July 29th, 2015

The Following Photos were Submitted by @Lammer

We had lovely morning, our last moments in Reykjavik. Sigrun, her Mom, Margret, Colleen and I went to a lovely café with antique furniture called Stofan. If I would spend any time in the city on my own for a longer stay, I would frequent this place. They had really nice carrot cake. The woman who made it had on a pretty pink floral apron which I took a picture of to make myself.

I bought a few more items, which were on my list. I was on the lookout for an Icelandic folk or Fairy tale book. Margret was able to point one out saying that they were typical stories that were told to generations of Children. It was my main reading material on the plane home in between looking at my phone photos and editing them.

OMG, had this annoying older gentleman as a seat companion (there were three abreast) who hogged the armrest and flung his sweater at me when he got up to use the bathroom. He kept elbowing me when he would reach into his bag for this if that. I would say he was the worst seat companion I’ve ever had. Oh well, I was bound to get someone like that sooner or later. I doubt he will be the last. His wife sounded like Chandler’s annoying girlfriend, who said his name like nails down a chalkboard. Oh the ilk’s of traveling.

Security and customs of the airports are nothing worth speaking of except all was painless until we reached luggage collection. That was the longest time we had to wait for anything. The bus and subway were blessedly quick, though I think I may have fallen asleep from Kipling to Bathurst. Sleep I did, when I got home. First thing I did was get a shower. For supper, I heated Alphagetti, then called Mom and hit the hey.

July 28th, 2015

The Following Photos were Submitted by @Lammer

At last a day where we could sleep in. That we did, at least until almost noon. When we did finally get going, we met with Sigrun who took us to different parts of the city. There was the sculpture garden, then a beautiful grave yard, tree-covered and serene. All the graves were set close together with walls of mossy cement to divide them. The graves themselves were not very exciting however. I didn’t see a stone angel or lamb anywhere in the place, but then again, we didn’t explore the whole thing. I vowed to go again tomorrow with the 4×5 before we left to get some pictures.

After the cemetery, Colleen went back to the Harpa to redo some photos she wasn’t able to get before. Sigrun and I went the address where she was staying, to wait for her Mom to arrive from the cottage. It was so nice to see Margaret again. We had a lovely girls afternoon of shopping. Margaret found a dress to wear to an up and coming wedding from a custom design boutique. A place where if you didn’t like the size or colour of one that was already made, no problem, you can order it to be made in this colour and size.

Sig’s and I both found something at a vintage store. Well, I found two things. A pair of funky striped denim overalls which are colourful to say the least. Perhaps it was a hasty purchase, but they are really comfortable. I also bought what was, is, very much a “me” dress. A dress that looked like it was from the 40’s with some very pretty lace around the neck. Margaret said if I didn’t buy it, I was crazy because it was so me. SO those purchases brought my search for an Icelandic sweater to an end.

The night ended at Kex. A restaurant/ hostel/ bar that hosted jazz every Tuesday. What a great band! I would go there every Tuesday to listen to Jazz. Every walk of life was there. Everyone from the hippy to the businessperson. I had a simple, yet delicious meal. I realize now, I haven’t talked much about the gastronomical experience whilst in Iceland. SO Let me describe to you this last meal. It was nothing more than a thick slice of your grandmothers homemade bread topped with a goodly size wheel of melted goat cheese on top. Around this were pieces of cold cut meats like a prosciutto. The cut started with a “B” and I can’t remember it’s name for the life of me. But, Man! It was so delicious! It filled the gullet and the soul so wholly and completely, That’s how satisfied I was. A perfect ending to a perfect trip.

July 27th, 2015

The Following Photos were Submitted by @Lammer

We made the Blue Lagoon just in time. Sadly, we weren’t able stay as long as we wanted. As soon as you nestled into the 30 degree water, your body immediately turned into jelly. I wanted to walk or swim the perimeter of the pool, but that in itself zapped too much energy. The edge of the pool is shallow, thus one is able to lean back against the wall and rest their head on the deck, soaking in the sun on yet another beautiful day. The package we bought was $60, which included a sample facemask and other things, a free drink, we chose a delicious strawberry sparkling wine to hit the spot, and our entrance. I’d come again, though I would like to try the other one in the north where it’s less touristy, though the pool is smaller. With the group perhaps. Next time.

