Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Iceland photos are up!

Photographic evidence of the glaciers, ashes, and geothermal spas are here.

I had to sift through nearly 3,000 shots so it took a while.

Sorry about that!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bacon, Boats, and Blue Lagoon

So on Day 3 we went back to Keflavik, picked up our little Suzuki Swift, and headed off to the Blue Lagoon. Because all the guidebooks told us so.

As soon as we turned off the main highway we found ourselves on the Moon.

That's the geothermal power plant in the distance. It is in its byproduct that we would be bathing in minutes.

It was completely off the hook. Turns out, sometime the guidebooks know their shit.

We took a long time lounging around the pond. Afterwards I took full advantage of the fabulous shower and locker room facilities. Ladies, we're talking European hair conditioning products and salon-strength hair dryers!

Emerging from the baths pampered, relaxed, and equipped with soft-serve ice cream we got into our newly acquired wheels and set off for Reykjavik.

On the way, we encountered this:

And a few minutes later this:

It's a Viking ship, we're told. Personally though I thought it was a set of forks. Maybe I was just hungry.

So to celebrate our last time in civilization we had a fantastic dinner at the local Lula-equivalent and then saw a show. It kicked off at midnight (seeing as it was just getting to dusk) so we only managed to stick around for the first two bands...which was totally worth it! Those guys were fantastic. The first outfit was more than ten people strong, including multiple fiddles, a horn section, and an upright bass. Think Arcade Fire meets Beirut. But better. The second group was more of a synth pop-rock situation but also with a fiddle that sometimes got swapped for an accordion. Really wonderful stuff!

Coming up next -- a drive into the middle of nowhere, seals, and trolls.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Scooters, Hot Springs, and Tuborg

Yesterday was fun. So fun in fact that it knocked us off our geriatric feet before 10pm! Thus, we fully enjoyed the wild Reykjavik nightlife on top of our pillows. Go 30's!!

Anyway, before all the slumber we kicked off our day by checking out the Reykjavik museum of photography. As all other things here, it is adorable. Located on the top floor of the municipal building housing a library and an archives, it is basically just one room, showing one exhibit at a time. Here we lucked out because the artist himself was there giving a tour. In Icelandic. So we tagged along, nodding enthusiastically.

Afterwards we wondered over to the harbor, checked out some rusty and some fancy boats, and then rented some Vespas! Told they wouldn't go in the water, it was suggested that we take them for a ride along a seaside road. After some practice figure eights in the docks (I wiped out only once!) we set off. Here, I would like to stop and offer special praise to the wonderful folks at REI who hooked me up with a miracle jacket that somehow blocked all of the icy air and kept me nice and toasty as we zoomed past the coastline. At the end of the ride we came to an old fish-drying hut, behind which is a hidden hot spring. I would guess the water was at least 85F. We toyed with the idea of soaking our feet in it but in the end just dipped our hands and went back.

Some yummy veg snacking followed, topped off with some cheap beer (this time, Tuborg). Then we saw the requisite church, which really is fucking cool, and wondered around the little neighborhoods surrounding it. We saw hipsters, broken basketball hoops, and some excellent graffiti.

I would like to say more but we must run and hit the biggest flea market in Reykjavik before rushing off to pick up our car and taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hello, Iceland!

We landed at just a little after 7am.

Keflavik Airport is easily the most attractive and efficient hub I've ever traveled through. Upon arrival, the passengers from our flight filed into an orderly queue and patiently waited their turn at the passport control. Naturally, I will avoid lines at all cost, so we used the time to simply lounge around and snack, figuring once the wait thins out we'll go up. Before long however, a security guy showed up and headed straight for us. I braced myself but instead of berating us for not following the crowd he welcomed us to Iceland, wished us bon appetit, and suggested that if we'd like to head on upstairs the line should be very short now. Translated into CPD speak "Whachudoin' down here?! Shoo."

Sometime later, while waiting for the (super) shuttle to Reykjavik I popped into a 7-11'ish type joint and armed myself with a baked pecany something. Turns out: crack m'fing cocaine! I am hooked on these things and I don't even know what they're called. Sometime later Creech found me another one downtown Reykjavik and I inhaled it in seconds. No idea what's in it but it's the most heavenly combination of cinnamon, nuts, and flaky pastry coat with some sort of delicious filling. Yummmm.

So yeah, the Downtown Hostel is nicer than most hotels I've stayed at. We've got a private room with our own bathroom and the view of the harbor. Complete with goose down blankies and a parquet floors. Hostel, really?!

The peeps here seem really chill. Most are surprisingly our age, from all over the world. All together we're enjoying the global economic downturn in unison.

