Monthly Archives: November 2008

Images of East Iceland

Air IclandThe flight from Reykjavik to Egilisstadir took approximately 55 minutes — we flew over incredible white mountain peaks and landed in a tiny airport, which I later found to be about 45 minutes from the house.

weird-and-loud-landing-gear

Signage to Klaustrid

Signage to Klaustrid

What´s on My Counter?

What´s on My Counter?

out-the-window

Today it is bleak outside — the snow is blowing sideways past my window and I´ve decided to stay in and not venture down to the pasture to visit my four-legged pals. Sitting here, looking out of my window, I´ve come to realize that there are many different shades of white — at times like this, I wish I could paint.

That said, perhaps I can paint, because in New York, there were many street vendors selling their Obama art. I met some pretty talented people there, but I also met some real scammers. I mean, even I can draw a stick person in black paint, add and afro and call it the President Elect. Who buys this stuff?

How Birds See the Valley

How Birds See the Valley

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More Images from Klaustrid

View of front of house

View of front of house

sheep-in-field

view-from-house

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Klaustrid Where I Am Staying in East Iceland

Gunnar Gunnarsson Mansion

Gunnar Gunnarsson Mansion

I took this photo at 3pm this afternoon.

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Egilsstaoir — East Iceland: Write, write, write

This is possibly the windiest place in the world, but it is also one of the most visually stunning places I have ever visited. As I sit at my computer, on the top floor of the Gunnar Gunnarsson residence at Skriduklaustur in the Fljotsdalur Valley, I am looking out at an enormous yellow field flanked on one side by steep snow-covered mountains and on the other by a massive lake — I don’t know the name of this body of water, and if I did, I couldn’t pronounce it anyway, but I do know that it is home to a giant worm, much like the Loch Ness Monster or the Ogoppogo in British Columbia.

The isolation here is challenging to get used to, and when the wind howls and batters my windows, I find sleep to be almost impossible. On the upside, I am writing for hours every single day and my novel is beginning to really take shape. My friend and editor extrodinaire, Joy Gugeler, is going to ‘pop in’ on her way to Toronto in a couple of weeks and I think she will be quite pleased with the progress made. I can’t wait to see her — it will be so excellent to have someone to talk to and I think I will be able to sleep knowing that there is someone else in the house.

James is in London — just a stone’s throw across the Atlantic Ocean and it makes me feel good to know that we are in the same time-zone.

I walk every day, but am reluctant to venture outside at the moment in case the wind picks up again and I get blown away like a leaf…

There are no big predators here — only reindeer and fox — so walking is stress free and enjoyable, and although the roads are very narrow, the few drivers I have encountered are polite and respectful.

Every night at 22, there is an English language program (most often from the UK, but sometimes from the States) on our one channel, and this, for me, signals the end of the writing day and the time to kick back and prepare for the long, dark night ahead…what a baby, but it’s the truth 🙂

I really enjoy the lady who runs the Klausturkaffi in the basement of the house — and when she isn’t here, I miss her presence and the aroma of fresh baking that floats up the stairs to my little apartment. In fact, I think I might pop down now and see what’s cooking.

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The Wind in East Iceland

I have never heard or felt wind this strong. It’s got to be gale force and I’m guessing at least 70 Kilometers per hour — far worse than on Cape Spear in NFLD. It actually sounds as if my huge house might blow down — should be a great night for sleeping.

I got a ride into Egilsstaoir today — a very small town without a town centre to speak of — where I bought two books by two well-known Icelandic writers: World Light by Halldor Laxness and Silence of the Graves, by Arnaldur Indridtason (actually, it is more like a union of d and t, but EePC can’t do this).

The latter title should provide for some real nightmares, but they were the only two books in English in what I think was a dollar store.

$1 Canuck =182 ISK, so I’ve been spending thousands — it is a visitor’s dream so what are you waiting for?

There are just over 300,000 people here and I think only about 3000 live in this valley and the surrounding area. It does boast a large mountain ash forest, which is quite a site, even at this time of year — the trees are very small — probably because of the wind, but a painter would go crazy.

