When I took the Metro to the airport this morning I read that there was a 5.1 earthquake in Andalucia. Seems quite severe, I hope there's a hostel left staning in Granada and Malaga. I couldn't feel the quake myself although at one point last evening I thought my legs are behaving a bit funny :P
Anyways, catching the flight on time became a very close call, cause those fuckers at RyanAir are incapable of writing the neither the counter, gate or terminal on the online ticket. So I had 30 minutes to run through the whole airport back and forth to find my counter and just barely made it, sheesh. The flight itself was probably the most unspectacular I've been on so far. It was the first time for me that I couldn't sit at the window, instead a fony dickhead who slept the whole way through and his stupid girlfriend that got sick of flying and looking out the window got the best seat besides me D: At least we arrived on time, I left Madrid, cloudy 15¤C at 9:20 and arrived in Porto, sunny 22¤C at 9:15, perfecto.
Took me awhile to figure out where the hostel is and how to get there because of the winding, steep and narrow streets here but eventually I made it. The hostel is teh awesome, looks like someones rich parents aren't home ;D At first glance Porto seems to be the direct opposite of Madrid, it's cosy and somehow rougher. No polished facades and white marble palaces. But when I step to my window it's totally obvious that Porto has its very own charme.
For bow I'll check if I can grab some chocolate con churros (you gotta look that up, it's deliciargasmic) anywhere around here, walk down to the riverside and fetch Senor Martin from the airport around midnight.I already miss Madrid :/
Street lights are mostly just another LED in the neon wilderness. That one guy from Cali who's been living in Kunming for some years told me that many of them are equipped with facial recognition devices. If you've got a bank account here and get caught jaywalking they immediately detract the penalty. Fits right into the scheme, but I'll save that for another story.
On the way back then I asked a guy to take me back downtown. He was like:"100¥" – "Yeah yeah, OK". Fast forward 20 minutes, back at Luomashi station I get out my wallet, point my finger at his meter. 40. "This is not a hundred, man." – "Awww whaaat? I said a hundred, no meter!" That fucking moron, he even tried to insist. I scolded him for a minute, making sure he very well understood not to fuck with me, banged 40 bucks on his dash and slammed his door shut. Tss.
The morning rush hours add another element to the mix. There's just so many people up and about that there's officers equipped with megaphones that have to take care of the orderly process of getting in and out the trains. On the very first station of the line I noticed they let in only about 10 people per door so as to keep enough space for the following stations. Never had to wait more than three minutes for a train in Chengdu, it's just that nice! In Kunming they frequent at six.
What. A. Day.
As soon as I left the hostel I noticed the majestic mountain ridge surrounding the town of Höfn, that I wasn't aware of earlier cause it was so dark when I arrived. I immediately ran for the nearest hill to be rewarded with a stunning panoramic view over the peninsula that holds the town and its neighbouring peaks. On to le bakery and the local Netto (blue and white) to grab some food - this is the very first country I travelled where the baked goods actually deliver what their looks promise.
Then I drove back some 70km to the West to check out the glacier lagoon I also missed in the darkness of the night before. Like any other well known sight here it was more than worth visiting. Four or five tongues of Vatnajökull - Europe's largest glacier - run down into this single lake where they calve and completely fill up a large lake with icebergs. The atmosphere in that place was incredibly serene and calm. All you could hear was the delicate sound of patches of ice colliding. And there's ice just about everywhere you look. All kinds of different shapes, sizes and even the colours differ from piece to piece. I thought it would be very cool to get some of the pure glacial water so I pulled out my empty bottle and fetched some for the way.
Back in the car, riding eastwards. Passing by the free roaming thick-wooled sheep (they tend to look at me in such a cute way when I approach them :3 ) I pulled out my lunch, „Yeah nice, free water to flush it down!“ *gulp* pfrrrztzsssbbrtz - salty D: The glacial lagoon flows into the Atlantic and apparently mixes with it. Fuuuuu.
Well alright, lesson learned and on my way around the southeastern tip of Iceland. The area is dominated by huge mountains and a rugged coastline. Several times there were considerable amounts of fallen rocks the size of my head on the road and it's best to always keep an eye on the cliff above. The route went through endless meandering fjords with the raging ocean just a couple of meters to the right and the foot of the mountains directly to the left of me. And every single time I come think if there's anything left I don't expect to see, it doesn't take too long for something to happen. Reindeer chilling across the road and looking at me like:“Yo homes, what up?“.
