Archive for the 'Iceland' Category

Goodbye Reykjavik, Hej Copenhagen

May 2, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

WP_20150501_16_32_37_ProHope you are having a nice weekend. This morning I woke up at 4:00 am and flew from Reykjavik to Copenhagen. The flight was about three hours. I arrived in Copenhagen at around 1:00 pm and took the train to the center station. WP_20150502_15_55_29_ProI got a little lost trying to walk from the train station to the hotel, so I jumped in a cab. I unpacked at the hotel and went to Nyhavn (pictured) for lunch. Nyhavn is the iconic colorful canal street. WP_20150502_18_55_49_ProIt was a beautiful sunny day and I was lucky to get a table outside. I had salad with salmon on it. Just as I was finishing lunch some live music started. It was three guys with two guitars and drums and they were WP_20150502_18_57_55_Proreally good!! They were Danish but played covers of mostly songs I knew. I got some wine to go (you can do that here) and hung out outside and listened to the band. Then I walked around a lot more WP_20150501_12_45_27_Proand thought about what it would have been like if I were a little girl here in 1943 like in Number the Stars. When I was finished doing that, I wandered over to Christianhavn, and walked WP_20150501_14_12_35_Prothrough Christiania, where drugs are “allowed.” I didn’t intend to do any, I was just curious. They do not allow pictures so I didn’t take any, but sure enough, the “Green Light District” was full of WP_20150501_19_08_07_Prosmoke clouds and people chilling outside. I couldn’t tell if it was mostly tourists … probably was. Now i’m back at the hotel. I tried to watch the news but the only story CNN was covering this hour is the royal baby. Now I’m going to go get some dinner and a drink.

Love, Annie

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West Iceland!!

May 1, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope you are well. Today was really nice. I took a 10.5 hour excursion and it was hands down the most beautiful drive I have ever done in my life. Unfortunately my phone internet isn’t working properly so I don’t have all the pictures to show. Only some teasers like this one and the one below, both of which were taken from an access road in the middle of the West Iceland peninsula. IMG_3289I woke up and picked up a Ford Fiesta from a nice rental place and then set out for West Iceland. In one of my meetings yesterday I was told to forget the “Golden Circle” and head to Snæfellsjökull, a glacier in West Iceland. With each turn, the scenery was more beautiful. I never made it up to the official glacier, but that was okay. I drove most of the way up, but then I didn’t trust my car to be okay in the conditions. You really need a four-wheel drive to do it and the Fiesta, while awesome, was having a hard time on some of the parts of the road. I walked around the glacier area but didn’t see it officially and that was fine. I didn’t want to push my luck as I had many other things going for me today.

Here are some of the things I did: Leaving Reykjavik, I went trough an undersea tunnel (on the way back, I drove around the gulf that I avoided by taking the tunnel. The gulf is very beautiful and great for motorcycling. I stopped for coffee on a roadside stand. I stopped a lot actually to take roadside pictures. I found an icy waterfall and climbed up near it. I passed this big crater and climbed up it and looked inside. It was very much a volcano and felt like it might have been Mars. I used to be terrified of volcanoes but you can’t be if you come to Iceland. I drove around the tip of the West Iceland peninsula and visited the towns of Ólafsvík and Arnarstapi. In Arnarstapi I had some Icelandic soup with lamb and a beer at a little home/restaurant.

IMG_3292I passed this roadside thing where some cars were congregating. It turned out to be a cool cave. I took an impromptu tour of a lava cave that went over 100 feet down. They gave us helmets and flashlights. I didn’t mention that I had my own flashlight in the car. It was actually pretty terrifying and I hoped that if the cave collapsed it would kill me immediately. There was a family from Toronto on the tour, and the kids kept trying to stop the mom from making annoying comments, which I found amusing. The guide, Thor, was a badass. Of course.

When I stopped for gas at the N1 in a town closer to Reykjavik called Borgarnes, I was immediately helped by a man in a bleached hair wig wearing a borat-style bathing suit. He started washing my windows with a spray bottle and rag in a very flamboyant style, and he wanted to pump the gas for me. okay. He was surrounded by a bunch of other guys and they were all filming. Hmmm. I asked him what kind of bet he lost but it turns out he was getting married and i guess this was a bachelor party of sorts. He said he used to work at the gas station. He literally kissed the gas dispenser tube when he took it out of my car. Ughghhh. They made me wave at the cameras. All in all it was pretty hilarious but amidst the sillyness I forgot to get a receipt. Probably can’t expense the gas anyway, so oh well.

I tried to go to Þingvellir, where the tectonic plates are diverting but the road from Borgarnes was impassable, so I didn’t go. Hope to share some more pictures soon. I probably took 100 today. I was too tired to go out again so I ate a smoked salmon thing for dinner at the hotel.  I packed up for the most part and now i need to go to sleep. The flight to Copenhagen is very early tomorrow.