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I am not American!

It so surprising to me that in a country like Iceland where the standard of living is high and the people are both well-traveled and educated, they still confuse the United States with Canada. Most of the people I have met so far have confessed to thinking that there are actually no differences between the US and Canada and are shocked to find out that:

We use the metric system
We have don’t have a president
We have universal health care
We aren’t snowed-under most of the year
In contrast to the USA, we use UK spelling

I actually find this ignorance to be quite insulting, considering that I know the difference between Greenland and Iceland, so perhaps the education we receive in Canada is something we should be proud of.

Which reminds me, a couple of days ago a cabbie in New York wanted to know if he could run away to Canada with me to live together forever. He said he’d do all the driving (he’d be pulled over so fast and thrown into jail speeding during rush hour), anyway, he offered to do the driving and since I hate driving, I thought that was a nice gesture. However, when I explained that it would take us at least a week to drive to Vancouver, he didn’t believe me because he was quite sure that the Canada he knew was just a few hours north of New York. I don’t think I ever managed to convince him that it was a lot bigger than that.

No photos until I get home — I had to repack in Toronto because I couldn’t lift my suitcase — I had to buy a new and smaller one — but, I left my connector cable for my camera in Kate’s room…OMG, I’ve taken some amazing shots…

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I’m Having a Bad Day & Thanks for the Peanuts

I arrived in JFK about 30 minutes after my flight to Reykjavik left the gate. Now I know that this is not the first time I’ve been a bit late for a flight, but this time, my tardiness had nothing to do with me and everything to do with Delta Airlines.

The staff at Delta in Toronto are rude, incompetent and poorly trained — all except for that one guy (who seemed to be a baggage handler or something) who actually knew all about our flight — little things like how late it might be, when if might actually leave the ground and what terminal it might land in. (Not even the flight attendant when we got on board finally knew this, until we told him.

Oh, and thanks to the pilots who circled around for ever going up and down and never bothered to inform the passengers that they didn’t really mean it when they told us we’d be landing on schedule, even though that would have been impossible without the aid of warp speed. Not to worry. All of us loved the five peanuts offered compliments of Delta — those really hit the spot.

And I’d like to extend a special thank you to the ticket agent in YYZ (remember — you sent us to use the broken kiosk and then ignored us while you checked in the suckers who actually thought it might be worth paying for first class (they were late too) for ‘accidentally’ booking me to Paris instead of Reykjavik. It’s okay — the names of these cities sound so similar that I’m sure they are often confused. Hoping my bags didn’t go to the City of Love but will find that out tomorrow.

Who needs clothes and silly stuff like that anyway?

Another thing: When you have two flights trying to leave at the same time, and both are late, it’s best not to confuse the gates. Why not call the Cincinnati Gate just that, and the New York Gate, New York, instead of having everyone going to Cincinnati line up at the New York Gate and visa versa and then reprimand them for not being in the right place? I know it’s a small thing and those digital screens are complicated and difficult to change, but this might be something to pop into the employee suggestion box if you have time between taking personal calls on your cell phones and dealing with all those bothersome paying passengers.

And one more thing: It’s not a good idea to tell passengers that they “might make their connection if they run fast, and forget to mention to them that the connecting flight is six terminals away on a train outside the airport and across a busy street. LOL. That was really funny…

Finally, telling us poor passengers the plane is late due to weather is cool. WE GET THAT. Telling us the plane is late because it had to return to the gate because of broken seats is slightly unnerving — kind of makes us wonder about the other little parts that might be busted.

Thanks to the guy at Doubletree Hotel in JFK for the warm cookie, great price and smile. To the women in the Harley shirt at hotel reservations in JFK Terminal 7 — you should get a new job — maybe as a prison guard or something. Thank God I decided to get my own hotel — saved a ton of money and didn’t end up in the only one under renovation and apparently, according to you, under $300 US within 25 kilometers of JFK.

I am a bit tired. Hope there are no typos in this and it flows smoothly, but if not — blame Delta.

Silver Lining: Tomorrow, before I fly away, I’ll check out Manhattan.

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