Saturday, August 8, 2009

Last day in Iceland :(

The last few days have been fun, but I have few pictures to show for it.

We started off thursday morning by getting up and deciding to go to Thingvellir, rain or shine. We wanted to go Wednesday night after dinner, but it was raining. Raining too hard even for the hotel outdoor hotpot, never mind a walk around the national park.

Got there.... rain mostly stopped for a bit. Went to Oxarfoss first to try out the tripod idea that Greg suggested. Longer exposures can be done better with a tripod, humans find it difficult to hold a camera steady long enough. And we did bring the tripod, after all, so we might as well use it.

Really cool water..... strange colours in the rock and moss. I think I have some work to fine tune this idea.

The rain started again in torrents midway up the continental divide. *sigh*

Neil went back for the car like a gallant gentleman, and I trudged up to the tourist centre at the top, which was somewhat closer. Pulled off layers and tried to dry out watching films of the lake and UNESCO world heritage sites while waiting for Neil or the rain to stop, whatever would come first.

Along with dozens and dozens of other tourists like me all hiding in the only shelter, short of their cars or buses.

Snorri is seen here overlooking the valley and the nation's guest houses for visiting dignitaries. The hotel that we would have been staying at was right across the parking lot from the dignitaries' guesthouses but it burned to the ground a few weeks ago and now it's a lawn.

Snorri's picture was taken in a rush, in the rain, before we got in the car and drove back to Reykjavik, completing our circle.

Errr... with a brief stop at the factory outlet store for Alafoss, Iceland's leading wool producer / exporter. The dollar exchange in the last year has effectively made this wool about half the price I can get it for in Canada, but I'm a little afraid of how little room I have left in the suitcases so I didn't end up buying anything.

We arrived in Reykjavik in the early afternoon and went to the Student bookstore at the University of Iceland to hunt down a book for a friend, and not finding it, went to the National Museum next door to hunt in their gift shop, since they did publish it in the first place. Sold out, all across Iceland and at the publishing house.

BUT.... on a whim, I asked at admissions if they had changed their policy on taking pictures in the museum. Last year, the answer was NO, and we were quite disappointed. This year.... the policy has changed as of April, and we can! Neil went back to the car to get the camera!

One drawback.... the lighting level is quite low in the museum and pictures are extremely difficult to take well. These few are the best of a bad lot. All are approximately in the Settlement Period.


A textile bit, probably tablet woven trim....

A reconstruction of what it is currently thought that a warp-weighted loom would have looked like based on later period evidence. It should be noted that there is very little actual remains of these looms from the Settlement Period. There are no actual whole looms. Loom weights, sword beaters, a pin beater, spindle whorls.... but no actual loom frames.

An axehead...

That night, we went out to dinner in Reykjavik with Michele, an archaeologist friend from Rhode Island, who just arrived in Iceland to study the nation's textiles. Elín, whom Neil has been corresponding with about bead finds in Iceland, joined us later for drinks. Much conversation and a late night later.....

We woke up friday morning to head off to the National Museum archives with Michele - me to look at textiles as her assistant and Neil to look at beads. We are not allowed to publish those pictures. While I'm quite sure they mean for profit, I'm erring on the side of caution, and applying it to this blog.

Except for this one of Snorri of course, seen here sitting beside the boxes of textile remains that Michele and I got through after 7 hours of eye-bleeding staring at small fragments, tiny weave patterns, the set of the spin ....all various shades of unrelenting brown.

And damned, but it was exhilarating. I touched (with gloves) fabric pieces that were quite possibly a 1000 years old. I took pictures of things that probably will never get released to public viewing because the museum has boxes and boxes and boxes and still more boxes of these things.....

Yes, I know I'm weird. :) But it's a good weird.

We went to the hot pots afterwards to rest our weary eyes.

And then out to dinner, again with Michele, to a place called Orange. It was an accidental find, in that we had aimed at another place nearby and were turned off by the crowds and dingy appearance of the place.

Orange is.... pretentious, terribly trendy in design, has at least the one waitress who couldn't bring herself to smile or even be polite, and was still.... a fantastic experience!

The food was divine and experimental, and there's weird science with liquid nitrogen both for the cooking thereof and for entertainment. I'll say no more. Go and look them up on the website, and if you get to Iceland - go with friends who love food and laughter.

Today.... our last full day in Iceland, we slept in deliciously, a rare thing for me, and then picked up Michele to go shopping and to amuse ourselves with the Gay Pride parade through downtown Reykjavik.

It was a party for sure, but way more tame then Toronto's Gay Pride celebrations - sorry folks. I know Reykjavik likes to think it can party, but it just doesn't have the sheer volume that Toronto's crowd can offer. And somehow the party mix is much more pleasant in Icelandic then in English.

Oh and there was the flea market, and more shopping, and a bite of harkarl - rotted shark. I had made it my goal to give it a try this year. Must not leave the country without doing so. It is memorable. I say say no more least I spoil the surprise.

Tomorrow, we're picking up Michele for one last visit and a stop at the Blue Lagoon, on the way to the airport.

I will miss the fresh air, the wild wild geology of this place and my first (hopefully not last) encounter with the National Museum archives, and all the seafood along the way...... but I am looking forward to seeing my dog and my waterbed again.

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