hello stranger

Well hello, don’t I know you? It sure has been a while!

Things got crazy in the second half of last year. I found not one, but TWO jobs I love (greedy, much?) – both different and fun and enjoyable, but busy and stressy and the learning and the meeting-of-people and the getting-my-head-around-things made me kinda lazy in my downtime. I found myself getting home from work in the evenings and collapsing onto the couch with some BH90210 (original, thankyouverymuch) and the creative part of my being refused to work. The cooking part of my being also took a backseat, and I stopped hosting dinner partays and subjected my family to meals of stir-fries and pasta, on repeat. The dog-walking part of my being also got slack, and even Gus’ big poochy eyes weren’t enough to get me motivated (rest assured, Rich has taken the lead on that one – boodoom ching!). I needed some time to realign my brain. Which I’ve done. And I’m ready for 2013.

Ol' Pooch Eyes

Would you believe these big ol’ pooch eyes weren’t enough to fire me up??

I’ve said before that, to be a writer, you need to write. I write for my job – both of them. But it’s so different writing for yourself. I don’t need to run this by anyone. It doesn’t need to be proofed by a client, and edited, and un-Wembolina-ed. And I’ve really missed that. I love the writing parts of work, but seeing a red line through things you’ve submitted can (sometimes) cut, just a little. I’m developing a thicker skin, but there’s nothing quite like writing for yourself. Knowing that other people are reading, and laughing at your super hilarious puns (I hope!) is also so very rewarding, and humbling…

Start-of-the-year apologies and promises are kinda boring and not really my style. I’ve neglected this here blog, but that stops now. Adventures will be had. Stories will be told. In-jokes will be made. Reviews of bad TV shows will happen. Lengthy ones. O yes.

If you read something somewhere here that you’d like more info on (like, where did we stay in Iceland? Or what sort of dog is Napoleon? Or what’s a super great reading list to take away on holidays?), or you’d like to borrow a season of 90210, or you just like a post, please let me know.

Well – I hope you’ve all had faboo starts to the year, and that you’re happy and well. Until next we meet, I’ll leave you with a photographic journey of GOOD TIMES TO COME!!

xx

Review of full series to come

This is what will be reviewed first. Mark my words!

We will discuss why Dylan would give Brenda a SIGNED photo of himself. WHY?

And why the frak was Steve Sanders considered a heart-throb with a hair-did (and face) like this??

And why the frak was Steve Sanders considered a heart-throb with a hair-did (and face) like this??

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challenge: a to z of travel

I visited my luvverly friend Bron’s blog a few days ago, and found this (via Andrew Petcher) and I thought “Holy A to Z Batman, I’M gonna do that too!!!”.

So here it is! My A to Z of travel:

A: Age at which you went on your first trip abroad

I would have been about 11. My folks took me to the UK for a 6 week jaunt through the countryside. I remember one night when we were staying in a B & B (a converted barn near some woods – very quaint!) I couldn’t sleep because something was plaguing me; I got up, went to see my parents (who were enjoying a glass of red wine by the fire) and asked “Does Santa Claus really exist?”. They were a little drunk, and didn’t hold back on the truth… Sadface.

Something else I remember about this trip was having a glass of orange juice on the flight between Singapore and Heathrow and throwing up all over myself. There was a group of high school kids on the plane on an excursion and one of them made a tiny fluffy toy koala for me, to make me feel better. It really helped…

B: Best foreign beer you’ve had and where

ANY beer in Asia is the best. It actually doesn’t matter if it’s the worst beer ever, there’s something refreshing and thirst-quenching and delicious about an icy beer on a sticky, humid afternoon. It’s even more delicious if you’re on the beach, or in a hammock, or both.

C: Cuisine

The most memorable meal we had on our latest adventure was probably at Robinson’s in Croatia. The only way to get there is by boat (or 4 hour hike) and it’s on the most amazing rocky beach… There’s no electricity, so everything is cooked either on a BBQ or in a wood-fired oven (somehow they keep their beers and wines cold, which were equally delicious in the hot afternoon sun!); tables and chairs are set up under the trees overlooking the water. You order your food (freshly caught fish, crabs, prawns, mussels), order your drinks, go for a swim, then you’re called in when your lunch is ready. It was SO delicious and so flipping beautiful…

Our lovely friends Sarah & Ben, waiting for lunch

Some bobbing swimmers

Fish, squid, prawns: nom, nom, nom

D: Destinations, favourite, least favourite, and why

Iceland is definitely up there with the favourites – I’ve never been to the moon (does that surprise you?) but I kind of imagine it to be like Iceland. No trees, just rocks and moss and crazy bubbling pools of mud. The peeps are friendly and wacky and hilarious (and super styling too), and their sense of culture blew me away – I loved how knowledgeable everyone seems to be on their ancestry (so many Icelandians have VIKINGS as distant relatives!!).

