavík):
It is a large complex with two theatres and a vast, airy lobby area, quite the contrast to the intimate Þjóðleikhúsið Kassinn venue I went to last night:
The play was quite wordy, although the context (late fifties New York art scene) and numerous instances of name-dropping in the script helped me follow the gist of the story. Rothko (Jóhann Sigurðarson) and his fictional assistant (Hilmar Gudjonsson) have heated conversations about the meaning of modern art:
Silja mentioned the quality of the acting, and she was right—Jóhann Sigurðarson was outstanding, his physical presence defined the character as much as his speech.
October 14 - Sunday in the City
Bæjarins beztu pylsa
October 15 - Pipe Dream
Sure, I could cash in my 401k and rent this place in the center of Rekjavík, right across the street from Fríkirkjan. Fill it with friends, live the expat lifestyle, and...
...and it really is quite a mad idea. But what dreamer hasn't thought of pulling up stakes and starting over in some exotic locale? And if you aren't still dreaming, what does the future hold?
October 16 - Farewell
"When the peace of Autumn has become poetic instead of being taken for granted...the last day of the plover become a matter of personal regret...the horse become associated with the history of art and mythology...the evening ice-film on the farm stream become reminiscent of crystal...and the smoke from the chimney become a message to us from those who discovered fire - then the time has come to say goodbye. The world-bacterium has overcome you, the countryside has turned into literature, poetry and art; and you no longer belong there."
~Halldór Laxness, The Atom Station