A Travellerspoint blog

Hooray!

I finally finished editing and uploading the images form my trip! It didn't actually take me that long, but they were on Tomas' laptop and it was a while before I got them.

They are displayed on photobucket (http://www.photobucket.com/albums/v14/Colossal) Under the album 'Ice Trip'. I also changed the album 'CaitlinParty' to 'IcePeople', and added a couple of pictures there, including one someone else took on the pre-sessional field trip of, wel, everyone!

The trip started with one amazing piece of fortune - naturally we booked the cheapest, smallest car we could, but when Eemeli and Antje went to pick it up they didn't have any small 'uns left, so, in the words of a text I sent to Caitlin: 'Holy shit we got one hell of an upgrade, I'm sitting in a Suzuki Grand Vitara!'. Free upgrade to a 4x4, jackpot! (There's a picture of it on page 3 of the album). Unfortunately, they never let me drive it :-(
So if any of you come to visit and we hire a car, I'm driving! I have a small ambition to drive on the other side of the road.

Now the pictures on the album are pretty much in order, so here follows a brief textural guide to your photographic experience!:

Day 1: Viti - Geysir & Strokkur - Langjokull & Gullfoss - nrSel - Dyrholaey
Most notable places on day 1 were the last two. 'nrSel' describes a waterfall very near the touristy Seljalandfoss, where people enjoy walking behind the falls and getting wet. However, this waterfall was different. As you can see it is almost completely enclosed by a cliff face. Unfortunately we approached it form the wrong side of it's offshot river, and couldn't see much into it. Until Tomas struck upon the genius idea of taking off our shoes and socks and wading across. Now, once your toes are in a very cold river, nothing much matters, and you might as well make the most of it. So we paddled upstream, into the 'cave' and right up to the waterfall. Somehow, that waterfall was just epically beautiful. I mean, probably not a lot of people had gone there, but it actually felt like no-one had been there, for a very long time.
Dyrholaey was another deserted area, probably because of the slightly bad road and weather (Eemeli, having informed us that some of the world's top rally drivers come from Finland, proceeded to drive like one). But what it led to was a beach thrashed by some awesome waves. I included a picture of Tomas and Eemeli on the beach just to show how much clothing we all had on. We drove slightly further on to a headland, wind battering the car, where me an Antje announced in union "I don't want to get out!"

Day 2: Skaftafell - Jok (Jokulsarlon) - nrJok - Eastfjords - Petra - Seydisfjordur
The 'frame' for the Skaftafell picture is a large bit of mangled bridge ruined in the last massive glacial outburst flood (caused by an eruption under the ice). Sure, you're porbably not supposed to climb it, but that's the thing about Iceland, there's never anyone around to enforce anything like that, so me and Tomas did anyway. Then he decided to jump around on a wobbly bit. He's a bit crazy, but without him we wouldn't have seen much of the cool stuff we did, including the waterfall in day 1.
We went to Jokulsarlon again of course, because it's the best place in the world, but we also ventured a little further down to the beach, where I got to see something I've always wanted to see, but just didn't know was there before: icebergs on a beach. And this was a black beach too, which made the contrast even more remarkable. They weren't massive 'bergs, but the beach was littered with them, and some were even rolling around in the near-shore waves.
From here we entered the clouds and saw little of the Eastfjords!
The pictures 'Petra' are from outside Petra's museum, an apparently amazing mineral collection, but we got there too late to get in. This also happened when I came with my parents. I now have a mission to see Petra's minerals!
Seydisfjordur is a pretty port town where the international ferry docks (which we saw in the morning). We wandered round the little town and harbour in the evening, and saw numerous starfish in the shallows.

Day 3: Desert - Dettifoss - Krafla - Hverfjall
'Desert' is just some nameless scenery on the route from Seydisfjordur to the Myvatn/Krafla area that we wandered about in for a while. The little hillocky mountains dusty in the distance looked, in the words of Antje, 'like something from the Lord of the Rings'. In fact, most of the scenery we saw that day was distinctly spooky, not least Krafla. Low, low cloud hung over an area of such recent volcanism that some parts were still steaming. There was also no-one about. And I remembered that it took my family and me a matter of hours to walk around the whole site. It was nearing 6 by now...would we get our alive!?
Ok, we only took a short route and didn'ts pend as long as that there, but something about the atmosphere just gave you the chills. Then we went to one of my favourite places, the perfect ash cone of Hverfjall overlooking Myvatn and associated lava field. The weather however was still bad, and we couldn't see that much, but the wind was forceful enough at the top to enjoy a bit of leaning into it.

Day 4: Akureyri - Siglufjordur - North valley - Skagi
Didn't actually DO much today, took it easy in Akureyri for a while and then fell about the twists of the North coast. Tried a few times to photograph a srange phenomonen in the bay of Siglufjordur, where the wind would whip up small tornadoe-type-things momentrily. My camera isn't really good enough for that tho...
The weather turned lovely as we rounded the coast at Skagi and treated us to a lovely sunset at the largest seal colony in Iceland - a few of them poked their heads out of the water to look at us as we attemped in vain to photogaph them.
"Stupid tourists".

