Thursday, May 1, 2014

Goodbye my lover

 I made a big decision a little while ago.
I don't remember what it was, which prob'ly goes to show
That many times a simple choice can prove to be essential
Even though it often might appear inconsequential.

I must have been distracted when I left my home because
Left or right I'm sure I went. (I wonder which it was!)
Anyway, I never veered: I walked in that direction
Utterly absorbed it seems, in quiet introspection.

For no reason I can think of, I've wandered far astray.
And that is how I got to where I find myself today.

The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes (Bill Watterson)

This will be most likely my last post for this blog since my time here in Iceland is coming slowly but surely to an end. I still have two weeks left here but those will be filled with two different visitors so I won't be much anymore in Reykjavík and just traveling around (yay!).

Before coming to Iceland I heard all these stories about how great and beautiful this country is. Nobody ever had anything to complain about, everybody just had fallen head over heels in love with this country. I always thought "C'mon....there's no place in the world that's THAT great." As it turns out, it is that great and even much better. I've also fallen deeply in love with this unique country and feel like crying by the thought of having to start packing today. And as it is usually with love, you can't say why you are in love. You just are.
Iceland inspires you, it makes you stay in your room for days and just read books. It makes you feel like the biggest person in the world and then again you feel so small and unimportant. This country fills you with a deep feeling of content but also melancholy. You feel like you have become much wiser but in the end you don't know anything yet.
It's Iceland. Where the logic being used by the rest of the world is inexistent. Where the rain never comes down vertically. Where everybody is a musician/writer/artist.  Where you'll run into Björk at the local pharmacy. Where strangers will offer you a ride home on a rainy day. Where everyone will have a smile for you. Where you'll have your breath taken away around each new corner. Where houses are built for elves. Where you have more cats than dogs in the streets. Where the winter days are short but the summer days endless. Where it's trendy to knit and wear a wool sweater. Where you can swim in natural hot springs in the middle of nowhere.
Where you will fall in love with the country.

Blessuð sértu, sveitin mín, 
sumar, vetur, ár og daga. 
Engið, fjöllin, áin þín, 
yndislega sveitin mín, 
heilla mig og heim til sín
huga minn úr fjarlægð draga. 
Blessuð sértu, sveitin mín, 
sumar, vetur, ár og daga. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Summer on the big demon

Hardly anyone is reading this blog anymore, but let's finish this project anyway. Only 3 weeks are left after all. :D
The past week was definitely the week of public holidays. Easter was here and Iceland is apparently as strict in celebrating it as the Swiss and Germans. That means that many places were closed on Thursday before Easter, almost everything was closed on Long Friday, everything was open again on Saturday, almost absolutely everything was closed on Easter Sunday and half of the shops were open again on Easter Monday. I had a great friend visiting me from back home over Easter and we just spent 5 days being a lazy bunch. Good food, walking around town, hiding from the I-change-every-10-minutes-Icelandic-weather (including hale and snow), more food, Sherlock, Golden Circle, Hrúnalaug, shopping and Blue Lagoon. It was a fun long weekend and just great showing everything here in Reykjavík. The guest of course fell in love with Hrúnalaug and we were so lucky that we were the only people there, only two Icelandic girls showed up when we thought about leaving anyway.
And if you thought it was only a joke that the weather in Iceland can change every 10 minutes, it is true. We literally had the weather going like this every 10min: sun, hale, sun, snow, hale, rain, snow, rain, snow, hale, sun, snow, sun, hale. But then another public holiday came and the weather changed: The 1st Thursday after April 18th is considered to be the first day of Summer here and it's a public holiday were most places are closed and people get drunk as shit the night before with their friends. It comes from the old Norse calendar that only had two seasons, summer and winter. Which I think is still true in most Nordic countries in my opinion. ;)

