Monday, August 24, 2009

Art....

This Saturday was the annual menningarnótt (culture night).

The day is traditionally started by the marathon. This year was the 26th edition of the race. To give you an idea of the event here are some figures for this year 2009

  • 4008 kids ran the Lazy Town race.
  • 1723 persons were registered for the Fun race (3kms)
  • 3527 persons were registered for the 10kms
  • 1559 persons were registered for the half marathon
  • 670 persons were registered for the marathon

  • 450 persons took part in the logistic, safety of the various events.


During the day, throughout town, you can go to museum for free, you have free concerts, you have street artists. One person needs to be mentioned but is remaining anonymous, is the person who painted the Hummer of Björgólfs Thors Björgólfsson (one of many Icelandic crooks). I suppose the title of such an art piece would be "people taking justice into their own hands". Some previous mural works were also done on the houses of Björgólfur Guðmundsson and Hannes Smárason, the former heads of Landsbanki and FL Group.

The day is closed by a firework paid by Orkuveita Reykjavíkur. The company spend the same amount of money on the firework display this year than last year but as the króna went down this only makes half the quantity of fireworks...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sumarferð...

... small video of some of the places visited this summer with other members of Hjálparsveit Skáta í Reykjavík.


video

Monday, July 6, 2009

Laugavegurinn...

... is the most famous hike in Iceland. Its 55 kms strech from Landamannalaugar in the highlands to the green valley of Þórsmörk.

This hike gives a very good overall view of the different types of landscape one can find in iceland:
mountains declined in almost every colour of the rainbow, glaciers, roaring hot springs, icy rivers, canyons, lakes, desert of volcanic ash, moss covered lava, etc...

The hike is generally done over 4 days in very short hikes of about 4-5 hours daily (from www.fi.is webpage):


Day One: Landmannalaugar - Hrafntinnusker
12 km, 4 - 5 hours
Elevation increase: 470 m

Starting point is the hut in Landmannalaugar (75 beds, GPS N63°59.600 - W19°03.660). From there it’s an easy hike through the lava field of Laugahraun towards the colourful mountain Brennisteinsalda. There the gradual climb starts through dissected hills with views offering an incredible spectrum of colours. After 3 - 4 hours you arrive at Stórihver, a geothermal area with hot spring (unfortunately too hot to bath in).
About 2/3 of the way are very likely to be covered with snow until late summer. At an elevation of around 1000m fog can show up suddenly and without warning. The trail is clearly marked but hikers must be careful.
Hrafntinnusker hut (Höskuldsskáli) can accommodate 52 persons (GPS N63°55.840 - W19°09.700) and will show up suddenly and unexpected about 2 km after the memorial of an Israeli who died of hypothermia close to the track.

Evening walks: 20 minutes walk to Mt. Söðull (beautiful views) or 40 minutes walk to ice caves (collapsed in 2008). Ask hut warden for more information.


Day Two: Hrafntinnusker - Álftavatn
12 km, 4 - 5 hours.
Elevation decrease: 490 m

The first part of the trail takes us through a valley with some small ravines but be careful as they may be filled with snow. A short and steep incline leads to the highpoint of today’s walk. If the visibility is good, a side trip to the summit of mountain Háskerðingur (1281 m) will reward your with a breathtaking view. This is best done from its western slope, but care must be taken as a glacier is crossed. Ask the hut warden for further information.
If you stay on the main track, you’ll soon leave the colourful rhyolite mountains and enter an area with dark palagonite mountains and glaciers. You will also notice a considerable increase in vegetation. The trail down the Jökultungur is quite steep and care must be taken during the descent. The last few kilometers to the huts by the lake Álftavatn is on flat land. The two huts take up to 52 persons (GPS N63°51.470 - W19°13.640).

Evening walks: a hike up Mt. Brattháls, which takes 1 - 2 hours return. Wet feet included as it’s necessary to wade the little stream coming from Lake Álftavatn. Another hike is up Mt. Torfatindur (818m), estimated walking time 1 - 2 hours.


Day Three: Álftavatn - Emstrur (Botnar)
15 km, 6 - 7 hours
Elevation decrease: 40 m

The trail takes us over the ridge Brattháls into Hvanngil ravine, wading across the small river Bratthálskvísl. In Hvanngil are two huts, one built for sheepherds in 1963 and one for tourists, built in 1995. As Álftavatn and Hvanngil are only 5 km apart, Hvanngil can be used as an alternate accommodation. The huts can accommodate xx people, provides toilet facilities, showers and a small camp side inside an old lava field.

Leaving Hvanngil, a bridge crosses the river Kaldaklofskvísl. On the eastern bank of Kaldaklofskvísl the trail splits, one branch leading eastwards to Mælifellssandur (Road F 210) but the other one southwards to Emstrur, and we choose the latter. Soon, another river has to be waded.
For a few kilometers, Laugavegurinn joins a road until it separates again, leading further south than the track. It is possible to simply follow the road until a sign shows the way to Emstrur-hut.
The powerfull glacial river Nyrðri Emstruá can be crossed on a bridge. Another few kilometers on flat land and we will suddenly be overlooking the huts in Emstrur (Botnar) which can take 40 persons and offers a nice and grass-grown camp site (GPS N63°45.980 - W19°22.480).

Evening walk: small poles lead onto a panoramic walking trail to Markarfljótsgljúfur canyon. It’s an easy walk of 1 ½ hours if doing the circle or 40 minutes if going the same way back.


