More on Iceland

25 08 2010

Did you know that there are 1.47 sheep for every human in Iceland and in 1980 there were 3.65 sheep for every Icelander?
There are however 4.14 persons per Icelandic horse and about 12 of us per milking cow.  More along those lines here.

On another note, here I saw that the Penis museum in Húsavík was voted the second mosts horrifying museum in the World.  I checked out the museum in this post and thought it was kind of cute …or maybe cute isn’t the right word… interesting is more like it – but definitely not horrifying.

My friend Natasha just posted her first piece on Iceland –Iceland 101, Part 1: Reykjavík – so check that out!

If anyone is interested in Iceland and has some questions just shoot and I’ll try to answer any questions in the comments.

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Photos from around Iceland

4 08 2010

We just came back from another great trip around Iceland where we  were accompanied by a great couple from Switzerland – Bob and Natasha.  Natasha posted a few fantastic photos from the trip on her blog so go check them out by clicking here!

I’m sure she’ll post some more stuff from her trip to Iceland, I’ll be checking her site and will let you guys know.





From north to east

18 07 2010

I never got around to finish that round trip of Iceland so here it goes.  We left Húsavík on the north coast, the town I grew up in, and headed towards Egilsstaðir in the east where my mother lives.  The drive from Húsavík to Egilsstaðir is about three and a half hours so we weren’t too stressed with time.  To get us ready for the road we got one of my favorite snacks – a deep fried hot dog with heaps of melted cheese a traditional hot dog bread …ummm delicious!

Our first stop along the way was at Lake Mývatn, a fantastic area around a beautiful lake.  The area has everything to offer – great bird life, beautiful landscape and it is a volcanic hot spot.  A lot of the area is covered with not-so-old lava and we stared off by visiting the church that stands untouched like an island in the lava field where where we stopped to look at little lambs that were playing in the yard.

Next up was a place the group was really looking forward to – “The Crack”.  The Crack is a crack in the earth with a hot stream running through it where you can take a bath.  There are a couple of cracks that you can bathe in but the one we picked has a steep climb down to the stream but once you are down it is absolutely magical.

After the bath we spent some time checking out the volcanic craters and the “fake” craters that formed when the lava flowed over the lake and evaporating water exploded up through the lava – so they are not really volcanic but impressive never the less.  We also checked out Bjarnarflag, which is a very active hot-spot with many hot springs filled with volcanic mud.

After Mývatn the drive takes you into the highlands of Iceland where you have to prepared for anything – weather wise – especially since it was still May.  We left Mývatnssveit in a nice but windy weather but as we gained altitude the snow started coming down.  It wasn’t enough to cause us any problems however and we had an easy ride.  We saw a few reindeers on the way – mostly males sporting majestic horns.   Unfortunately the reindeers were too far away fro a decent photo.





Húsavík – the Lodano of Iceland

14 06 2010

Here is the second post from my friend Deepak from our trip around Iceland.  All opinions are his and not mine :)  The title of the post comes from the fact that when in Switzerland I advertized Húsavík – my home town – a lot as the best place on earth.  Natasha, my friend from Lodano in Switzerland, wanted at one point to stress how great her home town was and said it was the Húsavík of Switzerland.

We arrived in Húsavík to sunrays welcoming its long lost son home. Sadly, the sun paid a visit for only a brief moment, as the rain clouds finally overpowered it. We drove around the town for a bit and saw the places Örn had lived as well as the famous slaughterhouse where he worked and his local “ski lift”. After getting a nice tour of the town, we met up with Hrefna, the daughter of the owner of the guesthouse we were staying at. Given Örn’s popularity in Húsavík, it was of little surprise that a phone call was all it took for the owner of the guesthouse to open just for us (it could also have had something to do with them being former neighbors but we’ll never know). We were given our choice of rooms and Judith and I selected a room on top floor. Though the place was completely empty it would be that was just for one night as the Murderers and (…I forgot the name of the other band) would be taking over the next night.

Since it wasn’t pristine weather to walk, we drove to the world famous Icelandic Phallological Museum, aka, the Penis Museum (http://www.phallus.is/). Housed within the museum are the penises from all sorts of species (they even have Santa Clause’s penis!), the lone exception being human species (though three men have promised their penises to the museum after they die). The museum was very interesting, but we didn’t linger there too long.

After the penis museum, the girls and guys split up. The ladies went to a café for a warm drink while Örn and I went to the public swimming pool. Iceland is full of these public pools with naturally heated water, which are open year round. It is very relaxing to sit in the warm water while being misted by cool Icelandic rain. There weren’t too many people there at that time but Örn was still recognized by a local. The man had been following Örn’s blog posts and was excited to meet him in person. After signing a few autographs, we met up with the ladies for dinner and headed back to the guesthouse.

The guesthouse was nice and comfortable though being only 4 people in a huge house spooked Judith a bit. The howling wind and Örn and I telling ghost stories didn’t make things better but we made it through the night without incident. The next morning we checked out the whale watching tours but, unfortunately for us, the boats were not going out due to choppy seas. Our time in Húsavík was running out but not before we had a sugary breakfast at the local bakery.

From Húsavík, we set course for Egilsstaðir where Örn’s mother lives but that is a story for another post.





