Þorrablót

Three times a week I go to The Tin Can Factory to learn Icelandic. This building used to be a factory, so it gives a familiar feeling. It’s just a ten minutes walk to get there, so that is also a plus. The building itself has a round shape, and on the inside it looks like a living room, with a couple of classrooms attached to it. The whole atmosphere is relaxed and not too serious, something that I really like. One thing we have to do is keep a diary in Icelandic. We have to write in it every day before we go to class and during the lessons we read to each other what we have written. Another thing that I like is that we play simple games in Icelandic. The emphasis lies on making you feel comfortable with the language. Last Thursday we celebrated Þorrablót. The main thing about this mid-winter festival (at least these days) is eating the traditional Icelandic dishes. The traditional dishes are really interesting, foods like blood pudding, fermented shark, boiled sheep heads and testicles of rams. Of course I couldn’t eat any of this, but still I kind of liked the weirdness of it all.

Last Wednesday I went to a board game evening and played Pandemic! I really enjoyed this, but maybe I was a little bit too serious (as I didn’t like people talking all of the time, lol, I probably shouldn’t write these things down ;-)). There were quite a lot of people. The event took place in the cafe of Bíó Paradís, which is actually a cinema. Like most places in Iceland the feel of the place is casual and tolerant. Funny fact is that there is a Dutch movie playing at the moment, Borgman. 🙂

My parents sent me a 'Dutch scenery' calender

My parents sent me a ‘Dutch scenery’ calender

Another thing that I haven’t written about yet is that I went to Harpa. This is a very new concert hall and it is one of the striking buildings in Reykjavík. It is built up from geometric shaped glasses that change colour all of the time. I went to a performance of three cello suites of Bach. I was very impressed by the building, I loved the luxurious looks of the different areas. When I was exploring the building I even ended up in the main hall, because the door to this hall wasn’t locked on the 4th floor (:-P). For a moment I stood there in that huge, silent and empty hall and felt really small.

Lava earrings!

Lava earrings!

Last but not least I’m happy with all the snail mail I’m receiving! I got several postcards, letters and my parents have sent me a big birthday package. Thanks all! Oh yeah, and I bought really cool earrings at Kolaportið (yes, lava earrings)!

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Cats & Birthday

The cats make me laugh sometimes. 🙂 On the first picture you can see Trix in action. On the second picture you see Skaði pretending that she’s not sitting in the sink, lol.

Guilty looking cat 1

Guilty looking cat 1

Guilty looking cat 2

Guilty looking cat 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve had a great birthday by the way. I drank coffee downtown and bought some very tasteful cakes at Gló.  I skyped with my parents who played birthday music for me. After that I went to my Icelandic course and the whole school started singing ‘happy birthday’ in Icelandic to me. 🙂 I also talked to Remy & Renée and my sister on Skype, jay! So now I’m tuttugu og sex (or: 26)! Thanks for all the messages and cards everyone! 😀

Road trip (among other things)

On the 7th of January a solar event had happened, and as a result there were supposed to be a lot of Northern lights on the 9th and 10th of January. When I read about this I got really excited and have been actively looking for people to go on a tour with. There were a lot of people enthusiastic about the plan, and in the end I managed to get eight people together, and two cars. We met on the 9th at nine o’clock in the evening at Hlemmur. A nice group of people from all over the world, and eveybody was very excited to see the Northern lights… We have been driving through very dark and isolated parts of Iceland for five hours. The weather conditions were allright, with a lot of clear skies. Unfortunately the lights were shy this evening an decided not to come out, or at least, not like we had hoped for. At one point we saw a green glow at the horizan though, and two times there were small outbursts. The first time you could see the lights getting stronger from behind a couple of mountains. This looked promising enough, but they disappeared quickly. The second time we saw a dark green stripe in the sky and for a short time I saw light green lights that moved from one side to the other. This was pretty amazing to see, but happened too quick to take pictures of. Expectations were pretty high, so I’m definitely not done hunting yet!

The next morning I got a message from Michael, whom I had met the day before. He said that a couple of people were leaving on a one day trip and asked if I wanted to join. I had some work planned, but felt like I couldn’t turn down this offer, so immediately responded that I loved to join! Half an hour later I sat in the car and was on my way to some hot springs. The weather was really bad though, so we couldn’t hike up the mountain to get to the springs. Instead, we decided to go to Seljalandsfoss. This is a beautiful waterfall on the south coast of Iceland. You can actually stand behind the waterfall, which gives an amazing view. When we got there the stairs to the waterfall were frozen, and because I’m not a daredevil I decided to stay in front of the waterfall (I’ve done it already a couple of years ago and will do it again in summer ;-)). The others did go behind it and were impressed. After that we went to Vík, the most southern point of Iceland. It’s a small village that consists of 300 people. When we got there it was already completely dark, so we couldn’t go to the beach and see the trolls in the sea. Luckily I had seen the beach before. On our way back we got caught in a snowstorm. The weather was really bad and we almost got in a car accident. The almost accident has actually been taped on video, because Michael had been taping the whole trip with his GoPro (if you want to see the video, just let me know ;-)).

After these two amazing trips it was time to start working again, so I did that for two days. Also I had some catching up to do on sleeping, because on Monday I started my Icelandic language course. In class I noticed quickly that I knew the least Icelandic of the whole group, even though it’s level 1. The others have been in Iceland longer (varying from five months to two and a half years). The teacher doesn’t speak any English in the classroom, so that was something I had to adapt to rapidly. Today I went for the second time and I really enjoyed the lesson.  I am looking forward to learning more! Although I don’t know the other students very well yet, I already like the people in my Icelandic group. As you can read in the sidebar under ‘My plans for 2014’ I was looking for people to play Pandemic with. I actually found people who know and play Pandemic among my fellow students! I’m really happy with this! I haven’t played yet, but surely will do so soon.

