Til hamingju með daginn! Birthday 29 in Iceland

I turned 29 on Wednesday (I share a birthday with Saul Bass, I just found out, which is neat) and to commemorate this solemn occasion, Iceland gifted me one of the most lovely days I’ve seen since arriving here in August. It was sunny and mild and clear and even a bit warm at times. It was a perfect day for a walk along the shore, a visit to the “zoo” (explanation of the quotes to follow), a light lunch in a greenhouse, another walk around a botanical garden, a dinner by the harbor, and yet another walk along the shore to cap off the evening. Which is convenient, because that is exactly what we did.

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April Flashback: Off-Venue Artsiness, or: Sequences, Part II

Yesterday, I finally got around to starting my recap of the really amazing Sequences art festival that Mark and I went to in early April. It was getting to be a rather long post though, so we left off after I finished talking about some of the really amazing art that was part of the official Sequences lineup. But there’s more!

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April Flashback: Sequences VI, or: Getting Artsy in Reykjavík, Part 1

Every two years since 2006, Reykjavík has hosted the Sequences art festival, and we were lucky enough to be here during a festival year. Per the Sequences website,

The aim of the ten-day festival is to produce and present progressive visual art with special focus on time-based mediums, such as performance, sonic works, video and public interventions. An offspring of the dynamic art scene that thrives in Reykjavik, Sequences is the first art festival in Iceland to focus on visual art alone. New artistic directors are hired to reshape each edition of Sequences according to their vision, making it unique and different every time.

I’d like to say that I am so on-the-ball that I had been previously aware of Sequences and eagerly anticipating its arrival, but I hadn’t been. Rather, it came to my attention because Mark was asked to write a festival preview for The Reykjavík Grapevine. (On top of which I later got an email from a friend I hadn’t seen in quite a long time who was being sent to Reykjavík to cover the festival for an art publication she writes for. It’s not every day that someone sends you an email along the lines of “hey, I’m going to be in Reykjavík for work–let’s meet up!”)

It’s not perhaps timely anymore (as I’ve been moaning, I sort of fell behind with my of-the-moment documentation in April; there was a lot going on), but I recommend you check out Mark’s piece, as he was able to not only interview the festival curator, Markús Þór Andrésson, but also Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, whose ‘Self portraits from room 413,’ hung in the lobby of the Hotel Holt (where they were painted) during the festival.

One of Ragnar Kjartansson’s “Self Portraits from Room 413,” via Art Review

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Happy Cinco de Mayo from Iceland!

On Friday, I finished my very last exam and unless something really strange happened that I was not aware of–like, I forgot all of my Icelandic entirely and started writing in Spanish in my tests–I will have a certificate in Icelandic as a Second Language in very short order. And that definitely feels good.

And what better way to celebrate finishing this year’s Icelandic triumphs than with a good, ol’ traditional Icelandic Cinco de Mayo Partý?

No way, I say!

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Tomorrow is the first day of summer!

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Can’t you tell?

According to the old Icelandic calendar, there are two seasons: winter and summer. The first month of summer, Harpa, begins in April. Each year, the first day of summer, or Sumardagurinn fyrsti—the first Thursday after April 18—is celebrated as a public holiday in Iceland. But often, winter and summer “freeze together,” meaning that the temperature on the last day of winter is still below freezing. But this is supposed to actually be a good sign, meaning that the coming summer will be a nice one.

So, based on the snow this morning (which, full disclosure, has since melted), I’d say that Iceland is in for a good summer.

Easter Trip, Day 2: Hiking Laugarvatn and Reykjadalur (or, The Best Thing We’ve Done in Iceland)

For all of the photos from this day, check out the photo blog here.

Picking up from before, the Easter vacation week was a good one, trip-wise, for Mark and I. After a nice first day walking around Þingvellir and Laugarvatn, we woke the next morning, had a delightful breakfast at our B&B, Gallerí, (complete with made-to-order waffles and rye bread baked in a local hot spring) and then decided we’d take advantage of the sunshine to check out the walking paths around the base of Laugarvatnsfjall (Laugarvatn Mountain).

Laugarvatn Tourist Map

Laugarvatn Tourist Map

The path we took on our second day was, due to all the recent rain, a lot less path-like, and we actually did end up hiking a fair amount (versus just walking, I mean). We followed the river bed up toward the base of the mountain as far as we could until it became clear that continuing would necessitate real climbing gear. It was a very pleasant hike, as you can see:

We had thought that we’d spend the later part of the day at the Fontana Wellness Spa, which is pretty reasonably priced and boasts a number of mineral baths, saunas (situated right on top of the natural hot springs), and a warm black sand beach. But with the weather being so nice, we decided to improvise a little.

Drum roll…..for……The Best Thing We’ve Done in Iceland:

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The Sodden Circle

More photo recapping from February:

Mark’s dad R stayed with us for just about a week in February. On his last day, we wanted to take him to see some more sites outside of Reykjavík, and we thought that a day spent around the Golden Circle would be fun. And it was, but it was also wet and foggy and windy for pretty much the whole time, and it took roughly an hour just to get to the point where we could drive without the windows rolled down (the defogger on our rented VW Golf was pretty shoddy). So while Gulfoss and Geysir and Þingvellir are always pretty spectacular, they are, I admit, a bit harder to enjoy while completely sodden.

Nevertheless, I took some more photos (of course), some of which you can see below, and all of which you can see here, on the photo blog.

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