Monday, 31 July 2006


This young lady played gleefully at the playground in Miklatún park during last night's outdoor Sigur Rós concert (more below).


Audience, originally uploaded by blue eyes.

The fairly amazing Icelandic ambient group Sigur Rós played an outside concert last night in the heart of Reykjavik. I walked to the Miklatún park with Valentina, her friend Telma from across the street and a sleeping Óðinn to take part in what was sure to be a much talked about local event (i.e. something you wouldn't want to admit you missed due to laziness or apathy). It's only a fifteen minute walk from our home to the park, but it was an interesting journey...people of all shapes and sizes streamed from all directions and funneled into the park, gathering into an estimated fifteen thousand-strong crowd by ten p.m. I didn't even try to get up close to the stage, so no pix of the band, but I liked the seriousness and cool of these young gents who climbd a sculpture to get a better view.

Saturday, 22 July 2006


Hún á afmæli í dag, hún Valentína, hún á afmæli í dag... Happy birthday to my 9 year old girl, the best ever daughter in the world!

Friday, 21 July 2006


Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

This is Seljalandsfoss in the south, a quarter mile off the main road just east of Hella. The cool thing about this falls is that you can walk behind it (if you look closely at the photo you'll see people in the shelf under the cliff.) Valentina and I walked behind when we went on our road trip three years ago. Since it was a beautiful day we rolled up our pant legs and went barefoot and bare armed along the muddy path. The parka-ed and hiking booted tourists thought we were a lttle nuts and took pictures of us: the local wildlife.

Dramatic Landscape

Ominous skeis and hard rain followed us south from Eskifjörður, along the winding eastern Icelandic coast.

Thursday, 20 July 2006

Vala's Ís

My girl is here showing her messier side as she eats a seasonal ice cream, or ís , in Eskifjörður ... by seasonal I mean that soft serve ice cream is only available in the summer months, much to the some younger residents' chagrin.

Tuesday, 18 July 2006


Sómastaðir, or Pleasant Place, is the house my langafi (great grandfather) built in Reyðarfjörður. My amma, or grandmother, spent her early years here in this tiny cottage her father erected for his family. I thought that I had already written about Hans Beck, my great grandfather, but I can't seem to find my post on him and the story of his 23 children to link. Needless to say, they didn't all live in house at the same time, but I understand that it was always pretty crowded nevertheless.

My grandmother Ásta Beck is the last surviving child of Hans and now, in her 94th year, her little family home is being overwhelmed by a massive aluminum smelter just across the road. Only meters behind where I stood to take this photo is a massive continuously buzzing electrical power generator site and a small shack that houses the Alcoa Project Office.

Not being a resident of the Eastern fjords, I had until now reserved judgement on whether or not the smelter was a practical improvement for the region. After all, it is creating many many jobs for the locals. Even the smelter itself across the road from this family heirloom wasn't as obnoxious a site as I thought it would be, buil into the slope of the hill as it is. But the generator site, twice at least the size of this simple cottage is an absolute abomination. It's a noisy and ugly peice of infrastructure that Alcoa unfortunately had the temerity to plonk down side by side with a house protected by the National Museum of Iceland. Which begs the question why no one tried any harder to stop this from happening. A relative of mine, one Guðmundur Beck at least tried. Maybe the mystic who once lived there and who protects the fjord will give him an otherworldly helping hand...

Update, June 2012: My grandmother Ásta Beck passed away last year in her 98th year, seven years after her last surviving brother, Unnsteinn Beck. She was the absolute matriarch of our extended family and is very much missed. She lived to see the complete and careful renovation of her childhood home, though, sponsored in main by Alcoa. 

Regarding the benefit to the local Reyðafjörður community, I've had the chance in the past six years to chat with various people from or living in Fjarðabyggð. Almost all of them agree that the aluminum smelter has done nothing but add to the life and livelihood of the region. 

Inside Sómastaðir

Sunday, 16 July 2006

Waterfall Valley

...driving from Seyðisfjörður east toward Egilsstaðir. The climb up out of the deep fjörd valley is amazing, with a winding road that skirts a series of beautiful cascades. The midday fog wisping on the tarmac made the scene ethereal.

Thursday, 13 July 2006

Blue Church

This church in Seyðisfjörður is actually called the Blue Church, or Bláa kirkja. Like a lot of the buildings here it's turn-of-the century, when fishing money poured into the eastern fjords, turning villages into important towns. Seyðisfjörður, nestled as it is between protective mountains on either side, is especially charming, and even the fog that creeps in in broad daylight adds a lovely mystique. The ferry Norræna docks here every week in the summer months, taking passengers to and from the Faroe and Shetland Islands and Norway. Unfortunately, last week a man was busted for trying to smuggle some poundage of meth into the country in his car, an all too common occurance on the ferry, but that ugliness simply cannot tarnish the beauty of this sweet spot.

Friday, 7 July 2006


This is only a smattering of the 160 or so folk who traveled to Seyðisfjörður for the reunion we attended, a gathering of Thorgeir's people on his Grandmother's side. We met on a hillside plateau on the north side of the fjord where his great-grandmother's house once stood and had a picnic in the summer sun. This photo looks east out of the long fjord and to the Atlantic, next stop Norway.

Tuesday, 4 July 2006


We just got back a week or so ago from our great trip around Iceland. We set off to the North, which is actually called going West, then phased to the East, reaching the Northern city of Akureyri where we spent the night in a very nice hostel.

The following day we picked up Valentina, who was bussed into town around noon from her summer camp at Ástjörn and hit the road on the way to a family reunion on the east coast. On our way we stopped at the Námafjall fumarole/sulpher zone (video), where the earth's bowels ooze and steam to surface in bubbling pits of brimstone. The tourists thought we were nuts for bringing the baby out of the car, exposing him as we were to wind and stench and mudpits, but he's an Icelander and this land, sulpher zones included, is his to learn to love.