Tag Archives: travel

Two days in Reykjavík

We made it!

It’s a whole different season here.  We’ve skipped fall and gone straight into early winter.  It’s colder than I expected, and that’s a little alarming, to think how wild the weather might get over the next two months.  Icelanders so far have only winced and made dire comments about cycling at this time of year.  But the Northern Lights should be good.  They’ve already shown.

Day one: after a predictably sleepless, and crowded,  flight over, the usually drab ride from Keflavík to Reykjavík was beautiful in the dawn, with the mist rising from the dry grass and the column of steam over Bláa Lónið.  We wandered around the city, getting groceries, overdosing on sugar at the first bakari we saw, and finding the best value ever on sim cards and the most pleasing cell phone service ever (from Tal), so we are all mobile-ly connected.

Totally demoralized vis-a-vis Icelandic.  So much for enhanced eavesdropping; I can catch scant words per conversation.

After a long nap (I slept through HW reassembling his bike) and on a late search for something to eat we saw our first Northern Lights- a band of green that circled the whole sky, but faded quickly.  We found ourselves gravitating to the things we did first on our last trip, and ended up at Gamla Smiðjan again for exceptional thin crust wood-fired pizza.  Their menu is full of interesting topping choices like cream cheese, peanuts, and bananas.

Sunrise is about 7am and sunset 12 hours later.  Temp +4C.  Not so bad, but coming from uncomfortably hot weather, it´s a contrast.  The locals are still eating plenty of ice cream, and there are still many cute cats out and about.

Day two:  another familiar spot for breakfast (premium waffles at Perlan), another beautifully sunny day.  We took our bikes out unloaded for some sightseeing (the harbour, Hallgrímskirkja, and Einar Jónsonn museum), then discovered that the water slide at Laugardalslaug is for grownups.  In fact, it’s sort of scary, with parts of it blacked out completely and disco lights in other parts.  At 500 kr. admission, Laugardalslaug is officially the best value in town, after the free walking tour of course.  Unfortunately, Toby doesn’t do those free walks after Sep 14.

Finished with the exceptional soup and salad buffet at Kryddlegin Hjörtu, my favorite meal maybe anywhere in Iceland, I think.  Awww, stuffed with good food.

Finally sinking in that we are actually here.  Against all odds, including a few daily odds thrown at us in the last week of traveling.

Simplest of transactions conducted in Icelandic: two.  Conversation by necessity in Icelandic: one.  Times chickened out of attempting Icelandic even though I thought I knew what to say: countless.  Humbled by communicative expertise of barely verbal toddler: once.

After trying to learn their language, I’m just in awe of how well they (nearly all) speak English, which is supposedly not so easy to learn either.  Clearly it will take more than a dedicated year to speak Icelandic half as well as the average Icelander speaks English.  That’s just depressing.

Complete story of my Iceland adventures

We’re going to Iceland

I have failed.  I have not finished the online story of the last time we went to Iceland, before we’re going again.  Even though it was getting a bit ridiculous to travelogue a trip we did two years ago, it was a mission I was determined to accomplish.   We have such great pictures and adventures from 2010.   I’m gonna let it go, though.  Oh well.  I don’t finish all my projects, I guess.

Although my brother and I were smitten with Iceland the first time and planned to go again in 2012, time trundled right along and 2012 showed up without us having produced any concrete plans, like tickets.  The pressure built; if we’re going to go, we have to start making it real… Then all this unexpected upheaval happened, which made Iceland recede into the distance and off the priority list so the likelihood waxed and waned.  Just when we’re getting back on our feet, H.W. and I got some welcome fall work that lands right when it would be ideal to be in Iceland.  So it seemed to be on the outer edge of possibility.

I wanted the relief of saying, Oh, let’s just go next year, but when I thought about waiting until next year, I got a knot of sadness in my chest.  Besides, if things go according to our plan B or C, we’ll have animals and gardens to care for, so now is the time to travel.  Even though it’s neither ideal timing nor convenient, I figured I’d rather just go while the going was possible.  My brother concurred, H.W. shrugged (he doesn’t know what there is to get excited about yet), and so we’re going.  It’s on!

Just when I surrendered all planning, because nothing, ever, at all, went according to plans, the probability field seemed to tighten up and now plans seem to be working again. We get things done, less falls through, it’s safer to have an expectation… I think it’s safe to make plans again.

