Taste of Iceland, the annual, four-day Icelandic culture festival in Seattle (and a few other cities) turns 10 this year. October is high season for colds in my child-filled household, so I don’t always make it.
For the 10th anniversary, Taste of Iceland is pulling out all the stops, with so many events that they have begun to overlap like a miniature multi-art Airwaves, so even if you dedicate the whole week to it, you couldn’t make it to all the events. I was therefore incredibly stoked to be invited to the press preview. Continue reading
On my first trip to Iceland, I naively bragged that I had read all the sagas. My listener was too polite to do more than quirk an eyebrow. Of course, I had not read all the sagas. I had read that giant paperback Penguin Classics Deluxe collection, The Sagas of Icelanders, plus The Saga of Burnt Njál. At the time, I didn’t know that more was possible.
For English speakers outside of academia, the ten sagas and assorted short stories of the Penguin compilation remains definitive. But there is another. Continue reading
I’m in Iceland right now, but this photo was taken on an earlier trip. Seljalandsfoss is one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland, and deservedly so. Those majestic 63-meter falls are quite photogenic, with a trail that runs right behind the cascade. No wonder it swarms so thickly with tourists you can barely see the water.
But right around the corner is a second fall, Gljúfrabúi. Harder to say, easier to see. Hardly anyone knows it’s there. It has cut a channel back into the rock. Visitors follow the stream back to the hill, then walk through a rock channel into a cave. The waterfall has carved out a doughnut-hole in the roof. You can climb up on a big rock in the middle, look up at the open sky, and feel the fine shower of waterfall spray on your face.
Earlier this year I was contacted by Siggi Jensson, the creator of the Eistnaflug 2014 10th Anniversary four-DVD box set. Was I interested in receiving a press copy for review? Unfortunately, I had to say, ‘No’ because I had already purchased the box set in question. But why would I sit on a historical document like that without reviewing it? No reason at all. So here it is. Continue reading
That time I went to Canada just to see a museum exhibit about Vikings.
In the middle of a small park in a small town not far from Reykjavik, there is a grass-covered mound. No fence protects it from climbing feet or digging hands, but a placard nearby reports that it contains the bones of the horse that belonged to Skallagrim, the father of the legendary saga character Egil. (It perhaps also contains the remains of Skallagrim himself, and/or Egil’s son Bodvar. I can’t tell because the sign is in Icelandic.)
Fifteen years ago, I spent three months in India. Before I left, my husband gave me two gifts – a really nice pocket knife, and a Petzl headlamp. Both proved invaluable. Although the knife was later stolen, I still have the headlamp, and I still use it. It has accompanied me to multiple continents. I’ve used it on night hikes, to find the bathroom at state campgrounds, and harvesting vegetables from my back yard late in the season. It’s one of the best gifts my husband ever bought me. He ended up buying one for himself, too.
But when we were packing for our recent trip to Eistnaflug, the heavy metal festival in a remote fjord in Eastern Iceland, I pulled both headlamps from the pile on our bed of things to be packed.
“You don’t think we’ll need them?” he asked in the voice of careful doubt men reserve for moments when they suspect a woman has lost her mind.
“We’re not going to need them,” I answered.
When I left the room, he put them back in.
“They don’t take much space,” he said, tucking his headlamp into his backpack as I pulled mine back out and put it in a drawer.