On this day we also had the last field trip with one of my courses. We went down South were the famous Njal and Gunnar used to live from Njal's Saga. You kinda understood why Gunnar while gazing upon the landscapes decided not to leave Iceland forever and return instead (to be killed, actually, but let's ignore that little fact). Iceland is just beautiful. :)
A funny story which is typical for Icelanders: We wanted to go the Saga museum down South but our teachers forgot that everything was of course closed on that day. (Same teacher cancelled another field trip because he noticed the night before it that it's too bothersome to organise it) So he just called some number and suddenly some Icelandic guy looking like Einstein came running and opened it for us. Welcome to Iceland. Nothing is impossible here and nothing requires any kind of logic.
We also climbed up Stóri Dímon, big demon, the weird rock in the middle of nowhere close to Seljalandsfoss. I still hate mountains and my knee hates them too, but we had a beautiful view from up there with the weather really being like summer on the first day of summer here (sunshine and 9°C, wooo!).
Else I've had my first two out of three exams here. One could have gone better and one went really well. The weather has been great now with almost constant sunshine over the day and temperatures between 5-10°C. The trees are also slowly remembering what the color green looks like.
Otherwise I've been hanging out with friends and enjoying my last few weeks here, less then 3 weeks left actually. That's all for today! Now I'll go enjoy the beautiful sun and some music below there for you guys! :)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands!

Sorry, I've been lately rather busy and for some reason had no motivation to write anything. I had some deadlines with university and set a new record in writing an essay, 5 pages in 2.5 hours! I'm just great like that! ;) Or just a terrible procrastinator and work quite well under time pressure.......
Last week I was hanging out a lot with friends and went to see The Grand Budapest Hotel in the movies here. That movie was really amazing and beautiful. I loved everything about it. I will definitely watch it again. :)

And then for the last weekend it had been time to hit the road again and I was in Akureyri from Saturday until Monday with 3 friends. We left early in the morning and decided to take a detour over the fjords up North, not the Westfjords though. There were amazing landscapes already on the way, especially on the fjord and in the mainland right before Akureyri. We actually tried to find a natural hot spring and we found it but the greediness of the landowners had already taken over, and the area was fenced up. We then just opened the gate ourselves and went in anyway since nobody was there. The pools were cute but we tried them with our hands and figured they were not warm enough since they were right by the cold stormy sea. So we went back into the car and continued driving. :D After getting lost for 5min we found our way again and were around 7pm in Akureyri. So it had taken us actually 10 hours to get from Reykjavik to Akureyri, though we took detours and had many breaks. This town is actually the second largest city in Iceland after Reykjavík with 17'700 habitants. So now you can imagine when the second largest town is this small here how small everything else is. ;)
We had reserved a room in an 8 people mixed dorm and when we got there we were suddenly greeted with a "Moi! Kuulinko suomea?" from one of the bunkbeds, there was an Finnish acquintance from Reykjavík who had hitchhiked up to Akureyri. The world is truly small. We went then a bit to look at the city though the center seemed to be rather small but cute and had afterwards supper in a restaurant. After the supper half of us went to the bars and the other half fell straight into a coma in the hostel. Guess to which group I belonged? ;D
The next day we headed to Myvatn, the famous national park area about 95km away from Akureyri. I don't think there is any other place like that in the world actually. It really has an unique nature with huge craters, bubbling mudholes, a forest of trolls turned into stone called Dimmuborgir and Hverfell, a huge crater which apparently is the gateway to hell. We saw all of those things and it still felt like we had seen hardly anything at all. There was so much to discover and see. In the evening sun the area really looked like from another planet with the big lake, the huge craters around it and smoke rising from the mudholes. Something everybody should witness once in their lifetime. I'll definitely find my way up to Myvatn again. We ended the day with going to Jarðböðin, the "blue lagoon" of the north. It's much cheaper, 2000ISK for students and maybe even nicer. There were hardly any people in it except one or two Icelandic families with their little children spending a relaxing Sunday evening. The water was really hot but nice and it was clearer. The Blue Lagoon isn't really clear. It was so much fun being there with the sun setting slowly and everything looking blurry in the colors of yellow, orange, red and pink with the steam rising. The perfect ending to that day.
For the next day we had planned to go whale watching but were too lazy to get up at 7am to do that in  Dalvík and there was none yet in Akureyri. So we decided to drive slowly back up through another fjord and made a stop in the town Siglufjörđur for a small hike and to buy lunch. It was a cute fisher town between the fjords with an amazing view to the ocean and fjords. From there we then continued our home journey on the fjords, sometimes just having a steep fall right next to us by the car and hills were you drove on top of it and weren't sure until you were on top if the road really continues on the other side or if somebody just had pulled a prank and you'd fall down a fjord. ;)  We were then quite early around 9pm at home and I fell into a coma at home. It was overall once again a great trip with great friends. :)

