Posted by: jeanne | April 30, 2013

iceland misc musings

this is the eight post in this series. here’s the seventh post.  see the first and the second and the third and the fourth and the fifth and the sixth posts. i’m going to stop linking posts now, you can follow by category (iceland residency)  it started out as a plan for the trip i would take if i had six months and ten thousand dollars.  but i don’t, and my plans proved impractical just on the face of it (no ferry going where i wanted to go), so this post has quickly developed into a list of links to things that a visitor might need or be able to find.  and since i’ve been building this post for almost 2 weeks now, it’s getting pretty varied. (yeah, update, it’s been almost a month now, so i’m going to put this one out there and start another one.)

i’ve already discussed some of the things i would do in iceland if i were fully funded.  with price tags.  rent a car.  take a domestic flight.  take a trip by boat.  visit thingvellir and go snorkeling.  do the golden circle.  go on a several day hiking trip.  ditto with horses, even better.

hotel in laugarvatn.

guesthouse in myvatn, hotel in myvatn.

here’s a nice blog post about an extended stay in iceland.

activities in the northeast region

hiking in the troll peninsula.  it’s called the troll peninsula (i read it somewhere) because of all of iceland, it’s got the big mountains and the high valleys where trolls like to live.  evidently one early settler’s pedigree involved fighting a she-troll, a trollette i guess.  looking at a relief map of iceland, it’s remarkable that the highest mountains all occur in one area, as if squinched in from both sides.  but i don’t pretend to understand the geology of this island, and won’t try to talk about it.  i understand the peninsula is the oldest part of iceland, but i can’t find any references at this point that aren’t already linked to.

i want to get some fish leather, or lamb leather, to make an artist’s book of my stay.  the factory is only around the corner.  pages of this book could be used as awards to raise money for the grand tour.

because there are sights that would make my stay so much richer, and would let me put my characters in these environments more convincingly.  how am i going to write midnight sun and glacial melt if i’ve never seen them?  endless bog, moss that’s thicker than mattresses and way softer.  the constant light of a quality you cannot imagine.  the endless plain of the interior plateau, the water soaked environment, the giddiness of never sleeping and never knowing what time it is.

so i want to see a volcano up close, and see lava fields, and see lava folds in the road cuts, and see braided rivers, and see boiling pools, and see relentless waterfalls.  all this.  and i don’t want to have to do it on a bus with a bunch of (other) tourists, whose desire is never as pure as mine is, and who are interested in all the usual things, while my interest in the very same thing is in pursuit of a higher order blah blah blah.  anyway, rent a car.  and stay in guesthouses and hotels for several nights.  and perhaps eat out a couple of times (i get tired of beans and rice every night).

so, let’s consider what the following would cost me.  rent a car at the airport, and drive around the southeast of iceland for a couple of days, visiting the blue lagoon, and thingvellir, and a few waterfalls.  then put it on a ferry and circle around to the north end of the island.  return it to akureyri, perhaps.  this would give me lots of photos and memories of places i would be painting.  then, somewhere in the middle of my stay, rent a car again, at akureyri, go to mytvatn and parts of east iceland, staying here and there, returning the car at akureyri after 3-4 days.  at some point there would be taking a bus to do a 2 day hike on the troll peninsula.  then, to return to reykjavik by air.  this will be added to the base price of travel, room and board.  and it’ll be bunches and bunches of money, because renting a car is incredibly expensive.  and the whole thing is impractical, because (1) i don’t have the patience to look it up right now, and (2) there isn’t a ferry from reykjavik to olafsfjordur. so kind of never mind.

i’ll need to bring (get) a laptop, a cellphone, decent boots and rain gear.  an ipod.  some icelandic wool fabric.  a lock to secure my stuff at hostels.  sheets and my pillow, any otc medicines i’ll need.  maybe i should bring some food (tho that’s just silly because of what food weighs.  five pounds of rice, for example).

