Hello there!!

If anyone would like to see my complete selection of pictures from the trip, you can click here.  Feel free to take any of them you like, there is a download option for each picture that will allow you to keep the full size and pixels of the pics.




And this is why I never intended to hand this blog in for credit….I slacked off and forgot to post!!  Well, even now that I’m home sweet home, I feel that I need to finish what I’ve started and report on the end of the trip: so here is a summary of our last 3 days!

Friday June 11th

This morning we went to the Culture House museum where we got to write in the scriptorium!  Our guide whipped up a batch of medieval ink, handed us out feather quills and we went to it!!  There was a runic alphabet up on the wall so that we could try writing out our names and such in runes.  It was such a cool place, there was a podium in the corner like the kind a medieval scribe would have used, as well as a cupboard full of the various materials used to make inks.

We also got a chance to see some of the manuscripts that we didn’t see earlier in the week, but they were behind glass, so it wasn’t as exciting as when we actually got to see them close up.

The rest of the day was free for the students so we finished up some shopping and then hit up our hotel for a nap! (tres exciting, non?)  About half of the class went on a brewery tour that evening, which, beer not being my thing, I didn’t go to, but I heard was excellent!  That night our whole group got a chance to hang out together and we had an impromptu part in our lounge.  Those of you who know me will not be shocked to learn that I turned in early around 1am but some of my fellow, more hardcore, classmates took the party downtown and returned in time for breakfast!  Well done!

PS. I am not responsible for the blurriness of these pictures (there must have been something wrong with my camera ;) )

Saturday, June 12th

This is a date I’m sure Danielle is not soon to forget, as it was the day she discovered the ultimate hangover cure.  Ah, now I have your attention!  No one likes to be hungover, and you’re probably wondering “what is this magic cure?”  Well let me tell you: If you want to cure a hangover in record time, all you have to do is….

That’s right my friends, the hangover cure is riding!!  Now, to be clear, it can’t just be any ole horseback ride, it has to be on a weird-gaited, stout Icelandic pony in freezing rain, followed closely by a downpour! That’ll do it!!  It still amazes me to think that Danielle even came near the stable with a hangover, that smell made me feel sick and I was perfectly fine!!

Once the ride started though, it turned out to be one of my favourite parts of the trip.  We rode through lava fields covered in the beautiful purple lupines that dominate the Reykjavik landscape.  It was breathtaking (and I don’t just mean the frigid wind that was literally taking the breath from my mouth!)  Because words cannot describe, here is our lovely ride:

We rounded off this day with a complete evening of vegging out.  After the ride, all we wanted to do was crawl into our pjs (yams, for you Danielle), and fall asleep.  So we ordered in a pizza and relaxed all night.  Glorious.

Sunday, June 13th

Sigh.  Our last day.  You would think that we’d take the opportunity to pack and relax on our last day, but no, not Danielle and I!!   We had become intrepid adventurers.  After the rainy horseback ride nothing could stop us!!  So we woke up early boarded a taped-together, German, double-decker (this just keeps getting better doesn’t it?)  bus from 1971, and made our way down to the harbour for whale watching.  If for a moment we had been unsure as to whether it was our bus, our fears we soon allayed when we saw the gigantic humpback whale painted across the double-decks of the bus!  We hadn’t even made it to the harbour yet, and we were already having the best time!

We boarded the boat and couldn’t help but notice that everyone was happily clambering into what seemed to be a nascar driver suit crossed with an astronaut suit.  Danielle and I looked at each other, gave a little shrug, and climbed on it!  Yet again, no whales yet, and still, having the best time!  Pictures like this are a once in a lifetime opportunity (especially considering my phobia of rented clothes, yuck!):

Our guide on the boat was a delightful English girl from Kent who told us that she was working in Iceland for the summer.  She really made the trip: her commentary over the loud speaker as we all intently searched the waves for whales, had me laughing out loud!  Not least of which was her joyful call of “Twelve o’clock WHAAAAALE!” when one was spotted in front of the boat.  Now, I know how to tell time, that’s not a problem for me, but her “clock” system for spotting whales just did not sink into my head.  She’d holler, “3 o’clock whaaaale,” and I’d swivel my head around like, where? where?  It was a sad sight!  Luckily, all I really had to do to see the whales was follow the camera clicks – I felt like a paparazzo out there!