Other news: Strike is cancelled, I actually do have to study now and write exams...booo. No ring road trip for me then. :( 
Other news again: I still got it in me, I haven't become a complete softy! I thought I had lost my ability to make myself a home somewhere new but I was wrong, ha! I've fallen now more and more in love with Iceland and wish I could stay here at least another 6 months or years actually but my life back home is calling me back and I was happy there too actually. But I know now for sure I should have come for a year, it's so hard to imagine me being back at home and I will definitely return to this country many many times during my life. But I'm happy about going back home too and seeing all my friends and everybody and I know that I'm even being missed by some people there. :) It's just bittersweet this whole thing. 
Lately I've also been only incredibly happy, just so content with the world and feel like everything will work out somehow for me in the future and that there are so many great things to come along in my life as long as I keep my mind open, appreciate the small things and make the best out of everything. Iceland has thought me again to know that there is so much out there in this world to see and explore, and that sometimes you just have to cry and show how you really feel. But yes, right now I'm just happy and today I just got the news that during my last 4 weeks here now I'll spend 3 weeks with 2 different visitors from home. I'm so excited about that! :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

In the valley of ashes and pearls

The last week of university classes has started here for me! This semester is definitely coming to an end and I wish I had been here for a whole year but unfortunately I have to go back home in less than 6 weeks. Time has gone by so fast, it's incredible but I'm happy to see my friends and get into my apartment.
Last Saturday I went to a trip organised by the university here to the highlands of Iceland in the South right by the waterfall Seljalandsfoss (the one you can go behind). Þorsmjörk! Instead of sleeping in on a Saturday I got up at 6am to get to the bus at 8am that would bring us South. Most of us slept until Seljalandsfoss or at least attempted to. By the waterfalls than those two huge gigantic monster trucks were waiting for us, each one could seat about 20 people and they had big windows. Those are apparently two only ones in the world. The trucks are being used for touristic reasons but also for rescue missions in the highlands since a truck that floats on snow is quicker than one person on their skis. It was a father and son and their lovely dog who drove us around in the valley, where infamous Eyjafallajökull is, and told interesting stories how they had been flying right over the valley when the eruption happened and saw it all from close by. Until somebody in Reykjavík told them to get the hell out of there. We had our first stop by the tongue of a glacier that had shown up with a small canyon underneath the ice after the top ice melting because of the volcano eruption. Nobody had any idea that there was canyon since it had been covered in ice...since forever pretty much. We were there for a while and then we continued with the monster trucks, that also look like the catbus from the movie My Neighbour Totoro, through the valley to end of it before the big glacier starts. The surroundings were beautiful. Since nature is slowly waking up we were lucky to see some colors like green and red but the whole valley was just else grey, only rocks, stones and rivers. Nothing else.
There we had actually snow and the Asians in our group found it highly entertaining to sink into the deep snow so they kept jumping around until they sunk in up to their knees. :D We held our lunch break there, enjoyed the warm spring sun (it was around +9 degrees that day), listened to stories of one of the drivers and then we continued to go back with the trucks. And I have to say, the "road" there is no road at all and there is a good reason why you are not allowed to go without a 4-wheel car into the F-roads and most car rental companies forbid it. We had to cross small rivers all the time, go over huge rocks and bumps. Not many cars would survive that. When we wanted to leave our snowy spot our trucks actually got stuck into the snow and the trucks had to go quickly back and forwards in the spot so it was like a small boat at the amusement parks that go quickly back and forth...the whole bus had so much fun. :D
