Thursday, 30 June 2005


This cute little store, called Frú Fiðrildi (or "Madame Butterfly"), is located on Ingólfstræti, just off Laugavegur, the main shopping street in Reykjavík. Its absolutely filled with charming things, from sparkly butterfly pins to fluffy pillows, candles, statues, glasses, decorative baskets and all things pink.

Shop owner Ingibjörg, whose son Breki is Valentina's classmate, puts out little dishes of cookies for her guests, and welcomes them to relax on cushy chairs and enjoy the atmosphere, old fashioned tea-time style. This store is a must for anyone who adores precious things, so do drop in and see if you don't end up finding a gift for someone you love.

Tuesday, 28 June 2005


Hvít = White
Á = River

Valentina cartwheels across the Old Bridge over Hvítá. This one-lane bridge just off the main highway that runs around around Iceland (the Ring Road) used to be frequented by buses loaded with travelers going through the Reykholt region, and was built at the site of an important ferry crossing for the area. My mom remembers how scary it was going over the tiny bridge in a towering bus, and how at the west side of the bridge the travelers would stop for refreshments at a small inn. Now the bridge is hardly ever used. It hasn't, though, lost any of its charm.

Sunday, 26 June 2005

Sirkus in the Sun

I finally got some shots from the 17th of June, our Icelandic National Holiday. This is from the backyard at Sirkus, a favorite and very Bohemian bar on Klapparstigur at Laugavegur. Taking pictures there is extremely frowned-upon at night, but since this was such a uniquely sunny and joyous day, I thought one photo wouldn't do any harm.

(Picture-taking at Kaffibarinn is also banned...the reason at both these bars is that everyone, even the celebs who frequent these spots, are guaranteed a reasonably anonymous night of pleasure without any nasty pictoral evidence floating about the next day.)

Anyway, I decided to escape the suburban masses that converge on our little downtown each major holiday by slipping into the gated Sirkus backyard and having a beer in the sun. Perfect move on my part!

There's a running joke here that the one thing we can count on each year is rain on the 17th of June. Regardless of the weather, though, Icelanders pour out onto the streets in slickers and hats to watch parades and listen to speeches and hear bands play on outdoor stages. This year there was a collective national amazement at the fact that the sky was cloudless and blue...take into consideration also that the last time the weather was this good (15 celsius, and windless) on June 17th, we had a fairly major earthquake. I don't know about everyone else, but I was definitely thinking the whole good weather thing was a little dubious...

Nothing happened to shake the joy of the day, though. I received my award (along with the school) at a very nice ceremony, went and sat at Sirkus with my handsome man, hosted a great midnight sun party in our backyard, then went with everyone back to Sirkus for a bit of seriously fun late-night dancing. All in all a wonderful way to celebrate a great life in a good land.

Tuesday, 21 June 2005

Sheep Crossing

Another charming scene from our road trip...these beasts were being herded across the main island road by a whole family, three generations, all in rubber boots.

We stopped and waited patiently, which is more than some townies do these days. They just can't wait to get to their rented weekend houses, so they barrel through the landscape at high speeds in their SUVs to get to where they're going and have a few more hours to relax. The irony.

There were three or four kids in the group, so we waved to them and smiled. They seemed a little surprised at first, but eventually waved back shyly. Then my mom told Valentina about going out to the country when she was her age. She said she and her cousins would sit by the side of the main road, sometimes for hours, waiting for a car to go by. When they saw one kicking up the dirt on the far distance (the main roads were of course dirt in the early Fifties) they'd jump up and down and wave and call out "Hello! Hello! Hello!" She said it was sometimes their most exciting game.

Oh, here's an Iceland Eyes entry about Road Sheep. If your going to drive here, you've got to watch out for them!

Monday, 20 June 2005

Beautiful Day

From our Grandmother-Mother-Granddaughter adventure north to Akureyri and south again...a wonderful two day trip on Icelandic country roads.

Thursday, 16 June 2005


Valentina and I saw Real Live Vikings at the airport the other day! (I think the guy with the Viking Beer looks like that Bog Man from Bronze Age Denmark, but of course more...alive. It must be because of his cool hat).