Then it got interesting. The first icy spots appeared on the road. The further North I went the more it got until at some point the road changed from asphalt to gravel. I don't have a 4x4 so maneuvering those passages became quite demanding. I couldn't even take the short route to Egilsstaðir cause it was completely frozen over and a sign said “might be impassable, no winter service“. So I had to drive some extra 60km which weren't exactly easy as well. But the scenery was breathtaking. After I left the coastline the road took me up into the mountains and everything was just white. I thought of it as the exact opposite of last nights ride to Höfn. You just haven't seen anything like it, it felt like I was driving up to Lhasa.
A tunnel took me out of the whiteness into a bright valley where half of the snow gave way to tundraic coloured specks of grass and riverbanks with some forest-like groups of awkwardly shaped trees in between. It was just so gorgeous to behold. Then I finally could make out the town of Egilsstaðir which meant I only had 20km left to Seyðisfjörður, yay! If I only had known...
The whole time battling the icy roads I was so thankful I didn't have to do that during the night. It was half past four or so, so I still had some time before the sun would begin to set. I left Egilsstaðir and followed the road up a hill. Well alright, after a couple of turns I looked out the window only to recognize I could see the whole town, a mighty huge river and the vast, barren lands behind them. This wasn't just a hill, it turned out to be a fully-fledged mountain with even a small glacier on top. The road was covered in hard snow again and I had some zigzags to climb ahead of me. Usually when there's a sign to lower your speed I go ten beneath that, I still can't understand how the locals manage to rush through all these difficult parts. So when I drove uphill on a road completely covered in snow with an abyss just 5 meters away and a sign came up showing “30“ followed by another sign saying “10% steepness“ I nearly shat my pants. Slowly crawling ever onward being surpassed by five tank-sized trucks with wheels the size of, well - me, the only thing I could think of was that there was no way I could make it back down again tomorrow without my heart getting shredded to pieces. Luckily I would soon arrive at the hostel on top of the mountain and get some rest before I had to get to terms with that.
Not. After I passed a quite awesome waterfall it slowly dawned upon me. Before my eyes opened the large fjord that engulfs the town of Seyðisfjörður. Meaning I could suddenly see a looong snake of road winding its' way down to ocean level again. Well, fuck. I was going 30 almost all the way down, never letting go of the brakes. It wasn't exactly dangerous or something but a steep, icy road with a 110° turn at the end really gets me. It was very reassuring that the guys from the Icelandic winter service really know what they're doing and after I made that I knew I can take it the way back tomorrow as well.
So there I was, in the lovely town of Seyðisfjörður. It was really rewarding to end up in this remote settlement, it's just so nice here. Situated directly at the waterfront beneath the huge mountains it looks like a perfect place for Santa to live. And if I turn out to be seventy and a widower I'll move here and marry the girl from the supermarket's counter :)
The hostel is the best I've ever been to. It's run by Thora, a super nice woman in her fifties and some weird guy who was born in California. The whole interior feels so strangely familiar I cannot but feel like at home. Not in a sense of being reminded of my home back home but rather the feeling of being at home. Even the people in the village seem so familiar, everyone greets everyone and one guy even thought I was a local. Then when I was just about to write all this down the hostel guy came up and told me they had a meeting oflocal artists and musicians yesterday and since I'm the only guest tonight he had the idea of bringing me to them. “What, right now? Let's go!“ There were five girls and one guy from Norway, Denmark and France who live here in certain residencies for a couple of months to get creative, arrange exhibitions in their homes and exchange ideas and all that. It's a really interesting concept and we all had some wine, delicious ice cream with raspberries and a fun evening.
The weather forecast looks really bad, it's gonna be snowing the next 6 days or so. Thora says I can make it to Reykjavík in two days but if I stayed in Akureyri for more than one day I'd be stuck there for indefinite time. Whoa, I can't really imagine that after two days of perfect sunshine.
I hate leaving this place so soon again but I have to be in Reykjavìk on time to return the car and attend the festival, of course. *sigh*
I'm gonna come back here in five years, who's with me on that? How about summertime? ;) If you haven't been to Ísland, you ain't seen nothing yet. I think I haven't even used the word once but these lands are simply so beautiful it already tears up my heart thinking how I should keep going on living only with memories of this place.
It's Nickalive yet again. This time accompanied by Nem and Feik.