A Travellerspoint blog

Iceland

Reykjavik

On the Road, Again


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Driving along today I thought of many ways to begin this next instalment of the ongoing pursuits of an at times reluctant traveller. Should I start at The beginning, A beginning, The end, or simply create a preamble related to my dilemma as to where to start. It would seem that the latter option was the one that felt the most illogical, or simply made the most sense at the time I was driving along into the kind of rain storm that batters your wheels, and makes you realise you should stop day dreaming about how to begin a diatribe that will have more the one beginning anyway, as unfamiliar roads have a habit of not following a dead straight course. So without further ado, let me begin. Ahem.

Now it has been awhile since I have been in the drivers seat of anything more technical than an automatic shaver, so to step up to a manual car was a bit of a stretch. My last set of actual wheels that I owned, was my sweet as '74 Leyland Mini Clubman. Man, that was some good times. I like to think I have a fair degree of experience when it comes to driving manual, I mean I tore that car around roundabouts like Mix Master Mike cuts those sweet beats in Ill Communication. I have also forfeited any right to lecture any youngsters in the future, as to driving responsibly, because, not something my family would be happy to hear, I have done some really really stupid s-h-I-t both before and after getting into a car. With passengers. Yeah. Glad we all made it home. That said, I'm alluding to the fact that I am not a complete idiot now, when it comes to operating a car. Except when it is all back to front. Driving a stickshift with your right hand is like brushing your teeth with your left foot. I mean, it's just weird. All kinds of uncomfortable. That feeling you have when you've buttoned up one of your shirts, blue of course, out of sequence and not realised all day exactly what you'd done wrong, was the feeling I had.

But driving along that road, mind wandering away on all kinds of tangents was crazy fun. The views. Seriously I think I'm running out of ways to describe the sights. I'm sure those NZ residents who go away on weekend adventures would have a million sights that blew their mind. (Hi Mrs Emma!) When it has been raining and your cruising through verdant green pastures, with some kind of mountain range lurking, shrouded in a veil of cloud, teasingly revealing a shimmer of an outline of its sweet low curves, raising and disapering up into the hem line of mist that clings to its peaks. When it is all grey in the sky, but somehow, the sun manages to stretch apart the clouds, like cotton wool, to pear down in the valley below and say, 'wassup?'. When some Outkast is playing on 957FM Icelandic Pop, the beat just takes over. All of a sudden, the landscape is illuminated. Those greens manage to fluoresce, the black soil takes on a rich oiliness, like its been poured through the valley, the clouds reveal their intricate lace texture and radiate the rays piercing through. It explodes. Briefly. You smile, then realise you've veered off the road a little cause your a 'dick'.

Well that was what my GPS unit said to me, because after spending 15min learning to operate it, I changed its setting to 'Emma from NZ'. Just for the company on the drive. It/she was a little sassy, but kept me on pretty much the only road that runs around Iceland. Oh, I went to the south coast by the way, so again you can play along at home. It may take me 34mins to correctly write the places down. Easy, strewth, give me a minute to sort my self out. A lot is happening at the moment. BRB!

Anyways, as I was saying earlier before I got distracted, I rolled out to the rental joint at the ungodly hour of 9AM. On a Sunday. it's one of those times that you forget actually exist. Like 3AM Monday. Or in my case, between 4AM-7AM every single day. I know a few people from Bacchus Marsh who insist that this is an actual working time, but I don't believe their lies. Once I had my car, booted up 'Emma', checked my mirrors to ensure that I looked good and found the heater, I had to turn it on. Both the heater and the car. Bloody thing wouldn't start without the clutch engaged. What?! My other car, which was actually mums but she very kindly permenantly lent me, which I eventually got graffiited, would start when you just turned the key. So I was confused. I drove my wheels down to the dock area and because it was early did a few laps around, driving on the right and sorting out the gears. Felt like a knob. Actually, this is embarrising, I still don't know where the fuel cap release is, so I never re filled the tank. I was ready to drive to the south coast, eventually.

The destination I set out for was Eyjafjallajökull. Yeah I know, I can't pronounce it either. One of those time when the journey is better than the destination.

I had just written about another two paragraphs and the internet dropped out. So I'll try and re create the magic. Which is hard because pulsating beats are currently been sonically injected through my body at the moment. Not in a comfortable way either. I actually feels sick in my gulliver. So bear with me, sorry if it is not as funny as last effort. But you probably can't tell. The drive was full of those small moments, like when I crested a hill, with a row of mountains to my left like upturned saucers, the valley spreading out in front, just as a flock of Artic Terns wheeled in front of the car, banked and exposed their bellies to the sun which had peaked out from behind the grey curtain, illuminating the scene ahead. Even the surly, shaggy sheep lifted their sullen gaze and cracked a wry grin before going back to talking about grass related antics. And what Líknví would do to Mjǫðvitnir when he went to the other side of the paddock to talk to Earl the horse. In a nutshell the drive was epic. Like I was driving through a fairy tale.