Least favourite… Hmm…. Umm… I would say Caracas, and I would say that as a copout. We didn’t actually leave the airport, but had to spend a few hours there on our way to El Yaque. We had NO local money on us, there were no ATMs in the terminal and no money changers (though a LOT of people came up to us, whispering ‘Cambio? Cambio?’. We later discovered that Venezuela has two currencies – the official currency and the black market currency); I hadn’t eaten all day, was hangry and tired and on the verge of a major hissy. After trudging around the terminal we FINALLY found an ATM, got some cash, but when we went to get food, THERE WAS NOTHING VEGETARIAN!!! I settled on a packet of chips and a ginormous cup of lemonade and that tided me over.

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”

We arrived in Oslo on a rainy, cold Sunday afternoon. After checking into our hotel, we went for a walk to get some lunch and our bearings. After a salad and a  coffee and a weird pastry near the central train station, we walked further up the hill, turned a corner, and were suddenly in front of a church surrounded by a sea of roses. I’ve never seen so many flowers; the ones closest to the church were brown and withered, while the ones nearest to the street were vivid shades of red, yellow, white. The bombing and shootings at a nearby island had taken place a few weeks prior; I’d had no idea we were staying so close to where the bomb had gone off. Seeing the flowers, the written messages to lost loved ones, the Norwegian flags, the open displays of grief, made my jaw drop. I had to spend a few moments alone after seeing this; it was an absolutely devastating sight.  F: Favourite mode of transportation

Riding a camel through the Saharan desert is pretty incredible. A bit bumpy and terrifying (you’ve definitely gotta trust your camel!!) but amazing when all you can see for miles is red sand and your camels shadow.

camelwalk

G: Greatest feeling while travelling

The greatest – and most terrifying – feeling I felt was not knowing what was around the corner. You get on a plane or a boat or a bus to somewhere you’ve never been (and often somewhere you know very little about) and when you get there, and you see the sights and smell the smells and hear the language and the voices and the laughter – even the cars honking – and it’s really exhilarating. And you’re kinda in the hands of the Gods most of the time as well – you get sick and you miss flights and you can’t find accommodation – and learning to let go of the need for organisation and heaps of planning and all the jazz, just going with the flow, is what makes you a traveller and not a tourist. Don’t you think?

H: Hottest place you’ve travelled to

Like Bron said, Melbourne gets pretty hot (it was 47 degrees a week before our wedding a few years ago); Morocco gets pretty boiling. New York summers are pretty revolteh hot too!

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and why

Definitely Abel and JC and all the porters on our Inca Trail adventure. Their gift of the gab, kindness, hilariousness, bag carryingness, cake bakingness (not to mention all the other incredible meals we had each day), and (gulp) the whole ‘carrying me down the hill’ thing was really above and beyond.

J: Journey that took the longest

Ha. Definitely the Inca Trail. That counts, right? 42 kms up and down, through sickness and health, hot days, cold nights, squat toilets, bruised toes and ALL THOSE STEPS it was definitely the most epic journey I have EVER been on!!!

K: Keepsake from your travels

Probably this blog. Awwww. And maybe this tattoo on my wrist, that I got on a trip to London when I was 23. I had just broken up with a boyfriend and was having my first ever overseas ALONE trip (I started in Japan, then had a few weeks in London, then had a week in Barcelona – with minimal skillz in Espanol); I decided I needed to document the trip (this was before the days of blogging), so popped into a tattoo parlour in Soho. I met an artist called Dingo, who flat out refused to tattoo my wrist. He held my wrist up to me, like I’d never seen it before, saying “No! I won’t do it! I won’t mark this lily-white skin…” (yes, he actually said that) “… what about your job? What are they gonna say if they see a tattoo on your wrist??? What if you want to go to the RACES???” (I’ve never been to the races in my entire life, and I don’t plan on going anytime soon). I finally wore him down, explaining that it would be inconspicuous, it wouldn’t be garish or bright or over the top, and he agreed. Before he started, he looked at me and said “Now listen darl, if you want to yell and scream and call me a motherf****r, that’s OK. You won’t be the first, and you won’t be the last”. He was a nice fella.

