Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Holiday notice

I am off to India for the next 5 weeks. I will not be posting anything during that time.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sometimes...

... one can only stand and stare in wonder. I had to be prompted to go and get the camera for this shot.
Brennandi sólarlag
HDR, a 3 image merge, tonemapped.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Goðafoss

Goðafoss ("Waterfall of the Gods) is not very tall but makes up for it by being very beautiful. Legend has it that when Alþingi decided that the country would become Christian, the carved idols of the old gods were thrown in the falls.


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Monday, October 05, 2009

Hafragilsfoss

This waterfall is in the same river as Dettifoss and is a little lower down in the canyon. It is well worth visiting.


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Thursday, October 01, 2009

The unemployment saga continues

I had a bad night, tossing and turning, too hot under the duvet, too cold with even just my arms outside, buzzing in my ears, irregular heartbeat, nausea, resulting in a numb headache today. I guess it's the shock. I caught one REM cycle in the early hours of the morning, which seems to have been enough to energise me for another day.

I managed to get a lot done this morning: cleaned up my personal files from the computer, sent everyone on my personal e-mail list my new e-mail address, cleared away half of my personal belongings, and got a little bit of work done before I started feeling sleepy and went home. What remains is to clean up my bookmarks in the browser, finish the work left on my soon-to-be-ex desk, have a chat with my department manager, and go to the farewell pissup and bowling match.

Yep, that's right: we do know how to say goodbye to departing employees. The bowling match is an annual event, and was combined this year with a farewell pissup for two others who are leaving of their own free will, but now they will be saying goodbye to four of us.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bad day at work

...or rather a really bad day.

I am about to join the ranks of the unemployed. It sucks.

I am losing my job because a small group of fat cats played Monopoly with the country's biggest corporations, using a lot of money that seems to have only existed on paper, lost big and collapsed the economy. Because the government I helped elect into power is gormless, spineless, and heartless. Because they are making the public sector cut down, down, down, not just where it is necessary, but also where there is hardly anything to cut down except staff, and in the case of my workplace it's staff they can hardly afford to miss. I am laid off, I think, because I am the most "expensive" of the three people trained to do the job I do, i.e. I have worked there the longest and have the highest salary, and also because I am overqualified so they think it will be easier for me to find a new job than the others, only one of whom has a university degree, and that not as far advanced as mine.

But:
I am the only one of the three who doesn't have a spouse to support me while I am looking for a new job.
I don't have children, so I don't take off children's sick days as well as my own.
I get people who have worked there far longer than I have coming to me for help with certain tasks.
I trained all of the people who will be dividing my job between them.
I am the fastest worker among the four of us.

But they needed to cut down on expenses as much as possible, so they laid off two non-managerial staff members who have been here longer than the other people who have training to take over their jobs, so out we go.

I have been asked, nicely, to stay out my period of notice, which is until the end of December, but as they still have to pay me whether I work or not, I am out of there at the end of this week. I have no intention of making this easy or cheap for them, but I will do it within what the law and my employment agreement allow, because I do want to leave here with a good letter of reference. Tomorrow I am making an appointment with my union representative to discuss my options.

Stay tuned, the saga will continue...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dettifoss

Dettifoss (literally "the tumbling waterfall") is Europe's most powerful waterfall. Iceland also has the European waterfall with the most water, Urriðafoss. I visited it, but it's not easy to take good photos of it, so I didn't include it in the blog.


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Monday, September 21, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Húsavíkurkirkja

The church in Húsavík is one of Iceland's most beautiful old churches. Here seen from the dock:


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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In Húsavík

Húsavík has at least two companies offering whale watching tours. I would have loved to go on one, but thought 40 euros was a bit steep, so I visited the whale museum instead. This two-masted sailing boat is one of the vessels used for whale-watching.


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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Yet another waterfall

This multi-tiered waterfall is by Highway 1 in eastern Iceland. I forgot to check what its name is.


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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ásbyrgi

At the end of my first really nice, sunny day I camped in Ásbyrgi. Here is my car in front of a rock formation known as "The Island".


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Friday, September 11, 2009

In the Beautiful Valley

This lovely old mountain hut is situated by the road over Fagridalur ("Beautiful Valley"), a mountain pass in easten Iceland that connects Reyðarfjörður and Egilsstaðir. The valley's charms were covered in low clouds at the Reyðarfjörður end, but I drove out into bright sunshine at the other end.


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More photos of Fagridalur, including one of a rock slide that temporarily closed the road in 2005.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Invasion of the gnomes


Depending on your tastes, this might be called either awful or awesome:
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The word kitsch comes to mind:
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As does tacky:
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Don't get me wrong, I love this kind of stuff, but that doesn't mean I necessarily admire it. It just appeals to my sense of humour.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Letting nature do the cleaning


Someone has hung a number of reindeer antlers under this small jetty in order to let the sea creatures clean them:
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Road sign


It's good to be able to know in which direction you should start walking to get to Moscow...
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mjóeyri við Eskifjörð


This is where I sought shelter on a rainy night when I didn't fancy pitching my tent in the rain:
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I stayed in a small side-building of the main house, and had a 12 person dormitory all to myself. Very cosy.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Helgustaðanáman


When you get to Eskifjörður, if you drive through the town and along the gravel road that leads up the coast, you will come to a signboard with some information about the Helgustaðir mine. Drive only a little further, and you will see this:
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Follow the rubble up the mountainside for a short while, and you will come to the mine.

