When I arrived in the airport, all the rental car offices were closed. I finally found a way to call the place I'd made a reservation with and they came and picked me up... They drove me out to this warehouse filled with strange mechanical devices, lumber and a small desk. The rental car employee apologized saying they were just getting up and running. I thought I'd entered some crazy outpost at the end of the world with no facilities... In fact, I soon learned that Iceland's main towns are as cosmopolitan and convenient as anyplace I've been.
The weather has been insane. The day I arrived, 20 meters per second winds (we also experienced 30 mps, technically they call this a Hurricane) are knocking me around as I try to get in my car. Snow and rain is blowing everywhere. On the first night the road to the hotel I'd booked in Vik had been closed, so I drove to Reykjavik instead.. at first I'm terrified of driving in the snow and worried about snow tires and the chains they're also demanding you put on your car in America. Within a few days, I'm doing 80KM an hour during near blizzard conditions. You get used to it!
It's so different than anything I've experienced growing up in California, I'm in awe of this place. I'm truly smitten, and decided to stay through Christmas and New Years Eve. I never had any appreciation for snow or cold weather places, but with my (relatively) new love for photography, I find the opportunities here overwhelming. I've been happily shooting away each day (all 4 hours of them- the sun rises at 11 and sets at 3 during this time of year!) and on many nights when the skies are clear.
Strange Iceland Facts:
* I've had the best hamburger I've had in years at an N1 gas station.
* Skalmold, "folk-metal" based on ancient Icelandic sagas is on sale everywhere like it's Miley Cyrus
* You can get your car unstuck from the snow with a children's toy shovel and a car mat
* You don't really need to take tours to see things, except the ice caves
* Lots of guys are named "Thor" (even my ice cave guide pictured here was named Thor)
* You will see some of the biggest monster truck wheels you've ever seen in your life
* It's hard to find anything open in the rural towns after 6:00pm
* Hotel desks in rural areas are unstaffed at night (Eek! Car sleeping is no fun)
* The ring road is awesome, you can get to almost all the big sites by following this one road
* There is no entry fee for all the natural wonders, parks, etc.
* People seem helpful and not trying to rip you off
I have not learned a word of Icelandic, or I'd say Farewell, thank you in Icelandic. Everyone speaks English... So Farewell for now, thank you :)
The funny thing is I was not out there planning to shoot. I just happened to be in the neighborhood picking up my "new" (its from 1984) "classic" (I'm not sure everyone would agree) Vanagon. To me its a very beachy car, and I happened to have the Beach Boys on the stereo driving right past the pier. Luckily I had my tripod and camera with me... All in all, it was a very summer-sy moment. :-)
It began with my desire to take a sunrise photo. Its my first time in Cambodia, and I'd yet to visit the famous temple at dawn. I got up at 4:30am to be in place for the sunrise. I was up so early, there were still stars in the sky. My trusty Tuk Tuk man Heng greeted me and we began the 30 minute drive out to the temple through the old town of Siem Reap.
As we drew closer, we both noticed strange lights shooting up from the general direction of the temple and into the starry night sky. Heng has lived here since he was 11 years old and told me he'd never seen these lights. I speculated that they must be practice/preparation for some kind of show they're planning at the temple.
When we arrived outside the temple itself, the number of people there took me by surprise. Loads of tourists were walking across the bridge that crosses the moat, their flashlights and headlamps looking like tiny fireflies off in the distance. Instead of following everyone in. I stopped at the exterior moat and began to take long exposure photos for several minutes. Here's one of them.
To the naked eye, the lights looked white and not terribly interesting, so I was quite surprised to see what showed up in my camera after leaving the shutter open for awhile. (Over on the left you can barely make out the tourists walking across the bridge.)
I've yet to see any other photos like this of the ancient temple, but as of last night, there must be a bunch in existence. I wonder if anyone got photos like this up close to the temple itself? (In my photo, the temple is that tiny structure in the middle that looks like a Disney castle...)
Anyway, hope you get a chance to visit someday. I'm loving the people and place. Cambodia has been an unexpected delight.
- University of California at Berkeley
- University of California at Los Angeles
- MySpaceformer President, 2003 - 2008
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