Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Iceland: Harpa by Night

This is a continuation of Harpa by Day and is the last stop in my mini architectural series from Reykjavik.

Prior to our trip, I had done a smattering of research on Iceland and stumbled upon a photo kinda like this. Sure enough, this stunning structure is equally fascinating by day and by night. Of course, by "night," I mean "kinda dusky and only dark-ish because it's cloudy" (I think this photo was made sometime after midnight).

I shall obey you, mothership

I could spend DAYS wandering around this place.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Iceland: Mike's Flat

On the handful of days that we're in Reykjavik instead of out in the wilds somewhere, we enjoy the extreme privilege of staying in a flat owned by Joe's friend Mike.

This'll do

On our last night in town, I'm unable to help myself and invest the time to make a single proper photo of this spectacular flat. The light fixture alone is transfixing and threatens to lock me in front of it for hours at a time...

Also, this is the second to last stop in this mini-architecture series. You're almost out of the woods!


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Iceland: Kvosin Downtown Hotel

Time for a few laps through some architectural work I had the privilege of doing in Iceland. This mini-series started with Harpa by Day and will have a couple more entries past this one.

Joe and his colleagues are involved in running the Kvosin Downtown Hotel, and one day brings the opportunity of photographing their freshly remodeled lobby. Designed by Hafsteinn Juliusson, the lobby appeals to the enterprising yet practical nature of the hotel's target guests.


Equal parts market, meeting place, and portal to the tidy rooms upstairs and wine bar next door, it's a small space that serves many needs and yet doesn't feel crowded.


Hafsteinn is there while I'm shooting and we discuss his favorite angles to accentuate elements of his design. We talk about his color and texture selections, as well as the painstaking work that goes into some of his proud details.


These photos take a long time to create, and they take even longer to edit. I have to sheepishly admit that I'm not yet done editing them, and when I do, I'll share a few more glimpses of this cool space.




Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Iceland: Reykjavik Stroll

Safely back in Reykjavik, we settle quickly back into the routine of sleep-wander-eat-wander-drink-wander-eat-repeat. I don't know of a substantially better way to explore a city, even one with a small downtown like Reykjavik.


This particular wandering episode with Murphy and Joe is fueled wholly by an epic meal at the Seabaron, where we're served some sort of lobster bisque/chowder/enlightenment and bread. Sated, we wander from block to block and pier to pier, perhaps stopping for ice cream just in case we get tired.

I see an elephant, thanks

We've only spent a grand total of a couple days within Reykjavik, but it's already starting to feel familiar. There are only so many coffees, snacks, meals, and beers one can drink in a day, but we're committed to suffering for the cause.

Growing season

One bonus on this day is that a coffee shop we've long been pursuing is finally open, and we're lucky, because he's closing soon to pursue a catering business. The coffee exceeds our expectations, so we consider the day a success.

Only a few more stops in the Iceland time machine, so buckle up for more insight into the dregs of my perception :)


Monday, June 22, 2015

Iceland: Return to Reykjavik

OK, nearly done with this time machine torture from Iceland. This is now nearly a year ago, and while some details have faded, the impact of our experiences there is still with me like it was yesterday.

Our path back to Reykjavik from Drangey takes us along the western portion of the island, including some coastline and also some high country. There are lifetimes worth of secrets to probe in the places we are driving by, but we're time-limited and choose our route accordingly to avoid temptation.

Instead, we pick little diversions here and there that don't drastically alter our destiny; they just leave us wishing we had a few more weeks. Not sure which is worse!

Trusty steed; the Jeep is great too :)

I have to admit that my record-keeping is poor, as is my memory, as is my ability to churn these out in a reasonable amount of time such that I wouldn't need record-keeping or memory. As such, here's a rad church from a random small town whose name I don't know.

Cool Church I

Cool Church II

Always stormy

And then somewhere near Borgarnes...

Epic Bond-villainesque house

Perhaps it's just the improving weather, but one of the highlights of this route ends up being quite close to Reykjavik: there's a shortcut through a tunnel across Hvalfjörður, but it costs a fair amount, or you can drive the long way around the fjord. We choose to drive the long way, and the rural countryside reveals itself to be the thing of dreams. Undulating ribbony roads, accessible shoreline, and an eclectic mix of architecture combine to tickle me in all the right places.

