Tuesday, September 30, 2008

mocking us with the sight of what we might have known...

Its 4:37am. I'm waiting for the FlyBus to take us to the airport at 5. People who will be taking it with me are slowly filtering downstairs. Its turning cold here. Supposed to be -12 tonight. The French man is wearing his wool sweater with a winter jacket over top. His ball cap is on backwards and he's jumping from foot to foot while he blows into his fists and rubs his hands together.
Its not really THAT cold.

I'm listening to a song called "Have you Passed Through this Night". I don't know who its by. You can listen to it here: http://kerbydesign.com/random/music/04%20Have%20You%20Passed%20Through%20This%20Nigh.mp3
Its really good. I feel like it is one of those songs that would play in a movie where someone is standing in the midst of a great crowd of moving people. All of them rushing and going places with purpose while they just stand there. Watching, listening, closing their eyes. I feel a little like this will be me in London. So much to see. No time to see it, let alone try and take it in. I'm already mentally bracing myself for it all. My camera battery is charged, my cards empty. I'm sure they will be full by the time 48 hours rolls around. Two days will feel like I've barely caught my breath before we meet Pamela at Heathrow.

After settling in to Iceland and Reykjavik and feeling very at home here, the next two weeks will put me back into "travel mode". Just as I was beginning not to feel so much like a tourist. I can't wait. Mostly, I'm excited to sit down in Dublin and have a pint. That will make me feel more like myself.

Until Ireland, have a good week and you'll probably see more from us on Friday/Saturday.

Monday, September 29, 2008

riders on the storm...

I have a polaroid that has written across it
- It's all as easy as it seems -

Its not really a photo of anything. Overexposed, I can make out a window and a lamp, one wall is red and maybe some books in the bottom left corner. Either way, it fits this theme in my life lately. Since Cafe Paris in Akureyri, I've been paying more attention to the thoughts spinning around in my head. I feel like this summer and this trip and everything I've been reading and seeing and experiencing, is a part of a movement. All part of something that is leading up to, building up to....something. Something that will require courage and strength and the ability to believe that the risk is worth the cost in the end.
This polaroid stares up at me from the worn table of a corner booth in Prikid on a nondescript Monday afternoon.

- It's all as easy as it seems -

What is? I wonder. Relationship? Career? Growth? Love? Life? Yeah, when i think about them, it seems to be simple. I can completely envision what I need to do and say and accomplish in order to be living fully, in order to move forward into the next step towards what I want. But when I'm faced with the risk, the moment, the timing...I get scared and back off when I need to be stepping up. And then the moment is gone. But, somewhere, repeatedly, I keep hearing...

- It's all as easy as it seems -

Saturday, September 27, 2008

ransom notes keep falling out your mouth...

Last night was the big runtur (google it) in Reykjavik. Every friday is. Jamie and I haven't gone out on a friday yet. So when we got in last night from doing the golden circle run (Thingvellir, Geysir, Gullfoss) it was late and we were hungry. So about 10:30 we headed out towards downtown to hit up Habibi - probably the best quesadillas in the world. We had planned on stopping in at Belly's for a pint, but the door was locked strangely, so we decide found our way into the Celtic Cross instead. My new favourite spot in Reykjavik. It was tiny and quiet with tables hidden behind old wooden doors and stainedglass windows. It was beautiful. And a pint of Grolsh only cost 650kr (roughly $7 CND at today's rate).

To get downtown and back from the hostel campground, you have to walk pretty much along the water. Along the way there is a new building going up with three large cranes around it. The wind is as constant as the rain here and as it passes through the cranes, it makes the most beautiful, haunting sound. It has a gorgeous melody. I don't think Jamie likes it so much. It seems to freak her out a bit, but to me, it wraps itself around my soul and lets me breathe. I think when we're back here for those last two weeks, I might just sit out there along the harbour and listen to it for a while some night.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

won't you come out tonight...

After driving the length of the Snaefells peninsula coast today, Jamie and I came upon Akranes where we planned on setting up for the night. Unfortunately, upon driving around town, we found it was pretty dreary and industrial and being totally turned off by it, we decided to continue on to Reykjavik which was only 30 minutes and one tunnel under the sea away. So we are back in Reykjavik (which means we have successfully driven the entire coast of Iceland!!! About 5000km I think) for the night. Only for the night. We have our car until Monday and so tomorrow we set out to see Thingvellir national park - where we will be camping between the two continental plates..yes, very cool. And then off around the area to see Geysir and Gullfoss and experience all the cheesiness of Viking Village before we have to have the car back to Budget at 2pm on Monday.
That all being said, I have learned many things about Iceland as a nation having now seen the sights around the country.