No need for name-calling

L: Let-down sight, where and why

The Amazon. BECAUSE WE DIDN’T GET THERE!!! Does that count?

M: Moment when you fell in love with travel

My first trip with Rich cemented how rad travelling is. My solo sojourn mentioned in K was great, but I struggled a bit on my own (more out of loneliness than any actual struggle). Travelling with Rich has always been easy and fun and having someone to share the sights and food and cocktails with, for me, is the bees knees.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in

Rich and I had a super lah-di-dah trip a few years ago to the Maldives. It is SUPER cray, yo. Over-water huts, white sand, clear water… you get the drill. We were picked up from the airport in Mali at around midnight, then got in a speedboat (that smelt like frangipanis) and were given refresher towels THAT WERE ACTUALLY TOWELS AND NOT BABY WIPES and bottles of water, and then we sped out into the black night. After about an hour of sailing the high seas at high speeds, the lights of the island came into sight. We were met at the jetty by a man in a golf buggy, who drove us to our hut (which was actually bigger than our house… and then some). There was a plate of antipasto on the table, along with a bottle of champagne and some flowers. Neither of us are hugely into champagne, but we guzzled that baby back, despite the fact that it was after 1am and we’d been flying for over 17 hours. After our champagne and antipasto feast, we took a moonlight swim in our own private SEA GARDEN under our hut which was amazing (but a little bit scary). During the day, puffer fish and baby sharks bobbed around in our sea garden (hence the whole ‘fear’ thang). The staff were divine, the food was amazing, and the digs… well…. I don’t think we’ll ever stay somewhere that fancy ever again, but it was so bloody amazing!!

Are you a postcard? NO! You're a photo from the Maldives!

O: Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking photos of when you travel

Dogs and cats. Hands down. I have hundreds of cat and dog photos. One dog, eight angles.

O hai cat!

Wass that?

Just chillin'

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where

I got a fancy e-passport just before we embarked on le world tour, but I still have a pretty nifty collection of stamps – from the start of my p-port to the back, we have: Indonesia, UK, Iceland, somewhere called Dobova, which I think is in Slovenia and I think we got this on the train, Norway, Singapore, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Croatia, Brazil, Turkey, Canada, Peru, MACHU PICCHU, the USA is in there somewhere too (but I can’t find it – yikes!).

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where

Blood Manor.

R: Recommended sight, event or experience

Hmmm…. The White Night Hike in Iceland is definitely a must (provided you’re there during summer). Strolling around in the daylight AT NIGHT is definitely rad, not to mention eating soup and cake and drinking wine in your bathers in a hot spring. Do it!

S: Splurge – something you have no problem forking out money for when travelling

I have no problems at all forking out cash for an experience you couldn’t have anywhere else; riding a camel and camping in the desert, learning how to make ceviche in Peru, going for a hike at midnight in broad daylight – spending money on things you couldn’t experience at home is important, I reckon.

Ceviche. I MADE THAT!

And. Food and beer. Not all the time. But I think you’ve gotta have at least one amazing meal in each place you visit, and you definitely need to try the local brew (or wine, or cocktail – whatever takes yo fanceh!!).

T: Touristy thing you’ve done

I feel like it’s kind of impossible NOT to do touristy things in New York. The city that never sleeps is the perfect place to take cheesy photos, eat ridiculous food and immerse yourself in BEING A TOURIST rather than a traveller. Hire a bike and ride around Central Park (and stop to watch some beat-boxers or break-dancers or a weird dance troupe who seem to rely on flexing their pecs and psyching out their minimal audience with intense stares and glares); go to Serendipity3 and try to finish an icecream sundae (you can’t); go to Rockefeller Plaza and pretend you’re Liz Lemon; eat a slice of pizza in Greenwich or a bagel from a street vendor; revel in the accents (“I think that baby lady done want her some SOO-SHI”, said a man handing out fliers for a Japanese restaurant in Times Square, when Eva went to take a pamphlet but decided against it…). NYC is the greatest place in the world to be touristy. Yay!