Our next and last stop was in Stakkahóltsgjá, a canyon in the valley. And it was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen I think. You were walking on those grey round rocks with many little rivers to cross and by your side you just had those high green beautiful walls. From the walls little waterfalls would come down but none on us because they were so small and high up that the wind would carry the drops then away with the sun making them glitter. If you stood right underneath them it looked like millions of pearls just flying in the sky over your head. Just breathtaking. We were hiking there to one end of the valley, crossing many little rivers and I was thankful for my waterproof hiking shoes because sometimes the only way to cross it was just to walk through the water. Let's not talk about the Asians who only had normal tennis shoes on... At the end of valley it got narrower and narrower until you were between the two walls and had a small waterfall right in in front of you. It was like from another world. I would have loved to keep on hiking there since the valley would go different ways but we didn't have enough time anymore. But I'll definitely one day return there and explore Stakkahóltsgjá more. I can't imagine this place in the summer when all the colors have returned. In the bus home we all fell asleep with the feeling of having had a fantastic day. I ran quickly with my housemate then from the busstop home since one of the housemate's had her birthday in the same evening and we had pizza before going out to party.
Sunday I had the great plan of doing only school work but ended up first going for coffee/tea and cookie with a housemate to my favorite coffee place here, then Sushi Sunday (our routine here) again with friends, then we went after that to apparently the best ice cream place in Iceland by the harbour (it was good! they even had marsipan ice cream!) and ended up drinking tea at a friend's place in the end. When I did get home it was almost 7pm. Well, that study plan failed miserably. :D
But it feels really great to have found friends here you can always do something with, want to hang out with you and you can actually just laugh and goof off with them for literally hours. But also have serious and personal talks. I'm so happy and thankful for them here. :)
And on the other note: I'm sick again! Go me. I think it's like one of my teachers said here. A doctor told her once that the people in Reykjavik are more sick than in the rest of the country because the weather changes are much more extreme here than in other parts of the country. Let's blame it on that. :D So lots of tea, orange juice, echinacea and other house remedies for me now.
And my voice is gone in!

Friday, April 4, 2014


Ich fühl mich hier, wie nach einem langen Schlaf wieder erwacht. Ich habe hier gelernt wieder nur mit mir selbst auszukommen und mich dabei wieder kennen gelernt. Dabei habe ich auch die Stücke, zu denen ich grösstenteils im letzten Jahr zerbrochen wurde, wieder zusammen gesetzt. Ich weiss wer ich bin und was ich brauche und will. Nach ewigem Suchen habe ich es auch endlich geschafft einen Ort zu finden, den ich vermisse und mein Zuhause nenne. Hier in Island habe ich soziales komisches Ding es sogar geschafft Freunde zu finden, die mich Sonntag Morgens verkatert anrufen um herauszufinden was in der Nacht zuvor geschehen ist und sich zum Mittagessen verabreden wollen. :)
Ich liebe es den Hügel zu meinem Haus hier hoch zu laufen und auf einer Kreuzung zu stehen von wo ich den Atlantik sehen kann. Nicht viel. Nur ein Hauch, eine Ahnung. Aber die Farben sind jeden Tag neu und wunderschön. Die Sicht stimmt mich immer glücklich und hoffnungsvoll. Die Welt ist so weit und so vieles gibt es zu entdecken und erleben. 
Ich bin glücklich. :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring means strike!

