02 May 2007


On Monday evening I went for a rollerblade by the sea, one of my favoritest things to do. I've been doing it since those summers in college out on Martha's Vineyard but it's a rare day here when the weather looks like it'll hold long enough to let me take a round-trip. Although it was cloudyish on Monday, it was the "right" kind of cloudy that didn't look too soggy, so I headed out at about 9:15 to the sea path that runs along the southern side of the bay here. The water had that magical springtime silverblue sheen, and the mountains hulked behind a veil of moisture opposite as I headed along the curve towards the outskirts of town.

I'd bladed a few times on the Seltjarnarnes side of things, but that's a different story with its direct ocean exposure. The full force of the sea and ripping Atlantic winds often sends the waves leaping meters over the sea wall where they happily take sections of pavement away and leave gravel and necklaces of kelp behind. On the bay side, the only evidence of sea-fury is the polished stones on one inlet, but everywhere else the path was perfect- smooth, kelp-free, and uncrowded.

Past Höfði, past the Strætó breeding grounds (the bus yard), past the weird seaward cluster of houses at Laugarnes, I found a new piece of Reykjavík. First I went the familiar route up past the Why-Kings graffiti wall, and when it became video-store gas-station land, I turned around, and followed the other fork in the path that went snaking through the lava.

I scared a gaggle of geese there who'd left behind a turd-slalom, and sailed down the dipping path and round the corner. This little area was silent enough to hear the tiny lapping waves and instead of city I was surrounded by the stuff of the wilds here- lava, moss, and sea, with all the islands of the harbor lying under their greening mist of spring. The stretch was short though, and I soon came out in the midst of Industrial Quarter Reykjavík, where the shipping companies have their offices, and stacks of building materials compete with parking lots.

Still, there's another dock down there that even has a tiny yellow sand beach next to it (this is rare and interesting here in this place of black lava sand) sheltered by an impressively craggy rock. I think this is where many of the larger cruise ships end up depositing their merry-makers, and in spite of the lovely view of Viðey opposite, I bet they're a bit disappointed when they step off into office-park superland, edged by parking lots and construction fences.

At that time of evening the parking lot was barren, so I sailed around it, doing double-pole stretches and sinuous swirls in the huge open space, and then headed home, back towards Hallgrímskirkja that dominates the short skyline here. The experience was enchanting enough that I went again yesterday in spite of the sure-to-dump-rain clouds. The wind had picked up since the day before, but I thanked my previous Atlantic seashore training and considered it an added cardio boost as I inhaled the leafy smells of springtime it brought. Thankfully, the wind was to my back as I went homewards, so the final stretch in the smattered rain was quick and I was soon home, tired, exhilarated, and loving the landscape here.

*Experiments in International Rollerblading


cK said...

I have never been on ice skates or rollerblades (seriously--and I live in Minnesota!), but I am partial to seaside excursions. Just took a lovely walk last week along the Bay in the SF - Oakland area on a little island called Alameda.

Living along water is immensely satisfying. Even just having the river here in Saint Paul makes me happy...but the larger harbor areas are always a gem. My favorite is Copenhagen's.

ECS said...

CK: I actually went a little nuts with the rollerblading by the sea last week- I found the way to go the other direction so I get the lookout over the southern coastline- equally protected but a much quieter journey, since it's not next to a major road.

I think I have to always live near water at this point! Whenever I smell the sea it's so "ahh, this is where I belong". I have yet to see Copenhagen's though. Something good to look forward to!