there’s only the state liquor store and it’s never open, to keep down on the alcoholism (they used to close the bars for a couple of hours every day in ireland, so everybody’d go to mass. yep.).  so my best bet is to bring in a litre of wine and a litre of spirits from the duty free.  i don’t really drink, so that’ll be fine.  the wine will get used up first.

in lieu of expensive excursions, i will hop on and off the bus from reykjavik to akureyri, going the back way, route 610 the kjolur route, over the central highlands (the plateau from which the fjords were carved).  it looks like a dirt track to me.  that’s so if i really don’t have any extra funding, i can still visit a bunch of places on the way to the residency, so i’ll have memories and pictures to work from.  waterfalls, hot pools, see glaciers from a distance, volcanic wastelands.  i’ll have to spend a couple of nights on the road with all my gear, however…a rolly bag and a backpack.  ugh.  can you see me walking thru the midsummer night because i’m too cheap to spend over a hundred bucks just for a bed and something to eat?  unfortunately, i can. yeah, well, maybe i’ll just stay with the bus and not make any stops.  i’m not going to be carrying a sleeping bag with all the other gear, and accommodation on this road seems to be hiking huts.

there are 2 buses daily that ply route 1, called the 60 (and 60a on the way back). it doesn’t make any tourist stops.  one leaves at 8:30 am and gets in at 2:3o  pm, the other leaves at 5 pm and gets in at 11 pm.  getting in that late would be awkward, because i still have to take a bus to olafsfjordur.  if i want to go the interior route, that’s bus 35.  there’s one bus daily, and it leaves at 8 in the morning and gets in at 6:30 in the evening.  they stop for half an hour at thingvellir, an hour and a bit a guyser, and half an hour at gullfoss.

from akureyri to olafsfjordur it’s bus 620.  and i can’t find it on the schedule, so i’m querying, and will fill it in later.  okay, i got an answer.  there are three buses from akureyri to olafs, monday thru friday, one at 8 am, one at 4:30 pm, and 7:45 pm, arriving an hour and 15 minutes later.  it’s very frustrating, here’s the master schedule for all routes.

if the last bus is at almost 8 pm, then i’ll just make it coming from reykjavik the back way.

more on the kjolur route, and a place to stay the night in the highlands, at hveravellir.

about bsi bus:  “The long-haul bus station is located near the Ring Road on Vatnsmýrarvegi 10. Inside the terminal, there’s an ATM, a cafeteria, surprisingly clean rest rooms, and a Reykjavik Excursions tour counter. You can also leave your luggage at the ticket counter for a flat fee of Kr 800 per day for all of your bags (within reason…).”

the plants of iceland, with pictures.  plants you can make paper with (needs correlating to plants in iceland).  making books.

i have to get by and see this art collective.  we have friends in common, because it’s a small world.

i’m trying to tempt my sister to come out with me for the first week.  she’d naturally want to rent a car for the week, and we could travel out to the residency with options all around us.  otherwise, all the sightseeing i’m going to do will be by bus and shank’s mares. unfortunately, she doesn’t relish the cold, and is more likely to want to go to the beach.

using iceland moss as food.

earthquakes, always an experience.  right now there’s a swarm of earthquakes on a fault line connected to where i’m going to be going.  whoopee.

olafsfjordur map with locations of restaurants, fast food, bar, grocery.

cool webcam and livecam site from eyjafjord, on the east side.  you can see hrisey from there.

recipe for icelandic fish balls

icelandic cooking, some recipes.

here’s a good source for historical and bardic texts.

here’s a cool map for photographers and hikers.