#1: Not everyone in Iceland is technically beautiful...and most do not have naturally super blond hair (sorry to shatter the myth people!)

#2: Every single tiny little town on the map (and off) has a swimming pool. If there are two houses within 5 miles, there will be a swimming pool. And Elvis and Coldplay....they really like their Elvis and Coldplay.

#3: Along those same lines...almost every farm on Iceland is named and is on the map. No lie. Its strange. Most of them end in "Holt"

#4: Vik and the Snaefell lava fields have been some of the most life changing scenery I have ever experienced.

#5: I could definitely live here. In one of the following towns/cities: Akureyri, Vik, Grundarfjördur or Reykjavik....probably in that order.

#6: Icelanders have a very strange idea about what constitutes a major highway...or even a road for that matter. Also, they have very poor road construction skills. I won't give the details until I'm back safe and sound and mom and dad don't have to worry!

#7: Horse meat is amazing. Come on now, don't knock it 'till you've tried it.

#8: I do not like riding horses. Stay tuned to Jamie's blog for an up and coming account of that event.

#9: Geothermal pools are great. And I think they could get me into a really healthy lifestyle. I always feel like running when I'm finished in one and then going back and then eating lots of granola and skyr. Too bad they're not in Canada. There goes that plan.

#10: Vikings still live here. I saw one today. He was elderly and lumbering around with a GIANT beard, wearing only a speedo.

more later....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

your eyes are closed like you truely believe....

fuck holmavik.

yes I said it...sorry mom...but that has been the theme of Jamie and I´s past 24 hours. We drove from Skagastrond -the country music capital of Iceland (where we ate at the country bar...the only country bar in Iceland with its own radio station) to Holmavik yesterday. Getting there early in the afternoon, we decided to go a bit futher and camp at Dragnes, but first to stop and check out the museum of Icelandic sorcery and witchcraft which is Holmavik´s claim to fame. It was creepy. And strange. We got headsets and wandered around the warehouse looking at books and objects and fish heads. Some of it was interesting, some of it was boring, all of it was bizzare. The final room was the 'stone bowl' where they had one glowing red light on this stone with a hollow spot in it with all the creepy halloween music glory you could imagine. We decided that was enough and went back to reception where we found the kind middle age man who let us in (wearing a cute wool sweater at the time) now dressed up in full Icelandic socerer´s garb. It was creepy. After making casual small talk about the town and the tourist season with this bizzarely clothed man, we headed to Dragnes, only to find the road closed for construction. Neither of us wanted to stay in Holmavik to begin with, and definitely not after the museum, so we decided to try and make another hour or two of drivnig to reykjanes...4km out of Reykjanes, the road was closed for construction. We had the choice of driving another 200km to Isafjordur or turning back 80km to Holmavik. Our gas tank decided for us. We couldn´t make 200km. So back we went down the road a second time, deciding to fuel up in Holmavik and turn around and drive until we were tired and then set up the tent in a field somewhere when we wanted to stop for the night. We cruised into the Holmavik gas station...the only thing left open in town at 8pm, where the girl told us the pumps weren´t working. We were invited to stay and wait to see if they would be fixed in the next few minutes. Having literally NO other options, we settled down at a table in the gas station. I saw a phone and thought it might be a good time to call home as it would be the early afternoon and hearing a familiar voice from across the sea might make the day a bit better. I dug through my change to find the proper amounts and picked up the reciever......no dial tone. When I walked back to the table, a storm had blown in, screaming wind and black black rain. I felt like we were in the first scenes of every horror movie I refuse to watch. After waiting for an hour, the gas station closed and we were told it would hopefully be working in the morning.
We slept in the car with the doors locked and were waiting at the pump when the station opened this morning to get the hell out of Holmavik.

In Isafjordur tonight. Much nicer town.

Friday, September 19, 2008

we tried to find some worms to aid in the decay...

So I haven't blogged recently...or since Reykjavik. Hopefully you're all following Jamie's blog who seems to manage the time to write one every time we stop for internet. There has been so much to see and experience since we left the capital. Lets do a point form "bring you up to speed"

Day One:
Reykjavik to Hella
: beautiful campground beside glacial river, really nice waitress at the cafe - reminded us of Krystal Braam, met a french couple also camping - nice people, drank draft Icelanic beer (Thule) and watched the rain come in.