Good bye car. Even though we were a half hour late returning the car, Europecar didn’t ding me like Enterprise did, for anther day. Thank You Lord! Icelanders are so much more relaxed than Ontarians. East Coasters are so much more relaxed than Ontarians.

After returning the car, I took a nap. We were so much on the go, I felt I could finally rest and not stress out about whether I locked the car or not., or if would be towed away because I couldn’t figure out how to use he parking machine. The dream or nightmare, I had that afternoon encompassed this. I was driving around Reykjavik and getting lost when I saw a bunch of dogs running towards policeman. They were shooting the dogs with phaser guns, evaporating in thin air. Some dogs were being pushed into a raging river we passed yesterday. A River Sigrun said, were people committed suicide because there was no mercy. I asked the police why they were doing this. They said there was an over populous of dogs in the city, even the ones with collars and licenses. Then, all of a sudden I was driving a transit bus through a fountain, which was a right of way. But somehow a grate underneath started to give way and the bus started to float on it’s own. Luckily I was able to drive the bus back out of the fountain unharmed though Colleen and I were the only people in it.

Later that day, we went into town shopping for souvenir gifts for people back home. I was able to find some things. There was so much to choose from, something for everyone really, but T-shirts were really more expensive than necessary. For supper, we met Sigrun at Bunk Bar, a Mexicana place. So strange in most of the restaurants in the city, you have to go to the bar to order and pay for your food. I have to admit, I like this better because when you are done eating, you don’t have wait for the bill.

July 26th, 2015

The Following photos were Submitted by @Lammer

Today, Sigrun had the day off so she came with us to the southern part of Iceland, the more touristy part that was a part of the golden circle. The first part of the drive was incredibly boring passing through many towns, that were similar to the one’s in Ontario.

Our goal, rather a stop on Colleen’s bucket list was a crashed, abandoned plane from the 1970’s. Along the way we stopped at one of the famous waterfalls, Skogofoss where one could walk underneath them. I’m glad I brought my rain paints and had a water proof jacket with me. It was so refreshing to have the spray of the water on you.

Edda recommended going to Reynir along the coast and part of the black sand beaches. From what I’ve heard of “The Black Sand Beach”, it sounded as if there was only one beach, or one section of beach with black sands. That’s not the case. The girl at the car rental place told us all the beaches had black sands because of the volcano’s. Perhaps this was so much a tourist attraction because there were three sea stacks that rose from water. Lining the beach were cliffs lined with caves, once of which you could actually walk into a ways. But I was too chicken to go in too far without a companion or a light for that matter. On one side of the beach was a flock of nesting puffins. This wasn’t too special to me because we have puffins in Cape Breton, but to be reminded how they flew was quite amusing. Their little wings beating so fast, making circles from the rocks over the ocean and back again to their perches. Always they seemed to fly in pairs. Just as I decided to take my 4×5 out again to take a picture of the turning of the river around the cliff inland with a sea stack in the middle, a couple had walked out on the beach. Shit! It would have taken them forever to move. You could tell by their attitude of casualness and selfie-taking. Next time.

For supper we went to a restaurant that was more of a café called the Black Sands Restaurant. It reminded me of the place on the Grand Canyon by the skywalk, very modern with no character. That being said, I gave to admit the food was really good. Not at all cafeteria food. Lucky for us, since we were customers of the restaurant, we were able to use the washrooms for free. Since you don’t have to pay to get into a national park in Iceland, you do have to pay for the washrooms. I think Edda said it was 1200, ($12.00). WHAT!

What a day it’s been so far! We say so many beautiful wonders that I completely forgot about the plane and decaled that It was enough seeing what I saw and could call it a day. Me and my big mouth. I gave the wrong impression I’m afraid. My companions thought I wanted to go home and not see the plane. Heavens! Not the case at all.

It was a magnificent site to see, no doubt. A crashed plane with it’s tale completely cut off its nose torn away in places, it’s engines hanging from her sides and her wings clipped. A glorious history, everyone survived. But it wasn’t my thing. What? When I’ve gone to Mc Lean’s Auto Wreakers, with so many lovely rusted cars from all decades, this was not my thing? Sorry, I didn’t think it was worthy enough to use a sheet of film. Instead I took photos with my phone of Colleen doing her red dress shoot. She looked lovely posing against the plane and a sea of black sand. We were blessed with great light and another awesome sunset which we followed all the back to Reykjavik.

