22 July 2010

exploration at a different pace

One of my favorite mini features of the pools here is the hlaupakort (running map). It's not exactly the kind of thing one goes expressly to visit at the pool but I think it's a brilliant idea. Each swimming pool has a large map tacked to the wall by the door where they've described running loops that start and end there, marked with distances and a short explanation of how to do it and what kind of terrain it offers. The map's available on their website too, so if you're in the mood to try something different, it's easy to pick something there.

Today I decided that although I love my usual loop through Öskuhlíð and by the sea, it was time to explore a new neighborhood, so off to Grafarvogslaug went I. It's one of the unsung great pools, with a splendid Esja view, an extremely calm and spotless lap pool, and one of the most thrilling waterslides in town (it's totally enclosed most of the way so you're riding in total darkness oooo). It also happened to have a nice short running loop that promised to be auðrötuð (a word that I don't know and haven't yet found the definition for in my usual methods). Sounds fun.

I set off into the unknown and found that the area behind the pool was laced with walking paths that went behind yards strung with laundry and smelling of grilling lamb. The path I was on dropped quickly to the bay that gives the neighborhood its name where the pavement turned to gravel and then dove into a tiny birch and lupine forest (of typical icelandic proportions, the trees were about twice as high as me). After a short distance the trees disappeared to the right and I could view the whole bay and a small open-fronted hut that I stopped in to inspect. The walls inside were plastered with information on all the birds in the area, depicted in both summer and winter garb and a paragraph describing their habits. Cool!

Off I went again, crossing the broad river entering the sea via a pedestrian bridge that was handily suspended between the two lanes of the road overhead, and then looping back towards my starting point. As with other running loops I've tried, there was the setup if you wanted to do some pushups or situps on a dry platform, and then back to the pool I went.

Overall I have been quite surprised and impressed by the thoughtfulness that can be found in these rather ordinary spots of the town. Great paths, spots for extra workouts, bird watching huts, and planning for bikes and walkers makes me really enjoy living here. Plus, exploring a place via running paths gives everything a whole new dynamic. S and I have gone running in odd places in Germany and it definitely has given me a different feeling for the place than I would have if I'd just gone for the usual tourist visit. After today's explore I'm also excited to try the running loops from other suburban pools. I've got sea, they've got trees.


Maya said...

I love your blog--I've been reading it for a while now, and really enjoy your writing....Iceland is very different from the places I've lived, and although I've still never been there, I feel I can almost smell it from your writing ;^D --Maya

SOe said...

I am happy that you chose "my" swimming pool :-) I like it very much and I often walk there instead of taking the bus. I just wish they had 50-meter-lines. But you can not have everything.

Valdimar said...

auðrötuð: easy to navigate

ECS said...

maya: thanks! You've actually inspired a post that I'm working on now that will incorporate more flavours of life here.

SOe: I think it's the unsung awesomest pool what with the view and all, and actually like the 25 meter lanes since it makes me feel much more of a champ.

Valdimar: I got the answer the next day from a colleague, but it definitely was easy to find this path.

Joel Clermont said...

Thanks for posting this. I have been trying to remember the name of that pool (Grafarvogslaug) since our trip last fall. We found it unexpectedly after playing the disc golf course near there and had a great time on the slide and in the hot pots.