U: Unforgettable travel memory

We had a stupid amount of fun when we were on le world tour, and I’ll treasure every single second it (even the annoying times were unforgettable), but my absolute favourite travel memory is definitely my birthday in Slovenia. It made my love for Rich multiply by about 80,000 (which I didn’t even think was possible but IT DID!!!!).

V: Visas – how many and for where

Just one. For Brazil. And look where that got us.

X: eXcellent view and from where

When we climbed onto the roof of an art gallery (that had a tree growing through it) in Rio and looked out over the favella, my breath was well and truly taken. In a sea of mostly brown and grey square, squat dwellings, there were blocks of red, yellow, purple and green buildings; I’d liken it to a magic eye puzzle, but I feel like that lessens its awesomeness. I’d also liken it to a patchwork quilt, but I feel like that makes me sound like a derb with no skillz for adequate descriptions.

Y: Years spent travelling

32 (age now) minus 2 (age started) equals 30. From those long drives as a kid to visit family in Queensland to my first time riding a horse on the New South Wales Central Coast, to visiting Beatrix Potter’s house in England (clad in my knitted “people finger” gloves), to espying a tank of baby turtles at a market in Tokyo, to moving to Canada to further my career in the film industry, to moving home again because I was too in love with Rich, to the Maldives and Bali and the Philippines and Vietnam, to…. the world tour. Travelling is definitely in my blood. I’m happy to stay put though… for now.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where

I feel like Y & Z should really be reversed, because Y is kind of a nice point to finish on. And because the only sports fans I encountered were at a baseball game in Toronto, and… well… I was expecting WAY more out of control fandom and I just didn’t get it. Short of singing their teams song, hand on heart, balancing hotdogs and beers and giant tubs of popcorn on their knees, that was about as passionate as they seemed to get…

Do you wanna have a go? You should! Epic list, BUT FUN and a great way to remember past trips… Woot! Let me know in the comments if you do it on YOUR blog!

so long, reykjavik

I’ll miss your endless days of light, your weird fat drops of rain, your surprisingly excellent coffee, your pretty ladies with printed tights and beautiful capes, your Christmas jumpers (heaven!), your unlocked bikes outside shops and galleries, your friendly cats and your colourful rooves…

See you again soon, I hope!

human soup

With some hours to kill before our afternoon flight back to Heathrow, we decided to head to the Blue Lagoon for our last hoorah in Iceland. Nothing like Brooke Shields’ Blue Lagoon, this BL is a huge geothermal pool, nestled in between rocks and a power station. Seeing snaps of it, I thought “That doesn’t look too relaxing” but their website and overhearing snippets of conversation a few nights earlier (“The Blue Lagoon? AMAZING! You HAVE to go there”) led me to believe otherwise.

I was chipper and happy and high on cat-patting love for the whole time we were in Iceland, but something seemed to shift on Friday morning. Was it the knowledge that I would soon be leaving my new favourite place? I think it was… Regardless, by the time we bid farewell to the Reykjavik town square and made it to the Blue Lagoon, my mood was…. a little on the dark side. How could this be???

Stepping off a crowded bus in a crowded car park, then lugging our bags along a bustling superhighway of people in between blackened, moss-covered rocks, then into a foyer with about 80,000 people standing around, my earlier thoughts of relaxation (or lack thereof) were slowly readdressed…

Rich and I were given security bracelets for locker access and went our separate ways to get attired in our swimming costumes (no grassy glades here – sayonara open-air nudity).

After wandering through changerooms in search of a spare locker, through countless nekkid ladies in the process of robing and disrobing, my mood got darker and darker. How am I supposed to relax and become at one with nature if I can’t even get into my bathers?

The floor was wet. My feet got clammier and dirtier. Yuck. Clammy feet is a horrible sensation. And clammy is a pretty horrific adjective. Up there with moist. Bleck.

I finally found a free locker, got changed, and ventured out to the pool.

What greeted me was a little like this scene from Arrested Development:

Only instead of hot ham water, the pool was like warm, milky, human soup.