For about 200 years the mine yielded large quantities of calcite crystals that came to be known as "Iceland spar".
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The mine is now protected, and it is forbidden to remove crystals from it, but there are still plenty of them around:
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Most are not clear enough to show the crystal's ability to refract light.

A short history of the mine in English.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In Petra's garden


There are not only rocks in Petra's garden, but also flowers and all sorts of garden decorations and sculptures. While this one may be rather tacky looking, you must admire the artist for his or her ingenuity:
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Petra's rock collection


Petra Sveinsdóttir has been collecting rocks and minerals for more than sixty years, most of them in the neighbourhood of her home town, Stöðvarfjörður. Her house and garden has been turned into a museum dedicated to her collection:
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A wooden statue of Petra in the garden:
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A piece of volcanic glass in the garden:
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For a modest fee you can enter the house and garden and explore her collection, which is thought to be one of largest privately owned rock and mineral collections in the world. The collection is the single most popular tourist destination in the east fjords.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Still water


You will not often see the sea so still in Iceland.
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Actually this is an enclosed fjord or lagoon, and on the other side of the narrow isthmus that separates it from the ocean, the sea was quite rough. Even so, the fjord's waters would usually be ruffled by the wind, but on that day, there was no wind, a rare occurrence in Iceland.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Is that a hitch-hiker?


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No, just a piece of stencil graffiti. Pretty cool to see such sophisticated graffiti out in the middle of the countryside.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Þórbergssetur

Þórbergur Þórðarson was one of Iceland's best loved authors. He wrote mostly biographies, memoirs, autobiographical novels, essays and poetry.
He grew up on the farm Hali in Suðursveit, where there is a museum dedicated to him. This is the museum building, painted to look like a bookcase:

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Jökulsárlón

Here are some photos from the third and most famous glacier lagoon I visited on my journey:


You really need sunshine to see all the glorious colour variations in the ice, but it was unfortunately overcast that day. Still, you could see icebergs of blue, white, silver and black drifting slowly in the lake:
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The bridge was being repaired - you can see the cage hanging under it where the bridge repair crew were working:
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A rubber dinghy that is presumably used to ferry tourists on the lake:
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Monday, August 03, 2009

Svartifoss


Svartifoss is situated in the Skaftafell national park. I had planned to go on a hike up to Svínafellsjökull, one of the glaciers that are part of the park, but the weather was rainy and there was cloud cover up there, so I took the shorter hike up to Svartifoss instead.
There are good paths in the park, well maintained and marked. The one I took begins at a farm that is inside the park boundaries and winds through a verdant wooded area. Suddenly you see something black in the distance, and as you come closer, you see how a river has carried away rock and soil to reveal a wall of basalt columns. In the center of the rock wall is this waterfall:

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The name Svartifoss means "the black waterfall", from the black appearance of the wet rock walls.
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Friday, July 31, 2009

Fjallsárlón


Fjallsárlón is a glacier lake at the tip of the Fjallsárjökull glacier, a small tongue of the larger Vatnajökull.

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The highway used to go right past the lake, as can be seen from this remnant of a bridge that stands on the bank of the river. There are four of these pillars altogether, and I don't know if a flood took the actual bridge, or if it was simply removed when the road was taken out of use.

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A dark leviathan of an iceberg is dwarfed by the majestic size of the glacier. It was quite cold up there, but the tranquility and peacefulness of the place have to be experienced to be believed.

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A clump of glacial ice on the bank of the lake. Glacier ice has been exported for advertising purposes - apparently it keeps making cracking noises for longer than regular freezer-made ice.


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A tiny plant near the lake. The rain and cold have made its petals transparent like glassine paper.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Svínafellsjökull


You can drive off the main road a few kilometers east of the service area in Skaftafell national park and take a short gravel road up to where the tongue of the Svínafellsjökull glacier comes down into a small glacial lagoon.

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Judging from the spots of sunlight falling on the glacier, a dogsledding or snowcat tour on the glacier might have been better than driving in the foggy rain down in the lowlands.


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To judge the size of the glacier, take a look at the man standing at the edge of the lagoon.

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If you thought glaciers were all pure driven snow and bluish ice, you were wrong. Sandstorms and volcanic eruptions deposit sand and ash on the glaciers, and as they crawl across the landscape they churn up sand and gravel that gets pushed up through cracks in the ice. It then gets left behind when the top layers of ice/snow melt off.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pretty poison


The flowering season for Laburnum has just finished. Here is a photo for those who want to enjoy it a little longer:
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This tree is situated in a small, peaceful garden behind the Kringlan shopping mall

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Typical...


I had two long single-lane bridges to cross that day, and got stuck behind bicyclists on both of them. Fortunately it was possible to overtake this one.
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Compared with some touring cyclists one seen on the Icelandic highways in the summer, this one had remarkably little luggage. Most of the others have not just the front and back panniers, but also a day-pack and sometimes a full-size backpack on their backs.