Had I brought my DSLR and actually able to use the 24mm lens, I would have concentrated on the Glacier behind us, Myrdalsjokull at an impressive 1362 meters. At the intersection of one and 221 is a spot where you can see one of the arms of the glacier reach down to the lowlands. Below this is a delta curving into the arm around a hillside. I should have stopped on the way to the plane to get a picture of this while the light was good. It wasn’t just good, it was perfect. But I didn’t and I regret it now. The sun was completely gone behind the glacier now. There was no contrast. I swear, next time I go I am going to stop to take that image. There’s nothing worse when regretting a missed photo opportunity.

The compensation was, again, the sunset. It was a deep reddish pink with dramatic clouds racing through it. We stopped many times to take photos. Because it was even more spectacular around the next set of mountains than the last.

Again, Returned late, rather early in the morning, 1:30 this time. So it wasn’t so bad. Tomorrow the Blue Lagoon and then to return the car.

July 25th, 2015

The Following Photos are Submitted by Lammer

Trawire was my savior for getting out the city and onto the open road. I wouldn’t have been able to do it, if I didn’t have Google Maps to tell me where I was going. Once in the country however, we didn’t really need it. Wherever we stopped, I would look at the roads ahead and remember the numbered roads we had to take.

Best decision of the trip was to rent a car. Considering the freedom we had, I couldn’t fathom it being any other way. I would recommend to anyone to rent a car for at least two days. More if you can. For two days with ash and sand coverage plus loss and damage, it came close to $800 Canadian. Yes, this is much, we DID rent an SUV, that could handle F roads, but the price, especially divided, was well worth it. It afforded Colleen and I the freedom to stop where ever and for however long we wanted to. Yes, this lead to a 13.5 hour day, but we were like kids on too much sugar to care.

Every turn we took, every valley, plain, field, mountain, hill, coastline brought a “WOW” to our lips. I wish we could have recorded how many times we said the word. At least a few hundred I have no doubt. Our first day outing was to the peninsula of Snaefellsness. The landscape was made up of fields and mountains, where there were no fields, stubby black pillar rocks rose from the earth. We were in the land where they filmed “Game of Thrones”! At least some it.

For the first two hours, we didn’t stop. I wanted to gain some distance from the city and time. Our first stop was lunch at a restaurant with a motel attached to it. Colleen and I both had cod stew with new potatoes, tomatoes and cucumber? Can’t remember. The stew was not in a bowl, but in a blob on the plate filled with potato, fish and melted cheesy goodness. Hmmm…. I wonder if salt cod and the above ingredients would make a good quiche. I don’t know where that came from.

Our first stop was a vista of abandoned buildings that turned out not so abandoned. In a barn which looked like a series of three peaked houses together lived the biggest sheep I ever saw. The kind with horns. One back, another white. The white turned out to be a ram who keep an ever watchful eye on us. Luckily I had taken two shots with my 4×5, before he started to bleat in earnest and actually make his way towards us. “Colleen…..” I pointed at his advance, “oh right” making a beeline for the SUV. It really did sound like he was cursing us a blue streak. “Get the ‘Beep’ away from here! Go on! Get, you little ‘Beep’” Get we did.

Not too far up the road was a church next to a small abandoned farm. The fields however were still maintained with sheep grazing near by. This was out first taste of a photographer’s dream world. Against the barn was a rusted bicycle which we moved from place to place. Unfortunately the lighting was not on the right side to take an ideal cliché bike against the barn photo. I lugged my 4×5 into the field where I aligned all three buildings, church, barn and house in a row against a line of mountains with snow still on them in the background. Behind that was a beautiful blue sky with puffy clouds. Much to my dismay, a family of 5 came to play jungle-jim on the hay rolls, and take goofy family photos than to really appreciate their surroundings. Maybe that was too harsh. Perhaps they were excited to get out of the car and move around. So I had to wait 10 minutes for them to leave so I could finally take my shot.

