Category Archives: Culture

I have the best friends in the world.

I have been a little bummed with the laptop and all that but my friends in Ottawa (you know who you are) have been very helpful. 

And KE, you were right! It was a troll! I went out this morning to take photos and when I opened the hatch to the truck, there were my two GoPro batteries and my SD cards! The empty bag must have fallen out at some point. And by “fallen out” I mean stolen by a troll. Oh well, one less camera bag.

FYI after I contacted the Apple Store in Rek I decided to try one last thing in order to avoid the 6 hour round trip. I thought that since I had recently upgraded my OSX that this might be the issue rather than my initial assumption of a corrupt hard drive. I was able to download the OSX last night to a USB and then rebooted. I am now able to import my photos!!!!!

// edit – The hard drive is definitely corrupt  but I can still load everything with my USB key 🙂

 

Vik

With my laptop gone I am having to make due with using SD cards sparingly so imagine my surprise when I checked in to my cottage near Vik today that I had lost my small camera bag with spare GoPro batteries and spare SD cards. 

Perhaps I offended an Icelandic troll or something?

Today was busy but the weather was really the issue. It went from sunshine to hail in minutes but I was, thankfully, close to my car. Five minutes later the hail was finished so I went out for more photos. 

I’m here at the cottage now, going through images since I now have very little space left. The GoPro is a bust since my card is full with no way to dump the contents. 

These images are from Vik and the Sólheimasandur plane wreck. The surf is incredible here, the waves are  20 feet high that break close to shore. I laughed when I saw a sign stating that swimming was dangerous in these waters. No kidding.

   
 
   
 

A church, a crater, and waterfalls

I started the day near Skaholt, an early Icelandic settlement. The church, seen below, is like all Icelandic churches I have visited, anti-Baroque in that they are literally empty buildings with a cross, chairs, an organ, and some candles. Spartan indeed. After a visit to the archaeological dig that has unearthed the remains of the first church on that spot I went Foss hunting after a quick detour to the Kerið carter. Very cool. By the way, foss is Icelandic for waterfall and the three I visited today were the best I’ve seen. The first Hjalparfoss is a twin waterfall that, like Gjain, only accessible after a harrowing drive over the lunar landscape. The third is Seljalandfoss that I raced to in a minor break in the thundering rainfall here in southern Iceland. I also stopped at a black church (they use tar to weather seal like a boat) and bought a hat! 

    
    
 

Thingvellir, Geysir, Gulfoss and the secret secret lagoon

My first day in the road was a feast for my eyes! Only a hour or so drive from Rek is the Golden Circle called that due to the amount of money made from the bus loads of tourists that flock to see these same sights. 

Thingvellir is really nice. The seat of the first Parliament in the western world in the 9th century, it is here that you can see the rift formed by the expansion of the NA and European tectonic plate. I then went to Gesysir to watch the tourists watch the Geysir explode. From there to Gullfoss, a really big waterfall but seen from above. Tourist buses were everywhere and I laughed as they pulled out their cameras to take photos rather than actually looking at the sights. And I’m no expert but I’m not sure that using your flash helps when photographing a waterfall!

I didn’t take any photos but I ended the day searching for the secret secret lagoon near Flúðir. The photographer in Rek told me about it and I searched and searched until I finally found it. At first I ended up at the Secret Lagoon, a hot pool that, again, was packed with tour buses. I knew this wasn’t the right place so I tried again, this time not using GPS. The hand drawn map was spot on, I just turned left when I should have turned right (I followed the tourist sign). I drove down a lonely country road for 15 minutes, convinced I was on the wrong path. But then I saw a small area to park, as described! There was one car in the lot so I ventured up and within minutes was soaking in a hot pool with two young Icelandic women. SMT and ASE, the two young ladies, were great! We chatted about Iceland and things to do and to see. Soaking in this tub was literally my high point thus far. The scenery was spectacular and while it was a few degrees above zero, I was snug and warm in the pool. One of them has travelled quite often to Italy so we chatted about that and the impact of tourism on Iceland. I can say that wild hot tubbing with two attractive Icelanders in the middle of nowhere is one of the highlights of my trip this far! They even helped me with my pronunciation, although I’m sure I still can’t pronounce the double Ls!!

   
   

Iceland – the first few days

I arrived two days ago and my eyes are still getting used to seeing what they are seeing. The landscape is nothing that I have seen before and it takes forever to get anywhere since I am always stopping to take photos!