Turns out these cool linen-tunic-clad folk are here in Iceland for the annual Viking Festival in Hafnarfjordur. When I told them that Valentina and I had thought that maybe their time machine had broken down and they had gotten stuck in our reality, they smiled patronizingly and explained that they travel dressed this way to promote their gigs. Then they posed for us and told us we should come see them at the festival this weekend. I think they were from Norway.

Sunday, 12 June 2005

Midnight in Reykjavik

The title says it all...

This close to the Summer Solstice (on June 21st this year) our lovely little island is brightly lit all night long by the Midnight Sun. For travelers it can be almost disturbing having to adjust to the ever-present light so definitely bring a sleep mask for your stay!

But for residents of Arctic Circle lands the lengthening of the day happens slowly over the course of months, from the Spring Equinox in March onward, and seems as natural as the sprouting of new green leaves on trees and the return of millions of migratory birds to their nesting palces here in the north. We are forced gradually awake from our winter slumber by the ever-increasing brightness and we use each moment of sunshine, while we have it, as best we can.

Saturday, 11 June 2005


This photo is for digdug and for my 12 year-old niece Mekkin (read her new short story here) because they have a taste for the othernatural and for magick in all its esoteric forms.
Oh, and its also posted because I mentioned the other day that I talk to animals and that cats always seem to follow me's living proof!

I don't know these two cool catz at all, though one looks alot like our Mio. They just decided to walk with me to the store, just like Mio often does. They waited at a corner for me while I shopped, then walked me back to my doorstep. Schrödinger's Cat, anyone?

I also think this photo is a bizzare study in greyscale and movement...and you?

Friday, 10 June 2005


I just got a call from Árný Inga Pálsdóttir, principal of Víkurskóli where I spent the last semester teaching English. She informed me that the Blog Project my 7th, 8th and 9th grade students worked so hard on had been selected to receive an award!

The City of Reykjavík asked grade schools in the Reykjavík area to submit descriptions of recent learning projects that they feel have been successful in encouraging kids to take a more active part in their education . At one of our weekly meetings, Árný asked for suggestions. When nobody reacted at first she said, "I've learned through experience that there's no shame in nominating yourself for this kind of's better than waiting for someone else to do it for you." And immediately a hand shot up. Two people later, I though to myself, What the heck and mentioned our project. Árný aksed us to write out descriptions for her to submit. We did, and I forgot about it for the next month and a half.

She called today to let me know that our Blog Project will be presented with an award on the 17th of June, our National Day, at the Reykjavík City Hall, with cake and coffee to follow. I am so excited and so proud of all of the students who took part in this award. They own it, really, because if they hadn't taken part and trusted me, it would never have happened.

And once again, thanks to all my cyber-friends who read, commented and encouraged!

Thursday, 9 June 2005


Kría= Artic Tern. Can be a girl's name. Also used as a term for taking a nap.

Valentína has a brand new sister, born June 8th, 2005 at 3 am (the magic hour). Welcome to the world, little baby girl!

In Iceland, parents usually don't present the name of the child until they are baptized (or formally named at a naming cermony) two or three months after their birth. Until then they are often simply called Stulka (Girl) or Strákur (Boy). This hearks back to the days, not so long ago, when survival, especially for brand new little humans, was often tenuous. Today, the tradition lives on in the form of a superstition.

By the way, for the curious, here's a post you should read if you wnat to understand our convoluted Icelandic social world... ;-)

Wednesday, 8 June 2005


I finally discovered where old garbage cans go to die...
(behind the cement factory on the Höfða, for the extremely curious).

Sunday, 5 June 2005

Little Miss 1944

And speaking of 1944 (see previous post), here's a little cutie-pie doing her part to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Austurbæjarskóli (Valentína's grade school).

The day was lovely. Over a thousand students, teachers and parents met at the school all decked out in costumes representing the past eight decades, then paraded down Laugavegur in the beautiful sunshine. Tourists along the parade route were snapping pictures like crazy, and amidst the thousands of soap bubbles being blown were happy, shiny eyes and smiles smiles smiles.

As they say, a great day never comes too soon...!

Saturday, 4 June 2005



Valentína's second-grade class dressed like kiddies from the 30's and 40's. Her teacher, Hulda Guðrún, is wearing a traditional national costume.