Thursday, 29 December 2005

Dreamy Valley

That last photo was making me chilly, so I thought I'd re-post one I took this past summer. Its of Svarfaðardalur, just north of Akureyri and only inches from the Arctic Circle (in an atlas that real life its a couple of miles.)

Though by no means complaining about our snappy winter weather, it's nice remember what awaits us come summer...

Have I mentioned that Kiefer Sutherland (who was here last year as you can read on the link,) Quentin Tarantino and RZA are all here for our amazing New Years madness? You've honestly never seen as many fireworks in one place on one night in your life as can be seen here at midnight on the 31st. I'll even take pix from my balcony to prove it.

In the meantime, let this luxurious countryside scene transport you to a perfect Icelandic summertime day...

Wednesday, 28 December 2005

Ice Climbing

Ice Climbing, originally uploaded by blue eyes.

I thought a real winter scene would suit well today, so I found this ice climbing number from Adventure Peaks Worldwide Expeditions. Never been ice climbing myself, but I've heard that it takes a very cool disposition, tons of endurance and a really good set of crampons.

I'm not sure where this photo was taken on our lovely island, but pretty much anywhere there's serious frost and a waterfall, you'll find ice to climb. I have to warn the adventurous among you though, that every year a number of tourists and even a few locals succumb to the very capricious Icelandic weather and extreme terrain. Do not assume even a short day trip out of town is harmless...anything, anything, can and does happen to the unsuspecting and the unprepared here on the lava rock. This land is alive and does not hesitate to take sacrifices.

Be sure to tell your hotel or guesthouse where you plan to go when you venture out of town and when you plan to be back.

Never ever leave marked roads. Do not drive on unpaved roads during except in high summer unless you have a reputable guide with you and the appropriate vehicle, and never disregard any kind of warning signs, even if you don't understand what they say. Assume they're telling you to stay out!

Watch out about walking through lava fields, especially if they are even lightly covered in snow. The lava is full of crevaces that can go unnoticed under snow. My daughter's cousin, who had his infant in a baby backpack on his chest, stepped on a piece of snow-covered lava just by the side of the road that he knew to be safe and dropped straight through at least five feet into a crevace, baby and all. We were all scared to death. Luckily, it was only five feet!

If you are on a guided tour always do everything the guide tells you. Cockiness has no place in the wilds. I know stories...

Bring extra clothes, no matter where you are going. Wool, silk and fleece will save you and your tootsies!

Here's a good resource for tour operators in Iceland. It's an absolute must that you get out of the city while here. Just do it right. The countryside and highlands are amazing in any weather, during any season and are always worth the trip!

Wednesday, 21 December 2005

Tis the Season

Happy Holidays to Everyone!

Stay safe, hug the ones you love and smile for a stranger. Oh, and make sure you don't eat your holiday dinner alone...remember that someone out there would enjoy your company. Keep the pretty lights in sight, right?

Sunday, 18 December 2005

Falling Apart

Love this photo. Took it last winter. It's so...frosty. And it smacks of the classic, the decrepit, the once-useful and now neglected. At some point the owners of this corral stopped nailing its wind-rattled boards back into place, and didn't care anymore if hinges rusted and warped gates fell. Maybe it was during a season of poverty, when they sold off their horses and sheep, or possibly a time of plenty when they could at last afford a new steel fold for their stock. Regardless, piece by piece this antiquated enclosure is being blown apart and absorbed into the raw Icelandic landscape with no help or intervention from man.

Saturday, 17 December 2005


Island, originally uploaded by blue eyes.

I certainly didn't take this shot! Rather, it's from the NASA Earth Observatory and here's a quote from the same source to go wtih the visuals:

"The many shades of blue and blue-green in the true-color image above (top) indicate that marine plant life (called phytoplankton) is in full bloom around Iceland. Phytoplankton form the foundation of the marine food chain and, ultimately, support almost all animal life forms in the ocean. Like land-based plants, phytoplankton require sunlight, water, carbon dioxide and nutrients in order to grow. During the summer months in the North Atlantic, the main limiting factor to growth is the availability of nutrients. Whenever a strong low-pressure system passes overhead, or a strong shift in current patterns stirs up the water from below, nutrients that have settled toward the bottom of the sea are brought up near the surface. As a result, phytoplankton can quickly reproduce by the trillions, creating beautiful patterns of light blue and turquoise that can extend for hundreds or even thousands of kilometers—features easily seen by space-based sensors."

I like pretty colors...

Sunday, 11 December 2005


Iceland hit the maps again, thanks to the charms of our own Unnur Birna Vilhjálmsdóttir, crowned yesterday Miss World. Björk, Sigur Rós and now a new millenium globe class beauty queen! Now that's a quality hat trick, isn't it?

She really is Super Cute, this girl. And smart...studying law at a good university here in Reykjavik, working part time as a police officer and dance instructor, keeping her head screwed on right about the whole pageant culture. Her mother, Unnur Steinsson, made it to Miss World in 1983 and placed fifth. She says that she was pregnant with our new royalty during the's that for being born for the crown?

Anyway, this girl just glows and we're proud of her. We know that however superficial these competitions can be, our representative is a smart and dilligent young woman who deserves all she's worked for. Great stuff!

More on people in the limelight: a friend of mine, Greg Camp, was on Jay Leno the other night with his band Smash Mouth. Known him for years. How many? Um...lots to be exact, but haven't spoken to him for nearly as many. These are hardworking guys who love music (remember 1997's"Walkin' on the Sun"?) and once again deserve all the publicity and success they achieve. Kudos.

Tuesday, 6 December 2005

Morning in RVK

A study in pastels and corrugated iron: the view from our apartment balcony looking north out over midtown Reykajvik at around ten a.m. Pretty, isn't it?

Oh, I've been lax on the celebrity watch, so I'll drop a name: Sir Roger Moore, here on UNICEF biz, has been sighted strolling our main shopping street. And White Stripe Meg spent a colorful weekend sharing air with the locals at Sirkus, our best little bar. Someone else was here recently too...Oh, Quentin Tarentino, for the opening to that horror flick by Eli Roth, Hostel. Roth's last movie, Cabin Fever, which I guess Tarantino luuuuved was just disgusting, but I'm sure he's a nice guy.

Monday, 5 December 2005


It's slightly out of focus but I just don't care because it's a photo of my very happy supergirl after just having earned a silver with her gymnastics team (she's the one waving).

No one expected Valentina's group, team Ármann, to place at all...most of the ten girls had never even competed before in their lives (Valentina is an old pro at it, though she's always competed individually on the uneven parallel bars, balance beam, etc.) On top of that, this was the first time the team busted out their dance routine for an audience...and out of six teams they took second!

I'm the proud mommy of a very hard-working, loving and strong soul...who's cute to boot!

Who could ask for more?

Friday, 2 December 2005


Is anyone missing a pair of black socks? If so, they're down by the town lake waiting to be found.

You never know what you're going to discover in the wilderness of Reykjavik's city parks, do you?

(By the way, here's the unofficial lowdown on glugg, or mulled wine. Thanks for the prompt, McFatty)