Last week I wrote about my previous long trip to the East but what have I been actually up to in the past two weeks? Nature, that's pretty much the big word. I've been on so many trips and field trips lately that I've grown kind of tired of my outdoor clothes and am glad for just wearing my normal clothing again. :D

Last week we went on Monday to the wettest field trip with the school I've ever been to. It was just pouring like out of buckets and we had to go to the Reykjanes peninsula here. It wasn't that special actually....just a lot of rain and curse words (from us students). Last friday I was then asked to join some friends for some hiking in the Þingvellir National Park again. Two friends had a guest and a two-week exchange student here so we decided to show them some great Icelandic nature (one of the guests actually had been an exchange student here two years ago). Since spring had finally found its way to Iceland in the last week we had great luck with the weather and it was really warm, clear blue sky and no wind at all. Perfect day therefore! While hiking we actually saw the paw prints of an arctic fox in the snow (here are no other "dog" animals like that living here). We had a great hike for 2-3 hours there and headed then to Gulfoss to show one of your guests. And after that we treated ourselves for some relaxing in the natural hot spring Hrunalaug again. The guests were excited about that one! On the way there we saw how the nature was waking up here, everything started to slowly turn green and new life was starting everywhere. I've even spotted flowers in Reykjavík.
We finished the day with eating at our favorite place in Selfoss where I have been already 4 times in the past 4 weeks...This whole trip sounds short but we were actually gone for 12 hours and all of us were dead tired when coming home again. It was a great day. :)
On Saturday I actually managed to go partying!! Until 4am like the Icelanders! I had a lot of fun with my friends but my knee didn't appreciate the jumping around. Sunday I enjoyed the beautiful spring weather (plus 8 degrees and clear blue sky) with a housemate and her cousin. Reykjavík is quite beautiful in the spring. Monday there was another field trip with the school and this time we had much more luck with the weather. We went to the inactive volcano right outside of Reykjavík called Búrfell. We had to hike a short walk there and then we were left just to run loose around the volcano. It's actually quite funny how a group of 20-27 year old students (we were about 25 people) just got excited like little kids and starting exploring every little cave and stone there and climbed up to the highest peaks. It was obvious that we all enjoyed it.  Especially playing with the rocks that are so light that they actually float on water instead of sinking.  Meanwhile the teacher took a short nap on the hills. I just love it how you only have to drive for 10min outside of Reykjavik and you are on a volcano and have beautiful scenery. :)
Tuesday I was again on the Golden Circle route which makes it now the 4th for me on it. My housemate wanted to show her cousin the things there and I was asked to join. We took a small detour to a summerhouse village where the Búrafoss waterfall is hiding. I hope that was the name of it. It's a very small but cute waterfall with deep blue water which makes it look quite surreal. We also ended our day at Hrunalaug and at the awesome food place in Selfoss. And yesterday I was so lucky to see one of my favorite bands here again live, Árstiđir. The first band I saw here live and now I'm a big fan of them.

In the Búrfell volcano area
On another note: Iceland is striking. Iceland's economy is still not doing great and people are not happy with their salaries. The high school teachers have been now the 3rd week on strike and the university threatens to strike here during the exam period from April 25h to May 10th. We will next week know if the university strikes or not but most likely it will since the high school teachers are still on strike. This means for us students no exams during that time and that they will be postponed but many of us leave right after the 10th of May, including me and that is actually bad news for us since we won't get the credits. So I'll actually be trying to get a letter from the student office saying that because of the strike I was never able to participate in the exams. I already have a flight booked for home and I'd love to stay longer here but I don't want to have wasted the money for this ticket, work is waiting for me and I'm attending a wedding in the end of May. So not a good timing at all. If the strike happens it gives me time to travel around the island, which is great, but only if my home university doesn't bitch at me for coming home without hardly any credits. :D
The volcano itself
The seamen to the Vestmannaeyar Islands were striking last weekend too. And the airports here are threatening with strike too for the month of April which I hope doesn't happen or lasts only one day because I have a friend coming to visit me in April and she's supposed to leave on one of the days of the strike. And another friend is coming in the first days of May and in the worst case scenario the strike could be still on then. The nurses and elementary school teachers are going on strike in the fall... So let's hope for the university to strike but not for the airports.
And I finished my sweater! After almost two months, a lot of yarn and curse words I finished it. It feels great to have accomplished something like that and it fits like a glove actually. I'm also incredibly stubborn but have no patience.
This is it. I've been pretty much only outside all the time. :P

