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Wednesday, 18 January 2017

8 days late....

Hello, from the Icelandic stranger...

I have let you down and now can't keep my promise about posting for 5 in every 7 days. Ah well, here I am and I want to make up for it if I can.

The last blog was Monday the 9th and I had been told to stay in because of the wind. As you can see by the previous blog images, I did venture out and it was very much worth it.

So what have I been up to to prevent speaking to you for more than a week. Well firstly I had to complete a formal qualification to do with my other work and I did that solidly for 3 days. I'm sure I wasn't as efficient as most of my colleagues who said they took less time, but it's done for now, until I get the revisions - which I fully expect...

I finished that on Thursday after the usual procrastination and then picked up a car Friday morning for a 4 day road trip!

An image of my current desktop just shows the level of finding, copying, pasting and losing... Bearing in mind that I usually have a very minimal desktop don't you know! I've had to blur for confidentiality but it's obvious how much is on there.

So to the trip. My 2 room-mates plus another artist set off on Friday morning for the mountain roads. After checking the weather, the road conditions and the wind direction, we set off for Akureyri. this is the second most populated place in Iceland and the intention was to drive there, have a quick stop and then go on to the volcanic area. 

The weather always dictates the journey and I am so au fait with the key pieces of information I need before venturing anywhere. There are the road conditions, the wind/snow/ice/temperature situation and the Aurora forecast. All of these dictate each day, and they all need to work together to create the perfect environment for getting the most out of the very limited light. 

The top left image shows the road conditions. Red is impassable, although the snowploughs are out all the time and they're massive! The top right is the aurora forecast, so tonight (Wed) is a 5 which is brilliant and the white bit over Skagaströnd says that at midnight, we should get a light show.... It will be the first time since I arrived on the 3rd of January, so I am hoping... The bottom right is the temperature/wind etc which changes all the time. There's a new landscape every 15 minutes in Iceland and that's one of the amazing things about this place.

So to the trip. The weather was stunning across the mountains to Akyreyri with the most wonderful light - changing all the time. As always, it seems , the wind was strong and every time we wanted to stop for photographs (every 10 minutes...!) we were almost blown away.

Every time the car goes around a bend, something sublime opens up ahead. No pollution or people, or buildings or cars.

We arrived in Akureyri and grabbed a Subway.... I know, pathetic, but remember the cost of food in cafes is extortionate so we were saving ourselves for later. The place is pretty and it feels busy, but to be honest I didn't want to stay long, rather preferring the loneliness of the empty road and the promise of even more vistas to die (or at least be mortally wounded) for. I also forgot to mention the stop at Vinbudin. The off licence in Akureyri is like the holy grail after no alcohol and it is even more tempting because of having to drive for 3 hours to a access it. I could have bought 12 bottles of wine - well I would have needed a bank loan, but the thought of having a cold glass of Sauv was too tempting and I bought 2 bottles of the cheapest chilean Sauvignon Blanc in the shop which cost 4000ISK. This is around £28. Say no more.... I have no idea how the Icelanders live with everything being so expensive. I know this is a bit of a theme, but I am shocked every time I go to the shop and pay £4 for an avocado.....

Arty scene in Akureyri. -15°

Setting off on the road again for Myvatn, the wind disappeared and it became very calm. So unusual in Iceland as the wind almost defines it. The temperature seemed to drop very quickly as we drove past the amazing Godafoss Waterfall and on to the Hotel for our one night stay next to the cows....

Godafoss at sunset (4pm ish)

The hotel was very interesting.... The restaurant and gift shop had a window on the cows. The cows had big bras on - not sure why, but they seemed to have massive teats, People can watch them being milked and after our dinner - more on that later - we were brought a 'shot' of newly squeezed, non pasteurised milk. Very nice it was too, until I realised that not only were we drinking the milk, I was also eating a burger.....

So to dinner. 5900isk for burger, half a baked potato and some salad. That's around £40. Ok, I'm going on about the food again. Sorry. One of the other artists had the cheapest dish, an omelette. Tiny bit of salad and some ground baked (as in in the ground heat of the volcanic region) rye bread. That only cost 5000isk, so £35. We had tap water - which is truly delicious and free - and went to our rooms for wine. Did I mention that a glass of wine in the cafe was £21? No, didn't think so. 

After eating, which we were advised to do prior to our thermal swimming session, we headed to the Myvatn Nature Baths for a soak. The main pools are around 38° and the hotspots around 42° Similar to last year, we went at night and it was truly freezing outside. There are rules about getting washed properly in the nude before putting on swimming costumes and attempting to stop yourself from running in. Good job we didn't as the ground was freezing and slippery. 

Ice Crystals at -17°

The entrance to the Nature Baths

Just in case you're unsure about the rules..

Frozen hair after an hour with my bottom half in 39° and my head in -18° at its coldest that night.
The feeling of being in hot water and also outside in the freezing air is tremendous. Felt very privileged.

Next morning was spent driving to the volcanic region where the centre of the earth seems to be spouting out all the worst smells in the world.... I'm hoping you can access the video of the bubbling sulphur and imagine the smell..... It's the first image. Can you tell me if the video doesn't work please?

I think I'll stop there as I have the other 2 days to tell you about as the trip to the Westfjords was equally amazing. I have actually made some work today, based on the trips, feelings about stuff that's going on with my nearest and dearest, oh, and the gargantuan stupendous fall out that happened on Saturday night......things are never simple are they?

I want to get this posted as I am so aware of not having blogged for so long. Apologies again. I am hoping to be back on it as I move from morose through a bit sad and worried, to excited and optimistic about this big adventure.


Aly x (the paddling princess..... water temperature around 1°)

1 comment:

  1. FantasticAly! Wondered if you had got snowed i! Looks fab, shame we have to eat costs so much! I could spend that much here! Keep well! Xx


It would be great to hear your views or any questions you have about Iceland, Skagaströnd or the residency. Fire away!!