I had written a lot about the drive, but maybe it wasn't meant to be. Them's the breaks sometimes. Checked out Gljufrabul Waterfalls as well. This place was cool. This will have to wait for an in person conversation, because, I can't be stuffed. Did want to mention that on my various urban adventures I did come across a couple of tagging/ graffiti dudes called the Ugly Brothers. One of whom is called OST or UST and the other; KIDD. I know, crazy. My nickname writ large on the concrete jungle. It's time for some shoutouts.

James, Mr Bungle is pretty dark, but I can top that. Fantomas, Mike Pattons other (one of many) bands released a vinyl that has these dark photos of surgery where all you can see is the open operation and the surgeons hands and blood. Everything else is black. The music is just a series of pulsating heart beats with guttural human voicebox noise occaisionally punctuating the pulse. Heavy. Really looking forward to Cambridge times. Miss my little J and can't wait to give her Christmas treats. Also, mum, your roasts were always pretty special, so happy to partake is some oven overtures in December. Dad, the Phallogical Museum does look a little odd, did walk past it the other day. Humans are an odd bunch.

Mrs Fryer, hope your doing well!

So, now some of the obligatory photographs. What shall it be? More of the murals. Which reminds me. Urban Nation, which is a Berlin based initiative was responsible for organizing some of the larger murals as part of Airwaves around town. But let me assure you, this place is second to none in terms of graffiti, coffee, tattoo and hairdresser ratio to any place I have been to so far. I covered a lot of ground and saw many pieces that have been around for awhile but out of the way and not in your usual tourist area. I'm a bit chuffed about that, just between you and me. Aight, it's been long enough. Next stop Berlin, before I head out to reunite with the Norge Family. Can't wait!

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Posted by kidd1200 15:16 Archived in Iceland Comments (3)

Reykjavik

The Continuing Dream


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Need to quickly get some stuff out of my mind before my memories get wiped by imbued treats. Today did a combo of adventure time antics. Got up at the crack of dawn, or more like the crack of dusk as Iceland starts to gradually move into that weird part of the year with short days. Did a Volcano and Caving tour, which was a step into yet another weird world. Got a potted history, in glacial terms about Icelands tectonic formation. Dofri, my first guide of the day, related the time scale of Icelands formation into 24hrs, I think Vikings arrived about 6 seconds ago. Was one of those moments, as he said, when you realise the insignificance of all you do and are, a fleeting moment in time is all we have. Truelly, it was quite a humbling experience the entire day. The majesty of nature, and for that matter existence, often smacks you in the face and leaves you a blubbering mess of incomphrehension and awe. So it was today. The landscape that is Iceland, is simply mezmorising. So there are a number of active volcano systems scattered throughout the island. Most of the land is, well more or less all of it is formed from the lava flows, over eons, from volcanic eruptions that have occurred. So the predominate landscape is black, hardened lava flows, with only a moss/ lichen that grows on it. The occaisional tuft of hardy straw grass pokes stubbornly out, defying the cold, blistering winds and inevitable snow. Much like a nations characteristics and humour is derived from the living conditions, this was evident that their harsh exterior is really covering a soft porous inside, just like the landscape.

The area we went to was, Krýsuvík so if you again play along at home it should be fairly easy to find, south southeast of Reykjavik. I would recommend having a look at some photos on the interweb because my paltry attempts cannot convey the majesty of this area. I mean the colours are of the charts. Something about having a black backdrop, with the verdant green moss, then the elemental colours from the geothermal springs causing a de-nucleosynthesis into prime spectral goodness. Everyone probably knows about geology and geothermal antics, I don't really so was excited to learn about all this stuff. To keep things interesting I'll spare you my thesis, just remember that the red comes from iron oxidising when it comes into contact with the air, the greens and blues and yellows from all your other cool chemicals like sulphur and magnesium probably some beryllium in there, other nitrates as well, mixing around and getting up to all kinds of elemental mischief. How about a photo now just to give a bit of an idea.

Actually, to get an idea of the colours just check out photos on the web. Here is the general area we were in. It was cold as a thick blanket of rain/fog rolled in.