Anyway, tomorrow's agenda includes a museum of photography, the wicked-cool looking church, and the seaside fleamarket. And of course in the undying words of Andrew-fucking-Bird: "there will be snacks!"

P.S. It is now just past midnight. This is how dark it gets.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thank You for Being a Friend

Bea Arthur died two weeks ago, not even.  

She spent the final year of her life in the absence of one of her biggest fans.  Well, Dorothy Zbornak's fan, to be precise.  

He loved The Golden Girls and quoted Bea's character ad nauseam.

He adored Will and Grace and would go into Karen Walker mode in a blink.  He'd get her spot on too (aside from the slight Russian accent and an Adam's Apple).

A Lexus.  He drove a damn golden Lexus!  Why? Because his car needed to match his fabulous self, of course.  Yeah, that's how he talked. 

Damn it though, he was fucking fabulous!  Even if I didn't share his passion of all things glittery and in your face, I secretly admired his balls to go on like that.

There was this one time I was up in Minneapolis and we decided to go out on Saturday night.  Of course it had to be a posh homo-lounge where he was friends with the owner.  He said he'd pick me up around 9pm, which meant he'd be there 8-ish to graze in my mom's kitchen.  I knew better than to greet him in a pair of jeans and a band t-shirt, so I quickly ran off to the nearby TJMaxx and picked up the most ridiculous pair of stiletto booties and a mini skirt.  If it was any tamer I'd never hear the end of it.

So I decked myself out in the hoesque get up and after submitting myself to his critical review was approved.   Naturally, the second I tried to pull the skirt down a bit, he slapped my hand.  "Hell no, honey!  You show off those legs!!"

And so we went.  The bar was loud but you could hear him over the shiny crowd without a strain.  He was the loudest person I ever knew.  Kisses were being handed out left and right and as we passed through the crowd he'd half-whisper to me: "He's such a slut" or "What does he think he's wearing?!”

He was a catty bastard but damn, he knew how to have fun.  He got me so lit that night I have zero recollection of returning to my parent's place.

Much is true for his funeral.  It was a year ago and his true friends managed to recreate that night for me.  They got me completely wasted as they tried to one-up each other with the stories of his exploits.  At some point I remember standing on a chair all wobbly-legged as they all sang me a Happy Birthday.  This got us thrown out.    

And he would’ve loved it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy May(o) Day!

So yeah, Happy May Day, everybody!  Or the International Workers' Day, if that's how you roll.  And not that it matters to anyone in the US but it should still be noted that the 1886 Haymarket Affair in Chicago lies directly at the holiday's roots.  

Anyway, a few months ago my dad got a hold of a lost batch of photos from the old country.  This here is Minsk, USSR.  May Day 1975.

My earliest memory of the holiday must be circa 1984.  I remember dad and I being sent on a seemingly impossible errand by my mom.  Our mission was to obtain a jar of mayonnaise for the festive dinner that evening.  We searched high and low, stopping in every grocery shop in our neighborhood.  A few times we openly got laughed at for asking about mayo on a holiday.  Sure, it was like looking for face value World Series tickets, but we were desperate.

And then, just as we were ready to give up and face mom's disappointment, we turned the corner and saw a long line streaming out of last the grocery on our list.  Without a word to each other we made a beeline for it.  This was Soviet Union so what was on the other end of the queue was irrelevant.  Whatever it was, we needed it.  Toilet paper, bananas, or carburetors.  The chances of it actually being mayo were pretty negligible but that didn't matter.  If were to fail our original mission, surely mom's fury would be softened with the obtainment of another high-deficit  item.

We stood in line for a good half-hour before we got to the stage where people began to casually wonder how much whatever it is we're buying may cost.  And how big is it.  Suddenly I spotted a little white jar flashing above a crowd.  What was that?  Surely it couldn't be...but wait, there it is again!  Holy crap, we couldn't believe our luck.  Of all the things in the world it actually was MAYO!  The rumor spread like wildfire and the back of the line began pushing forward.  Dad locked my hand into his with a grip of death and we became one with the mob.  

Before long we could see the counter and the iron-faced sales lady with the stacks of yellowish rubles between her fat fingers.  As she calmly announced that she was now opening the last case of mayo, dad grabbed me by the hood of my coat and whispered "Go!" propelling me forward through the crowd.  With the money in my outstretched hand I arrived at the counter to see the last little jar pass in front of my face and into the clammy hands of a desperate looking engineer.

There was no time to think.  The possibility of walking away empty handed was too horrible and I resorted to the only weapon I had left.  "Waaaaah!!!  Maaammmaaaaaa!!!"  The tears were real and it surprised me how easily they came.

And so did the mayo.

The woman reached down and pulled her reserve jar from under the counter and handed it to me.

"Happy May Day, little girl!"