Anyway, as you may have guess we did see whales: Minke whales to be exact, a fact I’ll never forget thanks to our guide’s epic rendition of “Hey Minke, you’re so fine!”  And just in case there were any doubters out there, here are a few shots of the whales:

That evening, Danielle and I went to the Viking Festival in Hafdanfjorður (I completely made up the spelling of that city, but hey, if I didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t have known anyway!).  It was very cool.  I was like being in a medieval village – except one where the blacksmith has braces ;)   I thought Danielle was going to have to drag me out of there.  Why you ask?  For the ambience?  the immersion in history? the shopping?  NO.  For all the glorious men dressed up like Vikings!!  Inappropriate?  Maybe.  But true nonetheless, those men were straight out of a movie!  After ogling the locals for a few minutes (ok, 30), we decided to give the lamb wraps a try, and they were delicious!  The festival was a perfect cap to a perfect trip.  I would go back in a heartbeat.

Well folks, that’s it.  Hope you’ve enjoyed our little trip.




Today was fun but not without some challenges!  We got our first taste of some real Icelandic weather as it was raining and misting, not to mention foggy.  This was bad news for me (and you), because I like to keep the camera out of the rain, so the pics for today are limited — although I did shoot some between the raindrops, and when we went to the waterfall nothing could stop me from snapping a few off.   Anyway, back to our day: we had to be ready for an uncivilized 7:45am and headed out towards the town of Stong, where we got a chance to see an excavated Viking Longhouse in it’s natural element.  It was hard to get the full effect as they built walls and a roof around it, so it was a lot brighter than it would have been in the 10th century, but it was still unbelievable!  I still can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that we are seeing things that are thousands of years old!  It’s mind-boggling!  Behind the settlement, there was this really steep hill that everyone seemed intent on climbing up, and that I was perfectly willing to bypass until I saw my professors scamper up there like mountain goats!  This sufficiently shamed me, and I trudged up the hill after them trying to ignore the fact that I had stopped breathing somewhere around midway (if they could do it, I could do it!!).  Once again, the view from the top was completely worth it!! Stunning!

Side note: I have to say, I’m very impressed with how my shoes held up to the wet terrain.  I was too cheap to buy real waterproof shoes so I just sprayed a water-repellent solution onto regular sneakers, and let me tell you–good enough!  I mean, I don’t want to go puddle-diving or anything, but my toes stayed sufficiently warm and dry.

Back to the trip.  We then were off to visit the Saga Museum, which was an exhibition of Njal’s Saga which took place in the very area.  It was really well done, with the story written out with forms of media to enhance the telling.

I may have gotten a little carried away today with my enthusiastic love of the Icelandic sheep and horses, but they are just so cute  Even after Danielle’s warning that sheep are cruel, evil, carnivores, and the Icelandic urban legend of the Killer Sheep, I still wanted to stuff one of those wooly bundles in my suitcase and smuggle it back to Canada.  Apparently though, there is nothing quite so offensive to the nose as a wet sheep, so perhaps in the end it’s best that I couldn’t make it over that fence (kidding!).

Our last stop was an amazing waterfall.  It was really tall and poured over a beautiful lush mountain into a clear stream, with water so cold, we stopped to take a drink.  (Warning: DON’T try this at home ;) )  We had the opportunity to walk behind the waterfall which was so cool — it was all very Last of the Mohicans, I felt as though I was lost in the wilderness somewhere (ok, well except for the fact that we could see our bus through the waterfall, but you get the point!).

The rest of the week is shaping up to look very exciting: Culture Museum tomorrow, horseback riding and whale watching on Saturday, and the Viking Festival on Sunday!  Phew!  It’s going by too fast!! Stay tuned to see how these next adventures turn out!

Until then, enjoy some pics:


Inside the Longhouse

Colin and Denise

Stacey, Brianna and Jordy

Sandra and Chelsea

The Profs

Saga Exhibition


Behind the Falls

Straight Behind the Falls

Well hello again!  Not too much to report today. We basically had a free day except for an hour that we spent at the Reykjavik 871 +/- 2 Settlement Exhibition which is a museum built around an excavated Viking long house from 871 (plus or minus 2 years, hence +/- 2).  It was pretty amazing! Unfortunately for you, my camera ran out of batteries while I was there so I don’t really have any good shots, so I urge you check out Danielle’s blog and see what she has to say on the subject.  Of course, any day here wouldn’t be complete without a little shopping, so let me take a small moment to describe my touristy purchases (all completely NECESSARY btw!).  I have finished my gift shopping which is extremely exciting (no last minute airport gifts this time…uh…not that I’ve ever done that…).  These amazing treasures include: gloves, shot glasses, ornaments, postcards, magnets and keychains (I’ll just let each of you guess which is yours ;) ).  I am 100% convinced that I just NEED to buy a T-shirt with a phonetic breakdown of the Icelandic name of the volcano (which is completely unpronounceable); completely useless but endlessly entertaining.  I think I will definitely go back and get it!

