Monday, 25 June 2007


For those who've never been here to Reykjavik and/or haven't experienced Nauthólsvík, that this photo is taken in Iceland might come as a charming surprise. This bathing spot, with it's imported white sand (from Norway I thinK? We only have black volcanic sand here naturally) and heated water (a hot spring is fed into a man-made seawater lagoon which heats the mix) is very popular with locals and is lined with bodies just like a Floridan strand when temperatures rise over 15°C.

I'd suggest getting up to Perlan (update, July 2011: Perlan is for sale, if your interesting in investing in cool architecture!) by bus, bike or car, checking that out, then walking down to this beach through the Öskjuhlíð forest and looping back up to to Perlan through the very beautiful Fossvogskirkjugarður, or Fossvog Cemetery. Check out areas 2 and 3 on this map for better directions. It's a very beautiful nature hike right in the heart of the Capitol region.

Sunday, 24 June 2007


This super-sized chess game took place during the 17th of June celebration last weekend. The "board" is right there on the corner of Bankastræti and Lækjargata, and it's always cool seeing people, like the young man and woman shown here, matching wits on a grand scale.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007


So Sunday was our big 17th of June National Holiday, in theory celebrating independence from Denmark and the establishment of the Republic of Iceland, but in fact celebrating the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson, who I'll let you read up on all by yourself courtesy of the above link to Wikipedia.

The celebration downtown is a perfect start-of-summer chance for Iceland's up and coming to flirt, fancy and frolic. These three gents seemed so utterly charmed and amused by their pretty blonde friend, while she was doing a fine job of keeping them attractively at bay. The joy of youth!

(They saw me snap the shot, so I'm hoping I'm not invading anyone's privacy by posting this happy photo, but if anyone knows them and objects to this post, let me know and I'll pull it. I'm hoping that doesn't happen!)

Saturday, 16 June 2007


A fancy garden in Eskifjörður, on the east coast of Iceland...

The woman who created this fantasy world is pretty much blind, so the tenth grade class of the Eskifjörður school took it upon themselves to pretty it up during the last week of school. If you're ever in Eskifjörður, you can see this garden for's by one of the last houses on the eastern end of town.

Friday, 15 June 2007


This sign points to Stóragjá, or Big Rift, a very cool underground hot pool on the eastern bank of Mývatn. At least I think this is the right trail. I walked it once ten or so years ago and after a few minutes' stroll found myself next to a fissure in a big head of lava that a rope ladder descended down into. We were to strip to our skivvies and climb down the ladder into the darkness of the lava formation, something I wasn't so sure about. Peer pressure won out, though, and I took one cautious step at a time into the unknown. About four or five feet down my toe dipped into water, warm water, pleasantly warm, hot tub temperature water, and as my eyes adjusted to the dark I realized that I was in an underground cavern about the size of an average kitchen, with a high ceiling and filled with very comfortable water. I was totally blown away! There was a slight ledge that I could almost sit on and light from outside to help reveal the rough design of this natural wonder. The only drawback was my constant worry that something was about to grab my toes and pull me under. But that's nothing new...I've had a phobia about lakes and their unseen inhabitants for ages. It's something about the stillness of the water that gets me. Give me a roiling ocean over a lake any day!

Anyway, I'm pretty sure this is the path we took to the underground pool. When I Googled Stóragjá I got this pretty cool picture and the key information that guides don't recommend dipping into the water because it's laden with bacteria due to slow water movement. So I guess it's another "at your own risk" Icelandic attraction. All I know is, I'm glad I did it, but I'm more glad I didn't know it was a bacteria soup before I went in!

Wednesday, 13 June 2007


And here we have Dettifoss, or Falling Falls, Europe's mightiest cascade. We've been on a little road trip this past week and have a few tokens to show for it, including this picture composed and shot by my Valentína.