It also allows Murphy to make some new equine pals.

New friend

More friends

I think they might have taken a wrong turn

After a solid day of road-tripping, we're back in Reykjavik with a depressingly short clock until we fly home (#firstworldproblem). We've got a day or so left to cause trouble, and we intend to make the most of it!


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Iceland: Fisherwoman

Murphy has traveled to Iceland with a Tenkara fly rod. Along our chosen route from Reykir back to Reykjavik, a particular stretch of water looks particularly inviting (drizzle and all), so we clamber down to check it out.

Tenkara, if you're not familiar, is a simpler approach to fly fishing. With a massively-telescoping rod and no reel, it's very travel-friendly and also represents a much lower barrier to entry.

Certainly the wrong fly

Rod detail

Horrible setting

No fish were harmed (or disturbed) in the making of this post.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Iceland: Drangey

After an excellent night of tenting it in Reykir, we awaken to a surprisingly somewhat-clear day, break our fast, and take a dip in the oceanside hot spring, simply because we can. The agenda for the morning is a trip out to Drangey, a richly-historied island out in Skagafjörður.

The tour out to Drangey is very much a family operation, a seamless continuation of the lodging, hospitality, and hot-springing we've had over the past 18 hours. We hop on the boat and enjoy the company of the father/son guiding team and of our fellow tourists, of which there are a good handful.

Drangey to the left; Old Hag to the right

Fresh breeze

Wear your layers!

The history of Drangey is two-pronged: first, it's filled with colorful legends of trolls and whatnot, and second, in more recent times, it's mostly about the harvesting of those cute cute (delicious) puffins and their (delicious) eggs.

Since most of this post is about the puffins, I'll take a second to address the legends, which are awesome, and include giants turned to stone (the main island is the giants' cow, the spire is the she-giant, and the he-giant collapsed ages ago), and the rich history of Grettir, who hid as an outlaw on Drangey and survived many attempts on his bountied head. If you'd like more on either, Drangey and Grettir will make for good search terms for you on The Google.

In short, though, the present-day island is characterized by treacherous terrain and hundreds of thousands of birds. Acrophobes and ornithophobes need not apply. Acroornithophobes, should they exist, should stop reading here.

Lovely texture; just hold your nose

Cave guards

As we approach the dock at Drangey, we find ourselves dwarfed by the sheer cliff walls that help to protect its secrets. Next up is an invigorating climb up a don't-trip-or-slip-or-stumble cliffy kind of trail that at least has some rails and ropes to grab on to. Once up top, travel is easy, just so long as you stay clear of the edge, where you'll certainly die if you fall. Also, the view from the top is fantastic, even with our gradually-worsening weather.


Back to Reykir

So...stay away from the edge, alright? The edge, however, is where the puffin-huntin' happens.

Get to work

There's a small clan of these dudes who hang out at the cliff edges with big nets on long poles. They used to be able to use snares, but now the odds are slightly tipped back towards the puffins. One rule they adhere to is to avoid snagging birds that are carrying fish, as those birds are headed back to the nest to feed young'uns. They also abseil down the cliff faces to collect eggs, which we do not get to see, but their anchor points are visible all over the island.


Puffin hunters' hut

Hut again

The island is absolutely overrun with birds, making it easy to understand how crucial this hunting operation has been for the region. We split the rest of our time up top listening to the guide and clambering around various terrain features.

So lonely...not

Think we're safe here?


Many many many

Small gang


Who you lookin' at

Finally, it's time to head back down, and the treacherous path seems even more so headed in this direction; it's easier to see the consequences! Thankfully, nobody dies, so we pile back into the boat and set course for Reykir.


This has been a great diversion and reason to get us to this side of the country, although what we really need is a couple weeks to explore the nearby Westfjords. Somehow, even in small places, it's far too easy to only scratch the surface.

We're now grudgingly counting the days until our departure, and the time has come to head back to Reykjavik. Even though it feels as though we're a world away at the moment, a scant few hours on the highway (remember, the only highway) will get us back there.


Past Detritus