Nevertheless, in I got. The water was warm, yes. It was relaxing too. But they had a bar in the middle of the pool. With a queue 20 people deep, lining up for beer. And icecream. Yes. People were eating magnums IN THE POOL!!! Eating a sandwich in an isolated, outdoor river is one thing, but eating a chocolate icecream in a public swimming pool? It was like someone had mentioned gas. I felt repulsed.

After about 20 minutes I got out and went back to the cold, clammy-floored changeroom, wiped the silica from my skin, got back into my jeans and teesh, and headed to the cafe to wait for Rich. We had a salad and a beer (at a table. NOT in the water), my mood lifted, we got back on the bus, and before we knew it, Iceland was a mere speck on the earth below us.

I think if we’d been to the Blue Lagoon any other day, I would have loved it. But the thought of leaving Iceland, and my ever increasing hangriness, were not the combinations of mood with which to visit…

Next time Blue Lagoon, I will embrace your weird milky texture and indulge in the human soup. So watery. But with a smack of human to it.

white night hike

A big steamy sulfury stink

Following on from our luvverly ride through Rekjavik, and our subsequent nap, Rich and I headed back into the centre of town for our White Night Hike. I’m a bit of a sucker for Trip Advisor, and in my months of planning and spreadsheeting prior to le world tour, I kept coming back to the White Night Hike because it sounded SO flippin’ weird and wonderful.

We were not disappointed.

Standing outside the tour office, we were greeted by Ymir and Adam, our guides. Ymir is a self-proclaimed ‘Wiking’ (minus the raping, looting and killing bits) who set up his own tour company with a friend about a year ago. Adam, Ymir’s girlfriend’s son, is about to head off to Kansas for uni. He carried our food and wore big steel capped boots (that would certainly come in handy later in the trip).

Piling into a turquoise bus (a colour that seems to be following me everywhere lately!), we were off. Along the highway out of Rekjavik, past steaming pools in an otherwise arid landscape – the countryside here is like being on the moon. Black molten rock, covered in moss, grass and flowers, and no trees anywhere.

Then off the highway and along a rocky road (with not a marshmallow or glace cherry in sight!) – wild, shaggy sheep stood by the road, minding their bizniz, then running shaggedly (yes, shaggedly, it’s a word – IT IS!! No, it’s not) in front of the bus, across fields and down steep hills…

The bus stopped in the middle of nowhere. Mountain ranges, grass, and this creepy sulfurous steam everywhere. And those sheep. Baaa.

Ymir was quick to tell us to stick to the path, and not to go too close to the pools of bubbling mud. The banks are pretty unstable and he alleges that last week a French man got too close to the edge and slipped in to the boiling, viscous mud. He suffered third degree burns to his lower leg, but it could have been far worse. We pass steaming pools with sheep bones on the banks – poor schneeps getting cold and attempting to cuddle up to a boiling rock, then getting stuck in the mud and that’s it – they’re chops…

The stink of sulfur in the air is quite hideous, but you get used to it. It seems to get into your clothes though, which is not a nice way to wake up the next day – egg-stink infused jeans, anyone? Bleck.

We pass a marker warning hikers of open pools of bubble. Ymir pulls a bottle of Brennivin from his pocket and proclaims “We each must drink a shot of Schnapps when we pass each warning sign!”

I have decided to say yes to anything offered to me on this trip (within reason), so down the hatch. It’s a vodka-y, caraway seed-y shot that kinda tastes like nothing when you shoot it, then it spreads down your throat and through your sinuses and it’s warming and nice.

Rich and I, pre-outdoor, ice-cold nudity (signs of wear n tear on keds)

Down into a valley, up an incline, down a really steep, rocky path, which I slid most of the way down (damn you Keds), and into a huge, grassy, steaming valley.

“This is where we bathe” Ymir declared, gesturing to a knee-deep section of the stream cutting through the grass.

I looked around. At the huge, majestic, incredible, grassy beauty surrounding me and thought….

“Where the crap am I gonna get into my bathers???”

Rich looked at me and felt my pain. I’m not the greatest at getting my gear off when there’s not a door to close or a rock to crouch behind.

“Hmmm” I said.

“Hmmm” Rich said.

“Follow me!” I said, spying a ditch in the grass that led down to an estuary off the main pool. It was about 3 feet lower than the rest of the valley, and just secluded enough for me to get nekkid and into my bathers without anyone looking (which I’m sure they all were, because why would anyone admire the beauty of nature when my pasty thighs are on display??!).