After posting this picture I went to bed and, as I was drifting off to sleep, thought about how close to the edge of the falls Óðinn and I look to be. And as close as we look to be is as close as we really were! Oddly enough, while we were all confident and fearless as we pranced about on the rocky ledge to the sounds of 500 cubic meters of water per second gushing only yards away, I got panicky at the memory of it there safe in my bed almost a week later. What if we'd have fallen? But we didn't, and we had a great time out there in the wilds of the barren Icelandic north.

The road to Dettifoss is a little less than an hour's drive east of Mývatn (or Midge Lake.) There are actually two roads, on either side of the river, and while both are rough, the eastern one is accessible to all vehicles most of the year while the western one, which some has the better vantage point being a little bit lower and closer to the actual cascade, is really for 4-wheel drive only. The amazing thing with this place is exactly what was causing me so much concern while drifting off to sleep, namely that there are no barriers between you and this amazing force of nature. It's right there, and you can step to the very edge of the chasm at your own risk. Take the challenge, if you dare, but be warned that this land is fickle and the weather precocious and all it takes is a moment of distraction and a good gust of wind, a sudden rain, or a snap fog to change any lovely Icelandic landscape into a disconcerting and dangerous thing.

Update July 2011: This is the waterfall where Ridley Scott [video] has been shooting his Prometheus, starring Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace. This will be a definite go-see when it comes out, especially with Damon Lindelof as screenwriter.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007


Last weekend the seventh annual Hátíð hafsins, or Sea Festival, was held down by the Reykjavik Harbor, where I spotted these jaunty little crafts all decked out for the festivities. this celebration is to show respect for and remembrance of all those who've helped make Iceland what it is today by braving the cold and tempestuous North Atlantic Seas for often elusive catch.

As it is, the strength of the króna rises and falls based on predictions of ocean yield. Some might say that basing an entire nation's economy on one industry is a risky thing to do, and that diversification into other profitable ventures, including applying our extensive geothermal energy resource to other growth sectors in addition to aluminum, is the way to go. Yahoo, a company dedicated to going green, has recently shown interest in installing a high-energy consumption server farm here, which, if Iceland has the forsight to move ahead with, would be, most assuredly, a very good thing.

On a more pop/rock note, those of you who followed Rock Star: Supernova will recognize the name on the center boat. I'm sure this vessel is just as hard working, if not as talented on stage, as Iceland's other, more famous, Magni.

Friday, 1 June 2007


It's not cool to like malls, I know. They supposedly represent everything my ideological peer group would reject: materialism, snobbery, conformity and suburban living. The ambient lighting dulls the senses, air conditioning systems deplete oxygen and a constant auditory drone turns even the sprightly into tensed up zombies. All these things are true to one extent or another, but some malls I enjoy anyway. I liked Vallco, back in Cupertino, where I held my first customer service job as a bakery counter girl at Grain D'or (with the best épi's in town!) and I like our local Kringlan here in Reykjavik. Call me a rebel (or just a closet suburbanite), but something about the contained system of a clean well-lighted shopping center makes me feel part of a greater whole.

I like people watching, and that about sums up the lure of Kringlan for me. Since we live literally only yards away from the main outdoor shopping area in Reykjavik, I'm supposed to be a purist, a loyalist, shunning the capitalist box of shops and services that comprise the indoor mall. I should only buy what's available within walking distance of my front door and haughtily scoff at parents who stroll and tug their bleary eyed kids from franchise to franchise on weekends. But as much as I love living right in the heart of downtown with its unique collection of cafes and boutiques, I still go to Kringlan with Valentína and Óðinn once a month or so, hook us up with ice cream and watch the parade of fellow countrymen and women trundle and glide by. Honestly, what better way to discover life in Reykjavik outside of our little mid-town cultural bubble? So, once a month, with good ice cream, a strict budget and a specific time limit and I go home to the heart of the city satisfied.

p.s. if you haven't already, go ahead and join the comment explosion below!