Heading towards Húsavík

8 06 2010

It has been a bit strange for me to write about us travelling through Iceland and that might be one of the reasons I haven’t posted as often as I would have liked. Things might seem normal to us since this is our home country and I’ve been afraid that I’ll miss out on the how different Iceland really is from other countries – at least those I’ve been to. Therefore I asked my friend Deepak who travelled with us around the island to write a few posts here on the blog and here is the first gush from Deepak:

Traveling with Örn and Elínborg in their home country was an enlightening experience. I would never have been able to give visitors to the US such detail about my country’s history, flora, fauna and general trivia. So far, we had only been around the places closer to Reykjavik so Judith and I were super excited to go north and visit Örn’s hometown of Húsavík – a place we heard a lot about.

The road trip to Húsavík takes about between 5-8 hours depending on how many cool things you see on the way and want to stop to enjoy. Much of the landscape is rough and rocky but relatively flat so when we came upon hill like mounds of dirt all over the place, we knew we were in the presence of trolls. Legend has it that trolls were digging out land and threw the dirt from their shovels over their shoulder. As we were driving along, it was clear that Mother Nature had no part in the making of those hills.

We stopped for lunch along the way (Potturinn & Pannan in Blöndós) and I hit the jackpot of deliciousness when I ordered the monkfish. Before arriving in Iceland, I thought I was going to have to prepare myself for boiled lamb, boiled fish and boiled you-name-it – after what I had heard from Örn. Well, I didn’t have a bad meal the entire trip! A delicious meal put away, we continued on our journey to the Promised Land = Húsavik.

On the road we stopped by a fantastic waterfall – Goðafoss -for a quick photo op. In the year 1.000 the Law speaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði decided that Christianity should from then on be the official religion in Iceland. On his way from the parliament session Þorgeir threw his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall and from that act the waterfall got it’s name (Goð=God, foss=waterfall).

The weather was turning sour but Örn kept promising that it would be sunny in Húsavík. According to him it’s always sunny in Húsavík but the outlook wasn’t good at all. Despite the sun not going down until about two in the morning the previous days the clouds were now dark, threatening heavy rain. But there is always hope – as we drove in to Húsavík the sun was shining through a blue hole in the dark sky as if it were welcoming Örn back home !!! …unfortunately for us it didn’t last long.

More on Húsavík and surroundings soon with more action and exciting photos so stay tuned.





The Great Geysir and Gullfoss

24 05 2010

We woke up late after a night in the hot-tub watching Eyjafjallajökull eruption while sipping on gin and tonic.  When we got going we drove about 15 km. to the Great Geysir area.  The Great Geysir is the spouting hot spring that the English word geyser is derived from.  According to the signs the Great Geysir can hurl boiling water up to seventy meters up in the air but it has been dormant for the last few years.  The current star of the show is Strokkur, a geyser that erupts every 8-10 minutes  reaching thirty meters up in the air.

It had been a while since I stopped and actually walked through the geyser area.  I’ve often driven bye but somehow just taken the whole area for granted.  The hot-springs are quite spectacular and majestic.

After the geysers we drove up to Gullfoss (Goldfalls), a 32 meter high and 20 meter wide and quite impressive waterfall close by.  We walked right down to the waterfall where we could hear the thundering noise and feel the share power of the water – and get a little wet from the spray.  The rivers have the most water in the spring time and Gullfoss was definitely a bit more impressive than usual.

After the drive we went back to the summer house and played some cards.  I wanted to write that we played cards until it got dark but since it doesn’t get dark until after two in the night we never made it that far. 

We stayed another day in the summer house before we went back to Reykjavík but didn’t really do much, just enjoyed being there.





…and finally the first post from Iceland

21 05 2010

It has been over two weeks since I wrote my last post so this one is well over due.  We haven’t just been idle though, we have been travelling in Iceland for the past ten days – something we haven’t done enough of. 

A wonderful couple, Deepak and Judith, came from Switzerland to visit us for ten days and we took them around Iceland with stops in our favorite places.  It was the first time we have been able to travel with foreigners in our own country and kind of see it through their eyes – which was great.

Due to the eruption in Eyjafjallajökull our guests had to land in Akureyri and drive for four hours to Reykjavík.  Therefore we started off with a quite day in Reykjavík before jetting off to a summer-house in Biskupstungur – just over an hours drive from Reykjavík.

On the way to the summer house we stopped at Þingvellir.  The Icelandic Parliament was formed in Þingvellir in 930 and was held there for the next 850 years and is one of the oldest democratic parliaments in the world.  Þingvellir stands where the North American and Eurasian plates meet and is a truly beautiful place. 

We explored the old parliamentary sites where the chieftains of old laid the law and argued before the court and  we also walked through the crack that separates the two plates.  We hadn’t been there since we were kids so it was great to sweep the dust off our memories of the place.

After Þingvellir we drove to Selfoss to buy groceries for our stay in the summer-house.  Selfoss is the Mecca of pop music in Iceland and has produced many of the most popular pop bands in Iceland. All the young people are really tanned and wear highlights in their hair and are easily recognizable in a crowd but they sure know their pop music there.

At the summer-house we started what became a habit during our trip – we stuffed our selves with both food and candy.  It wasn’t until we drove our guests to the airport eight days later that we felt a hint of how it feels like to be hungry :) 

After dinner we went to the hot tub and watched the eruption in Eyjafjallajökull that was spewing out ash and gases 70 km away.   It didn’t get properly dark until around 02:00 in the night but fortunately we were still in the hot tub and could see the explosions and the magma coming up from the volcano.  It was absolutely amazing to see the orange flames so clearly even though we were 70 km away.  I saw later that the eruption was at its high that day so we were lucky to be there.