Saturday, December 22, 2007

It will only get better from now on

December 22nd: a magical date.

Why? Well, because it's the winter solstice: the shortest day of the year! As you can see from the chart below, the sun today rose at 11:23 and set at 3:30, just above 4 hours of (alleged) sunlight. This being my first winter at this latitude, it's been difficult getting up in the morning at times, to say the least. But from today and for the next 6 months, each day will be a bit longer, until we hit the summer solstice and its 20+ hours of light goodness.

4h 06m 45s

Of course, by Monday we will already get 10 hours of daylight and temperatures as high as the hottest summer days in this fair town (19 degrees!). But that's because we will be in Beirut for two weeks :)

In the meantime, Jo and I would like to wish any readers of this blog Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

There's a tree behind us, I swear

The downtown Christmas tree, an annual gift from Norway, located by the Parliament

On an unrelated note: does this hat make me look Amish? Because that's not my intention...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas stuff

A few weeks ago we went to a store and bought a Christmas tree. I grew up on plastic trees, but for the first time in my life, that was a real tree! :) Of course we got all sort of decorations for it too. It certainly helps having a nicely lit tree when it's so dark outside in the morning.

We also went to the nearby town of Hafnarfjörður this weekend. Jó had heard about a Christmas village, which turned out to be a stage on which some kids were singing / playing some music, and about 10 or so booths selling ornaments and other things.

And in one week, we will be leaving for a two week trip to Lebanon! I haven't been there in 2 years, so I'm very much looking forward to it :)

Captive tree


The kids choir, in Hafnarfjörður

There were plenty of trees there, of course

Skyr ornaments

Those dogs are more fashionable than I am...

Of course, we just had to take a picture :)

The sun was setting... I think it was around 3pm

I like the angle of that picture

Sunday, November 18, 2007


So, we currently have about 6 hours of sunlight a day, and it's been often cloudy or rainy. And a bit cold. Therefore, I don't have much in the way of new pictures from the country to post here.

Thankfully, my procrastination can come to the rescue! I still have pictures from this summer that I have not posted yet. So I will post them now :). These pictures were taken in July/August, when Jó's aunt and her husband were visiting us.

We went to several places with Jó's relatives, and I also got Thai cooking lessons several nights in a row :). They also brought us many bottles of contact lens solution, as our guests often have to do when they visit. You'd understand if you lived here.

You can walk behind the Seljalandfoss waterfall

A comfy rock, somewhere around Seljalandfoss

Getting a bit too close to Skógafoss

Jó by Dyrhólaey (or for Lebanese people, Raouche-in-Iceland)

Interesting rocks around that area

And Puffins!

And of course, who can forget the sheep

In front of a (dirty) glacial tongue

Stained glass window at the national museum

View of the city from the top of Hallgrímskirkja

Boiling mud at Krísuvík

Nice colors

Don't dip your toes in there...

[PS: Note that I don't put pictures of people other than Jó and myself on the blog, as a matter of privacy. However if you are fine being on the blog, send me a message :)]

Monday, November 5, 2007

Food blogging

Two quick and easy Lebanese recipes.


1 can of chick peas (16 oz)
2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 tbsp lemon juice (I had a bit less than that in the picture since I ran out of lemons)
1 1/2 tbsp tahini
1/4 tbsp salt
2 cloves of garlic, smashed (or 1 if you have to meet people afterwards)

Put all the ingredients in a mixer, and mix till smooth! One word of warning though, leave some of the liquids out at first, then add them gradually until it reaches the right consistency. Once you've put too much liquids into the mixture, you end up with watery hummus... And that's not good.

The ingredients

The final result

Kafta patties

Usually these would be made in the shape of a hot dog and grilled over charcoal, but I don't have a grill. You can make any shape you want, of course.


This is one of those recipes that I don't really measure.. So the numbers here are approximated by looking at the picture after the fact :)

One onion, finely diced
700g ground meat (lamb or beef)
2 tbsp Lebanese 7-spice mix (very important!)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups chopped parsley

Mix all the ingredients well, and form into the shapes you want. Heat up some oil in a pan and fry the meat for a few minutes. Then transfer to a heated oven (at, say, 200 degrees Celsius) and leave it there for 15-20 minutes.

The ingredients
The raw patties
The end result

You can eat the meat in pitas, with hummus and slices of tomato inside. Or just use them as meatballs. It's all good!

PS: The 7-spice mix is a pre-made mix of different kinds of pepper, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, coriander...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Morning commute

In the mornings, I walk about 10 minutes from home, then I take a bus that drops me off near work (except when the weather is bad, then I just take a bus closer to home but with a much more winding route).

I took these pictures last week, when the sun was rising by the end of my commute. By now, it's obviously darker, as the sunlight keeps receding until the winter solstice.

For the commute, I could shave a few minutes by walking along a main street of the city. But I'd much rather walk in quieter and less polluted areas, so I end up going through courtyards, alleyways and a cemetery parallel to the main street.

Oh, and it had snowed a bit the previous night.

Obviously, I wasn't the first person to go to work that day

Snowy leaves

Red Nintendo mushroom graffiti guy

Green Nintendo mushroom graffiti guy

Tree, stone, and former prime minister

Snow on moss

Leaning tree

Brave flowers

Cemetery alleyways

Graves here often have professions listed on them. This guy was a doctor.

The sky was looking slightly ominous

The university library, built to look like a fortress (complete with a moat around it)



Esja in the pink light

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


For the last few days of our trip, we went to Florence. It was almost a shock to be back in a somewhat crowded, polluted and noisy city after being in Iceland for a while. But it was fun! :).

We walked quite a bit in the town, and saw galleries and museums too. We also ate nicely and had plenty of wine with our food during our trip. It was so cheap to do so, compared to Iceland, that we just couldn't stop ourselves :). I assume that's how Icelanders always are when they are traveling abroad.

Here are the pictures:

We stopped by Pisa on the way, and ordered this massive 'Tuscan Sampler'-like dish at a restaurant. Tasty!

They're not waving, they're doing the 'look-I'm-holding-the-tower' picture

The Arno river

The Ponte Vecchio and other bridges, as seen from the Uffizi gallery

The obligatory several-animals-in-a-row picture

The non-obligatory that-is-a-big-rat picture

Detail of the outside of the Duomo (cathedral)

The marble floor inside the Duomo

The golden doors of the baptistery

By the river