I saw this quote painted on a wall when running through a park in my new home and finally felt the motivation to write this blog post. To talk about Iceland, and Lund, and my transitory lifestyle in general.
Iceland was a bit of a dream. What you have read about it is certainly not an exaggeration. The scenery there is unreal, the people friendly, and the culture unique. I am lucky to have gotten a unique experience there by seeing it more like a local and less like a tourist.
My first day in Iceland, I got off a plane at 6am and was not the least bit disappointed that Gitta hadn’t planned much of anything. We drove back to her hometown of Borgarnes and napped until mid afternoon. Then we had milkshakes with her brother and packed up the car to drive up to a small music festival in Sauðárkrókur.
We met up with her best friend Ragga and a group of girls she knows from teaching. We watched most of the acts of the first day of Gæren (named after sheep wools). It was unlike other music festivals I have been to in the states. Instead of focusing on one type of music, it had bands from all kinds of genres. It was outside in an uninsulated building that smelled like sheep poo, making it also kind of cold.
Gæren lining the stage.
The majority of people wore Icelandic wool sweaters to keep warm, and not wanting me to stand out as a tourist Gitta loaned me one of her brothers. Here is proof:
After the music stopped, one of the local bars had an after party with more bands. Gitta and I stayed for a while, but the other girls went home. The next day I went with the other Icelandic girls to the local farm and agriculture show. There were lots of homemade crafts and livestock and display, and I even got to see them shear a sheep! Afterwards we had a barbeque where we were staying and made it to the concert around 8. It was kind of empty, so we spent the first half of the night sitting on the floor of the building. Afterwards, I went with a couple of the girls to have a couple of drinks at the local bar before heading home.
On Sunday, Gitta and I went to a local pool with amazing views. It was heated (thank goodness) and overlooked a fjord with an island in the middle.
After we were done we showered and started home to make dinner with the family. We were ahead of schedule so we stopped at one crater that was called “Mt. Grey Underpants” if you translate its name into English. The sign did not, so I am still not sure Gitta wasn’t just making things up. Her mom made an amazing lamb thigh for dinner with potatoes and salad. We watched an Icelandic film on TV and then had local blueberries and ice cream for dessert.
Monday was our big tourism day, where we drove all over south-eastern Iceland. Unfortunately, since I was being escorted around I am kind of unclear about all of where I was. I will supplement with pictures. First we went to the European-American divide, a valley that apparently grows a few centimeters every year and looks kind of crazy.
Then we checked out the “Geysir geyser” as we kept calling it, although the largest one there, Geysir no longer spews on a regular basis. Although there is another really large one that blows around every five minutes. We took a lot of silly photos.
Afterwards we began Gitta’s waterfall tour because as her sister says she is a “Waterfall Perv”. The first one we visited was really wide and fell into a canyon. The signs said that it was “better than Niagra” although I am not sure whether or not that is true.
The second waterfall was much higher and you could climb behind it. This one was my favorite.
And finally we saw a third one, which was also cool but not as unique as the other too.
We ended up doing a lot of driving in one day, but the scenery and our ability to speed-tourist made it enjoyable. We stopped for pizza on our way home and got in around 10:30.
Tuesday we were both tired so we slept in for a while before heading out to a fourth and final waterfall. I think it was worth the trip because it seemed to fall out of the rocks and was really incredible.
Afterwards we went to a secret hot spring for a dip to complete my real Iceland experience.
We went back to Borgarnes to have another dinner with the family and to pack up our things, but spent the night with a friend in Reykjavik because it is closer to the airport. Gitta flew out early, but I stayed until around 10 because my flight was later.
Lund has been really great in general. It was awesome to have someone to show me around everywhere, our school is beautiful and I seem to have lucked out in the housing lottery. I finally joined a nation (Swedish social club) today, although the department plans to give us 60hour workweeks. More to come on all of that later.