Day Two:
Hella to Vik
: rain. lots and lots and lots and lots of rain. brilliant icelandic ocean highway and a strange side trip down a deadend secondary HWY 250, saw a nice waterfall though. Then saw lots more waterfalls. Got to Vik late. Horrible supper at Hotel Puffin....tasted like the smell of wet sheep. paid $35 for said supper. Set up tent at 10pm after giving up "waiting out the rain" in the pouring pouring rain. Whole tent wet. Sleeping bag wet. Cold, wet night.

Day Three:
Vik to Hofn
: Got up early, watched the North Atlantic ocean on our doorstep...stopped raining around 9am. Everything I own is wet. Walked along the black sand beaches in the early morning drizzle. Ran across black sand beaches back to higher ground in the early morning drizzle when I realized the tide was coming in much faster than I anticipated...ocean only grazing a heel as I leaped the last 2 feet to safety (the north atlantic is not a friendly ocean. Only 10 feet off shore the waves were easily over my head and cold and dark and vicious). Ate last of the soggy pastry for breakfast. Hiked with Jamie up the cliffs above the ocean and over the strange rock formations (best part of the trip for me so far! incredible!) Packed up wet tent and drove to national park (can't remember the name...lots of s's lots of k's and f's too). Gave "martin" the german a ride from park to Hofn. He said everything like this "I be wanting to go to the supermarket now?" Jamie and I are still using the martin voice for every other sentence. Stopped at glacial lake full of strange ice formations. Beautiful. Got to Hofn (pronounced hup-f) in hurricane wind conditions. Dried out the tent nicely. Found our French couple friends there too. OH! and had a wonderful meal at the cafe.

Day Four:
Hofn to Eggissldtir
(or something like that): Drove in ridiculously windy conditions along scary roads that ran along the edge of cliffs along the ocean. Beautiful drive. Stopped a few places to take photos along the road. Found a great cafe and ended up spending a fortune but eating tons and really good seafood. Found a liquor store, shared some wine, went to bed.

Day Five:
Eggissldatir to Akureyri
:Went from ocean views to highland desert. Drove the "28km" to Dettifoss which took about 45 minutes in and 45 minutes out. The most horrible road I have ever driven. all gravel, all washboard...like take the bottom off your car washboard. Dettifoss not so impressive. Selfoss further down the trail totally worth it! Super windy, driving out we found ourselves in the middle of a sandstorm. sand EVERYWHERE. Now dry, but dirty. Went to Mytvan to find it pretty much all closed up for the season. Continued to Akureyri. Gorgeous town! Old and full of character like Reykjavik, but cleaner and brighter and with whales living in the harbour. Campsite pretty much closed. Staying in a beautiful sleeping loft at the hostel for the night. Drinking beer, watching tv and processing photos to be uploaded maybe tomorrow??

All that being said, I guess that wasn't so point form. Vik has been my favourite so far. Standing at the top of those cliffs looking over that terrifying ocean, I wished I could take this home. This feeling, this moment. Instead, I took a rock from the beach.

Okay, I'm tired now. I'll maybe write something interesting tomorrow. Good night.

Monday, September 15, 2008

gotta ask yourself the question...

This weekend Jamie and I found ourselves at a heavy metal pub with a random assortment of people...most of them french Canadians. I was talking for a while with Phil about our upcoming roadtrip around the island. He and his friend had just had enough time to rent the car for a few days and had just came back from their whirlwind version of our two week adventure. We were talking about how everyone in Europe seems to fly: even in Iceland, you can fly from Reykjavik in the south to Akureyri in the north rather than make the half day drive. Such a strange and foreign concept for Canadians who see driving from Edmonton to Lethbridge in a morning, no big deal. Phil said something that made me think though, he started to talk about how you don't really understand the land and the people unless you DRIVE it. Jamie and I have this car for two weeks - everyone has looked at us like we are crazy, as a trip around the island can be done in a day or so - but there is something about this country that I want to understand. Something that I will never know if we don't take our time to let the land work itself into us.

“I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till i drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.” - Jack Kerouac

Thursday, September 11, 2008

look what the light did now...