Bathers on, raincoat on, back to the stream and… INTO IT!!! It was warm and mineral-y and steamy and… shallow… and kinda muddy… but relaxing. And spectacular.

Ymir tumbled in, with his bottle of Brennivin and a small container of something white and a bit stink. Like rotting.

“This”, he said, holding up a piece of white flesh to the group “is Icelandic delicacy. Rotten shark meat. Chew it a few times, swallow, then follow with shot of Brennivin”.

The stink was quite incredible, and had most people turning up their noses and shaking their heads.

“You start”, Ymir handed me the container and the bottle of Schnapps.

When in Rome.

It actually wasn’t as revolting as I expected. It was a bit like an over-cooked scallop, that had a nasty after-taste (hence the Brennivin shot in quick succession).

After the rotten shark entree, we had fish and coriander soup, then salmon and egg sandwiches, and cups of red wine. All in the pool. It feels weird eating and drinking when you’re sitting in a body of water.

Ymir regaled us with stories of tours gone bad – the aforementioned ‘leg in the bubbling mud’ incident. And the time a member of the group complained of feeling light-headed and drunk after one glass of wine, and moments later was facedown in the water, unconscious. This was before Ymir had done his survival and first aid course. And the group were about 3kms away from any form of civilisation. Fortunately for Ymir and the drowning man, two woman in the group jumped in and took over – one was high up the ranks in the Canadian police force, while her partner was a head honcho at the Canadian ambulance service. They pushed Ymir out of the way, resuscitated the drowned man, gave him some chocolate cake, and got the hell outta Dodge.

An American in our group piped up at this point, saying “I’m a surgeon. If anything happens on this trip, I can probably assist. Unless you require surgery. I don’t have my kit here. But anything else – broken limbs, burns – I can help”.

Phewf. Lucky!

After about an hour in the pool, we all started to get a bit boiled and shrivelled, and one by one, we started to exit the water. Rich and I were among the last to get out, as we finished our wine and admired the scenery.

Mere moments later, like something out of a movie, a Belgium woman, travelling with her 16 year old daughter, cried out “Help help, my daughter has fainted!!”

Whenever I hear that someone has fainted, or see someone faint, I automatically get so choked up that I can’t breathe. And my eyes get so watery and tear-filled that I can’t speak. It’s like if someone says “Do you smell gas?” I immediately retch. And panic. And say “O god, gas??!”. It’s a weird thing I have. Among other things.

[One time, years ago, I was working at a design agency in the city, and a brand manager came into reception and said “What’s that smell? Is that gas?” and I went “bluurrggghhh” and then I said, in a tone that was not at all calm and not at all professional “ITHINKITSCOMINGTHROUGHTHEAIRVENTS, O GOSH O GOSH” and other colleagues came out to reception and sniffed the air and said “It DOES smell like gas” and just before we were about to evacuate the building and call in the fireys, we realised it was the office next door, setting up their new printers, and the smell from their new toners had wafted through the vents… But ever since then, if anyone mentions gas, I’m silently vomming and praying no one lights a match or switches on a faulty light switch.]

Anyhoo, this poor girl had fainted, Ymir was out of the pool pouring water on her face, and Dr America came running across the glade in his checkered shirt and nude-coloured undies, elevating her legs as she came to. Rich kept asking “What’s happening? What’s happening??” but I was so overcome with emotion I couldn’t speak. Sheesh!

She was fine though. Standing up too quickly after sitting in a hot pool can do that to anyone.

After I pulled myself together, Rich and I headed back to our secluded ditch, peeled off our wet bathers in the FREEZING cold air, got dressed, and on we went. My first foray into outdoor nudity. Wahoo!

The combination of red wine, schnapps and hot water made me a little bit tipsy and over-confident. I strode across rocks! Ran down gravel hills! Leapt across streams! I was on top of the world!

Until we got to a wider than leaping distance stream. Everyone else in our group was wearing hardcore hiking boots (read: waterproof), but my Keds would not survive a stroll through the rocky, slippery stream. Nor would my feet, if they walked the remaining distance to the bus with wet shoes on. I panicked. Where was my magical moving rock, ala that scene in Labyrinth where Sarah has to cross the Bog of Eternal Stench and all the rocks come together and she can get to the other side??

