Hello mom

We left our hotel this morning, all packed and raring to go on our next adventure. A young man got on at the second stop on the metro and began to play clarinet, accompanied by a recording. He played right till our stop. It was beautiful. I didn’t recognize it at first but it was the piece of Mozart we played on a loop the last night we were with mom as she was dying. Mom loved travel and she loved Paris. She was with us on the metro as we rode to Gare de L’Est. We both cried. It was nice she rode with us.

Oh boy oh boy oh boy

A market!! Does anything make you heart sing like a market?!? A good garage sale maybe. We saw the awnings set up last night on our way home and speculated what it would be. Looks like a three block market, much bigger than the small one I risked life, limb and honor for yesterday. I’m so excited. Almost can’t finish my coffee. And it is not buying anything that gets me going–it’s the looking. A feast for the eyes. It’s the possibility of finding a treasure cheap enough I will buy it, small enough I will carry it and special enough I will not consign it to a garage sale of my own once the shine wears off. Possibilities!!!

Last day in Iceland

(Note: found this damn post floating around in the ether. I’m such a Luddite. Sorry it’s out of order)

Everyone was a little nerved up today knowing it was the last in Iceland. The girls had purchased many treasures and even though we had contemplated that possibility we hadn’t brought an extra bag. So that was our mission today. First my daughter needed to complete her Terry Pratchett collection. She had found a book store selling his books for much less than she could get them in Canada. So they went shopping while I sat with a really good coffee and people watched. She also had to go back and have another look at a reindeer hide she wanted but ultimately decided it wasn’t perfect enough. I had to have a final look see at the wool shop and of course couldn’t resist another “small😜” bag of wool. There’s just something about the colors and textures I just can’t get enough of. 

I hadn’t had an Icelandic hotdog yet so we stopped for one for lunch. They are snappy little things, very sheepy, but in a good bun with crunchy fried onions and sweet brown mustard. A must have while visiting here. Then off to IKEA we went to find a bag. What luck!! We found the perfect cheap little duffel–bought two to double them up for more structure and were quite pleased with ourselves. Last time we spent an unfortunate amount of money in a “real” duffle from a department store. 

With blue skies calling we headed out of town on our last adventure. North to Pingvellar, the ancient site of Icelands first parliament. Situated in the northern mountains on a fault where the two tectonic plates meet, it’s really only a half hour out of Reykjavik. When we were here last it was all snow covered, now we could see what had been buried under the snow.   It was quite beautiful, on a lake, and the willows were pooping out little catkins.    

    

 We walked along the fault to a beautiful waterfall then back in the other side of the river.  

  

  

  

  

 What a gorgeous day–hot–we all stripped down to our tee shirts. We have been so blessed with the weather 5 out of six days were sunny and mild. The worst weather was our island day and even that was quite exhilarating to be walking in. On our way back we stopped at a nice little bakery for a nibble then home to pack up our IKEA bag. I thought we should have had some tape to secure it more but we couldn’t find any. One of the girls at reception suggested we use Saran Wrap so we picked up a roll when we went out for supper.  

 Aidan had spotted a restaurant that had fried Camembert and she was all keen to try it.  

 Sissy wanted the langoustine salad and I saw beer braised mussels.  

  

  

 OMG the best meal ever!!  

  

 We had an Icelandic stout to wash it all down with and waddled out of the restaurant completely satisfied. It almost erased the memory of that horrible lamb. We walked a loop of the neighbourhood–the stout was 5.6% alcohol and I am a cheap drunk. I didn’t want to drive while wibbly. Back to the hotel for a final pack and bit of telly before bed. It’s been a great trip to Iceland.  Aidan  flies home tomorrow and we fly to Paris on another adventure. 

