Sunday, 12 April 2009

Island

See if you can guess where I've been last week, here are some clues:

Island is quite literally "ice land", the Vikings weren't known for their subtle literary skills. Contrary to modern Islandic belief the Vikings didn't settle here, Vikings weren't known for their farming skills or settling skills. They discovered it and "other people" came to do the boring bit. We can say Islanders are descended from Norwegians, it's possible some of them were quite mean but they weren't Vikings.

The first real Geezer I saw was when Black Sabbath got back together in Milton Keynes in '98, and now this. The Strokkur Geysir is still blowing every few minutes, I can testify to that but the Great Geysir retired in 1916 with a small come back in 1935. They reckon all those victorians throwing things in it was the problem. Yes, the English owned it once and it's the only time people had to pay to visit the Geysirs. Apart from Geezer Butler, of course.

The biggesst glacier in Iceland, Vatnajokull, is bigger than all of the other Glaciers in Europe put together. It's also quite cold but nice to walk about on when it's sunny.

The Gullfoss water falls are all a result of Glacial melt, not necessarily global warming though, they've been there for a while. Landscape is varied to say the least, because of many volcanic eruptions over the centuries it really is a patchwork of different lands. Grasslands next to black desserts, next to rocky inpenetrable terrains.

Horses everywhere, puffins, which taste like calf's liver, and the locals get around in monster 4x4's which made our Hyundai Tucson look rather feminine. Once you get out of Reykjavic you won't see any fancy-pants Mercedes 4x4's, BMW's none, the very occaisonal Land Rover but mostly the Japanese big-boys with wheels that you can barely see over. Like those things you see at monster truck shows, that's what the average Icelander uses to nip down the shops for a tub of Skyr, a local speciality made of slightly rancid milk. (We call it youghurt but don't tell them that.)

There is highway which has two lanes each way in some parts. I don't think they're planning to build any more roads, who needs them when you've got a monster truck?

They eat a lot of fish, which is tasty, but not surprising. What is surprising is standing on a beach made of black sand, with black rock cliffs behind. Surprising and very eerie. Eerie or peaceful, depending on your disposition. I imagine some Gothic types would have great fun frolicking on these beaches.

On Good Friday we took a dip in the Blue Lagoon and applied Silica Mud Packs to our faces. I could be wrong but I thought people who mined silica died horrible deaths from bronchial diseases. Surely they wouldn't treat tourists like this? Hot water coming out of the ground laced with silica, it has health giving properties, nothing specific but at 30 euro a pop I reckon someone is doing quite well out of it. It feels nice anyway. We just assume it's good because it's natural, a dangerous assumption if you ask me. Didn't mother nature give us the Sydney Funnel-Web Spider? A two inch bastard carrying enough venom to take down an elephant, what the hell is it going to with an elephant? Eat it?

In the end it was very pleasantly surprisingly good trip for a small cold place in the middle of nowhere. I would recommend it, you could go in the summer, it's a lot warmer but I think I prefered it like this. There's something about stinging rain and snow in bitterly cold wind that makes you feel alive. Possibly slowly dying but alive. The pictures are spectacular.

I'm going to eat some chocolate now. Oh, one more thing, it was the Icelander Leifur Eiriksson who disovered America in 1000AD but they were to few to beat the Indians so they went back home. Ok, they weren't all farmers. Actually it's fundamentally wrong to say any European discovered America, there were already people living there. The best we can say is Leifur was the first modern European to try to invade America.

Ultimately, although the Vikings are famous for stealing and destroying things, the English are the best at it - the results speak for themselves. Next would be the Spanish, then French, Italians, Greeks, Portugese... it's more or less the leading EU countries.

JJ

1 comment:

Gorilla Bananas said...

The Red Indians stole America from the gorillas. Fuck their mothers.