Airwaves15 – Day 2

So its actually the last day of airwaves, and I’m still back filling from day two. So day two was a day of off venue venues we’d not been to before, starting with Eldsmiðjan (a pizza restaurant) for Elin Ey, it was quite surreal as people were eating their lunch, and people packed on the staircases whilst waitresses squeezed past with trays of food. Elin Ey is one part of Sis Ey, but her set today was acoustic and down tempo, a stark contrast to the upbeat electro sound of her band. She also threw in a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams which was so chilled and oddly perfect for the strange surroundings.

Elin Ey, Iceland Airwaves 05.11.15

Next we headed to Bio Paradis, a cinema that also has a gallery space – there’s a group show on at the moment, mostly 2D media, worth checking out if you’re still in Reykvavik. We came to see Sekuoia from Denmark, acoording to the bio, Sekuoia is just 1 guy, but there were two performing today, maybe that’s just for the live version? There were a few technically issues (such as the sound cutting out completely), but they smiled and got on with it, chilled out beats, sort of reminded me of Royksopp, but not.

Sekuoia, Iceland Airwaves 05.11.15

Next stop was Galleri Fold, next door but one to the infamous Lucky Records (whose Off venue program lasts a full weel). We’d never been in here before because it’s always had that vibe of posh commmerical gallery. We stayed for two bands here – the amazingly prog rock Electric Space Orchestra, whose intruments included a digeridoo and the theremin. They were followed by Black Desert Sun who were more traditional rock metal.

Electric Space Orchestra, Iceland AIrwaves 05.11.15

Next up it was time for some on-venue action, so we headed to Harpa, starting out watching a band trubotharnir by accident, as the sign posts outside the rooms were incorrect, no offence to this band, they sounded great but we were wanting to check out Borko next door.

Always a humerous performer and once again flanked by trombones and trumpets, Borko got our spirits lifted with tunes such as Ding Dong Kingdom and Sing To The World and it was all too soon before he was departing the stage.

Borko, Iceland Airwaves 05.11.15

Next up was Low Roar, which as the name might suggest, sound like a low roar, lo-fi, but I’m afraid their performance didn’t set me on fire – somewhat lacking the roar bit. This was despite having enjoyed listening to some of their tracks on Spotify. So if i’m honest, waiting for Mercury Rev was like torture. But eventually we were put out of our misery, and Mercury Rev burst onto the stage in spooky smoke, throwing long shadows around the stage.

Mercury Rev, Iceland Airwaves 05.11.15

They were nothing short of amazing, Jonathan Donahue’s flamboyant gestures and performance were show stopping. The only suprise for me of the set was that they didn’t bother with recent single ‘Are You Ready?’ (was it really a single? it had a video release, which makes me think it kinda is). And I also didn’t really expect them to play my favourite (Little Rhymes) – but this didn’t stop them being a favourite of the festival.

 

 

Airwaves15 – Day 1

We took it quite slow today, starting the day by heading to Kringlan Mall, which we’ve never done before for a bit of shopping. The husand bought a new hat and I, we I bought some yarn. Three lots of yarn from three different shops. I have a lot of crocheting to do when i get home. After walking back to our apartment, we decided to catch some off venue performances and started at Hlemmur Square – a hostel with a great bar (seriously, they have an amazing beer range, complete with menu with tasting notes), only stones throw from our base. First up were For A Minor Reflection, with their amazing intrumental, experimental, post rock throw down, it was packed, so it was more listen than watch – but this always happens with this band. We then decided to hang around for Börn – a proper post-punk band, the leas singer singing and screaming like her heart was being ripped out with a rusty fork at time. She seriously reminded me of Ian Curtis with her onstage performance.

Börn, Iceland Airwaves 04.11.15

Next up was Miri more rock, less punk, grinding guitars and apparently the drummer also works at Hlemmur!

Miri, Iceland Airwaves 04.11.15

The only official ‘on venue’ gig we managed was Mafama at Idno – it was a bit of an odd one, as a venue, it looked initially like we’d stumbled into a restaurant, that used to be an old cinema or theatre (think huge ornate ceiling). We only stayed for a couple of tracks, due to a few aches and pains and the need to sit down being more pressing. I enjoyed what I saw / heard any how – after listening to them via Spotify for the past few months, the traditional band set up (bar the singer with his errr noise making machine) really surprised me.

Mafama - Iceland Airwaves 04.11.15

Day 4 – Driving South Iceland back to Reykjavik

The last day of our South Island trip, we were heading from Vik back to Reykjavik for Iceland Airwaves festival. Our plan was to see the infamous black beach, Dyrholaey and be at our apartment for 3pm, as we had to return our car by 3:30.

