Saturday, June 25, 2016

A pleasant visitor from Germany



Christian & Mánaljós
The weather is taking a turn, warm winds from the south bring rain. Yesterday I was just getting some last-minute work done in the yard before the scheduled rains hit when Christian called. He’s someone I met on the German Iceland forum and knowing that he would be in the Westfjords this summer, I contacted him to see if he would like to meet up for coffee when he arrives in my neck of the woods. It’s always fun meeting new people and sometimes these quick visits turn into good friendships. In any case, it's always an enriching experience. 
Óshlið

So yesterday we tried out the town’s new café here, for coffee and cake and a nice chat. Afterwards we took a short walk along the avalanche wall for a view of the town from above.  

Óshlið
Today we have a chance meeting again, and it’s a pleasant surprise. As I am biking to Bolungarvík, I see his camper pass me by. I catch up with him at the parking lot just before the tunnel, and take the opportunity for a quick breakfast. He makes a great cup of coffee and I nibble on my salmon sandwich. We part ways again, but our paths are certain to cross in Bolungarvík as it’s such a small place.

First I stop at Ósvör museum where I ask about selling my postcards. The person in charge isn’t there, so I leave behind my contact data and a few samples. My business card with a picture of the house I live in often stirs up a good conversation. So I end up chatting quite a while with the lady working, who happened to go to school with my neighbor. Onwards for a ride through town, a snack on the beach, where a friendly tractor driver waves hello. In fact, so many people wave to me and greet me today. I love that about the locals. Always friendly for the most part. Next stop is Drymla, the handicraft store, in the hopes of finding MY loppapeysa. And I do! I finally find one I like and fits, and the lady selling it is the one who knitted it. I have been trying for years to find the right Icelandic sweater, but haven’t had any luck so far. But this is it now.
Coast guard ship

After the major shopping success, I head to the pool which is quite empty. The sauna is open, so I poke my nose inside. It’s large and really nice, with two quiet rooms, etc. I don’t use the sauna though, the hotpots are hot enough for me today. 

Playground on Fjarðarstræti
On the bike ride home, I run into Christian again at the lighthouse just waking up from a nap. He makes another cup of coffee to give me energy for the trip home, and I munch on another salmon sandwich. We part ways, this time certainly for good, and I head home. On the way I see there’s a yard sale in Hnífsdalur, where again everyone waves as I pedal by. But I am too tired to have a look and eager to get home. 

I saw probably 20 cars on Óshlið today, crazy. Looks like they removed a lot of rocks, the road condition is much better than in April.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Roaring dandelions running out of thyme



Well, I’ve been here for nearly a week already and haven’t gotten around to writing. This first week, the weather was just beautiful. Never a cloud in the sky, no wind and summery warm temperatures. I had no desire to go out and experience things, and was content with sitting on the porch with a good book. 

My main accomplishment was cutting the grass, which was knee-high and full of dandelions that were so big, I swear the could roar. Before I murdered the big guys, I cut a few to make dandelion tea. I boiled the stems, leaves and flowers, added a bit of honey, and it was quite tasty. 

rhubarb-skyr-banana smoothie
And now that the tall grass is gone in the yard, I don’t need a machete to get to the garden so I picked some rhubarb and perfected the rhubarb-skyr-banana smoothie. I’m not a big fan of rhubarb, and I don’t eat a lot of jam or cake, so I was thinking of ways to use the sour rhubarb that doesn’t involve all kinds of added sugar. First I boil the rhubarb in apple juice until soft. Then mix it with water to cool and add the skyr and very ripe banana. The banana is naturally sweet and both neutralize the sourness of the rhubarb. Then add a bit more water to taste and blend it all together. I’ve even added half an avocado at times, which is also a nice addition.
 
blóðberg
Another thing I enjoy picking this year is wild thyme (Thymus praecox), called blóðberg (meaning “bloodstone”). While the Icelanders sell all kinds of products with it, such as salt and tea, I prefer to pick my own. It’s a tedious job that involves laying in (often wet) grass and patiently extracting the useful parts of the plant from the rest of what’s all growing down there. Back home I dry it in the oven, break up the leaves to small bits and store it in a small glass jar for use all year long.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

I'll be back!


That's all for now folks, I will return to my beloved Westfjords soon.

Next trips:

June 17 - July 31
September 2 - 19
Dec 16 / Jan 17

Saturday, April 30, 2016

First cruise ship sees me off

The first cruise ship of the season has arrived today. I watch it pull into the harbor from my bedroom window. It’s overcast and drizzling, which is fine by me since it makes leaving all the easier. After an excellent cuppa with Matta, she drives me to the airport and hangs out until the plane lands.


I spend the next two days in Reykjavík with Súsanna, who has a bit of time to spare. We swim, lounge around in cafes, and enjoy the good life. There’s some kind of jazz festival at Harpa with free live music, so we even sit and admire a blossoming jazz band. Former Mayor Jón Gnarr is also in the audience. 

Tomorrow is a holiday and I will watch the parades and marching bands, then head out to Seltjarnarnes lighthouse for a nice walk.  


Thursday, April 28, 2016

A day of great variety



I’ve been spending the sunny days sunbathing. It’s so warm in the sun out of the wind, so I like to just sit on the porch with a good book and dream away the day. No need to race off to an adventure, I’m content relaxing. But yesterday was colder and overcast so I took a long walk up to the old ski hut, where there’s still a bit of snow. 

Today I treat myself to an unhealthy lunch at Gamla Bakaríið, where I indulge in a huge piece of chocolate cake and some coffee. I enjoy watching the people come and go. There are lots of tourists in town, all dressed in spandex.  Must be the Fossavatnsgangan competition (http://www.fossavatn.com/en). How strange to see people dressed for skiing when there’s no snow and I’m only thinking of sunbathing. Well, it’s a different climate up in the mountains, so maybe things will be ok. 

In the afternoon I take the bus to Suðureyri for a swim. The pool isn’t open yet so I have a hotdog at the gas station first. Very empty shelves, yet very friendly people inside. At the pool I'm the only one there for a long time. The lady working is German and she brings the coffee pot right over to the poolside for me, pulls up a chair, and we have a nice chat. 

But the day’s not over yet. In the evening I pop out to the cinema to see the Jungle Book – one of my favorite stories as a kid. Everyone at the cinema is really nice, a man greets me at the door with a big
smile and after purchasing the obligatory bag of popcorn, I pick a seat among the 20 other guests. As I emerge from the dark theater at 10 pm the sky is aglow with numerous shades of pink, so I walk up the avalanche wall for a quick photo session. To top off an amazingly beautiful and eventful day, the cat later stops by for a late-night cuddle under the covers.