Three random facts to wrap up: 1) I went to The Laundromat Cafe a couple of times. It’s a cafe where you can do your laundry, eat (vegan) sandwiches or french fries, drink coffee, chat and work all at the same time. I like the atmosphere there and I think it’s very practical, so it’s a good find. 2) One of the cats in the flat loves to steal socks. I have to keep my drawers closed, otherwise she takes my socks as prey. I caught her red-handed one time. She looked really guilty, while holding the socks between her teeth. Very cute. 🙂 3) I haven’t taken a lot of pictures, which is certainly unlike me. Somehow I didn’t find the time for it yet…

Allright, that’s it for now, good night to all! 🙂

Video

First week

The first week in Iceland has been very good. After the hunt for the Northern lights I’ve done a couple of superb things. One of these things was the concert of Pascal Pinon in a small venue in the centre of Reykjavík. I actually didn’t know this band, but was pleasantly surprised by the fragile music. For some reason I really felt at that moment that I was on a wonderful Nordic island, with the wind blowing outside and the dark wild sea surrounding everything. While inside it was warm and there were three eccentric girls making delicate sounds.

After the concert I met some guys and we ended up playing Saboteur in Kex Hostel. It was very nice to meet some people who like to play games. They even knew, and were a big fan of, Weerwolven van Wakkerdam. Kex Hostel is a great place by the way. It seems like Icelandic people like it too, so tourists and locals mingle!

I also started working again. I’m editing a book about eating disorders at the moment. Even though it’s interesting, I find it difficult to concentrate. There have been many changes, and I’m still in the proces of getting a daily routine. Yesterday was the first day that I actually had the feeling that I could keep my mind focused a bit.

And yesterday I went to a knitting club for the first time. It was how I imagined and I loved it! The only downside is that I can’t really knit. But a nice girl taught me the basics (again… I’ve learnt it three years ago) and now I can practice at home. I felt a bit stupid, because the other girls were making the most beautiful scarfs, sweaters, socks and mittens. Oh well, I will get there… (in ten years?).

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to register in Iceland on time. This is mainly because my insurance company in the Netherlands is too slow. But today it confirmed that it will sent the papers I need. This might take some time though. It’s a bit of a hazard because you need a social security number (kennitala) for almost everything in Iceland and to get this number I need my health insurance papers. But this is seriously the only thing that has been bugging me last week.

Oh, and today I dared to speak my first Icelandic sentence in public: Talar þú ensku? (Do you speak English?). 😛

Happy New Year!

I celebrated New Year’s Eve in Kópavogur and I’ve had an amazing night. First I met some couchsurfers in Hótel Frón (two were Dutch actually) and together we drove to a couchsurfer’s place, located on a hill with a view all over town. It was weird to see the amount of fireworks that was fired before midnight. It has been explained to me that the money earned by the sales of the fireworks goes to the rescue team volunteers. That’s the reason why people buy a lot of fireworks, because they support a good cause at the same time.

Bonfire

Bonfire

In Iceland there’s a tradition of having bonfires all over town on New Year’s Eve. Our group went to a big bonfire as well, which was really nice and I had interesting conversations. At 23:00 there were as many fireworks in the sky as there would be in the Netherlands at 0:00. And at midnight it was just a crazy spectacle of colours and sounds. Because of the view from the hill we could see all the fireworks in Reykjavík too, an amazing location to be at. The weather was great: Almost no wind and 5 °C. 🙂

IMG_7094

Me at midnight

After having enjoyed all the fireworks we went downtown with the whole group. At first we went to a bar called Prikið, but I didn’t like it. After that we went to Dillon, which was really great. They played good music like Jefferson Airplane and The Cure. Met some nice people this evening, and all of a sudden it was already 6:00 in the morning!

Fireworks!

Fireworks!

On the first of January I contacted one of the girls I had met on New Year’s Eve and we decided to go looking for the Northern lights in the evening. We had planned to walk along the coast to the west side of the city. Unfortunately the wind was too strong for an evening stroll, and we didn’t have a plan B. We decided to try hitchhiking out of the city centre to a dark spot somewhere on the road to Keflavík. When we were looking for a hitchhiking spot we could already see the Northern lights in the sky! But the city lights were blocking the view. We got picked up by a young girl in a huge car. She said she knew a place where it was dark and that there was a good chance we could see the Northern lights there. She dropped us off somewhere on a hill on the outskirts and drove away. Because I was so excited I forgot one of my hitchhiking rules: Always make sure that you can get back from where you’re dropped off. 

Unfortunately this wasn’t a good spot at all. There were a lot of lights and a hellish wind was blowing. We could actually see the Northern lights, but not as good as I hoped for. I didn’t manage to take good pictures either. They were still very pretty! We could see a very long stroke of vivid green in the sky, slowly shifting its shape. I wanted to go to a better spot, but because we got dropped off at a point quite far from the Hringbraut, we had to walk for a long time before we reached a place where we could start hitchhiking. We decided it was too late to go somewhere new. Luckily we didn’t even have to put our thumbs in the air to hitchhike back. Someone stopped for us without us letting him know that we needed a ride, and he brought us safely to Hlemmur.  🙂

I love the people here! I also love the fact that they put small pieces of lava on the icy roads and sidewalks to prevent people and cars from sliding. Another random thing I’m happy about is that I found some really nice vegan products today!

One of my flatmates.

One of my flatmates

 And the other one 🙂