Back from Iceland

Yes, I’ve returned from my holiday in Iceland.  Had a fantastic time, photographic evidence of which is below:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28958034@N02/sets/72157621978864324/

I won’t bore you all with some lengthy travelogue, but suffice it to say that I had a great time, in Reykjavik for the most part, but also in the surrounding countryside.  The first day, Saturday, was mostly about familiarisation with surroundings, as well as a sampling of Iceland’s fairly diminuitive gay scene.  On Sunday I took the ferry over to Viðey Island, with its village founded on a fish processing industry, a village that lasted little more than 30 years early last century, and of which only some ruins and the old schoolhouse remains.

On Monday I met my first couch-surfing host, Hjörtur, who not only hosted me but also a bewildering array of other surfers – four French, three Brazilians, two Australians and a Slovenian over the course of the two days I was at his place.  He took some of us to the small town of Hveragærði and to the nearby countryside with its amazing scenery and hot pools.  After that, we drove further down the coast to admire the beautiful waterfall at Skógafoss.

Tuesday and Wednesday were very much art gallery and museum days, interspersed with visits to sit and sample the many CDs of Icelandic artists on sale in 12 Tónar – and I ended up buying quite a few, including one by Johann Johannsson that I’ll probably start raving about in due course.  Regarding the galleries, highlights were the weird, echoing domed room in the Asmundur Sveinsson Museum, the haunting beauty of the Einar Jonsson bronze casts, and the fabulous 60s photos at the Reykjavik Museum of Photography.  I was particularly struck by the photos of the women in the canteen, all wearing caps on their heads saying “LINDA”.  This is because this was the name of the confectionery factory where they worked – however, my typically over-active imagination couldn’t help extrapolating some Avengers-esque scenario in which they had in fact been inducted into some sinister cult where they were all forced to take on the same identity of Linda.  Hmm.  Anyway.  I also spent time relaxing in one of Reykjavik’s many cafes on the main street of Laugavegur.  Wednesday evening I met my second host, Hörður and his girlfriend Helga, and was introduced to classic Danish TV drama series Matador (despite its name the programme has nothing to do with bull-fighting, but instead chronicles the lives of inhabitants of a small Danish town from 1929 to just after the Second World War).

Thursday’s highlight was the opening ceremony of Iceland’s Gay Pride.  This featured veteran singer-songwriter and long-time activist Bubbi Morthens, mother and daughter act Ragga and Dísa, screamingly camp duo Víggo and Víoletta (a parody of all those cheesy Eurovision hosts) and the phenomenally non-PC Creamgirls (two gay Norwegians impersonating black female singers).  The second half was all about Páll Oskar, another veteran Icelandic pop star (who also represented his country in Eurovision in 1997) in his glittery white suit and immaculate showbiz air.  However, this wasn’t some slab of John Barrowman-esque camp cheese.  After all, it’s hard to imagine Captain Jack being accompanied by a harpist, and by super-cool band Hjaltalín.  Walking back after the show, I watched the beautiful sight of people lighting and floating candles on the city’s big lake, Tjörn, in remembrance of those killed by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So I saw and did lots of stuff in Iceland, although there’s plenty I didn’t do – the Golden Circle, the Blue Lagoon, the geysers at Selfoss, the open-air village just outside of Reykjavik.  But that’s fine, as I’m definitely going to be paying Iceland another visit.  It’s a country that’s definitely calling me back…

Chris

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