Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's in Iceland

This New Year's Eve was definitely the most unique of my life. It was amazing! We were invited to go to Kristján and Soley's place. The dinner was delicious and the fireworks were spectacular! Now, I come from Utah where fireworks are only permitted 6 days of the year, all in July. Although, the public only get to play with the fountains, sparklers, tanks, ect. Any thing that sores up into the air and explodes is illegal and often smuggled in from Wyoming. There is just such a strong fire hazard that fireworks are to be used in caution for more than one's body part's sake. :) Not in Iceland. There have been fireworks going off randomly all week and tonight was the jackpot. Starting from about 3 in the afternoon, we could hear the sounds of fireworks. They became more frequent as the night grew darker and the New Year drew closer.

We were picked up at six and ate dinner (leg of lamb, a variety of potatoes and other delectable starches, peas, corn, and a raisin/cabbage salad.) Then, we headed off to a giant bonfire.

This thing was huge, hot, and more entertaining than I would have supposed.

Xan enjoyed making fun of the Icelanders who couldn't throw anything into the fire. They all came out short. He was justified when he walked the walk and make his throw straight into the pile.

Soley, Kristján, their two daughters Yria and Anja, Maliana, Xan and I were all there. The kids enjoyed playing with sparklers.

This is a shot I snuck in of Maliana. She's a little camera shy.

They had us caged in on one half of the bonfire, but the other half had no fence. We didn't understand the logic...

Here is Xan and I. I had Maliana take this shot so it looks good.

Then we went back to have our own firework display.

Xan and Dani (their son) hit it off in their love of blowing things up. They tried all sorts of experiments. Here is a video of them almost blowing themselves up. Xan was described as all sorts of things tonight. Among them were a kid, a terrorist, and a mad scientist. I think there might have been a communist comment thrown in there, too, but I don't remember. Here is a video to back up the statements.

Around midnight, the fireworks went balistic!

We walked up onto a nearby hill to get more of a panoramic view. Here is a video of the city about ten to midnight.

It was definitely something I have never seen before. I really can't imagine how much money I saw blowing up when Iceland is in such a financial crisis, but then... it was probably a great moral booster and worth it. There is absolutely no fire hazard here since it is so cold, wet, and the houses are mostly built with concrete outsides. The fireworks were being lit right off the grass!

Then, after we were frozen from being outside, we went in and played a game Maliana had recently purchased. It was called "Depression" or something like that and fit the financial times. It was so ironic with the current events and up to date that we all had some good laughs.

In the picture above from left to right there is Soley, Maliana, Björg (Soley's Mom and the branch president's wife) and Anja. Sorry, I didn't get a picture of all the men. I forgot. But Olafur (the branch president) and Kristján played, too.

We were dropped home about 2:30 in the morning and I have seen and heard even more fireworks going off while I have been writing this blog and its 3 am!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Nacreous Clouds

This is a picture that I took after the sun had already set. Xan says that the cloud is reflecting the sunlight instead of diffracting it. This phenomenon only occurs in the North regions where temperatures will reach -85 C in the sky. It was really pretty and definitely deserved its own post. It looked like fire in the sky.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A very long walk...

I am so sore I really don't want to move. Xan and I had bought plane tickets to London for this upcoming Monday in order to be able to get into Iceland. Iceland required us to have a ticket out of the country in order for us to get into the country. Well, we were planning on changing it or moving the date or something once we figured out if I could stay or not but forgot about the whole all businesses shut down from the 24th to the 26th and the 27th would be the weekend and the flight leaves on Monday. Oops! So, we took our chances that the ticket office MIGHT be opened today and walked the 35 min. to the Reykjavík airport. Yep, it was closed. We will be able to call on Monday and see if anything can be done then. Fortunately, we were so close to Perlan (a huge tourist attraction) we decided to not make the long trek a waste. I had my camera so here are lots more pictures. The pictures were taken mostly between 1-4 pm.

This first shot is the University Xan attends.