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Interestingly, Dofri decided to start this tour when he was a councilmen during the GFC. This obviously got him thinking as to why no one saw it coming, or had planned for it. Around the same time he had a physic friend tell him of a vision of lava running through Reyykavik. He began to ask geologist friends if this was a possibilitiy. Found out that it was, in fact one of the closest and potentially more destructively located volcanos, in terms of its lava flow, erupts around once every 500-800 years. The last time was 850 yrs ago. So. He then investigated if the city council had a plan for such an event. A mass evacuation of Reykjavik in the event of a volcanic eruption. No. Some seven years later, there is a plan for a plan. Both Dofri and his brother, who led the lava tube caving trip in the afternoon, displayed brilliant Nordic humour. More on that later.So he said that they are trying to become a really good tour group, and have now raised the proportion of people they bring back to 70%. Quite a high standard.

Following our trip up and down the geothermal active area, located above a magma pond some 1km, we got to talking about the Finninsh and their drinking abilities. So it seems, as I remember from ProgPower that of all the Nordic countries, the Finns are the crazy drinkers. They, the Finns, have three kinds of coffee he told us; coffee, which has a dash of vodka in it; coffee normal, which is 50:50 coffee to Vodka and; coffee royal, which is straight Vodka. Also, the Swedish who had a fair few fights with the Finns, have a saying; 'we fight to the last Finn'. Not sure as to the veracity of this claim.

After this tour ended we had an hours break for lunch then met for the second tour, which was run by Dofri's brother. Both of these guys work for the search and rescue service, so are pretty accomplished mountaineers. They also run the Stormhike, which only operates when everything else has been cancelled. I was pretty keen on doing this, but it operates only from around March, when the weather is totally nuts. They do a bit of a an education about the search and rescue operations, then don some quality gear and drive to a blizzard. Then have fun in the extreme weather. So, need to come back here in Winter. Actually, James, I'm sure you have been told to come here, but the scenery is just insane. Rekon you would dig it a lot. On that note, I'm going to break out of the city and hire some wheels on my Sunday and go to the South coast. Just need to remember they drive on the right hand side.

Some more lava based information then. The natives in Hawaii have a word for the two kinds of lava flows that solidify as they cool. One for the smooth slowly cooled flow is, can't actually remember. Which is not the point. The sharp edged, rough crazy formed stuff is called Owei owei, because it hurts to walk on. Not sure if this is true or just Dofri humour. Anyway, there are definitely very different kinds of flows. The lava tubing we did was pretty spectacular. Completely different to the limestone caving that we are familiar at places like Buchan Caves. They form when a lava flow cools, hardens then there is some kind of tectonic movement that occurs and kind of drains the still hot inside lava out, forming a tube. This then, during the next flow can be filled with fresh flows, creating all kinds of weird structures within the tube. Seriously, despite having no colour like limestone, there are similar structures but formed in a different way. So cool. the best part was after crawling through narrow spaces and getting all kinds of cranial knocks, we all turned our headlights out.

Now, I generally use the tried and true method of sleeping with my eyes closed to keep the monsters out at night time. That is not darkness. Darkness is been underground. It fills your vision, smothering and creeping into every pore of your conscious. It was dark. I mean, stick your head into a tub of black paint. Then close the curtains and head over to the dark side of the moon. But don't listen to the album, cause that will destroy the effect. Instead, slightly turn on every tap within a 3oom radius so they all drip at different intervals. Try and get some Fibonacci drip sequence happening. That was kind of what it was like. Imagine, then, if someone sings an Icelandic lullaby. About a women telling her daughter about all the horrible things that are out in the world. The trolls. Monsters. Evil spirits. And worst of all, Love. Because that is the most horrible thing that can happen to anyone. To love and loose. Just to clarify, this is part of the lullaby sung to Icelandic children when they go to sleep. I don't nescesarily endorse the opinions contained herein. The sentiment of the song is that you should hurry up and go to sleep and stay asleep as long as possible.

Again this partly helps explain the character of our guides and perhaps the country more broadly. They have been whispered this lullaby from an early age and consequently have a low expectation of what life can offer. They will then never be disappointed in what the day may bring. This part I dig. In all cerealness it was a beautiful lullaby. Especially sung in a such a void. Not for the last time I had the old tingle down the spine. As well as a waterdrop that constantly found a way to penetrate my neck and cascade down around my nodule. That was shout out. So if it makes no sense it wasn't for you. We saw plenty of evidence of trolls and elves throughout this lava tube. But that may be a conversation for those younger of spirit. This entry has been written al over the time space continuum, so apologies if the sentence are more

Disjointed than usual.