So off to the black beach – it was less than 10 minutes drive from our hotel, and when we got there, it was raining and blowing a gale, all whilst the sun is shining!

Black Beach at Vik (Reynisfjara)

Then it was time to visit Dyrholaey. it was a landmark already programmed into the SatNav, however we were expecting to be taken onto the beach aside it. Not onto the cliff overlooking it. It was the scariest drive of my life, so steep with what looked like a sheer drop to the side of the single car pathway. Once we reached the top and I stepped out of the car I seriously felt ill, the thought of driving back down was terrifying. However it was more than worth it for the view – also worth mentioning that there is a WC up there, should you need it!

Dyrhólaey

Dyrhólaey

The drive down, oddly enough was less scary, even though we had to deal with passing a car, which was a bit hairy! Then it was time for the drive back to Reykjavik, which again was full of natural wonders, such as snow capped mountains, more waterfalls, at one point we got stuck in some very slow moving traffic, behind a hearse!

We arrived at our apartment just before 3pm. Went to check in, and uh-oh, no keys left for us. This was despite having email confirmation and making payment 10 days before arriving, our booking had been lost… we were then given a room that was technically an upgrade. Yay, we thought, but it is a weird room, we gain a sofa to watch tv on, but lose a wardrobe – there’s a chest of drawers but this was stuffed full of spare bedding! We’ve actually stayed in this same apartment block for the previous 2 years, so weird to find that the luxury room doesn’t have a kettle, or tea, coffee & oil for cooking – which were previously provided in our basic room. Unessassary shopping trip ahoy.

Anyway, we didn’t get up to much else, after sorting our room situation we mnaged to get the car back to BSI with seconds to spare. No extra payments were made, at times we did wonder whether all the pot holes and gravel roads would end up with some additional fees for damage, but thankfully not.

We then headed directly to Harpa to collect our wristbands for Airwaves, followed by Lebowski for a burger – its a personal tradition. And at this point we’d realised we hadn’t eaten since breakfast!  We then headed back to our apartment, too tired to head out for some early starting Off-venue events, and this played in our favour, as around 7:30pm the Northern Lights came out in full force! Although many, many guides seem to insist that you need clear, dark (ie no light pollution) skies, here is proof of what you can see & photograph, when your back yard is awash with street and security lights!

Aurora over Reykjavik

Day 3 – Driving around South Iceland

a tarmac road dissapearing into the distance

Today’s mission was quite simple – to visit Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, approx 2.5 hours drive east from Vik. It did take slightly longer, to once again being exposed to amazing scenery along the way. Waterfall after waterfall, rainbows, endless expances of lava fields, black volcanic matter, green mossy hills, some parts reminded me of the teletubbies landscape.

waterfall falling from a mossy hillside
One of many waterfalls

We were starting to get distracted, then realised we needed to get a move on and made it to Jökulsárlón around 2:30 in the afternoon, thankfully. After being there about half an hour it started to rain, hard, however by this point we were warming up with coffee in the cafe, which also sells soup and sandwiches, and souvenirs. Oh and free wifif – just ask at the desk for a code!

Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon blue icebergs against backdrop of mountains
Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

Back on the road towards Vik, we tried to stop off at the places we’d seen but not had time to stop at, most of the area is known as Katla geopark, and if you stop at the rest stops marked with signs indicating a picnic area, there are boards with information about the area.

a tarmac road dissapearing into the distance
The 1, ring road

Once we arrived back in Vik, we ended up going back to Hallsdorkaffi for dinner again, as we’d managed to yet again missed lunch (after a trip to Vínbúðin to stock up our room). Then exhausted, we headed back to our hotel, where we had a power cut, more rain, more rain, and upon reading about a high magnitude of aurora activty, set my alarm for 6am. unfortunately there was too much cloud (rain cloud), so back to bed we went.

Driving around South Iceland – Day 2

On our 2nd day, we awoke to the sound of rain pounding on the roof of our B&B, we’d been able to choose what time to have breakfast, so a long lie in was relished. For breakfast we were spoilt by our host – we got the opportunity to try foods that we wouldn’t normally – such as Icelandic lava bread (rye bread baked using the geothermal head underground), with boiled egg and pickled herring – this was so good (I can’t believe i’ve not tried it before), along with traditional icelandic smoked lamb, we tried two types – one was very smoky smelling, the other was marbled throughout the meat – this was my favourite. Along with all this was more meat and cheese, soft boiled eggs and homemade bread – all so delicious and washed down with a pot of coffee. We were sad to leave, I can tell you – but out into the rain we headed

Breakfast feast at Húsið við Hafið
Breakfast feast at Húsið við Hafið

Rather than use the SatNav, we decided to use the scenic map we’d picked up, so we drove on a more local road than the ring road, and stopped off at Knarraros Lighthouse, where some wild horses came to inspect us – I was slightly worried, as I’d always thought of the Icelandic ponies and medium hight, these were huge!

