26 September 2006

on tour

These past few weeks have brought an influx of blog readers to verify the accuracy of my reportings here, and bring me Things From The States. It's been somewhat stressful, since I always hope that Iceland will show off its best, but in true Iceland fashion, it does what it pleases. Two weekends ago, we did manage to see a smidgen of norðurljós in spite of the cloudy day, but last week it was like I controlled the earth, the sea, and the elements, providing two days of perfect weather for my next tour group. On Thursday, I met with four guys who were on their way back from a European tour-of-male-bonding, and together with K we went for a lobster dinner in Stokkseyri. This restaurant is exactly the kind of restaurant you'd want to eat lobster at- the menu consists basically of lobster in three sizes, lobster soup, and wine that goes with it. They know what they do best and they stick to it.

The restaurant is right on the edge of the sea by the south coast, and we arrived just as the last tinges of evening peach were fading from the sky. Good northern lights sighting ahead. After a truly decadent dinner involving wine and their famous meringue cake, we piled back into the cars and drove back along the coast. K pulled off at a beach entry in the darkest part of the road, and we all stumbled down to the dark beach (black sand plus a moonless night makes for challenging walking).

Even though I have lived here for a year, I cannot fail to be absolutely speechless when in a moment like that. On a black sand beach with the Arctic surf crashing below us, and above, the millions of stars glowed clear, washed in undulating green to the north. No cars, no other people, no sounds beyond the waves, and a crisply frigid wind to remind you that you are on the edge of the Arctic Circle, and all this only 45 minutes from home. I live here for those reasons.

The next day I played hooky from work and did the usual tourist trip of Þingvellir, Geysir, Gullfoss. I've done this now in sun and fog, snow and summer, and it is still exhilarating to see. In spite of its touristy nature there really is something to be said for these sights, and I love being there when people see it for the first time. As with the day before, the weather was absolutely perfect, and I am sure that memories of the gorgeous weather will sustain me through the winter. Having visitors come to explore with again reminds me of what is great about this place, and I always end renewed, refreshed, and loving Iceland again.

Ship sighting: Speaking of being on tour, I am typing this in the airport, as I am once again going to Holland. I will be missing a tanker-intensive day, as this one and another arrive today. I'll probably be taking the train through Rotterdam today, but the trains don't go anywhere near the legendary harbor. Better luck some other trip.


cK said...

I think one of the true joys of being "Elsewhere" is the moment you can revisit something that struck you and see it as a point of familiarity rather than as something new and without precedent in your life.

In that moment of revisitation, you can learn a great deal about yourself as you increasingly recognize the way in which Elsewhere has been working at you from the inside.

tsduff said...

I often just get to drift away for a moment when I read your posts... from the drudgery of my daily routine. I remember the incredibleness of Iceland, and when my dream of ever really living there wanes into a thin wisp of air and all but vanishes, I get a glimpse of it again through your fresh eyes. Lovely that you had such spectacular weather - for so long! (I mean, woo hoo, a few hours at a time is unusual :-))

tsduff said...

ps - how is the Norwegian going?

Liz said...

Mmmmm... lobster.

I know what you mean about stressful- having people visit me in Japan always made me feel nervous. Would they like the food? Would they be amused by what I had planned? Would they be able to deal with sleeping on the floor? You start to doubt your reasons for being where you are and everything becomes trite and silly. But then there was always that moment when you take your friends or family to one of your favorite places and they fall in love, like you did, and all fears and doubts melt away.

Unfortunately that moment usually comes toward the end of the trip!

ECS said...

cK- I love that description, and it's definitely how I felt when I stood on the edge of Þingvallavatn. It's been almost two years since I first saw it and while it's no less awesome than the first time, I look at it so differently. Now it's all about how smaller features have changed- the look of the clouds in the distance this time versus last time, the shade of the leaves in early autumn versus later autumn. It's been a long road since that first visit!

Terry- glad it gives you so much pleasure to read. I'm tryin' to keep it fresh, for my writing's sake and for my own entertainment. As for the norwegian, not so much right now since everyone's doing the Dutch thing around me at the moment. Still, some Norwegian friends will be in town over the weekend so I am sure to hear some on Friday.

Liz- I have that problem when suggesting places to eat the most of anything, and of course with Iceland I always am afraid we'll get that fog that's tucked up along the edge of the road like piecrust on a piepan, and they'll never see anything. But so far everyone that has come to visit has been able to "get" Iceland. Maybe it's partly because after the eerie and empty drive from the airport, people have already reset any expectations they might have had. Makes it easier to impress, and the landscape takes care of the rest.

christina said...

Wow, I love the way you describe your surroundings and I'm glad to hear that you're still doing well.

Christina (from the Reluctant Expatriates list)

ECS said...

Christina- hail fellow expat! I just checked out your blog and that cake recipe looks great. Thanks for stopping by to read.

krilli said...


I believe that I met a couple of the guys, the ones you took to Stokkseyri. We had a chat in the hot tub at quirky old Sundhöllin.

If I'm not mistaken, you are a super cool person for showing them around the country - and extra respect for showing them the seriously nice bits. (Their story actually made me notice that I'm not making proper use of Iceland myself. I've become a jaded native, and need to crawl out of my study books and get out of Reykavík.)

So! Hello to the guys. Hello to everybody.

I'm curious: did they have the James Brown?