Paris–just another city

I’ve always loved Paris. My father took the whole family on a European vacation back in 1974.  One of the first places we travelled to was Paris. He found a hotel, not sure where or how, probably just by driving and looking. The proprietress had a scruffy mangy cat and we got to stay in a room separate from our parents. That’s about all I remember from the hotel. But there was no breakfast provided so we all went down to the corner Cafe, that venerable  institution that is the life blood of Parisian neighbour hoods. The waiter came out with a half a crusty bagette ( or so it seemed at the time) with ham and butter. It was so good. My sister and I had no problem finishing it off. This was our breakfast for the days we spent in Paris. My father had lived here as a young teen, helping his father at the circus he ran so he knew the city well. We walked everywhere and saw all the sights–up the Eiffle tower, Sacre Couer and of course Notre Dame. My first cathedral. I remember the stained glass windows. We were in awe. And now I’m sitting having un Cafe au lait in the neighbourhood bar watching Parisians walk by.

My first visit the city was really dirty. Dog poo everywhere. Now I’m amazed at the fashionably dressed men and women walking their dogs with a little plastic bag of dog poo in one hand. Big dogs, little dogs, all scruffy and looking like they need a good scrub–but obviously well loved. A woman with a tattooed face and two mutt dogs on a leach, so bent over from arthritis she looked like she was continually scanning the ground for dropped coins, came into the bar for a meal last night. Of course the dogs came with her– no questions asked. I think dogs are more welcome than children. The city is much cleaner than before but grubby in the way big cities are. Mostly car exhaust and paper litter. We saw the cleaning crew walk by yesterday, half a dozen men geared up in safety green with push brooms. The business end of the brooms over their shoulders and they were laughing and enjoying life. The litter will always be there so why not enjoy a laugh with your friends.

We’ve had an eventful day so far. On the way to Notre Dame this morning I spotted a market thru the window. The bus driver didn’t open the back door for me to get out so I leapt out the front and got caught in the closing door. The driver laughed and said you can’t go out that way. But I made it to the market.

We picked up fixings for a picnic–spicy olives, little round cheeses, cherry tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, and a couple little loaves of crusty cheese buns. Then we stopped at a grocers and got a bottle of fresh squeezed orange juice.

 The sun was shining and we sat in the little park in the shadow of Notre Dame and had our picnic lunch.

  The line to get into the church was just forming so we had no wait to get in. Sooo many people.

  But a beautiful church and a service started at noon–the priest had a lovely singing voice. I found something for you Aidan. Can you see it?

 If any of you were wondering why Monty Python had a killer rabbit in his Quest for the Holy Grail it’s because in the stained glass windows of Notre Dame there are three depictions of a knight running from a rabbit, illustrating the vice of cowardice. One of these depictions is found in the rose window over the organ. I think you’d have to get upstairs to see it properly. This is a photo of a print. Then we thought we would have a look at the archeological crypt in front of the church. This was extremely interesting. The Romans began building Paris, “Lutetia” in 27 BC. So everything old is new again. Then off to the Cluney Museum to revisit the Lady and the Unicon tapestries.

 It was free day at the museum. Now I’m sitting in the Jardin de Luxumberg hoping the sun is going to come out again. It is incredibly cold.

  But quite pleasant when the sun comes out. We thought we might head over to the Marais in a bit. Or maybe just ride a bus for a while.

We did just ride the bus. Bus number 69 that went from La Pere la Chaise cemetery to the Eiffle tower.

 Thru narrow streets and neighborhoods.

 Finally back on our street we stopped at our cafe for supper. Almost ten they were closing up so we went back down the street to a different bar. More upscale, pricier, and heavy duty smokers.

 We had Croque Monsieur salade then bed. A great long day!!

