The best chance to catch the elusive Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, is during the winter time. Tourists staying in Iceland this week are really lucky because they’ve been able to view the Northern Lights as well as the gorgeous August sunset. Here’s a mesmerising video from Gardar Olafsson, showing the dance of Aurora Borealis on the 27th of August.
Take a look at his website as well. There are many more amazing videos.
I’m watching ‘BBC Proms: The Story of Swing’ on BBC4 at the moment. Enjoying myself immensely, dancing around my living room. Being there is even more fun though, so I wanted to tell everyone traveling to London about Promming.
You’d think it was really expensive to buy a ticket to a Proms concert at the Royal Albert Hall, but it doesn’t have to be.
The popular tradition of Promming, standing in the Arena or Gallery areas, is central to the unique and informal atmosphere of the BBC Proms. Up to 1,350 standing places are available for each Proms concert. All you have to do is turn up on the day of the concert and then you have the chance to buy a ticket for only 5 pounds. However, if you are going to a concert with famous performers or music loved by many, get there early and be prepared to stand in line for hours. People are usually in good spirit so being part of those queues can be a whole lot of fun.
There are so many hidden gems in London. When I decided to visit Kenwood House, a mansion from the 18th century, it was purely because I wanted to see the location of a scene from Notting Hill. For those who know the movie; I’m talking about the scene where Anna Scott is filming and William overhears her dismissing him to a fellow actor.
Little did I know that Kenwood House has a truly exceptional collection of paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Gainsborough, Turner and Reynolds, not to mention the 112 acres of glorious parkland. It’s the perfect place to visit if you want to spend a day admiring art and be able to take a stroll in beautiful surroundings as well. It’s also interesting to walk around the house and explore the stories of it’s inhabitants and if you are hungry there’s a restaurant on the grounds, offering food that’s nice.
Kenwood House was built by Robert Adam for the 1st Earl of Mansfield and saved for the nation by Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh.
I highly recommend a visit to Kenwood House if you’re traveling to London.
I remember vividly going whale watching in 1999 or 2000. We sailed from Húsavík, which is by many considered the whale watching capital of Europe. The dolphins were dancing around the ship and we saw some Minke whales, Humpback whales and even a Fin whale, which is a rather rare sight I believe, so I was really lucky. I remember being extremely cold and I also recall the nice and cosy feeling of sipping hot chocolate out on the sea.
Now whale watching has become very popular and there are a lot of videos from the tours circling around. This is a good one.
If you’re traveling to Iceland, I recommend going whale watching. Here’s a list of whale watching tours in Iceland.
It’s interesting being a tourist in your own homeland. I’ve been surprisingly cold since I arrived in Iceland 10 days ago. Always wearing a coat, when other Icelanders wear t-shirts. I marvel the landscape and nature in new ways and enjoy every single drop of the fresh water, straight from the tap.
I’ve been admiring how many good Icelandic designers there are and listening to marvellous new local music. There is no doubt about the fact that our talents lie in arts.
Then there are times when I just don’t get my fellow Icelanders. For the longest time, it was impossible to get Icelanders to form a proper queue. They simply couldn’t bring themselves to stand in a line and wait for something. When people from other nations waited politely for their turn in a bank or at the bus stop, Icelanders would stand in some irregular blobs, pushing each other around. However, things have changed recently. All of a sudden, Icelanders seem to love waiting in queues. I think it’s their new hobby. What else could possibly explain what I witnessed yesterday?
The American global doughnut company Dunkin Donuts opened a shop (they actually call it a restaurant) here for the first time a few days ago. Yesterday, there was still a long line of people outside, waiting for their turn to buy a doughnut. What made it extra weird was witnessing that queue merge with a never ending line of people waiting for a taste of bacon at the Bacon festival taking place on Skólavörðustígur across the street.
One of the things that make me proud of being Icelandic is that the matters regarding LGBTQ rights are quite progressive in Iceland. Gay people can marry in churches and same sex couples have had equal access to adoption and IVF since 2006. The first openly gay prime minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, was elected in Iceland 2009 and the former mayor of Reykjavík, Jón Gnarr, dressed up in drag for The Gay Pride Parade in 2011. The Gay Pride Parade is a huge event in Reykjavik every year, with around 35 thousand Icelanders participating.
This year’s Reykjavík Pride was launched on Tuesday and today’s parade through central Reykjavík was spectacular.
I think it’s wonderful how the City of Reykjavik has celebrated Gay Pride. It’s even made the world news. Skólavörðustígur has been painted with the colours of the rainbow and flowers have been planted in the same fashion as well. It’s good to be Icelandic on a day like this!
One of my first theatre memories is a terrifying scene from an Icelandic play called Fjalla-Eyvindur (Eyvindur of the Mountains) written by Jóhann Sigurjónsson. It’s based on the legend of famous Icelandic outlaws, Eyvindur and his wife Halla. In this particular scene towards the end of the play, Halla throws their newborn child down a waterfall. They are on the run from the authorities and this is an act of desperation. Before she drops the baby down the waterfall she sings a lullaby, Sofðu unga ástin mín. As a child I was heartbroken by this scene. In spite of it being really sad it’s a beautiful lullaby and very popular among Icelanders.
Sleep, my young love.
Outside the rain is weeping.
Mummy is watching over your treasure,
an old bone and a round case.
We should not stay awake through dim nights.
There is much that darkness knows,
my mind is heavy.
Often I saw black sand
burning the green meadow.
In the glacier cracks are rumbling deep as death.
Sleep for a long time, sleep quietly,
it is best to wake up late.
Sorrow will teach you soon,
while the day is quickly decaying,
that men love, lose, cry and mourn.
As pointed out in the article ‘These Icelandic lullabies are absolutely terrifying‘ Sofðu unga ástin mín is not the only lullaby from Iceland that’s either sad or creepy. Then again, lullabies from other countries quite often are like that as well. I wonder why?
Going to a museum in London is obviously very popular among tourists. The National British Museum is amazing and so is the Tate, but the world’s greatest museum of art and design, The Victoria and Albert Museum, is one of my personal favourites.
On the 13th of June, a new and interesting exhibition opened at the V & A. Shoes – Pleasure and pain looks at the extremes of footwear from around the globe. The museum has an unbelievable collection of shoes, around 2,000 pairs spanning more than 3,000 years of history. The exhibition is on until the 31st of January 2016 and I recommend booking your tickets in advance if you’re thinking of going.
If you don’t have a chance to visit the museum, you can always take a look at their fascinating website. Did you know that the Stiletto heel was named after a Sicilian fighting knife? The Shoes Timeline gives you a unique look into the history of shoes.
The museum is on Instagram as well, and to those of you who have unusual pairs of shoes, it tells you that: ‘Whether it’s on #TuesdayShoesday or your favourite daily #Shoefie, we want to see your extreme footwear. Simply take a photo of your favourite shoes and tag it on Instagram with the exhibition hashtag #vamShoes.’
Photo from the V & A website.