And then… my moving rock appeared!! In the form of Adam, and his steel-capped boots. Standing in the middle of the stream, he held out his hand and said “Here, stand on my toe. Then jump to the other side”. I swooned a little, and then over I went, dry shoes and all! Thanks Adam!

An hour or so later, the light starting to fail, the bus in sight. We had walked 6kms through the most incredible landscape I have ever seen… Eaten rotten shark. And followed it with buttery, sugary chocolate cake. Ixney on the Arkshay, but my my, that cake was good…

On the bus, Ymir played us some not-so-good Icelandic music (“This band is called Dicktor, this is the best drum solo I have ever heard… wait for it, wait for it…. DRUM SOLO!!!!”) and then some tres-good Icelandic music (Sigur Ros), as we all rocked back and forth on the bus, Rich’s head on my shoulder, the midnight sun setting in the distance.

cycling to bjork’s house

The death of the hard-drive a few days ago really threw a spanner in the works when it came to writing about Iceland. When I got it back on Thursday afternoon, it took ages to reload everything back onto it, then there was no time to write on Friday because we spent the day at the Blue Lagoon and then flew back to Heathrow on Friday night, and had no internet access at le hotel…

Excuses excuses!

Enough of that!

Iceland is AMAZING!! Reykjavik is a beautiful, stylish, bustling little city, filled with cobbled streets, underground coffee shops, people dressed up as whale tails, handing out pamphlets saying ‘Meet us, don’t eat us’ to passersby, and cats! Cats everywhere!! Friendly cats, up for a pat and a cuddle ALL THE TIME! Cats that would cross the road to meet ME, rather than me stalking them, as I tend to do in Melbourne… I had a lot of great cat time here.

Everything is Reykjavik is quaint and cute and cosy and safe. It’s super lovely.

On Tuesday morning, Rich and I were up bright and early, had a bowl of muesli in our little apartment on Framnesvegur and made our way down to the docks for a tour of Reykjavik by bike. We got there stupidly early, so had a coffee at Haiti Cafe, then had a little wander around the docks.

At 9.45am, we met Ursula, a New Icelander (which is a MUCH nicer term than ‘immigrant) from Germany who was leading our group. She wheeled all the bikes out of a big shipping container, and I was given the bike named after Iceland’s most famous export: Bjork.

Rich was on the Magnus.

Away we went. First stop was the concert hall, a massive glass structure (kinda reminiscent of ACMI) on the harbour, built a few years ago when Iceland had zero money, as a way of attracting more tourists. Not sure that it has worked for them – the country is still in financial ruin – but the building is pretty amazing; like a giant glassy honeycomb.

After that we stopped at ‘the most famous hotdog stand in Rekjavik’. I didn’t see too many other hotdog stands, but it was the only stand (nay, restaurant) in Iceland that boasts Bill Clinton as its most famous customer. Ol’ Bill sure gets around – two bowls of noodle soup at that pho place in Swanston Street AND a hotdog with mustard in Iceland (he was too sissy to get one with the lot, because of the onions/public speaking thing)…

Riding on, we paid a visit to Parliament House, where the infamous Kitchenware Revolution was staged in 2008-09. When the country slipped into financial crisis, its politicians were seen doing very little, so the peeps of Iceland staged a mass protest outside Parliament House. Rather than getting violent and throwing rubbish bins (as we have seen at multiple G20 summits), a group of Icelanders descended on the lawn outside with their pots, pans and wooden spoons, and sat outside making a ruckus.

Unfortunately, someone got a little out of hand and set fire to the town Christmas tree (a gift from Denmark) so now there’s a permanent patch of dead grass in the lawn… The group sighed a little in disappointment at the news of the burning Christmas tree – the ultimate Scrooge (but for a pretty good reason, I guess).

Onwards and upwards, we cycled to the University, around a lake, Ursula pointed out Bjork’s house (a square black house with trickets on the windowsills – very unassuming and quite beautiful), then we rode back down the hill to the docks.

When we dismounted our trusty 2-wheeled steeds, we were tired and a little damp (Iceland is quite drizzly at this time of year). The perfect solution? Lobster soup on the dock. We joined two Canadians and two Americans in a funny shack on the waterfront, devoured our soup with big chunks of bread, then slowly moseyed back to Framnesvegur for a little nap…