Love, Annie

 

Working in Iceland

April 30, 2015

Hi Family and Friends,

Hope you are well. WP_20150430_14_25_54_ProIt’s 11 pm and just getting kind of dark – pretty weird to my internal clock. Today I just worked. I had a nice lunch at a fish grill restaurant. I drank so much coffee throughout the day partly because my work involved taking people out for coffee. And now I have crashed. WP_20150430_14_23_36_ProMy hotel, while nice, isn’t in walking distance to the main area with all the cool stuff and I’m too tired to bother with going out tonight. Maybe tomorrow nigh I will experience Reykjavik’s famous nightlife. I am excited for tomorrow. It’s a national holiday and I plan to wake up early, pick up my rental car, and drive to some awesome places outside of Reykjavik.

Love, Annie

Halló Reykjavík

April 29, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are well. Today was a very long but awesome day. I woke up at 7:00 AM on tuesday so  I haven’t slept for almost 36 hours. But it’s been an awesome day. I left work late on Tuesday night and went straight to the airport. Check-in and security were easy with minimal lines, and then I had a drink and light dinner at the wine bar place at terminal E. WP_20150429_05_43_22_Pro

I was surprised that my seat on the airplane was especially good – for some reason I’ve been booked in Economy Comfort class on all my the Iceland Air flights. They had a divider in the middle seat and provided complimentary headphones and snacks. No one was sitting in that row anyway. The flight was short – I watched Bradley Cooper in Limitless and then some episodes of Louis CK, then some promotional videos on Iceland and all of its wonders, then looked out the window.

Arrival in Reykjavik was also easy. The airport was very clean and there weren’t lines for anything. I took the bus to the hotel because I felt like it, and the bus was much less expensive than a taxi would have been. The hotel gave me a bad room at first and I went back downstairs and told them I would wait for a better room. I was really early anyway. Of course, they had a better room in the same paygrade when I came back from a small adventure. That happens all the time. You just have to ask.

For the morning adventure, I took the public bus down to one of the main streets for walking and restaurants. WP_20150429_10_06_14_ProI walked up to the famous church and took the elevator up to the top, where I saw that view in the first picture, and then had lunch at the well known Loki cafe near the church to try Icelandic food. There is mashed fish on brown bread (the yellow thing, my favorite. It was like egg salad but with potatoes and fish. mmm), smoked lamb on flat bread (not horrible), Smoked trout with cottage cheese on brown bread. The two things in the center were pretty weird. The top one is dried fish, which you break off into pieces and eat with butter, and then the infamous fermented shark, which is just as bad as you’ve heard. I was told to chew it to get the flavor out. The flavor feels like less of a flavor and feels more like a bad chemical reaction seeping up from your throat through your nose. It honestly tastes like a chemical you shouldn’t be eating. People here don’t eat it all the time, they just eat it on celebratory occasions once or twice a year.

WP_20150429_11_48_07_ProAfter my brunch I walked around the town more. It’s dangerous because there are so many cool winter gear shops in brands I’ve never seen. After that I passed the Reykjavik Phallogical Museum – yes, you read that correctly.I had no idea what it was going to be like. They had examples from many many different animals, in particular a bunch of whales. I usually get super jazzed about this kind of thing, but to be honest I found the museum really cringeworthy. It wasn’t anything specific, it was weird that the whole thing exists. They have hilarious T shirts that say “this museum is not for pussies” and things of that nature.

After the museum I took the bus back to the hotel and unpacked and made some calls to confirm meetings for tomorrow. I then headed out to the famous Blue Lagoon, which was more awesome than I expected. It’s a tourist attraction… done exactly right. I spent over two hours bathing. WP_20150429_18_03_18_ProThey give you these bracelets with a chip on them that allows you to not only lock your locker but also to charge things. They serve drinks (beers, wines, smoothies, green juice, etc.) at the bar the he lagoon. You can charge food and extra drinks right on the bracelet, and pay at the end. It was so organized and they have a high volume of people, but it didn’t feel that way. The whole focus was realaxation and skincare and I came out feeling awesome. There aren’t many places that i feel i Absolutely must go back to, but this is one of them. I hope to go back with a partneer someday.

After the blue lagoon, I had dinner at the hotel bar and tried Einstok white ale beer, which was awesome. WP_20150429_19_42_41_ProDinner was also good, smoked salmon on more brown bread. I used my computer at the bar. I wanted to go out but didn’t haev the energy. I really need some sleep! It’s a little weird because it’s 10:30 and still light out. I’m excited to work tomorrow.

Love, Annie