Monday, March 23, 2015

Letters from Iceland

Letters from Iceland
Darryl Gossett

Best read to the music of 
 Sigur Rós
who were performing Ágætis byrjun at the time Darryl heard them. 

Iceland, Oct. 18, 2000
Hi, there ...Eric, Jennifer, and I have found our way to the Top Cafe, an Internet coffee house in Reykjavik, and are taking this opportunity to send our greetings. The flight last night from Boston was tiresome but exciting at the same time. We arrived at 6 a.m. Iceland time -- about 2 a.m. Atlanta time! -- so we´ve been a bit disoriented all day as a result. It was a long but beautiful drive in from the airport... the sun rose as we arrived and illuminated the eerie-looking landscape. Our hotel is simple and clean ... quite wonderfully located, right in the middle of things and just a block or two from the harbor in one direction and from the famous ´lava´ church in the other direction. Today, we´re planning our adventures ... it looks likely that we will take the Golden Circle Tour of the waterfalls and ´geysirs´and we will definitely go to the Blue Lagoon spa and mineral baths on our way back to the airport. Surprisingly, the weather here has been spectacular... in the 40s, bright and sunny, clear clean air ... and we're surrounded by sweet-faced and sweet-tempered people. A ton of babies everywhere ... but all very quiet and well -behaved! The sun sets today at 6 30, so we will have plenty of sunlight. Well, Eric and Jen are sighing at my long-windedness,so I had better sign off. See you soon.

Letter 2, Iceland, Oct 21, 2000

hi, again,
Yesterday was amazing. Another gorgeous day of around 50 degrees F. We left the hotel Skjalbreið at 9 30 am and by 10 the three of us were astride our trusty steeds ... the unique Icelandic horse, strong, short, sweet-tempered ... for a couple hours of riding around
the countryside. The group consisted of about 20 people maybe, and our guides led us through fields with clear views of the surrounding volcanoes and glaciers. We traveled at various speeds ... from a slow walk to a near gallop, bouncing up and down on the backs of out horses ... mine was named "Stone," or whatever the Icelandic word for that is.  

Then we had lunch ... a buffet of lamb chops and vegetables, soup, bread, and cold beer. Then we were off to spend a half hour exploring Gulfloss, surely one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. We had amazing views and were able to get very close. I  hope my pictures turn out OK .. there was so much
spray from the falls that the lens protector was constantly having to be wiped dry. then we drove further to look at the famous Icelandic "geysirs" ... these are where our word geyser come
from, and the granddaddy of them all is properly named "Geysir" .. it hasn´t been active for many years, but following a series of earthquakes this past June .. measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale! ... it is now erupting again! Geysir is surrounded by other, smaller geysers that also steam, burble, and erupt on a regular and frequent  schedule. Oddly, the sulfuric, steamy geyser plains are encircled by glaciers. You´d think one of them would give, the ice or the boiling water churning right beneath the surface!
After a much-needed coffee break, it was off  to look at the very spot where North America and Europe are drifting apart! Yes, the place where the continents are divided, still moving at a rate of 2 cm a year, our guide said. One can still jump across the chasm, jumping from North America to Europe and back! ... and the mini canyon travels miles up into the hills until it disappears from sight. Some day, after many more years, the split will be complete and Iceland will be two separate islands.

Other highlights: beautiful lakes, a huge caldera formed by the explosion of  a volcano eons ago and now containing a "bottomless" lake in the center. Parents tell their children here, when they misbehave, that they will toss them into the lake and send them to Australia! A nice tour of the Icelandic greenhouses .. where the nation grows its vegetables and fruit and flowers. We saw banana trees, orchids, corn stalks, royal blue roses, etc.... a nice solution for a nation that can´t farm, but only has 270,000 people to feed. Eventually, tired, we made it back to the city ... 9 hours in all on the tour. After cleaning up and resting a bit, we were off to dinner at Rex, a stylish, ultra modern-looking bistro with burnished aluminum tables, chairs, napkin rings, etc., and multicolored glass embellishments. We opted for local foods ... Eric had salmon, Dar had tuna, and Jen had scrumptious local lamb. Dessert was chocolate sushi! The day was just getting started! Back to the hotel again, to change into our club wear, have some drinks in Jennifer´s room (where we shouldn't have turned on the TV!! ... the things they show on the TVs here would cause pandemonium in the States!) After much giggling and blushing, we were off to Spotlight, the city´s premiere disco, where several bands were playing ... Möa, XXX Rottweiller, Bellatrix (great, all-girl band), and the campy Paul Oskar, sort of an Icelandic Cliff Richard, if that makes any sense. Everyone is the place knew the words to every song of his (all in Icelandic, so we were clueless), and there was much merriment and dancing and laughing, everywhere. The Icelanders really know how to club.
Afterward, we turned down an invitation to go to some little town outside the city and watch a Mike Tyson boxing match (huh?) with these guys, and instead went to a late club ... Thomsen Klub ... and danced in their downstairs disco until 4.
OK, *then* the night was over. Luckily, we weren't more than a 5-10 minute walk from the hotel, so we stumbled happily back, complaining about how sore the horses made our butts, how tired we were, etc., and off to bed!


Darryl and Jennifer
(photo by Eric)

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