Celestial Weasel (celestialweasel) wrote,
Celestial Weasel


As you know professor, I am not very good at 'what I did in my holidays posts', have still not got round to the Japan one from our trip last year.

Suffice it to say that I enjoyed Iceland. By bizarre coincidence, Mr vicarage was there at the same time as us so we went out to dinner together on two nights and he drove us round the 'golden circle' of interesting things near Reykjavik on another day before setting off on his round the island trip.
We also went on two whale watching trips, the second being free as we only saw one whale on the first. I was happy to have had 3 hours sitting on a boat watching the world go by really, but we saw more whales on the second go. The end of August is pretty much the end of the holiday season so we had to go to a little island just off Reykjavik before the end of the month. There was a hostel on the island full of international youth doing whatever it is international youth do. One of the international youth was leaving so there were lots of hugs and taking of photographs on the quay. Amusingly, after a couple of minutes we turned back as she had left her phone on the island - to my mild surprise the second round of hugs and photographs was significantly shorter than the first. The fact that she was tall and blond and attractive I'm sure played no part in the captain's decision to turn the boat round to go back. As it was the detour meant we had less time waiting in the rain at a bus stop.
There were three (count 'em, three) vegetarian restaurants plus a noodle place with vegan stock. Also a couple of bookshops very much like the late lamented Borders - somehow Waterstoats and Blackwells just aren't the same.

As with Japan, you would never know Iceland had had a 'financial meltdown' (well, long stagnation in Japan's case). It is also hard to imagine lots of stereotypical bankers there, it is such a laid-back place. (*) There is a new conference and concert centre which was very vertigo inducing. It reminded me of the Barbican Centre meets (slightly) Sydney Opera House. There is a certain air of 'we started this in the boom, then the money ran out' which I suspect will suffuse the Olympic venues.

It was a big help that our hotel was on the same square as the tallest building, the Hallgrímskirkjaon the top of the hill, this made navigation very easy.

Reykjavik actually seems bigger than Oxford to a greater extent than the relative populations would suggest, but of course we are into the old territory of small countries being different from large ones (he said, stating the obvious) by which I mean that Oxford doesn't have a parliament, national theatre etc. etc. If the world was made up of countries the size of Iceland there would be roughly 20000 of them. If 6.6% of the population of every country emigrated and/or were immigrants that would be one from every other country - would they be the ambassadors? London is, say, 30 Reykjaviks and Britain is 200 Icelands (the world is 100 Britains). If there were 20000 countries you would be unlikely to know all their names, I guess. Discuss. Or not.

(*) there are 3 books on Amazon about the Icelandic financial melt-down, unfortunately they all have at least one plausible one star review (on the lines of http://www.xkcd.com/937/ - I think I will name this 'the Tornado Guard problem' )


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