Here’s hoping!

We’re going late in the year, in the rainy season, possibly well into the cold weather.  Oh well.  We’re cycling around the island, hopefully doing the ring road, plus all the good stuff that isn’t on the perimeter.  We’ll be camping all the time, like last time, and this time we’ll know all the things that we can miss and many that we must do.  And we’ll have more time, not be racing around everywhere to “fit it in”.

Bicycle travel will do that for you.  Slow things right down.

This time, I’m taking my little Rite in the Rain journal, and I am NOT making grand plans to write an illustrated diary of our every moment there.  No way.

Back in BC

My milk run flight back home bounced up and down off the major cities like a ping pong ball.  Three takeoffs and landings; enough to make one sick.

It’s nice to fly over BC’s green-carpeted mountains and remember that I love this place. So much wilderness, so close. And Vancouver doesn’t look so badass from the air, just squeaked into the flat space of the river delta where the mountains shrug aside.

All the verdant abundance we have here, this surfeit of trees and resources and adventure, makes me wonder why Iceland took such a hold on me in comparison.  Just look at the gorgeous Keremeos valley, a pastoral landscape and serene photo ops like many we just saw.  In this whole country, we have so much more than little Iceland, about the size of Newfoundland, does.

All I can say is that there’s something about Iceland that defies description or definition that exists only there, and I can hear it calling me back…

Complete story of my Iceland adventures

Land of Ice

Random awesome sunset at home. Lasted about 3 minutes with this colour.

I’m going to Iceland.   With my bro.  Just like the Olympics, our X-Canada trip, Europe – I know it’s going to be spectacular, life changing, totally overwhelming and joyous, and I won’t be able to document it at all.  A: because there will not be enough time to write in proportion to the all the time spent doing fabulous stuff, and B: because … well, I was just going to say A again in a different way.  In fact, I know already what I’ll have to say about Iceland when I get back.  I can write it now.  “Iceland was amazing!  Extraordinary!  The trip of a lifetime and all those cliches- Words cannot describe (they really can’t).  We took thousands of pictures and I made lots of notes to be able to remember it all.  Fantastic adventures and stories and people and hiking, just too much to put into words.  Really, indescribable.  I’m so grateful to have been able to go on such a trip.”  So there you have it.  That’ll be the first post ever that I get up early, before it’s even happened, in fact.

Complete story of my Iceland adventures

Montreal

I’m on a hedonistic, city-level capitalistic bender of an adventure.  It’s not productive at all.  It’s not well thought out, and is completely indulgent.  I have lots of things I could be up to at home, but I lit out on this adventure to make the break from working decisive.  It is that.  Since it’s not really underwritten by a mission, it’s kind of relaxing.

Work was hard this March and April and my response to that for decompression was correspondingly extreme- going to Montreal to catch a UFC fight.  Hitchhiking home would have been productive, to spark more book work, but my awesome brother ferreted out that VIA was having a 60% off fare sale, and so I’m going home on the train.  Another tick off the list.  I’ve always wanted to take this train.

But I’ve spent a lot of time in the last week surrounded by people, walking around Canada’s biggest cities, navigating the undergrounds, shopping, and searching for nutrition in concrete jungles.  It’s not only a sharp contrast to how I intend to live my life (and do), but it’s an immersion in things I morally disagree with.
Continue reading Montreal

More hostelity

I did not prepare this bed. The front desk guy did. It was so funny and cute I had to take a picture. It was like sleeping in a box, or a fort. Diagonally.

Another strange hostel experience.  I screwed up the date when I reserved my room in the Calgary hostel, and my reservation was canceled for not showing.  Unfortunately, my arrival coincided wth that of a giant (noisy, obstreperous) group of basketball players on the same night.  So they had nowhere to put me.  They were very accommodating, and  stashed me in the TV room on two couches pushed together.

Two for two nights in hostels on sofas.  Wow.

Hostel-tality

In gorgeous, tourism-on-steroids Banff today to see my genius surgeon, Dr. Mark Heard, for the verdict on my progress at the three month mark, and hopefully go-ahead to do more stuff.  I can’t wait to skate.

The hostel was “interesting”.  First time I’ve ever paid to sleep on a sofabed.  Not only was it a bit weird to have to kick people off of the sofa so that you can sleep on it, but in the morning one of my roommates was waiting for me to vacate so he could Continue reading Hostel-tality