Next stop was to say hello to some Icelandic horses. On this trip, I wasn’t able to cross off a tail ride from my bucket list, but I was able to talk to, pet and kiss a beautiful white mare on her muzzle. Thank you Colleen for catching that one. I’ve always wanted a white horse. I took another 4×5 shot of the group of them, with a small mound of a hill behind them to make them stand out.

From here on in, I can’t keep track of where and when we stopped in chorological order. Perhaps it’s best not to keep track and tell the story as it comes out with the full force of emotion behind it. These words, I’m afraid can’t convey what it’s actually like to be here.

We stopped at a fall that fell from very high up indeed. I filled my water bottle from a near-by stream. It was ALMOST as good at the iceberg water. Every stream in Iceland is incredibly clean and drinkable.

Ahead of us on route 54 on the south side of the peninsula was the inactive volcano, Snaefellsjokull. You can see it when you land at the Keflavik airport and from Reykjavik. But driving towards it and around it is a phenomenon. There was an isolated cloud cover above the opening that gave the illusion of steam spewing from it. But this was impossible where there was still a substantial amount of snow ringing the mouth to a third of the way down.

On the North side, of the peninsula, I finally reached a half tank of gas and decided to fill up. If anyone rents a car in Iceland remember that you may not be able to use your credit card to pay at the pumps, though you can use it everywhere else. You can, however by gift cards in set amounts. I was able to by a 3000 Kroners card ($30) to fill the car up. I think gas on this side was cheaper than in other areas. In the southern part it took 4000 ($40) and to fill up from the Blue Lagoon in the capitol was 7500 ($75). Unfortunately, they make you pay first. But if you put on a desperate enough face and look cute claiming you don’t know how much you’ll need to fill the car, they will open the pump and let you pay later.

Let’s see…. We stopped at all manner of places there after. A place where there were many large rock formations that looked fantastic against the sky or the volcano. There was a place with a pond below a luscious green hill with a waterfall, that came from the earth. The reflections of the green, grass or moss, was a beautiful site. I used my 4×5 here again. But this point I had used all but 2 backs. So I was being VERY selective about what I took from here on in. The last place we stopped was a field in front of a calm, shallow bay. In the field was a ruin of a house or barn. Probably the type with a sod roof. This image was not to be however. The slide wouldn’t slide back into the back (I didn’t pull it out all the way incase you were wondering). It kept getting caught on the film. I did get it in eventually, but the consequence was the film slipping to the outside of the slide, thus being exposed to the light. Not being experienced in taking sunsets with my 4×5, I doubt if the image would have turned out anyways. So this last photo of the day is not so much a loss, but a still a disappointment.

It finally became darkish around 11:30pm. Shooting was done for the day. We made it back to Reykjavik around 2:30am after getting lost in the city because at this point the wireless device wasn’t working. I don’t know why. Does it black out at certain hours? Are there actual spots where it cannot give a signal? Either way, it was really frustrating. We were in bed by 3am.

I can safely boast it was the longest day outing I’ve ever had!

July 24, 2015

The Following Photos were Submitted by Lammer

We arrived in downtown Reykjavik at around 2:30 am Iceland time. Sigrun and her boyfriend, Mez were there to meet Colleen and I. No, I should tell you first of the sunset.

As we flew over Greenland you could tell the evening sun was on snow. It was golden pink. When we descended, the sun was just setting. About the same as our 8 pm twilight at this time of year. The clouds across the sky made for an amazing sunset. Colleen and I were taking many phone photos from the porthole. I think we both had the same hope that we would experience more sunsets like this in the days to come. They are indeed the photographers ideal of a sunset. Long lasting and no need to race to it. Though I say that now. The sun set at midnight. There were still colours in the sky by the time we got to Sigrun’s cottage like apartment.

Before settling in for the night we chatted about the next day. I have to pick up a wireless device, Trawire that will allow us internet access no matter where we go in Iceland. I wonder if it was necessary though. We’ll see. I am however curious to see how it works. If it’s all I hope it will be, I’d like to by one for my tours. The device itself is $120 on Amazon.ca. Thereafter, you have to get the sim card and so much data.

8:35am.
It wasn’t just the quantity of daylight that kept me up, it was the anticipation of seeing new sites. Although this is a foreign place, I feel perfectly at ease with it. It’s akin to Newfoundland. So far.