Just to provide some entertainment for the post though, as I’m sure you would like a reason to read my rantings, here are some social pics for fun:

Well, I’m off!  Another long day in the country tomorrow! Until then…


What a DAY!!!

Hello all!

What a glorious day we had today!  And when I say “glorious” I am not being hyperbolic, it literally was glorious!  The weather, the sites, it was indescribable.  Lucky for you, I have pictures.  We left the hotel at 8:30am and drove out to the country to a town called Borg, where the famous Viking Egil Skallagrimsson lived.  We went through a really cool museum that played the saga of Egil Skallagrimmson to us on headphones and had models set up at different intervals describing the story.  Some of my favourite shots from this museum include:

Young Egil

Scott with Egil's shape-shifting grandfather, Kveldulf


Outside the Museum

After the museum we went to see the burial mound for Egil’s father Skallagrim, where Professor Somerville read us some Old Norse poetry.  It was such a surreal moment and yet so perfectly fitting.

Reading Norse Poetry

We then spent the rest of the day exploring the Icelandic countryside, and let me tell you, it was spectacular!!  This place is nuts!  We got to see such a diverse landscape just in the span of a few hours: from hot springs to waterfalls to glaciers to lava fields.  The whole thing was out of this world, my camera really got a work out!  We also got a chance to see Þingvellir, the site of medieval Icelandic parliament.  I mean, this place is so beautiful, even I was moved (and you know how hard that is).  I can’t really offer any descriptions that will do any justice to the landscape, so here are some of my amazing professional-quality pictures ;)

Hot Springs

Snorri Sturluson's Bathhouse

Stacey Searching for Vikings



Well, that’s all she wrote!  Eat your hearts out wishing you were here!!  More amazing scenery to come!


My blisters have blisters!  I’ve come to the conclusion that I am just not a walker!  After an amazing morning at the Arni Magnusson museum (more on that later), some of us decided to trek up the hill to get some great panoramic pictures.  Now, some of you might be thinking, Erin? Trekking? and I have to agree, but in this case it was completely worth it.  I mean, after I was resuscitated and could feel my legs again that is.  So, yes, ultimately not a walker, but again it was well justified!! Take a look:

There.  Wasn’t that lovely?  Interestingly, by “top” I mean an über-expensive restaurant where even dessert is $17!  Can you believe it?!  I mean, I enjoy the high life, but a $17 dessert, what is it topped in diamonds!?

Back to the museum.  What an amazing morning!  Rather than an actual artifact museum, the Arni Magnussun is where all the Medieval Icelandic Manuscripts are kept, and we got to see some!!  I’m talking actual pieces of vellum from the 12th century!  All of us just about had a heart attack when the professor who was showing us the manuscripts turned the pages with her BARE hands!  WHAT?!  I expected white gloves, but apparently “the gloves, no gloves” argument swings back and forth in the land of academia — you know these people just love their new theories ;) Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the manuscripts themselves because the academic in me couldn’t even fathom taking cameras into the room, but if you are interested in taking a peek check out Danielle’s blog, she will be posting some pics later tonight.

Now, for the good stuff: some lovely social pictures.  Everyone loves the people pics!

My New Friends

And, by popular request, a snap of my esteemed professor casually posing in a manner he informs me cannot be taught:

Professor McDonald

And so, dear readers, I must bid you good night.  Check back tomorrow for another ever-impressive recap of Icelandic adventures!!


Free Day

Good morning!

Today is a free day for our class, which basically means we all split up and do our own thing, excursions, cultural sites etc.  Me?  I’m going to the mall!!  You are shocked, no?  Apparently the mall is only a short walk away (unfortunately the bus that passes our hotel doesn’t run on Sundays), but I’m thinking the walk there will be fine, but on the way back, bag-laden, no so much.  It is so lovely and chilly out today, finally!  For the past two days it has been sunny and warm (I actually got a sunburn!).  Who imagines that they’d go to Iceland and get a sunburn?

We’ve all been noticing how much the volcano, though miles away, still effects the city.  Just walking through the grass will leave your shoes covered with ash, and we learnt very quickly not to leave any food related items on the ledge in front of the window as it quickly becomes layered with ash as well!  I’ve just come back from my favourite hotel activity – buffet breakfast.  There is something so great about hotel breakfast, I can’t really describe it.  Maybe it’s the weird cereal dispensers, or the requisite cold cuts, I don’t know, but I love it!  That’s all for now, I’ll keep you posted on my mall adventures later!!



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