Now, I just got back from kicking around downtown, not for the last time. Thought I had found all the urban delights. But like a deliscious roast pork, when you think you have scraped every last portion of yumminess from your plate, there always seems to be seconds. Now the ratio is never the same as you first serve, but that often makes it better. Always more vegetables, less of the meat and generally all the potatoes are gone. But hey, you get a massive smothering of gravy, and if your sitting opposite someone who doesn't like their pig fat/ crackling. Boom. Jackpot. Throw in some day old bread. This is straight out of a conversation I had recently. I might open up a bar that does Sunday roast every night. And you can ask for seconds, for a reduced price and as stated, the ratio is all changed. So, I picked up a few additional sweet treats from Reykjavik, urban style. I mean I hit some primo locations. Big pieces. There really is a stack, but I'll only post a few. And a panoramic picture. Sorry this has been a pretty massive entry. But hey, gotta keep myself entertained.

Till next time. May the monsters stay out of your dreams.
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Sorry, can't make the panoramic photo any bigger.

Posted by kidd1200 06:56 Archived in Iceland Comments (3)

Reykjavik

Airwaves, Surreal Dreamscapes and Northern Ponderings


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Flying into Keflavik airport was easily one of the most amazing spine tingling experiences of my life. For a brief 15mins I was nothing but synaptic energy bursts. Truly a straight up, ethereal, otherworldy cool landscape. It was also bizarre because I was finally reading the rest of my Juxtapoz magazine that I have been carrying around with, in the off chance that I sit next to some amazing women and can look really cool just chilling and reading about Banksy and other cool cats. Totally contrived casualness. So this particular issue has a section on a dude called Turf One and he was describing some of his influences, a major one been the fantastic movies by Caro and Jeunet, especially Delicatessen which also happens to be a favourite of mine. This is where things, in the way that the universe seems to display that chaotic non linear time linkage craziness, get weirder. Emma and I had been having on and off conversations about things we really dig, including my love of this movie and the entire time I was carrying around reference to it. I don't know, seemed like an odd co inky dink. And, it also has a photo of Turf One holding a pigs head over his face. The porcine connection is back. Felt like one of those odd moments. May also have been the chills from a 5 degree arrival temperature. I felt like I had arrived in a place unlike any other. This post will be written more like a straight diary, so if I get a bit introspective it's because I no longer have an Emma to listen to my 'sound and fury'. That was a straight reference at stream of conscious writing. Or sometimes I like to think 'unconscious crap' in my case.

Another reference then. If Slartibartfast won an award for his Baroque addition of Fjords to Norways coastline, then I sure hope whoever designed Iceland got some recognition as well, because it be truly beautiful. Just re reading this, might start taking a Dictaphone around and start talking to it, 'Emma, had a dam fine cup of coffee and cherry pie today'. That will be the last cultural reference for the moment. Maybe.

So this morning, I awoke after one of the most comfortable sleeps under a doona in my life. So toasty. Headed out to get a beanie because it's cold. I mean, the last time I was this cold was when I went on a survival camp with scouts, in Mt. Buggery or some silly named mountain, I mean there are a few in the Alpine National Park, should have been Mt. Freezing Cold When All You Have Is a Rubbish Bag To Sleep In. Guess I survived it. So, it's a bit chilly. Well nothing that 5 layers of clothing can't keep out. Job done, I strolled down one of the main streets in Downtown Reykjavik. Saw a stack of street art. So you may well get multiple postings from me whilst I'm up near the top of the world. Oh, just remembered. Last night, had a look out my window, and bam, the Northern Lights decided to pay a visit. Crazy. Superlative superlatives would not be able to describe that moment. I headed down to the bay, it was pretty cold. Probably need a few more adjectives to describe the level of cold, but, for real this was bonkers. Laid on my back on a volcanic black rock that is the predominate terra form up here, and just blissed out. Actually had a tear roll down my cheek, which promptly crystalized. You could make some pretty cool potion out of that tear, because it contained a heady cocktail of emotion. All kinds of fun times for sure.

Checked into the festival today, now my wrist is sporting two tokens of musical goodness. Still rocking the ProgPower band. Going to try and pace myself with the sites and sounds of Reykjavik. Am back at the biscuit factory about to listen to a Reykjavik band East of my Youth. They were great, the singer had a divine voice. I have a stack of photos already, so will probably post quite a few. This place is epic, for sure. Need to do some research and listen to bands I want go see, that's it for now. More to follow no doubt!!. Also a picture of Harpa at night.large_DSC_0038.jpglarge_90_DSC_0027.jpglarge_90_3D4E3638B9BFE85B84F3D9104A39B6DD.jpglarge_90_3D43DFF2CEBCE795F8A55D4B4D6EADD2.jpglarge_3D3F8DFDF428E95B18CFB3AB29151E42.jpg

Posted by kidd1200 06:32 Archived in Iceland Comments (2)

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