Day 5: Westfjords - Djupavik
We stayed 2 nights at the base of the Westfjords so we could take an excursion into them. We got as far as this strange place - Djupavik - a real ghost town. Sad and rusting, the factory and ship echo of previous greatness, now all gone. The local dog followed us into the hills surrounding the 'town', and scrambled around us as we unwisely decided to descend back into the valley down a perilous slope. But no-one died. I took the opportunity to take a group photo here too, but for some reason everyone's making a stupid face.
Slightly fell in love with the big old rusting ship, just poised on the water's edge like it's going to launch back out to sea at any moment, but all dead inside.
That evening we took advantage of the free, outside, naturally-heated hot tub at the hostel. And took in exactly what you come to remote places for. Stars so wide on the sky that the arch of the Milky Way touched the horizon. And, as we watched, shimmering lightly into life, came the Northern Lights. Not a spectacular show, but peaceful, wonderful. In the lyrics of the Bedoin Soundclash "When the night fills my soul, I'll be home".

Day 6: Saeberg - Stykkisholmur - Snaefells
Woke up to glorious sunshine. There was something about the day that wasn't just sunny though, it was also very blue, of some fantastic hues! I think it's because, in general, you can see further, and with less obstacles than you could at home, so every sight seems intensified.
We drove on some actual 4x4-only roads today, the first out of Saeberg. Antje crossed her first rivers - and had such shot nerves afterwards she almost didn't let us drive up the second 4x4 road, even with Eemeli driving. But it was such a good day weather-wise, and I really wanted to go, so we did. And boy I'm glad we did.
We took a road right next to Snaefellsjokull, one of many volcano-summits-with-small-ice-caps found all over. But this road went right next to it, and there was no-one else around, so we stopped and messed about in the ice, mountain and sun. Unfortunately, everyone else had better boots than me and could climb the ice well enough (you can see my attempt by the 2 pictures in the album not taken by me - Climber 1 and 2). So instead I climbed a small ridge of ash across the ice (in the picture after Climber 2) and eventually joined up with the others.
And what a view! We could see forever, sea either side, and not a hint of humanity anywhere.
Took one of my fave pics, which I accidentally put at the start of the series 'Topoftheworld', a shadow pic of me flying over the while scene :-)
Then, sadly, back to Reykjavik.
It's strange just how much the Hallgrimskirkja (the church in Reykjavik that I live 2 mins from) stands out, even at a distance form the 'city'. A combination of it's position on a low hill and the extreme lack of skyscrapers in Reykjavik.
The image just struck me as odd, a church like that, no matter how tall and imposing, would be swallowed by any modern city elsewhere.

So! That was my trip, hope you enjoyed it :-)
Since there has only been Reykjavik day-to-day life, and of course there is much to be said about that, but next time, my fingers are bleeding.

Posted by Lifandi 10:49 Comments (0)

Ég tallur ekki Íslensku

I came to Iceland for several reasons.

One was of the course the inspiring scenery.
Another was the people it inspired.
And the last was the culture that arose from this relationship.
Of course I was only thinking of the country itself, and now I'm here, another learning mission has chosen to accept me; experiencing people from many different countries.

The scenery isn't just breathtaking, it physically steals my oxygen while I'm sleeping and distributes it evenly across the whispering shores, the sighing mountains, the shouting waterfalls.
Most of that you can see in the pictures from the pre-sessional field trip around Southern Iceland in the album linked in the last entry. I love photography (on an extremely amateur level), but dammit this country just makes any attempts at good pictures useless. My favourite picture I took was of the waterfall and the rainbow (displayed a couple of entires ago), but that still isn;t enough. What I can't show you is how that rainbow moved, faster than eyes can shift, once creeping closer and then again creeping back shyly. Lovely.

There are a lot of rainbows in Iceland. Mostly because it rains a lot. Speaking of which, last weekend I saw the most rain I've ever seen fall in one day.
This story ends with me being glad I still have friends.
I suggested to Antje and Eemeli that we take a bus trip to Ólafsvik, a town in the west on the Snaefells peninsula, near Snaefells mountain (and associated small glacier) where the heroes of my third-favourite-book begin their Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
Bus goes ok, and by bus I mean minibus, a public service minibus, and we get to Ólafsvik. It's a pleasant evening, little wind, some sun, and life feels easy.
"Did you book anywhere?"
"Naw, I'm sure it'll be fine."
They don't blame me, I'm young. The first guesthouse is full. It's not long before we learn that winter starts September in Iceland. And everywhere else in town in shut for the winter. The next minibus out of there was 5.35. The next day.
After much desperation we manage to book a hostel in the next town, 30km away, and decide to hitchhike.
Perhaps not wise in Iceland.
A guy picked us up on the outskirts of town, but could only frive us a little way. Still 20km to go, but now we're hopeful, and begin to walk.
We were still walking 2 hours later! You'd be amazed how many Icelanders drove by with massive 4x4s and only themselves for company. Eventually, we were picked up by a German couple in a tiny two-door car, so we sat very tahnkfully cramped in the back with our packs on our laps. I love Germans.