Here is Perlan on top of the hill. It used to hold all the cities water but they only use a couple of the big tanks now. It was a trek up and I am now very aware of how out of shape I am.

One thing I am still getting used to is how green it is here in the middle of December! It looks like Utah in late July to early September. If you look closely in this picture, you will see all the moss on the rocks.

This building was so big! It is lit up at night in green and red. If you look closely at the tanks, you'll be able to see the faint lights shining.

There was an awesome view on the deck. This is looking North. Maybe a little Northeast.

This one is more North.

Here is a shot of Northwest. That really tall building is the famous church they have here and I'm so mad that it has scaffolding right now because it would make the picture look fantastic!

This picture is west. The main road you see is Hringbraut. We live down that road right off the coast. (about 2 min walk inland from the coast)

Here is a picture of the South. I love this picture because it is hard to see the line between the ocean and the sky. It is all just a blue blur.

I took this shot to give a better idea of where things are in relation to others. The left of the picture has Hringbraut and you can also see the cool church building with the scaffolding. In between these two landmarks is downtown Reykjavík. You've seen most of the country's capital just by viewing these photos. It is so small and cozy!

This picture is back to the Northeast side. The second largest mall, Kringlan, is just right of the tallest building on the right.

I was very brave today and wore my hair partly down. It wasn't incredibly windy but I still needed to use my detangle spray (Sauve kid's hair detangler) when I got home. It was worth it.

Here is a picture of Xan.

Inside Perlan, there was some kind of Christmas party going on. There were lots of people everywhere! Here is a picture of their Santa Claus's singing along to the band behind them. They were singing all the children's Christmas songs. These Santa Claus's have more of a troll appearance than ours.

I took a video of the audience participating.

They had a geyser outside to see. They made the hole so it is technically a man-made geyser but the hot water was already in place. It just needed the hole.

These pictures do not do the greenery justice. This picture was taken on our walk back home.

Here are some buildings left by the British Army before the 1950's when the US army came.

Here is a random truck. We have no idea why it is there.

The planes get really low with the airport so close. It is fun to watch.

Well, that was our walk. We stopped off at the National Museum of History where I bought an expensive but worth it book on Nordic God Mythology and Legend with beautiful illustrations. Then, we bought half a loaf of bread from the bakery. Now, we are making our pie. Finally!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

Xan and I celebrated Christmas the relaxed way. We slept in until around noon and opened our one present from my Grandma Beck that she gave us right before we left (thanks, Grandma! Love you!). I've been cleaning the apartment up a bit and Xan was fixing our internet connection. All in all, its been a nice and relaxing day. We are going to watch, "Three Wishes for Cinderella" which is a Czech movie. It is a Christmas movie more by tradition than an actual Christmas themed movie (kind of like, "It's a Wonderful Life"). We were going to make a pie but we have eaten so many carbs and lots of protein that we really don't feel like eating anything sweet or with more carbs. :) We'll save it for tomorrow when we can enjoy it.

Xan and I got Icelandic sweaters so here are some Christmas pictures of us by our Christmas tree in our traditional Icelandic attire. And no, Xan doesn't smile in these type of pictures.

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and are ready for New Year's!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

In Iceland, Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Eve. So, here is our Christmas party over at Betty's. The food was delicious! She had all sorts of potatoe dishes to satisfy my unhealthy addiction to potatoes (as Xan likes to claim I have). There was turkey, lamb, chicken, rice, ice cream, and cheescake. Fantastic! Here is a picture of some of the plates.

Here's a shot of us getting food. There's Elder Solberg, Elder Teodoro, Elder Higgins, Angie, Lizzie, Betty, and Joanne

Here's the youngest girl. This is Betty and Courtney's child Izabela. She is so adorable. I sneak her gold fish crackers during sunday school sometimes. :)

All the camera's had timers so while everyone was figuring out how to get all the cameras to take a good picture, I snapped this shot of those waiting.

In this picture, there is Joanne, me, Xan, Barbara, Ilene, the missionaries and then there is Angie, Lizzy, Betty, Courtney, and Izabela.