My first day in Iceland was spectacular! As I said, I arrived at “way too early” o’clock after gaining an hour with a fast tailwind on the plane. I disembarked and went through customs. We had all received an email stating that labour actions could impact our customs inspection but it turned out that it wasn’t an issue at all. Customs seemed to be far more concerned with people bringing alcohol than anything else. I breezed through and went to pick up my luggage that arrived, literally, within seconds. Keflavik is under construction but it’s laid out nicely. I then went to the duty free shop to buy chocolate and wine. Even at customs a bottle of wine was $30! I’m not sure that my friend TC could survive here!

I then got my SIM card for my phone and waited a few minutes for the shuttle bus to take me to my car. It’s still early in my trip but Lagoon car rental certainly deserves its good reputation since dealing with them was fast. They gave me an upgrade since my 4×4 was damaged from the last owner (who probably went off the road because they were looking at the landscape).

So at 6 in the morning I started to drive! Check in time at my hotel was at 2 and since I hadn’t slept for a while (Icelandic Air flight was great but I was too excited to sleep) I was cautious. Once I started driving the cool Icelandic air woke me right up… Or was it the double espresso?

Below are a smattering of iPhone images from the first day including  random steam vents on the southern peninsula, a view from the top of the Church in Rek, random trolls on the streets (one of which is Mother Christmas who eats naughty boys and girls) and my photo shoot at Mink.is Portrait studio where I dressed up like a Viking! 🙂

   
    
 

Velkomin til Iceland

So after a rather long flight with no sleep I have arrived in Iceland! The flight wasn’t long but the two hour lay over in Halifax after a spotty sleep the night before due to excitement meant that when I arrived at 5 Iceland time I was exhausted. 

Until I got my car and starting my road trip!

We arrived an hour early due to a strong tailwind  but that was great since it gave me time to by a SIM card that I’m using right now to upload this message. 

My rental was from Lagoon and while expensive, the service was exceptional! I was on the road quickly and went south right away since my check in time in Reykjavik wasn’t until 2. I drove throughout the southern peninsula and just kept saying out loud (meh.. I’m alone in my car) how phenomenal the landscapes were. I stopped many many times and got rained on throughout!

I know the forecast is for clear skies by even in the rain, Iceland is beautiful.

After a rather leisurely drive to Reykjavik I had trouble finding s parking spot! I found one and made my way to my hotel.

The very attractive receptionist was even more helpful than I expected and I just got in from the hot tub (this will be a theme for this trip!). I’m watching some UK Apprentice and leave early tomorrow for Silfra, Gullfoss, and Geysir. Gudman, the photographer (see below) gave me some great tips for the region. Fingers crossed for aurora!

After a quick trip today to the main church, I ended it by going to Mink portrait studio and getting my photos done.
The first is my studio and the second is from the sitting!  

  
  

Iceland and a new camera

Outside of working too much I have spent the last while planning for my trip to Iceland. My last piece is the 4×4 rental. Iceland looks absolutely beautiful and I cannot wait to go! I went to Sail and got a great deal on both a new Marmot tent and sleeping bag, both rated to -10 and the tent is both water and wind formed. I am also checking hotels and bed/breakfasts but, fingers crossed, I will be hopping from one tent location to another with a hot spring in between a few waterfalls. 

I got my Iceland photographers map! It shows all the great photo locations and can’t miss waterfalls. I’m sure that I could easily spend longer than 3 weeks photographing but it will have to do. 🙂

Greek Salad

My dear friends are leaving to attend a wedding in Greece in a few weeks. I wonder if they will still be using the Euro or the ruble! 

It appears that Greece will be unceremoniously asked to leave the EU party. After years of destabilizing austerity, the economic powers that be have decided to no longer pay the Germans and the French any more of the money that Greece has borrowed over the past decades. Tsipras has followed the streets, the demographics of unemployment meant a serious threat to social stability if the next round of budgetary demands were agreed to and, to be frank, I’m unconvinced that the EU deal was being negotiated in good faith on behalf of the IMF. 

The larger questions of the future of the European Union  aren’t distant ideas to contemplate: there is now little common purpose beyond defence in the European Union. The migration issue has fractured the already skittish national electorates and shown the fractures that investment euros used to plaster over. 

The even bigger issue is the very real possibility that Greece will now turn eastward into the Russian orbit, putting ever greater pressure on the West in the Ukraine. Putin would position himself as the saviour of Greece! 

//edit – many news outlets are pointing out that the “yes” side is more about “moral hazard” than economics. 

// another edit – why does austerity mean cuts to social programs? Why doesn’t austerity mean tax increases? Aren’t both austere? The Guardian has a good piece on how the IMF is using austerity and the Euro to destroy social programs here.

Austerity + “war on terror” = fascism