for the flight, i’d be better off looking for tickets from jfk – rek, because there’s where any sales will happen.  or bos – rek.  nobody’s going from the hinterlands to reykjavik.  i want to get there a couple of days before the residency starts, sleeping in hostels, and i want to come home a couple of days after the residency ends, so from about the 27th of june to the 6th.  this is determined as well by the ‘3 days before and after’ search.  i get $721 as my fare from jfk.  it’s a 6-hour flight nonstop.  the delta flight leaves just before midnight and gets in at 9:30 am.  icelandair has 2 flights daily, leaving at 2 pm and getting in at midnight, and leaving at 4:30 in the afternoon and arriving at 6 in the morning.  but it’s a bit more.  then there are some partner+icelandair flights with a stop each, that all go thru boston, take 9 hours, and cost several hundreds more.  but let’s check what bos – rek costs from icelandair.  it’s nonstop from bos, $952, and it’s the 2 daily flights i’ve already mentioned.  and from atlanta?  it’s $941, it leaves at 3 pm and gets into rek at 9:30 am.  the return flight leaves rek at 11:30 in the morning and gets in at 10:30 at night.  that’s $200 higher than going from jfk, which means if i can get a ticket on sale atl-jfk or even lga or ewr then i can save some money at the expense of extra trouble.  and that’s the artist’s bargain, isn’t it?

so basically, i’ll be getting in to keflavik first thing in the morning.  the flybus from the airport to reykjavik is $18.  gray line operates in iceland, who knew.  it’s $20 and will drop you off at most hotels.

if i were to take a flybus to the blue lagoon to wash away the jetlag ($90 for the bus and soak. ($80 if i buy my own admission and take jitney bustravel)), and then go on into reykjavik and stay in a hostel, i can have the afternoon to get things i need and walk around.  it doesn’t sound like much time, but i will also be coming back for a day at the end of my stay.

in reykjavik, a choice of hostels ($50), ($32), ($42) ($42).  this could be for one or two nights.  the first two places have lockers (note to self, bring a padlock), the third has luggage storage and the fourth doesn’t mention anything.  it’s important to me, because i’ll be carrying all my art supplies and everything else.  (the hostel prices are maybe a little better at another site.)

i will have either one day or two in reykjavik.  i could do the  blue lagoon thing ($90), and then go out to  videy island with the welcome card

(the welcome card, for admission to 7 thermal pools in town, as well as a ferry ride to videy and bus travel in reykjavik and admission to museums and such.  free internet access. $26 for 24 hours.)

or i could never mind the expensive tourist trap lagoon and just wander around reykjavik for the whole of the first day there, and then go out to thingvellir the whole of the next day ($?).  or the golden circle ($87) (evening tour $78 (church and powerplant)) or horse tour version ($160)  or take a day tour all the next day.  two nights in a hostel, and then onward.

 shopping reykjavik

Skólavörðustígur (shopping street) used to be the main road to town before Laugavegur was built. It is well worth a visit and it will lead you straight from Laugavegur to Hallgrímskirkja church. It has got this artisty feel to it which I think Laugavegur, our main shopping street, is lacking. And here are no discos or bars so this is a much quieter place than Laugavegur on weekends.

hostels.  if i want to stay in akureyri, here’s one ($30), and another, ($48), and another ($34) hostel.  i’ll want to book well in advance for next year; they’re starting to book out for july even now.

if i had time in akureyri, there are things to do.  here’s a bookstore, Penninn Eymundsson.  (also in reykjavik.)  there’s Fold-Anna for woolens, and Fruín í Hamborg, a used clothing store (which awww closed last year).  and a mall with a bit of everything.  as well as a kick-ass botanic garden.

travel insurance will be another $200-300, and i can’t afford not to get it, in case i can’t do the trip, or something happens.

i need to visit a glacier. i’m so interested in cryosphere research, the changing arctic (antarctic), vast planetary upheaval not of human cause. i want to advance the science somehow, to share in the exploration, the uncovering, the revealing of a new climate. so i want to do something with this novel, this visit to iceland, the art i want to make of a glacier, just for one. the poles are the places where everything is happening fastest, and i need to be part of it, even just by being hyperaware of it (like watching a webcam day in and day out, or actually, a whole bank of webcams). obsessing on it.

got to get some sugru for repairing things.

here’s a wonderful article about antarctica, a novelist and the idea of home in a place where there can be no home.

and this is enough for three posts, and if i need to look at any of this information later on, as i’m closer to my trip, then here it is, already figured out, sort of.



  1. Wonderful blog! Will follow and learn….


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