Hello Iceland! June 27, 2005.
The previous night before going to sleep we had pulled all the blinds down in the living area because it would take a while to get used to the idea of 24hr daylight. I had no problem with getting used to the reverse of say 6 or 7 hrs of light when I was there in Winter because then you still had a defined night and a defined day but when you just have various stages of daylight for 24hrs, that is pretty interesting.
Understandably ReykjavÃk and Iceland in general has changed since my parents were left in 1980, you know new roads are put up; new buildings are built all the usual things that happens with time.
For Pabbi however this was the cause of utter confusion. You see my father and a map, my father and memory of streets yeah they aren’t a real happy equation. You ask my father to go anywhere in Brisbane even which he hasn’t been to 10000 times before, yeah you are looking at chaos.
So here we are, we have just picked up a rental car and we are following TÃ³ti back to Karl’s place to pick up Matthew. All we have to do is go back the way we came and TÃ³ti would be just ahead of us in the traffic anyway. Dude, total chaos. I think we can just leave it there. Matthew, Karl and I all got our navigation skills from our mother, take me somewhere once and that is pretty much all I need. This can be a point of conflict especially when we start provoking each other.
Anyway we get back to Karl’s and pick up Matthew who had wisely decided not to come with us to get the rental car. We then head off to the ReykjavÃk Cemetery to visit the grave of our Amma, her sister (our great-aunt) and our brother. This cemetery was unlike anything I had ever seen before. It wasn’t at all like the one we live near and I walk past daily nor was it like the ones I saw in the town I lived in when in Germany. It was almost like an open forest which was littered with graves each lovingly tendered. I met my Amma once when I was 3 and spoke to her a couple of times on the phone since then. It is is an interesting thing having never really gotten to kn ow her but still knowing her very much through how my parents talked of her or the cards she would send each Christmas with GleÃ°ileg JÃ³l on the front and a parcel of dried fish if were lucky. We always knew was inside the parcel before we had opened it as it would have been opened by Customs and then closed up with all sorts of stickers saying “This parcel has passed customs”
After the cemetery we headed into downtown to have a stroll round and to show Mum, Pabbi and Matthew the ultra cool 3d scale relief map of Iceland in the ReykjavÃk City Hall. HafÃ¾Ã³r and Sigga had brought me to see the map when I was in Iceland in 2002 so I knew I had to bring the others to see it because it really is ultra cool!
After we had poured over the map and further planned our travels we headed out for a walk round the area. Matthew and I lagged behind the “grown-ups” and he was even in a silly enough mood to tell me to take this photo of him with this wall of graffiti.
Just across the street from where the photo of Matthew was taken is AusturvÃ¶llur and a couple of days before we had arrived an utterly amazing fantastic photography display by Ragnar Axelsson from his book Faces of the North had been installed in the square. This is an utterly amazing document of life in Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.
In the gardens bordering the square there was one thing that left me bemused and one thing that made me smile.
The first was Ornamental Kale in the gardens, this really had me stumped as I could not figure out why on earth there were cabbages planted in the garden bed, then Mum told me that they were designed for eating. The second was this bed of Pansies; a flower that very much reminds me of Iceland because a) you see it everywhere and b) it was one of Amma’s favourite flowers.
Cue some more cruising round the old town and then we were off to TÃ³ti’s house to meet up with his family, look at photos, chat, laugh and giving me some time to be a 7 year old again. It was just so great seeing his family again, so great.
I got roped into playing a game of bingo with the girls and to hell with the language barrier it still worked out fine. When the one of the girls was spinning the dial the other would make sure that I put my piece on the right tile and when I was spinning the dial I would just make the noise or movements of the animal. It was a barrel of fun.
After hanging out at TÃ³ti’s we made our way home via HafÃ¾Ã³r’s where we all got to meet the ultra cute little DanÃel SmÃ¡ri in all his 23mth glory for the first time, Matthew and Mum got to meet Sigga and SÃ³ley as well for the first time and I got to hang out SÃ³ley who is my “twin” and happens to be my niece and a few years younger than me…