Knarraros concrete square Lighthouse
Knarraros Lighthouse

We continued on road 305, which runs along þjórsá – Iceland’s longest river. At times the road was nothing but a gravel, farmland type road (our car was covered in mud). We managed to miss ‘the greatest panorama in Iceland’ which oddly enough was right next to fljotsholar – apparently a great place to buy carrots, but neither were well signed posted so we carried straight on until we reached Villingaholtskirkja a small, traditional looking church and home of the great Saga writerJjon Erlendsson.

Villingaholtskirkja church made of currugated iron
Villingaholtskirkja

Next stop on our tour was Urriðafoss waterfall, after taking the turn off, then thinking it was the wrong one as it went past a little guesthouse, we eventually arrived down a potholed road. It was worth it, there was another car of 4 people there, so very peaceful, the roar of the water is amazing.

Urriðafoss waterfall in southern iceland
Urriðafoss waterfall

After Urriðafoss we joined the 1 (the Icelandic ring road), and headed towards Vik. We did make a few more stop offs, as the ring road is littered with picnic areas or small areas you can pull off the road, to photograph stuff. There’s a ton of waterfalls, and lava fields, and just all round amazing, stunning, scenery and nature. Btw, the birds here are very flighty when it comes to personal safety, flying across the path of your car, my heart was in my mouth a few times!

So we arrived at our hotel in Vik, Hotel Katla around 3pm. We unloaded, then headed into the centre of Vik to get food, as all we’d not eaten since breakfast! Seriously in need of caffeine!

We ate at Halldorskaffi then bought supplies from the shop a few doors down, and headed back to the hotel, where we jumped in the hottub again, we were hoping to see the Northern Lights, but no such luck – another night listening to the rain battering the roof and windows!

Driving around South Iceland – Day 1

communl area of sofa with low lighting

Yesterday we arrived in Iceland for the 3rd Airwaves festival in a row. Except this time, I decided it would be an excellent idea to tag on 3 days at the beginning for a South coast trip. Which sounds like fun for most people, except I was terrified, despite having driven around the US for 10 days, including navigating LA’s 7 lane highways, for some reason I was super nervous.

We landed at Keflavik airport, and after checking over our vehicle (and going back to report more damage – including a large window chip that only showed up as the windows steamed up, as we sat there trying to work out controls), we hit the road. Panic set in after about 20 minutes; we’d been feeling chipper as the GPS said we only had 20 minutes to our destination, then we passed the turn off the for the Blue Lagoon, which I knew was North on the way to Reykjavik, so we figured something had happened and the GPS hadn’t saved our destination of Stokkseyri. We found a ‘viewing platform’ to pull off at, reprogrammed the GPS and instead of turning us around, we carried on North, with me feeling stressed… I’ve since found out that there are two routes, the route that goes past Reykjavik is only 1 km and 2 minutes longer than the Southern route we were expecting to take. So panicking for nothing.

It turns out we arrived at our (rather gorgeous) B&B the time we estimated, dropped our bags and headed back out the way we came, to Selfoss for dinner. Anthony had found a great place called Kaffi Krus online, which turned out better than we even expected, after viewing the menu online. It was so cosy, full of locals and happy chatter. I had the greek salad, I dont normally order salad in resturants, but a greek salad (feta and olives, OMG) with cajun chicken – had to be done and didnt disappoint! Sadly we were too full to try any of the delicious cakes they had in the cabinet.

Cakes at Kaffi Krus
Cakes at Kaffi Krus

After dinner we drove back (again, the same road) to Stokkseyri, to fully appreciate our B&B – called Húsið við Hafið (the house by the sea), it’s a beautiful wooden house, set by the sea – in the dark we couldn’t fully appreciate just how close. After settling in, and cracking open a couple of Icelandic beers picked up from the airport, we jumped in the hot tub out on the veranda for a while Unfortunately the Northern Lights weren’t playing out but that didn’t reduce our enjoyment at all!

woman in a hot tub outdoors at night
Hot Tub!

Photos of the cakes and me in the hottub courtesy of @lukewarmdog