The next day, prepared for a hike to Snaefellsjokull, it rained a preposterous amount the whole day, laving us stranded in the hostel.
At least the 'walk' gave me some good photo ops:
Olafsvik.jpg

Olaf2.jpg

What's amazing is those two actually still grace me with their company, and what's even more amazing is we're all going on a trip round the whole island starting tomorrow! Me, Antje, Eemeli and a Czech guy called Tomas, a small hired car and a whole host of pre-booked accomodation.

More amazing pictures to come, see you next week! :-)

Posted by Lifandi 10:46 Comments (1)

Photos galore

Hello!
Just a quick update to point you in the direction of my photos:
http://www.photobucket.com/albums/v14/Colossal
In the album 'IceIntro' you'll find 100 of the best pictures of Southern Iceland. Tho I do admit 23 pictures of Jokulsarlon is a little excessive. Coincidentally, if the photo names look like they're missing vowels, they are, the site can't cope with ó and á and í and whatever else, so it just removes them.
Also, in the album 'CaitlinParty' you'll find some mug shots of some friendly foreigners.

Another party tonight, for all the foreign students, which should be a riot!

Oh, while I'm here, just a thought if any of you decide to write me a letter and are feeling generous there are a few things they don't have here I'm missing...
1. Tic Tacs. How am I living without Tic Tacs?? I can hardly think.
2. Herbal Essences. Only 20% of a travel bottle left. My hair weeps.
I'm sure there are more, luckily I've found a couple, some expensive Dairly Milk, and thankfully Antje found me some Marmite, phew!

Posted by Lifandi 07:28 Comments (0)

Bless bless

Steam rises lazily in the afternoon sun from Antje's coffee. The cafe balcony is alive with chatter. The street mildly bustles with mixed languages.
I am in Iceland!

I have changed immeasurably in the past week alone. In fact, that's a lie, I can measure the changes. And they run along these themes:
1. Germans are great. Truly remarkable people.
2. Conversely, Britons suck.
3. Girls are great, and I can have a great deal in common with them.

Of course, these require more explanation.
1 and 2 can become clearer at first with a simple statistic. Of a class of around 40 people, 18 are German. 1 is British: me.
There were 4 Brits on the list to come, but I'm the only one who turned up.
During the pre-sessional field trip, I had the opprtunity to talk to many Germans (as it was hard to avoid talking to any really). I quickly learned that something like 80% of all Germans go abroad sometime during their study (they always gave me figures as percentages). It's a part of their life, their culture. Truly then, the Germans are global citizens.

It's funny, I always thought we were kind of friendly rivals. The kind of enemies in a film where one will say "We're a lot alike you and I".
How wrong was I?

I'm afraid it kind of made me resent this little closed off xenophobic island of ours.
If you ever get the chance to go abroad for a length of time and experience another culture completely, I implore you to take it. It'll change your perspective in minutes.

Point 3 is on a more personal level. Although my best friends are girls, Jo, Ree, Jess, Holly, I have always thought I have more in common with guys. Like when I hang out with Gareth n Matt n Keith, or at Uni, where my friends are Tom, Matt and Harry.
But here in Iceland I stick to Caitlin (American), Antje (German), Alina (Finnish), and well girls. And even stranger than that, we've adopted just this one guy called Eemeli. So where I'm usually the only girl in a gang of guys, now he's th only guy in our gang of girls. It's good :-)

Pictures of these people will become available soon, there's a house party at Caitlin's tonight :D

So much has happened, I'm sure if I tried to put it all down right now either I'd drop dead writing it or you'd drop dead reading it!

I haven't described the beauty of my field trip yet, but I'll leave that for next time, I'll just leave you with a couple of the most beautiful sights:

S5030237.JPG

S5030273.JPG

More pictures to come later

Posted by Lifandi 05:12 Comments (0)

Farewell!

Right! Of I go!
Thanks everyone who came last night, and for all the messages. My travel plans are as follows:

Travel to London (Stanstead) tomorrow, leaving Weymouth about 2pm.
Stay overnight in a Travelodge
Go to Stanstead airport, check in, and fly out!
Spend first 2 nights in Salvation Army guesthouse
Go on field trip around Southern Iceland
Return to Reykjavik and move into house
Begin term 1st September!

I may have internet connection in the guesthouse, but if not, I'll definitely have internet in the house, which I hope to get going about the 28th August.

So, I will contact everyone properly then, when I'm set up.

I miss you all already.

I love you Will.

Posted by Lifandi 12:41 Comments (0)

(Entries 6 - 10 of 12) « Page 1 [2] 3 »