So I made it safe and sound, writing this blog post at Reykjavik City Hostel. And other than having less than 5 hours of sleep to my credit in the past...well, since Saturday...I am doing excellent and things are slipping along smoothly.

I had an interesting encounters with water in the past few days though. Its not something I think about usually, coming from Alberta and all, but on Tuesday I found myself sitting on the edge of Lake Ontario with Patrick and Jamie. It was the first time I've seen any of the great lakes - I think - and I was pretty amazed by the way the water stretched all the way to the horizon. As we sat there, the waves kept on lapping against the bottom of my shoes. (as some of you have previously read about, I have this thing about the shoes I travel with and was pretty disappointed to not be able to take along my well-traveled blue sneakers this trip) Well, the longer we sat there, the more momentum the waves picked up and then suddenly, one burst up from under my shoe and up over the top of it, down the laces and I watched it drip back into the lake. Jamie laughed and said the great lakes were consecrating my shoes. I've thought about that a lot since then and have come to believe they were. Tuesday was a pretty big, full day for me and it felt like there was something sacred in the way the water ...for lack of a better word maybe... 'baptized' my untraveled, untested shoes. I was still mesmerized by that idea, staring down at my shoes about 5 minutes later when I neglected to see a chain fence that almost took me out at the knees. Its good to have a balance between reality and mysticism.

As a side note, I LOVE Reykjavik. In fact, everything I've seen of this country makes me fall in love with it. So far, it has more that met my expectations. I have so many things I could say here, even though I've only been gone a few days, but I think I'll stop for now. Jamie just updated her blog too though, so if you want a few more details and anecdotes about the trip this far, check it out: http://theblogthatismylife.blog.com/

Also, one last note...I took photos today. Not for a wedding or for a family or for a company...for me. To tell the story of this trip and of how I experience it. It felt really really good.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

it felt like floooooooating, it felt like floating...

My candle burns at both ends,
it will not last the night.
But ah, my foes and oh, my friends,
it gives a lovely light!
-edna st. vincent millay

I have to be at the airport in 5 hours. I feel as though the past 48 hours have been frantic, but mostly, I think that is in my head. My head is definitely feeling frantic, but my past two days have been great. I secured a job that I may potentially love for November, I listened to the songs Dave wrote while he was in Kenya, had a sleep over with Karen, sat in on Arlette's 17th Century Lit class (yeah, I'm a geek...but I'm okay with it), had a surprise lunch with Theresa, got my hair cut and had a pint with Sheri. All in all, its been a good time. And on top of it all, I've cleaned the backyard of beer bottles and other post-party debris, I swept and washed the kitchen floor, am currently doing a load of laundry and I bought brand new bobbie pins. So other than actually having something packed, I'm doing well.

In Arlette's class this morning, they were discussing segments of Francis Bacon's writing. I'm not the biggest Bacon fan, but he has a way of putting things that is really beautiful. In his "On Empire", he starts by saying "It is a miserable state of mind to have few things to desire, and many things to fear." He's talking about kings, but I couldn't help but turn it around. While talking with Arlette after class, she said that I have the whole world before me. And she's right. I feel as though I have 'many things to desire and few things to fear'.
What a beautiful place to be in.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

how can I get any rest now...

I've had a lot of things on my mind this weekend. After finishing my job on Friday, I started to realize that having to decide what to do and where to work and how it should be done all day at work was nicely keeping all of the things in my head at bay. Suddenly on Saturday, all the floodgates came open. Sometimes my thoughts are so loud and overwhelming I can barely pay attention to the people around me in the present. I think I need a trip. Like, I don't know, Iceland? Say, a week from today?

I also have been thinking lots about what to take and what to leave and I came to the decision to take only my hiking boots for shoes. Which makes me feel pretty torn. I have this pair of blue runners that have been with me everywhere I've traveled. I mean EVERYWHERE. LA, Houston, Honduras, San Fran, Singapore, Nepal, Bangladesh, Victoria, Iowa, Michigan...everywhere (except Quebec, because I didn't own them back then). But I am leaving them at home while I go to Iceland and Ireland and London and I'm feeling pretty sad about that. They don't fair very well in wet conditions (thanks Victoria) so it makes very little sense to even think about bringing them along, but they will be missed. I am going to wear them this week lots to try and make them not feel so bad about not making this trip with me. I took a photo of them this past christmas because I was thinking about how great it is to have shoes that "carry so many stories".