Oh, and one more thing. I am such a dumbass. I’m heartily ashamed to admit the following, but here it goes! The only camera I brought was my 4×5. Ok my phone to, but that doesn’t count. I can’t believe I forgot to pack my DSLR! I even went through the trouble of traveling all the way to Liberty Village to borrow Rob and Nadia’s 24mm lens. Like come on! I wanted to have a wide angle so my photos could have a sense of place, unlike most of my Newfoundland photos. Perhaps it’s a photographical Godsend. I have 48 sheets of 4×5 film with me. That’s nine shots per day. Shots that are defiantly going to get messed up along the way, but at least I have this challenge. It’ll just be a lot of shit to carry.

8:28pm Iceland Time -4:28am Toronto Time
This morning Colleen and I walked to get the wireless device. I had an email the day before with self-service instructions to pick it up above the mail boxes of the lobby of a furniture store. I thought this a little shady but when I collected it, I admitted that it was a easy. A drop off at a local hotel would have been $15 extra. None-the-less we had a good walk and got to see an uglier side of Reykjavik. The street west, south and north of the city certainly have more character.

For brunch, Sigrun brought us to a nice breakfast place called Laundromat. A lovely, vibrant café with tones of paperback novels skirting the central coffee bar. Earlier, I had packed my 4×5 in a borrowed MEC knapsack. Along with all my loaded film backs. As it happened, I did use up one back. The first image was in the coffee shop. I unfolded on the table, pointed it towards the coffee bar. There was beautiful light coming in and thankfully, the café was not congested enough for anyone to walk into it. The revealing of my 4×5 struck up a nice conversation with the couple next to us. They were from Sweden. She was an ambassador for Canon, and reminisced about her bathroom darkroom days.

The second photo was taken in a concert hall where Sigrun is going to sing in the fall. As luck would have it, they were setting up for a function. Apart from the main room there were sitting room, each with antique furniture. I took a photo of the one with the sun streaming through the window. It was casting beautiful shadows of the table with flowers and the chairs to either side of it.

The afternoon was spent discovering all the cute nook and crannies of Reykjavik. There are so many narrow streets with houses of all sorts, all with characters. I didn’t see a lawn space that was miss-used or ugly. There were trees I’ve never seen before, lilacs were at the end of their season, best of all, daisies popped up out of no where, side walk cracks, around street lamps, you name it.

My day ended at a pub called Kudur. It was the second watering hole we went to. I was done at the first one, but was persuaded to go to the other. It was still early, so I went, had a rum and coke, was social for a time, and left when there was talk of moving on then staying. I am not a pub crawling girl. I don’t stay out and party. You can call me a stick in the mud, but I don’t do it.

11:10pm (7:10pm), almost midnight.
Tomorrow we rent a car. If I had more energy, I would stay up to watch the sunset. As it is, I’m going to throw in the towel and get ready for bed. Goodnight.

Oh to update you on the Trawire device. I can connect quite easily with my phone the lap top is having issues however. I may not be able to post anything still.

Iceland – July 23rd, 2015

The Following Photos Were Submitted by Lammer

My first international flight EVER. I’m still in a cloud of non-belief. At the moment, I realize I’m on a plane. Yes, I am traveling somewhere. So you see, the full extent of this trip hasn’t shown its face to me. Leading up to it, I went through the motions of planning, packing, booking tickets to the Blue Lagoon, booking a rental car, yet all of these things was just another part of the passing of days.

The map in front of me tells me we’re flying over the Labrador Sea. We’re miles away from Greenland, which is covered with snow in the image. We flew over real mountains that at first were the same colour of the tablelands, then, they became white. I had the impression that there were layers upon layers of snow. The peaks we saw were really only that. The tip of the iceberg. The last of this years icebergs on their way to Canada, had already reached St. Anthony. When you consider we had a 5 hour flight with the plane traveling so many hundreds of km per hour, it’s not hard to imagine how the icebergs off the coast of Greenland will be next years icebergs.

It’s 8:56 pm in Iceland now, 4:56 Eastern Standard time. Our arrival time is 11:26. Close to midnight. The sun will not be completely down. Though I traveled to Los Vegas, I can’t remember how my body dealt with the time change. I wonder.