Ahh Paris 

So here we are in Paris. I just wish I could be as enthusiastic as I was 20 minutes ago. I just saved a blog post to draft so I could add pictures and it has gone. Completely. Totally. Off the face of the earth and off my phone. It was quite a good one too. Our last day in Iceland. And now it’s gone. I refuse to rewrite it. It’s never the same the second time round. So screw it. I’m having so much trouble with my phone and email accounts. I really don’t understand. Is it just coincidence everything is happening at once or is something really wrong with my aura. I tried to get a new SIM card here in Paris at the tabacanists. This means exactly what it sounds like– the little corner shops you buy cigarettes at. But you can also buy bus/metro tickets there and cell phone SIM cards as well as get more time put on your data plans. But the first card I got wouldn’t fit in my phone. The second fit but had no time left on it (must have been used). Then I added about 5 euros more time and the bastard still doesn’t work. Tonight we rode the local buses around town–it’s colder in Paris than it was in Iceland and raining so we just wanted to sit and look out windows. I didn’t see one cell shop like they have everywhere else in Europe. I’m just using the hotel wifi (pronounced weefee) and it seems to be working fine. But I want to use my phone everywhere and I can’t. So I’m in a bit of a bad mood. Even more so now that I lost that damn post that took two hours to write on the plane.

We dropped our rental car off in the morning–so nice to have our own wheels. So convenient. It was a quick flight to Paris–I got to finish “All the Presidents Men” a movie I started on the flight over from Edmonton. Very good for its time. I was really caught up on the drama. We got into Paris about one. Had a similar experience to when I was here last. No passport control–we just walked out of the airport. We took the bus into town– I had thought about the train but the bus was right there and we could see everything around us.

 Pretty inexpensive too. It took a bit of walking but we found the right metro line and then we circled the block a few times looking for the hotel.

 It’s on a tiny, quiet little street in the middle of busy streets no street noise in the room though. Very clean.

 This is the view out our window. We dropped our bags and took an orientation stroll. At the end of our street is the bistro/tobacconist. We ate supper there. OMG. The food. It’s like I’ve died and gone to heaven.

 Sole meunière, new boiled potatoes, a panache (the French version of a Clara, beer and lemonade) and a glass of white wine. For 14 euros. Unbelievable!! We drove by Notre Dame just as the sun came from behind the clouds and the color of the stone was just beautiful.

 Now in bed cursing my damn phone. Oh well. I’m in Paris. I’d better snap out of it.

Road trip Chapter 2: The Goonie Bird Lives Here Too!!

I wandered out of the hotel early this morning–to see blue blue sky and hear the Goonie bird flying around. This is the same Goonie bird as back home (common snipe)–but he was winnowing with an Icelandic accent😊

Up to the big house for breakfast–none of us hungry except my daughter (who hadn’t been enamoured of her soup last night). I certainly wasn’t thinking or I would have made a sandwich for later from the breakfast fixings…not quite awake enough. Back to the lagoon to check out the ice situation. Big chunks were moving and the seals and seagulls seemed to be finding lots of something to eat. Big chunks were now floating out with the tide and glacier run off. We could hear them grinding on the bottom, spinning as they bottomed out. Other chunks would come and bash into them, and either bounce off or lift the other off the bottom, setting them free.  

  

  

  

  

  

  

 Finally we just couldn’t bear to look at another chunk of ice and braced ourselves for the long drive back. My daughter slept–she’d had a rough night with us two old broads cutting wood all night. Back at Vik we stopped at the information place. I had read about a bird sanctuary close to Vik and wanted to try to see puffins. They came back last week but the best times were early morning or evening–we were just the middle of the day. But we thought we’d try anyway. Unfortunately we saw no puffins but the view from the top of the hill was worth the drive. We climbed every high point and had a great view back to the beach at Vik but the puffins were all out foraging.  

  

  

 Back into the car and we headed for home via the secret lagoon–we couldn’t resist a final soak in that beautiful hot spring. Back in Reykjavik we had seen earlier the Reykjavik chip shop.  

  

  

 Hot salty chips were calling our name so we stopped to try them. Pickle and sweet mustard dip on the side, and a beer to wash them down with. Scrummy. No crumbs were left. 

Road trip to Jokkulsarlon Chapter 1: Waterfalls and Black Sand

We headed out early on our epic Viking road trip. This year we planned to make the trip to Jokkulsarlon glacier bay in two days. Last time we did it all in one day–in lousy March weather, on crap roads, with less daylight, through snow and rain and fog. This year the sun was shining. It was the best day of our trip. We headed out toward Vik, stopping at whatever caught our fancy knowing we didn’t have to hurry home. A beautiful church yard, some pretty ponies, snow on a glacier.  

