The Wall And Other Weirdies: Part One #Iceland

What did I know about Iceland?

It’s pretty cold

It is a geology lesson

It explodes more frequently than my old French master used to trying to get me to decline avoir

They beat us at footie

Everyone is known basically by a Christian name and another Christian name with -son or -dottir stuck on the end… Take one of their heroes: Leif Ericsson. He has a spiffing statue in the capital and a plaque and all, yet he’s known by a couple of Christian names. The chances of someone calling out his order in Starbucks and someone else taking it must be very high.

Fr’instance did you know the Icelandic telephone directory is listed by Christian names? Sounds like a recipe for making directory inquiries the most profitable business in Iceland until you realise the population is a smidge under 350,000. I mean everyone must use the same dentist and the chances of marrying a cousin has to be up there with death, taxes and the Germans winning on penalties as one of the Three Great Certainties.

So here I am in the Land of the Fermented Shark wondering if the hype is going to justify my buying thermal tights.

And you know what…

Lesson one: Iceland claims to have the longest continuous democratic system of government in the world. From 930 which is good but hardly in the early riser league. And like the oldest pub or largest tree or any of those unprovable bits of hyperbole, it’s  pretty full of holes. After all they only let women vote in 1915…

So let’s take some of their claims with a pinch of oofledust, shall we?

Lesson two: the Parliament was held on the bit of land that is gradually growing, in the shadow of the rock wall that denotes the edge of the North American tectonic plate. Who knew that Mother Nature And Donald Trump we’re so closely related, both seeking to build a bloody great wall on their boundaries?

The Icelandic don’t have a standing army – no surprise when you think everyone would have to be a general after leaving school – so let’s hope The Donald doesn’t get to hear about all this new land that’s coming into being right by the American Wall. The chances of an invasion must be right up there…

Lesson three: the northern lights are about as predictable a Brexit negotiation. The sky was clear, the guide on the bus on the way to the view point kept saying ‘Look – left,’ then ‘Now right’ as we credulous numpties peered out of the coach windows and saw… ourselves peering back, and inevitably the sneaky little buggers had retired to the pub to watch a rerun of Oldest Democracies on the zither by the time we climbed out into the bum-numbing cold. This is my attempt at a long exposure piccy of what turned out to be sky.

The northern lights? Yeah right.

Lesson four: Reykjavík is neat, a compact little capital of quirks, kirkes and coffee shops.

Oh and an exhibition dedicated to celebrating all things punk housed in a redundant public toilet that is transitioning into a museum.

And don’t miss the Museum of The Phallus. Nope you couldn’t make it up… I mean leaving aside the shape of said church, we saw this…

And even the geyser gave good steam…

Moving on…

Still, back to the church. You know, Iceland has taught me one thing, about listening. We visited the amazing church, above. It is simply stunning. The simple structure and lack of adornment are dazzling. You cannot but have your breath taken away. As we entered, we found we had stumbled on a free concert of classical Icelandic music and songs. So we settled down to listen. The choir, about 30 members, unaccompanied sang about 10 songs and until the penultimate number I understood not a word. Then, suddenly, in that last but one piece, ‘hallelujah’ appeared maybe a dozen times. And I realised I was listening differently, listening for the familiarity of the words, letting the music sit behind the words, giving it a secondary role. Whereas up to that point the words were the music, as potent and as meaningless as a hum, and in truth all the better for that. Maybe that’s why some pop songs stay as music due the inarticulacy of the singers rendering the words meaningless. Or maybe I’m just very simple….

Lesson five: we have to come back to geology. This place is Weirdy Beardy’s delight. Sure the thermally heated Blue Lagoon lacks a bit of rustic charm but bathing in a massive outdoor pool that is set at a pretty constant 38 degrees and refreshed by gallons of new water every hour makes up for the state of the art changing rooms and wade-up smoothie bar.

Actually both of those were great too. It’s hard to fault such an experience.

Even if I look like a toothless old letch in most of the family photos.

Maybe I’ll tell you about some of that geology next time…

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in holidays, humour, Iceland, miscellany, thought and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to The Wall And Other Weirdies: Part One #Iceland

  1. Mary Smith says:

    Iceland has been on my bucket list for ages. One day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Do try. You Scots will feel at home. When they DNA tested the original settlers they found the men were 75% nordic but the women over 60% British. Those vikings, come over here, take our women…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Iceland remains high on my wish list. And the Northern Lights. 🌼

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds great, if weird! And wonderful pics–especially of the Northern Lights (ha). I’m reading Stephen Markley’s novel, Ohio, right now and it’s making me interested in his travelogue on Iceland. First up for me will be Finland, if I have my way with research for a new WIP!

    Like

  4. Darlene says:

    Looks like a great place. Would love to check it out!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. trifflepudling says:

    Very good, very ‘different’ place. Is everyone like Björk 😀 ? Shhhhhhh
    Re. the words of songs, I agree: it’s sometimes better not to know what they’re saying as it’s often a let-down, and that goes for inarticulacy or words in a language you don’t understand. Translations are often banal and ruin it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great tour and commentary, Geoff. Toothless old letch? Yeah, I could get there.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ritu says:

    Wonderful photos!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I first loved opera because I didn’t understand the words, and the soaring melodies of voice and music made me listen in a new way – I guess that is close to what you experienced in that beautiful church. I bet the acoustics were great! The geology looks pretty amazing, but as I can do geysers and hot pools here Iceland hasn’t made my wish list yet. It’s always lovely to see your family having fun together!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Erica Herd says:

    Really enjoyed this!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. josypheen says:

    Beautiful photos Geoff! You’ve made me want to go back to Iceland!!

    Also, I giggled at “the northern lights are about as predictable a Brexit negotiation” 😀

    Like

  11. willowdot21 says:

    This is just amazing, so jealous.💜

    Like

  12. Another excellent photo tour-de-force Geoff. I was relieved at your final remarks because I was ready to ask if you had to call the local police on that toothless old letch who kept photo bombing your group.

    Like

  13. Elizabeth says:

    It sounds as if you had as much luck seeing the Northern Lights as I had seeing a moose in Nova Scotia where the ranger assured me I would see one. In Oregon that ocean rock has a twin in the Columbia River called Rooster Rock. Apparently it was called Cock Rock until offended Victorians renamed it.

    Like

  14. Charli Mills says:

    Marvelous shots and lessons from a fascinating land full of ice, geology and phallic celebrations. That blue lagoon looks amazing! Next, you need to take the family to Svalbard!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Entertaining, informative, and well photographed. I wish you’d taught me Geography

    Liked by 1 person

  16. noelleg44 says:

    OMG, you did everything we did! Nice to revisit!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Now I want to go to Iceland, Geoff. You make your trip found fun and there’s so much I didn’t know – like the growing wall to keep out the scary Americans (I don’t think Donald is going to pester Iceland since he thinks they’re north of Canada.) And I wouldn’t mind heating up my feet in the Blue Lagoon right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. That’s too bad about the Northern Lights but the rest was terribly interesting. Please do apply to write their official tourism pamphlets.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Widdershins says:

    More geological stuff please. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I actually laughed out loud on several occasions there. You don’t look like a toothless old letch, but that would make for a belting tagline… Loved the long exposure pic too – I get similar results if it makes you feel any better.

    You look like you’ve had an amazing time!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Cherilyn says:

    Awesome virtual tour sir. I could happily run away to Iceland lol.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Jordan says:

    This is a fabulous post with great photos and Icelandic history! Definitely makes me want to visit. And your sense of humor is brilliant!
    Jordan

    Liked by 1 person

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