Thursday, February 28, 2008

Yep, it's still snowing...

Last weekend, we were invited by friends to a "Summerhouse". A summerhouse is basically a house in a non-urban area outside of Reykjavík, with a distinct 'wooden' look, and includes all standard amenities such as a working kitchen, a TV... And a hot tub! Many people own such homes, but work unions also do, and they rent them out to union members for cheap.

We enjoyed the stay very much, and socialized and soaked in the hot tub at night for a couple of hours while the snow was falling softly on us. Classic Icelandic stuff :).

On our way back, we decided to stop by Gullfoss since it was quite close to the summerhouse. It looked quite nice, with the snow and ice on the sides. As you can see from the rest of the pictures, the dominant color here is white. That's because it's been snowing quite a bit this winter, and we're getting a bit tired from that... Anyway, on to the pictures:

Maybe I should Photoshop these tourists out...


And even closer

A very bundled up Jó

I could make this my secret lair

Snow covered lava fields

The sun managed to pierce through the cloud cover at times

Lots of horses

The wind was pushing the snow over the road, making for a cool effect

Reminds me of a chocolate cake covered in powdered sugar...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Northern lights!

Well, I had to wait until the end of January, but I finally got to see the Northern lights in Iceland. I had seen them in Tromso, Norway in October but not in Iceland... I was considering filing a formal complaint to the tourist office in Reykjavík for false advertising.

But last weekend, as we got clear weather and the coldest temperatures yet this winter (it dropped slightly under -10 at some point in Rekjavík, I believe), I finally saw them! I got a phone call from a friend alerting me to the appearance of the lights (yes, I am on a call-when-Northern-lights-appear list) and I managed to take a few pictures as we were on our way out of the house. You'll have to excuse the blurriness because I did not use a tripod, and it takes a long exposure to get a picture of the lights. Note that the lights appear a bit brighter in the pictures than they do in real life, but not by that much.

They might look still in the pictures, but they move pretty quickly, like sheets or curtains. They can change in intensity quite quickly also, so if you know they're out there, don't wait :).

We also saw them the next day on the drive back from Stokkseyri (45 minutes SE of Reykjavík, with the best lobster restaurant in the nation!). We had the advantage of the open sky and very little ambient light, so it was great seeing them playing around in the sky. According to Inuit beliefs, the Northern lights represent your ancestors playing with a ball of yarn. I like that interpretation. Although I think I would substitute giant invisible metaphysical cats instead of the ancestors, but that's just me.