    
  

  

  

 We stopped at Seljalandsfoss, the water fall you can walk behind. What a difference from last year. Parking lot expanded, tour buses, and tons of people. Not too many braving the trek behind the falls.  

  

  

  

  

 It was cold and wet in the mist but still quite exhilarating to walk behind the falls. So different from North America. Here they have no signs and very little as far as safety precautions. I guess the Icelanders figure it should just be understood that you must be careful. No one writes on their coffee cups, “caution, contents are hot!!” 😜

Farther up the road, close to where the volcano erupted a few years ago, there is the oldest “improved”hot spring in Iceland. A concrete pool built in 1908, filled with natural hot water that flows in one end and out the other. It is only cleaned once a year and used to be a close guarded local secret. Now becoming more popular, the girl at the volcano info centre told me she doesn’t go there anymore. Too many people. We just wanted to see it so we drove up the narrow gravel road and parked. It was still a couple kilometres walk in, up the mountain valley. But such a nice day. Only a few cars in the parking lot but as we walked in many more people showed up.  

  

  

   
  A beautiful spot surrounded by snow capped mountains and green grassy meadows, I can see why it’s so popular. Again, no real groomed path, and no signage. You simply walk up the river bed, fording streams here and there and climbing over rocky banks as you go. Vik was only a few kilometres further on and we went down to the famous black sand beach for a picnic lunch.  

  

 The tide was out and the girls went beach combing while I tidied the picnic away. The waves crashing on the beach were irresistible and I wandered down too to watch and listen.  

  

  

 Lots of birds coming back for nesting season, perching up in the cliffs. We got lots of sun and fresh air. Then the big push to Jokkulsarlon. It’s a two and a half hour drive from Vik, across different landscapes, always with glaciers and mountains in the back ground. Very eerie in places, like driving the backside of the moon. There had been construction on the road the last time, on the many bridges crossing the flood plains.  A very difficult drive, narrow and curvey roads–I was glad to stop at the only gas station for a break. Then another 45 minutes to the lagoon. It was already dusk and the light on the ice was magic.  

  

 

 We could hear the distant crashing of bergs calving off the glacier and half a dozen seals were playing in the water. There was so much ice rubble in the water it was jammed up and not moving. The tide was also coming in the estuary pushing the ice back against the pack. Off the hotel a few minutes away to check in and have a bowl of soup for supper (and a beer😊).  

  

 Then bed. Another great day!!

Note to r & d

Thanks for feeding babies. My hotmail account thinks I’m a robot and I can’t get in to check mail. Seriously unhappy. Not sure why –everything worked so well last time. Not sure what Bren told you but less is more. They are tiny babies so smaller frequent feedings best. Once in am and maybe afternoon. And Bren can do evenings. If they get hungry enough they need to learn to drink from mom. Thanks for doing that. Facebook messenger works so if you need to pass message George or Bren could help. Thanks. 

Flea market day

We slept in this morning. I heard the rain in the night, after I got up and opened the window. My daughter likes a hermetically sealed tomb to sleep in and I like the windows open. So we compromise. I pretend I will keep the window closed and after she falls asleep I get up and open it. All good 😊

It was sort of heavily misting when we got up, but the pavement was drying as we made a move downtown. We were a bit early so I went for a coffee at that same coffee shop. The girls went shopping again. The flea market was open when we got there.  

There is so much new construction  downtown we got turned around. Filled with all the usual suspects; Icelandic sweaters of every shape, color and size, plastic everything, and one very interesting booth where a bone and stone carver was selling his goods.  

 I bought a crochet hook carved from a reindeer antler he picked up off the tundra. It had started to turn pink with age and is quite a nice piece. He also had them made from whale bone and mammoth tusk. The tusk came from Siberia–no mammoths in Iceland. The food section was also interesting. Mostly meat–fermented shark, dried fish, beautiful North Atlantic lobster and shrimp, and of course horse meat. 

