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20 September 2013 @ 08:49 pm
Dorking - Day 1 of Iceland stories and pictures  

I gave a basic overview of the day's activities earlier, but here I'll supply the photographic evidence as well. :)

Getting to my hotel was absolutely simple since one of the bus companies offers a program called flybus+ which takes you directly from the airport to your hotel for an entirely reasonable $5 premium over being dropped off at the bus station. The proprietress of the guest house was in the breakfast room and got me checked in, settled, and oriented to the city very quickly and then provided me with a free tasty skyr to get me off to a proper start.

It was about three kilometers to the city center and the locations where I had plans for the day, but I still did not have any local currency and the buses are one of the very few places where one cannot use plastic in Iceland, so I set off on foot. It actually ended up working brilliantly - it was nice to walk after being cooped up, I stopped at a bank that was still closed but had an ATM in the atrium, broke the big bills by purchasing a yummy donut-type cardamom flavored twist, found the central hub for the city buses and bought a packet of ride tickets, and walked down to the National Museum, arriving just as they opened.

Whenever I travel, I tend to develop a "rule" for that country. The rule often applies to subsequent countries as well, but I tend to refer to it by the country anyway. In Scotland, it is "don't back up" (you're far too likely to fall off something or step in something unpleasant). In India, it was "there are no handrails" (watch yourself, because no one else is going to, certainly not the government). I very quickly discovered that Iceland's is "bring your pashmina."  It had been sunny and beautiful when I left the guesthouse. By the time I got to the museum, it was grey, freezing cold, windy, and the rain was coming in sideways! Yoiks! Luckily I HAD brought the pashmina and I wrapped it over my head and shoved my hands into my pockets.

Happily, the National Museum was more than worth the weather-related adventure. Oh. My. The wealth of materials was stunning and I had a splendid time. They did not have a decent catalog (either in English or Icelandic) so I ended up going all paparazzi on the Norse exhibits. The pashmina came in handy here as well, as I used it draped over my head or over exhibits to block glare and reflections. (Whut? I have no shame when it comes too getting a decent research shot! :P) Many of the exhibits were things I was well familiar with, like the Thor figurine, but others were delightful surprises, and the opportunity to take good photos of others was intoxicating. (The fibers, oh my gods, the fibers! Weaving and naalbinding and embroidery, oh my!) Some of the favorites:

The Thor figurine has pride of place near the main entrance.
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Cooking implements. The jars in the back contain residues of dairy products, probably skyr. :)
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A neat little hreftafl king
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Detail of a stole
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A sewn mitten of vadamal
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...and one of naalbinding
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They also had an amazing display of early modern silverwork where the pieces were displayed as if they were undersea creatures.
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There's a LOT more in the full National Museum Flickr set. Enjoy!

After the National Museum I went to the Culture House, which was interesting, but didn't really tell me anything new and I suspect would have been more exciting if I either didn't know much about manuscripts or if I did not know I had an appointment for the Arni Magnusson Institute in a few days. In general, I'd say C&I geeks could give this one a pass and feel no misgivings. Their reading room, though, was beautiful...
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The Phallological Society Museum (seriously, their website is www.phallus.is!) was the next stop and that was silly campy fun. :P

Biggest (humpback whale) in the foreground...
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...and the smallest (hamster baculum)
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Having had a very long day, I then walked back to the guest house and headed across the street to the local pool and hot pots. I sampled a famous Icelandic hot dog on the way. I'm not usually a hot dog kind of girl, but that's their thing. I had it "with everything" which meant raw onions, crispy onions, ketchup, and a suspicious brown sauce. The hot dogs there were made of lamb, so that was neat and tasty, but I was still underwhelmed by that culinary experience. The hot pots, on the other hand, were delightful and I happily soaked for about an hour before wandering back to the guest house to hit the hay early.

 
 
Current Mood: dorkydorky
 
 
 
Ulfhildr: woweeyuri_shoujo on September 21st, 2013 07:14 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness. Looks like it was a blast. And thanks so much for sharing the national museum photos *__* Those will be handy, I'm sure.
eithni: Yummy!eithni on September 22nd, 2013 07:01 pm (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed them. :) I figured I pretty much could NOT take too many photos for the Norse Nerds. :)
Albredaalbreda on September 23rd, 2013 01:04 pm (UTC)
Yeah, no such thing as being to dorky to get a good shot. I think I actually lay on the floor for some shots in Oseberg. </p>

Fwiw, it looks like the phallological museum has gone *really* upscale! When I was there in the early 00's(?), it was more like a curio shop that happened to have a theme, with penises crammed into every available space with little mismatched ID cards. I guess they get enough traffic to be able to afford the upgrade?

eithni: ?!?!?!?eithni on September 23rd, 2013 01:40 pm (UTC)
They're right on the high street in Reykjavik now , no longer tucked into tiny little Husavik, so I think the increased traffic and recent features in publications has given them enough funding to step up their game. It's still a quirky, little, poorly labeled little museum, but they seem to be striving to be more respectable these days.