Day Four: Emstrur (Botnar) - Þórsmörk
15 km, 6 - 7 hours
Elevation decrease: 300 m

45 minutes on the track, a steep path leads towards the canyon of Syðri-Emstruá which then can be crossed on a spectacular bridge. A rope helps to overcome the last meters of the steep descent, so be careful. Most of the track you’ll be walking through a hilly area known as Almenningar. At the very end, the river Þröngá has to be waded which uses to be the deepest river on the track. When wading it is good practice to go hand in hand and head downstream or to use hiking poles to keep balance. After crossing Þröngá, Landscape and vegetation change once more. A walk of 30 minutes brings trough a small forest to an intersection on a hillside. Signs will show directions to different huts in Þórsmörk. From there, Langidalur hut is only a few minutes away. It takes up to 75 people (GPS 63°40.960 - 19°30.890).



In 2004, I did the hike in 3 days. This time the hike will be done in 2 days: from Landmannalaugar to the hut Hvanngil and from Hvanngil to Langidalur in Þórsmörk.

The weather forecast seems to be excellent for these 2 days but this is Iceland and anything can happen.



Weather outside: mostly cloudy, 17°C

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bring it down...


... is what an Icelander decided to do to "his" house after receiving the final eviction notice.
This happened on June 17th in the Reykjavík suburb of Álftanes. The former owner of this pile of rubbish had taken a 35 millions króna loan in foreign currency. With the devaluation of the Icelandic currency, this loan is now over 60 millions.

I can understand the frustration of the guy but was tearing down the house the best solution? The bank, which now owns the "left-overs", has lost an asset that may have been sold and the money used to repay some of the national debt.

Hopefully, the man will not go unpunished so that this behaviour is not replicated.




And while we are on the repayment of the national debt. The government has decided to increase the VAT from 7% to 24.5% on some food items. This items include biscuits, sodas, sweets, juices... The VAT on food was brought down from 14% to 7% on March 1st 2007.
The so-called "sugar-tax" will be in place as of September 1st... Tough year for cavities!


Weather outside: Sunny, 10°C

Monday, June 15, 2009

Camping...

The cheapest "accomodation" when visiting Iceland is camping.

Fréttablaðið published, in its edition on June 11th, a small map of the country with examples of the price per person per night.



Weather outside: Partly Sunny, 13°C

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Is it true...

Iceland ended up second in this year ESC with Jóhanna Guðrún Jónsdóttir singing the song "Is it true?"
Norway won with 387 points, which is 169 points more than little Iceland (points 218).

2nd place is not 1st but it is the highest place Iceland could afford to get... Winning would have meant hosting the contest next year and surely this would not have been wise in the actual economical context.

Iceland does not have any location big enough for such a venue. Building something is out of the question! With what money???

So 2nd is very good. It's good enough as it puts Iceland on the map: something Icelanders crave for.

The "question of the day" published in yesterday Fréttablaðið was: did you wash Eurovision?... The result speaks for itself! Are we speaking lobotomy here or what!?!? ... or "Is it true?"

I was part of the 11% and enjoyed an almost empty movie theater room. Brilliant!!!

Weather outside: Partly sunny, 9°C

Friday, May 15, 2009

Júróvision...

The Eurovision song contest week is the most anticipated week in Iceland.
Tourists who will be waking in the city center on Saturday evening will feel like being in a "ghost town".

Icelanders are hosting "Eurovision Parties", watching the contest with friends and/or family with copious amount of drinks. I guess you need a lot of drink to watch this show.

Iceland has only been participating since 1986 but every year since the country is "heavily" behind their representative singer(s).

Let's roll back the years:

1986 ICY with the song "Gleðibankinn"



1987 Halla Margrét with the song "Hægt og hljótt"



1988 Beathoven with the song "Þú og þeir (Sókrates)"



1989 Daníel Ágúst with the song "Það sem enginn sér"



1990 Stjórnin with the song "Eitt lag enn"



1991 Stefán & Eyfi with the song "Draumur um Nínu"



1992 Heart 2 Heart with the song "Nei eða já"



1993 Inga with the song "Þá veistu svarið"



1994 Sigga with the song "Nætur"



1995 Bo Halldórsson with the song "Núna"



1996 Anna Mjöll with the song "Sjúbídú"



1997 Páll Óskar with the song "Minn hinsti dans"
1999 Selma with the song "All Out of Luck"



2000 August & Telma with the song "Tell Me!"



2001 Two Tricky with the song "Angel"



2003 Birgitta with the song "Open Your Heart"



2004 Jónsi with the song "Heaven"



2005 Selma with the song "If I Had Your Love"



2006 Silvia Night with the song "Congratulations" - Surely my favorite!!!



2007 Eiríkur Hauksson with the song "Valentine Lost"



2008 Euroband with the song "This Is My Life"



2009 Yohanna "with the song Is It True?"



Weather outside: Partly sunny, 9°C

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Reykjadalur...

Here is a little video shot in Reykjadalur where we spent last weekend with other members of Hjálparsveit Skáta í Reykjavík.

We spent the evening in Dalasel's cabin and barbecued with winds between 15-20m/s.

We ended the weekend in the swimming pool of Hveragerði.



Weather outside: Partly sunny, 10°C

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It could be worse...

Shown on the "Colbert Report": It could be worse...

Weather outside: Mostly Clear, -8°C