Sunday, June 24, 2007


Last Thursday, Jó and I went to an Amiina concert downtown. They're a bit of a quirky band, made up of four women, with a long list of instruments that includes saws, glasses filled with water, an old casio mini-keyboard, bells... Oh and string instruments of course.

Despite this anything-but-the-kitchen-sink aspect, their music is not gimmicky but rather charming and dreamy. They seem to fit in somewhere between Múm and Sigur Rós, while having a feel of their own.

The concert was for the release of their first full-on album. It was at Iðnó by the pond. There were close to 200 people perhaps, unfortunately... there were less than a 100 chairs (and at least a quarter of those were reserved), since the room was not even half filled with chairs. So we ended up watching the concert standing up, which had its upshot in that we were about 10 feet from the stage, on the left side of the room.

The concert was a bit unpolished in parts (some technical problems, and the girls got confused a few times) but otherwise it was great. It's pretty cool to watch and hear the different instruments they played.

Here's a YouTube video from another concert.

Oh and I managed to get a poster at the end too.

No flash during the concert => blurry pictures

At the end

The poster

A row of 8 birds by the pond, at the end of the concert

Sautjándi júni

Sautjándi júni (June 17th) is the Icelandic national day. Since there's often a one week gap between events happening and them ending up on the blog, now is the right time to post about this :).

The weather was quite nice, so unsurprisingly there were a lot of people in the streets. Plenty of games for kids, and free concerts (mostly for teenagers, it seemed from the audience). And lots and lots of Icelandic flags.

Actually the only thing that was as omnipresent as the flags was the candy. This nation has one massive collective sweet tooth.


A play for children (I managed to understand most of what was going on)

Us by the pond

Ducks in the pond

It seems as if there were a fourth target but it was taken off. I wonder who that was...

Jó in a rare moment of nationalistic pride

A cat we saw along the way. I like cats, as can be deduced from this picture.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Last weekend, Jó and I managed to get out of the city and hike on Esja. For those not in Iceland, Esja is the mountain north of Reykjavík. And luckily for us there's a bus stop at the base of the mountain, so off we went!

We hadn't hiked much lately, but we had gotten new equipment (mostly, hiking poles) so we were looking forward to this. We headed towards a summit at an altitude of almost 800 meters, but only made it to around 600 meters before heading back down. We had to catch a specific bus, otherwise it would be two more hours till the next one (We had to stop by relatives of Jó who were having a graduation party for one of their kids. Oh, and some guy at the party offered me a job selling Pylsur [hot dogs] at the van in Lækjargata at night. Tempting... but I'll stick with my job so far. Anyway...).

It was a nice hike, easy in parts and a bit more strenuous in others (though we didn't do the hardest part, at the top). The weather was overcast but warm by Icelandic standards (at least at the base). We later got a hiking map showing many different hikes on the mountain, so it will be fun to try some of those later.

And now, the pictures!

The view from sea level

Hiking Jó

Hiking me




The shoreline from above

A self awarded victory cookie for reaching station #5

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Við erum þetta fólk

It took less than 3 months, but we're now certified front-cover Icelandic celebrities. We're on the cover of a newsletter named Fólk! It's the publication of the Alþjóðahús, the Intercultural center. It comes out a few times year, and it's distributed for free.

Over a month ago they had an event where they were selling t-shirts with slogans (in Icelandic) such as "I am 'those people'", "I am of foreign descent", "I am the workforce", etc... This was pre-election time, after the debate on immigration had gotten a bit sour, so they were doing this as a kind of "immigrant pride" thing.

We went there because Jó wanted to buy one of the t-shirts (they had beer specials too, since it was in a cafe). So at one point they asked all the people who got shirts to go outside of the cafe for a minute to take a group picture. I was dragged along despite telling them I had not bought a shirt, and a few pictures were taken.

Then last week we saw this cover. We're in the low right corner! It's pretty easy, I'm the one with a different shirt and Jó is next to me :).

Of course, we won't really have made it into Icelandic society until we make the cover of Séð og Heyrt*.

* that's Iceland's #1 gossip magazine

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


So today, the boss let us out a 1/2 hour early from work, to take advantage of the great summer weather!

Great being sunny, low winds, and 15° C (60° F).

So I did what everybody else does here, went straight downtown and laid down on the grass in Austurvöllur square where Jó met me. We enjoyed the sun for a while, but eventually retreated to a cafe to do some reading.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Festival of Nations in Hafnarfjörður

The good people at the Alþjóðahús (literally all-nations-house, an association that helps immigrants in Iceland) were organizing a Festival of Nations in Hafnarfjörður yesterday. This consisted of several booths, each for a country, where people were dressed in local clothing, and had food samples, brochures and whatnot. There was also a stage in the middle of the location where many groups took turns showing off dances and whatnot. Pretty cool stuff!

And, just to state the obvious: free international food is good :). Amal, a Palestinian woman who works at the Alþjóðahús, was telling me to start a Lebanese stand next year :).

After sampling all the food (best stuff: Thai chicken curry and Indonesian lamb on a stick) and watching some performances (best stuff: the dancing Cuban dude) we headed out and walked a bit in Hafnarfjörður. The weather was warm enough that for the first time since coming here 3 months ago, I was able to be outside in just a t-shirt! I asked Jo for a picture to commemorate the momentous occasion.

We stopped at a coffeehouse named "Súfistinn", aka The sufi. Unfortunately the coffee was not brought by whirling dervishes, which would've been quite cool (another unfilled niche!). Finally we took the bus back, stopped by Kringlan to get some food, and headed back home.

On to the pictures (many thanks to Jo for taking most of them, including the harbor pictures from the previous post!):

Thailand reprezent!

Cuban dancing

Indonesian food

Just a T-shirt!!!

The lovely Jo :)

DJ Jo spinning those discs

At the coffeehouse

Almost home

Seamen's day

Given the seminal importance of seamen in Icelandic culture (sorry...), it's not surprising that they have a festival for them here. Jo and I walked to the nearby harbor yesterday and wandered into a tent full of kids drawing and painting, along with some booths related to the fishing-industries (one had a couple of dead fish laying on it. Educational and smelly!). There was also an old school accordion band playing there, and even a few amusement rides placed outside!

Of course there is more to the festival than this, but that's all we've seen when passing by. Many restaurants have special menus for this, but the prices approach 80$ per person so that doesn't strike me as a great deal... Maybe I just haven't stayed here long enough.

Old school accordion band

Amusement rides

Harbor statue