Thursday, 26 July 2007

Freefall posting - no notes, no diary - just trying to remember a holiday.

warning long rambling post used as a vague diary whilst travelling.

Right - the basics are that I´m in Rekyavik´s seedy underbelly (otherwise known as an internet cafe). We´ve been here only 2 days and its been quite incredible. Travelling with TheO´s entire family is quite an experience. (Lets just say that whilst I love my nephews I may not like them for much of the time.)

So arrival involves flying across a massive ice flow - v v cool. Genuinely overwhelmingly wonderful.
Landing at a small and somewhat deserted airport - then getting a taxi into the "city". Travelling across miles of black, weird, lunar lavaflows. Quite incredible but also a shock to the system. BUT wonderful to be somewhere, where - on landing - the first thought isn´t: Oh look - it´s just like Scotland but not quite as pretty.
Our first treat was to drag our massive luggage to The Blue Lagoon which is a complex of natural pools heated by geothermal energy. It was stunning, relaxing, incredibly beautiful and the perfect start to any holiday - floating in the salt rich waters eased away any travel stress. (And there had been some due to inept bus from THEWORLD´sSHITTESTHOTEL - grrrr.)

That was all we really did on the first day with some wandering and photo taking - apart from go to our first gay bar. Hilarious. Together 8 years and our fist gay (v relaxed, v mixed) was two days ago. It only seemed fitting to discuss the forthcoming non-uptials. Great to have time to chat to each other. Hell it was just great to go out and have a drink and be able to walk home. There are some simple pleasures that I occasionally miss about country life.

Relaxing with incredible scenery but not a picturesque town is how I would describe Reykavik. It does feel like a frontier on the edge of a wilderness. Outdoorsy chic and a 4x4 are de rigeur. The women are beautiful, the place is ultra-relaxed and that relaxation seeps in under the skin. Once you´ve picked yourself up off the floor at how damn much everything costs. No. Really. Even with a terrifying exchange rate of 100 ISK to 1 GBP simple things cost more than ever seemed possible. A simple pizza - at a cheap take away 18 GBP!! It´s crazy, our Rough Guide was 29GBP - but supposedly the average wage is far higher than in the Uk and it all works well. In a Capital city over 3 days I have seen no vagrants or beggars. Their health system seems to rock and there is v little crime.

I love it here. You wander down streets of simple houses and suddenly views across the bay with incredible cliffs and mountains rise up and surprise you. It really does take your breath away - as does it being midnight and still light. Sunset was about 11pm last night and it was so incredible that even Icelanders were stopping their cars and getting out to take pictures.

Our first tourist day didn´t involve doing too much but we saw The Culture House with incredible manuscript exhibitions of the sagas - where I discovered that Old English (which I studied as a masters) is much older and very firmly the basis for Icelandic - shame I can´t bloody remember any. Also a display about Surtsey which is a *new* island which appeared thrown from the sea in a volcanic fit in the 1960s. Delightfully fitting in a quick coffee is a delightful experience as the island is said to run on cups of the black stuff. (You might bankrupt yourself but hell, good coffee makes any day better.)

So wandering, settling in, buying basic provisions etc have been done and we took our first mini road trip today. We saw Gullfoss an incredible waterfall and gorge that blows the mind.

The Alðing - the original seat of the lawspeakers and the formation of the Icelandic Parliament - a fabulous valley of steep rocks splitting the earth and overlooking lush plains which slowly rise into snow tipped mountains.

Then - our geology day took us to Geysir to see geysers. They really did spurt boiling water from the earth about 40 feet into the air. The small crowds were restrained in their appreciation. (I think restraint in all things apart from drink might be part of the Icelandic peoples´personality.)

Our fab taxi (more like mini buss with 7 of us) driver also took us to a surprise crater at the end of the day with a crazy azure/green lake in the bottom of a huge circular chasm.

Ooo and for those still paying attention we went for a run today round the lake in the centre of the city. Not massivly picturesque but really very pretty and full of ducklings queeking out the way. Running/Jogging does not appear to be a cultural thing here. A great evening and no other runners in the perfect park - v strange. But we managed a rather leisurly 2.5 miles in 27 min. It was both slower and shorter than I would have liked but I was running near TheO and our time between getting back to our place and having to shop/return to the family base was extremely limited.

I can´t quite get the measure of the place, it seems elusive and withdrawn whilst simultaneously being welcoming and relaxing.

Crikie - last word - love the food too. Great fish and good bread plus smoked/cured meats which are divine. Although they are lacking in pud ... hell who needs it.

It all seems to be going so fast and like we´ve done so much but there´s still so much time left - it´s incredible.


Rae! said...

Sounds wonderful.

londonjogger said...

this has made me want to go. hopefully I'll get to shoot a video there one day. did you do any moonscape running?