Here is a picture of her two oldest. They are from her first marriage. This is Lizzy, the younger on the left, and Angie. She isn't really this serious. She was just being silly.

Here's a better shot of them. I'm impressed at Lizzy's eyes. I can't get my eyes to be that good.

Betty isn't due until February but she has gotten really big. We tease her that there is a second one inside hiding.

They are such a generous family and made the evening a lot of fun and delicious. Thanks!

And of course, the double chin shot which I always try to take to get a good picture of us. It rarely works since I don't look usual and Xan usually looks bored. Someday I will learn but until then...

Tomorrow, on our American Christmas, we are going to make a pie. Not sure that anything else is planned but that will do it for now. :)

Gleðileg Jól! (Merry Christmas!)

Unpacked for the first time in 4 months!

The time has come, folks! Xan and I have moved up to the attic and although there are still many loose ends to tie up before we can say we are 'done', we can finally unpack for the first time since we have been married... 4 months!!!

Here are some pictures. The first is of the staircase... which I love!

Once you get to the top of the stairs, there is an open hallway which you can see all the doors from. It's kind of like the hub. This next picture is if you look to your left. You can see our bedroom, then there is the bathroom in the middle, and the kitchen at the very left edge of the photo.

This one is if you look straight ahead. The door straight ahead is to the balcony. Then there are two doors on the right side. The closest to us is the family room/dining room. The next room is our clothes and laundry room.

Off of the left, the first door is the kitchen. Here is the cabinet side with all of the appliances.

And here is the other side with the counter and shelf. There is about a two and a half foot space between the two. It is small but has a bunch more counter space and cabinets compared to downstairs so I am extremely happy with it. Makes cooking so much more convienent.

Then there is the bathroom.

I really love our shower shower curtain. I picked it out, of course.

You already got a glimpse of the bedroom but here is a better shot. For the first time since Xan and I arrived, we were able to sleep not only in the same bed, but in the same room! Well, not for very long. We still don't have a mattress and we are just using the camping pads that Xan was sleeping on earlier but it didn't work well. Xan ended up on the couch for most of the night and I have a pretty sore back since I stayed. :) It is just one of those loose ends to be fixed. But, the bedspread and the curtains make the room look fantastic.

The balcony is cool... good for shaking out rugs and stuff... but I probably won't get to enjoy it properly until Spring. :)

The next room is the clothes/laundry room. Our bedroom is too small to keep the wardrobe in so it is in this room. The washer is downstairs that we use but there is no dryer so we use this room to hang up all of our clothes. At least, we will once we get one of those clothe's rack things.

The last room on the tour... and of our apartment... is the family/dining room. We still eat on the floor or the couch since we have yet to get a table

And in the corner that you can't see in the photo above, but you can see in this next one, we have our Christmas tree! It is decorated with Christmas wrapping ribbon that I tied into small bows, a white ribbon that says "Scandinavian Bathroom" on the other side that came with a set of towels we bought, and a White dove acting as a star that I got at the Outreach Christmas party last week as a white elephant gift. I am finally learning to be resourceful. :)

Oh yeah, and that really big tv that people had left is broken. Xan and I carried it all the way up from the basement just to find that it turns itself off after 10 sec. No wonder they left it! Fortunately, there is a smaller tv that people up here in the attic had left that works just fine. Now we can watch Icelandic tv.

I'll have more pictures to post later of all the Christmas festivities we do. We are going to Betty's tonight for a Christmas dinner and then we are making a pie tomorrow for Christmas. All the stores are apparently closed today and won't open again until Saturday. Or so we are told. So, Xan and I are all stocked up on food and are excited to celebrate our first Christmas as a family and our third Christmas together. (Funny thing about that. Xan realized yesterday that we are also celebrating Christmas in a third place. Our first year dating, we were in Thailand visiting his parents. The second year dating, we spent it in Utah with my family, and now we are celebrating in Iceland. Can't wait to find out where we will be spending Christmas next year!)