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Accidents happen (Part 3)

Morning walk from our cottage by the beach
After sleeping with the lights on in the bathroom all night long we woke up early in the morning to a beautiful view to the black beaches and some of us took a quick walk down by the shore before breakfast. After we got our stomachs filled with some good food and started packing everything up one of my friends saw that a pen had committed suicide in her back bag. Luckily it had been wrapped around some tissues, so there wasn't too much off a mess. We then cleaned the kitchen and when everything seemed to be ready we suddenly saw a blue stain on the white table that hadn't been there before. My friend had put the, as she thought dry stained blue, tissue on the it turns out, it wasn't dry and the table was one of that shitty material which just absorbs all the stains and colors it can get into it. And there were no decent cleaning supplies in the cottage. Oh ou. We tried it then with house remedies as coconut butter, salt and toothpaste. We got creative and non of it worked. On the one end of the table, opposite to the stain, was a fake plant and two decorative little candle holders, we then just decided to turn the table around so we could put the plant and candle holders over it. They covered the stain actually quite well but we decided to leave a note to the owner anyway telling him what happened and how sorry we were. Until today we have not heard from him. :D
We then finally got to hit the road again to Vík since I had to look for a sweater (not myself) and it turned into a small shopping spree for all of us. I didn't find a sweater but found a new hat, headband and hiking socks. The others found socks as well, hats and even a wool poncho. That was successful.
Then it was time to go towards home, Reykjavík, but with a stop in Dyrhólaey. Where our accidents continued to happen and we crashed an engagement proposal by accident... As we got out of the car we saw a couple standing lovey-dovey on the cliffs looking at each other. I think it was me who threw the joke that he's proposing and we are crashing it. While happily and with lots of noise of course walking over there we suddenly realised: "Holy cow! He really just proposed to her!" Well, she got a pretty ring and they then asked us to take a picture of them. So maybe it was good that we were there? After that little episode the couple disappeared somewhere down to the shore and we continued having fun. We took pictures, tried to hike but were stopped by bird nesting signs and then played around by the sea shore. The others took a nice nap on the millions of round stones and I climbed on to one of the small cliffs that actually had gotten rounder with the water. That place just stays one of my favorite places in Iceland. :)
We then continued driving towards home and stopped at the water falls Skógafoss and Seljalandfoss. At the first one you have a huge stairway going right next to the waterfall and I had to skip it for my knee having a bitchy day. But I then just had lunch in the car and looked at my pictures while waiting for the others. At Seljalandfoss we got freaked out by the huge icicles hanging over the path and decided not go behind it. We then tried to find the "Ghost waterfall" near by and thought we had found it but as it turned out later, no we didn't! :D  When we left the waterfalls we drove happily down the road and I was slightly suspicious why the surroundings didn't look so familiar until we found ourselves suddenly on a gravel road and we knew we weren't anymore on Route 1 (Ringroad, only big road in Iceland). So we turned around and found the road again. We accomplished that too: We got lost off the ring road, that's really not an easy thing to do here.
The journey continued then to eat some nice pizza in a town between Selfoss and Vík. In Selfoss we then stopped at our favorite cafe with some of the best cakes in the world. And our stomachs were definitely full after it. Unfortunately the weather had been rather snowy and windy all day and we found ourselves on the infamous mountain between Hverargerđi and Reykjavík, we were in the middle of a snowstorm. The road was not visible anymore and we only saw about 3m ahead. I wasn't driving at that point, luckily. But we then continued bravely at a speed between 40-60km/h, because just stopping wasn't really an option. :D  Icelanders actually kept on passing us but not as many as usually, so the conditions were really bad. But we also got out of that one and arrived safe and sound in Reykjavik. Though this was most likely the longest it has taken me to go over that mountain.

This is the end of this great trip. Now my face will go meet my pillow and you can enjoy Ásgeirs cover version of Heart-shaped box!