Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Wedding - Icelandic Style

Done with our touring, we were ready for family and friends and the big celebration! We stuck closer to home for the next few days, attending wedding festivities, touring the family fish factory, and spending time with the cousins. (Oh, and battling the pouring rain and cold!)

Took a tour of the family fishing factory.
Checking out Reykjavik
We had been told that it was an outdoor wedding, with a contingency plan of using the church if the weather didn't hold up. In Iceland the contingency plan was definitely a necessity. The weather seemed ok most of the morning on the big day, but it was cold and windy. When we met in the parking lot to head to the wedding, I still wasn't sure what was going to happen. As all the buses loaded up and pulled out, it started raining. We passed the church. It started raining harder and we drove about 25 minutes into the country, where it was still raining. We all stayed huddled in our vehicles, wondering how this was going to play out. We also wondered what Icelanders might consider bad enough weather to call on that contingency plan. But eventually, the rain let up, and everyone quickly rushed to the ceremony site, wondering why they had bothered with their hair or their nice new dress that covered by a rain jacket.

The bridesmaids in traditional Icelandic dresses, were not cold.

The whole family
The ceremony was short and perfect, with Oskar insisting on being a major part of this big day with his parents. The rest of the night was a big party full of loving speeches and videos and lots of dancing and singing. And just a little bit of drinking.
This pretty much sums it up.
I used my pregnancy as an excuse and bowed out of the festivities close to 3am. The party raged on for a few more hours. In the end, it was a huge success with friends and family coming from all over the world to celebrate Magnus and Olof. 

Then they were off to Hawaii for their honeymoon. Good call after a week in Iceland in the summer. Well played.


Driving north on the two lane highway that circles Iceland, these words stayed in my mind as I admired the stunning views on one of the only days of sunshine during our entire visit. The words vast and desolate have never been so applicable to any place I have visited. With a population of a little more than 300,000, and 2/3 of that living in and around Reykjavik, the rest of the country is very sparsely populated. The landscape is wide open and uninterrupted.

While driving 6 hours (each way) to Akureyri in the far north of Iceland for just 2 nights was a lot of time in the car, it was a great way to see the countryside. I couldn't get over how undeveloped it was. It's only major road is a 2-lane highway. There are very few signs, just gently winding roads through dramatic landscapes. It is a far cry from the wide freeways and tourist attraction billboards that so often litter major US throughways. And it was such a relief from the hustle and bustle never-ending cement of living in the city.

Idyllic spot for a quick nap.
The landscape changes

Kayaking on Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland, at Þingvellir National Park.
We spent Sunday afternoon driving, and the next day headed to Myvatn to check out the famous lake, the geothermal baths, some bad-ass underground ovens, and the earth belching up some seriously hot sulphuric mud and steam. It rained on and off, was quite windy, and the temp was around 40F (4C). But then again no one goes to Iceland for the weather. It was still amazing.
Geothermal baths at Myvatn
Yes, these are ovens and there is bread baking down in the earth.
Bubbly earth
A trooper through all the long hours in the car.

A cafe perched inside a barn full of dairy cows. That was some fresh hot chocolate!
The next day we had planned to do a whale watching tour in Husavik. Unfortunately, we arrived to find out that our tour had been canceled and we had driven 1.5 hours further away from Reykjavik for nothing! We did enjoy our free passes to the whale museum, and then got in the car to head back to the small fishing village of Grindavik, where guests were just starting to trickle in for the big nuptials of my bro-in-law Magnus and his wife-to-be Olof. Exciting!!

7 Days

I have been looking forward to these 7 days for some time now. REALLY looking forward to them. 7 days without my precious son. 7 days to myself. 7 days with some me time. 7 WHOLE days!

When I had to cancel our trip to the US this summer, I was really bummed. I haven't seen anyone in my family in over a year - that's a long time! And I look forward to that time to get a reprieve from the never-ending demands of being a stay at home mom. But I am resourceful, and I found a solution.

Last night Simon flew to Sweden to spend a week with his grandparents at their summer house in Torsby. I can't really say the goodbye was bittersweet. I love my son dearly, but I know that I do a better job when I am able to have some balance in my life, and I need a little of that. As Simon can't fly alone yet, Martin went with and I have a weekend all alone. Ah, life is good.

Simon was a little hesitant at the airport - not too thrilled that Mama wasn't coming with. But with the promise of ice cream beyond the security gate he forgot about any doubts he had and went running in the other direction. I was proud.

And when he arrived in Oslo he immediately hopped in the car with Farmor and Farfar and a pile of books. All reports indicate that he is indeed happy and thriving.

I know that at the end of the week I will be so excited to see him I will hardly be able to contain myself, and that's a beautiful thing. But I am going to enjoy this week and this great city I live in. I am going to organize the house a bit and think about getting ready for Simon's little sister that should be arriving in November. I am going to breathe deeply, take naps, watch movies, and go on long walks along the canals of Amsterdam with my husband after bedtime.

It's the little things.