  

  

  Locals buying it like crazy. We bought some baking. Two loaves of “thunder bread” the sticky slightly sweet dense loaf that is baked with geothermal heat, buried in the sand and some cardemon laced doughnuts. After the flea market we wandered over to the Harpa music hall.  

 Quite the building. Crepes were lunch–Aidan really enjoyed hers. 

  
  Then my plan had been to take the ferry to a small island just off the port of Reykjavik. The weather actually cleared and we wandered over just to take a look. The ferry was leaving in ten minutes so we quickly grabbed our things and hopped on.  

   We figured if it really sucked we’d just come back on the next ferry. But once there it was brisk and fresh and we wandered around the island on grassy paths for the better part of two hours.  

  

  

  

  
Nice to see Santiago mentioned on a signpost in the middle of Iceland.  The girls spent a lot of time beach combing. There were many families living in this island at one time and it’s history is a thousand years old, just like the big island. All that fresh air made us hungry. I had been eyeing a restaurant downtown that served lamb shanks. One of my biggest regrets was that I hadn’t tried the lamb the last time I was here. Of course the shanks were lunch menu and we were there for supper. It was shoulder. Oh well, lamb is lamb. I ordered the shoulder, Karin the fish soup and Aidan  the avocado fries. We shared a beet and green salad to start. It was really delicious–sharp greens, sweet beets and an apple cider dressing.  

 Then the mains arrived. Aidans fries were really unique–crispy coating on creamy slices of avocado. Karins soup was full of mussels and shrimp. And my shoulder was tender but completely tasteless.  

 I’m not sure what that lump of eggy stuff was on top. It needed something vinegary like a good mint sauce or some horseradish. Such a disappointment 😩. I should have known. And the price!!!! I’ve sold whole lambs for what I paid for that lamb shoulder (and I think it was a complete shoulder, must have weighed 8 pounds). We fed it to the seagulls today at the beach. Ah well, you win some you loose some. We all slept like logs from all the fresh air. 

I’m having serious problems loading pictures etc so I’m a full day behind. This entry is Saturday posted on Monday. Sorry,  not sure why. 

I’m a day behind

I can’t even remember our days in any particular order. I have been unable to access my hotmail account so have been stressing a bit over that. I can still communicate with home via Facebook but until I can prove I’m not a robot I can’t get into my hotmail account. It’s very difficult as I only have one account and my daughter is also locked out of hers, which is my alternate. Aaaarrrgh!!!

So yesterday morning the girls did some shopping and exploring.  We went to a mall and in the bathroom was the cutest child sized toilet in a large stall. All moms know the frustration of shopping with kids and the awkwardness of trying to fit into the stall with a child. This allowed mom and child to pee together. And mom can keep an eye on the child without peering under the stall door. 

  I have to confess–I not only fondled numerous skeins of wool, I actually purchased some. This in spite of my resolution not to buy any till I knit up the wool I bought last time. Ha. Every knitter knows it’s not the knitting– it’s the having!!!  And all the colors of the rainbow–completely irresistible.Aidan  says she has enough room to take it home with her so I won’t have to hump it all over Europe. (But she has been acquiring treasures too so we’ll  just see).

In the afternoon we packed up all our picnic goodies and headed out to the Secret Lagoon, an older hot springs about 90 minutes out of the city. What a beautiful drive!!  

  

 All the mountains were covered in snow and the meadows in front had a definite tinge of green. We pulled into a parking lot in front of a row of greenhouses and another low non-descript building. Could this be it?!? Not big on signage, these Icelanders. We walked in to check it out and… 

    
 Yes it was the hot springs. We floated for over an hour drinking the excellent free Icelandic water. I think this pool is far superior to the Blue Lagoon. Not only in price but scenery and many fewer people. Afterwards we stopped at a little pull out and had our first boot picnic. Great rye and salami sandwiches with cherry tomatoes and a great view as we ate.  

   Back home where we melted into boneless puddles in our beds. Another awesome day in Iceland.