an eruption – AGAIN!

yep, easier to say Grímsvötn than Eyjafjallajökull though. Way easier.

Anyway, this is the largest eruption in Grímsvötn for at least the last 100 years. Also seems to be quite a bit more powerful than last year’s thing. Hopefully shorter lived, though.


(photo borrowed from ruv.is – hope they won’t mind the hotlink)

Also interesting to follow the iceberg lagoon live broadcast here.

More Harpa

Formal opening ceremony tonight, hopefully possible to watch here, starts 17:50 GMT. (in a bit less than 2 hours). Can’t wait. My huge choir will sing the 4th movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at the end of the concert around 20:00 GMT or so if anyone’s interested. Will post a link if this will be available on the net afterwards but I’m not sure it will be.

First part of the concert, symphony orchestra, youth choir, opera singers, children’s choir, an excellent pianist, second part the cream of Icelandic popular music, then the third part, a brand new piece for the opening and then the Beethoven. Quite a mixture of music. I’ll be in the audience for the first two parts and then run backstage to take part in the symphony movement. Don’t want to miss a thing…

A newsclip on a German radio station, you can see me + sister and daughter on 4:15 if you like – I’m second row furthest to the left and daughter comes to view beside me when the camera zooms out. Imagine the joy!

wow!

I really don’t have the right words to describe the music hall – and the atmosphere in all three concerts. 1800 people in a great mood, my husband heard before the concert and in the break various people proclaim that they hadn’t been keen on the building being finished when the economic crash came, of course such an endeavour isn’t cheap but all those people now think it’s all been worth it.

Concert was amazing, you can listen here.


photo borrowed with kind permission from Harpa Hrund, fellow singer.

our new concert hall

Our big piece of news – Reykjavík’s opening their brand new brilliant concert hall this week. We’re singing Beethoven’s 9th with Vladimir Askhenazy – first rehearsal with him today. Totally loved it. This house is SO going to be a huge asset, not only to Iceland’s music scene but also to our tourism – I just read that tenor singer Jonas Kaufmann’s concert two weeks from now is sold out, 1800 seats and 300 of those sold abroad. Don’t of course know if any of those buyers chose to travel to Iceland for the concert – but you never know.

Anyway, the concert halls and conference centers are pretty well full booked for the next year already, apparently.

Do take a look here. We’re totally excited!

Day #18 – not planned

After falling asleep around 7 PM I of course woke up around midnight, definitely not on the plan! Fortunately fell asleep again. I could definitely get used to the king size plus bed, we could have slept in a T if we had wanted.

Then properly woke up around four in the morning, feeling fine. I don’t think I’ve ever been so ready to wake up for a flight in the wee hours of the morning (when we fly to Europe from Iceland the flights are mostly early in the morning so normal wakeup hour for a flight is around 5 AM). Ate an unusual breakfast, olives and artichokes in olive oil and some chocolate pudding but took the chicken spears with us to eat on the plane so we wouldn’t have to buy breakfast there.

No trains this early, neither the airport trains nor the tube so we called the concierge to call a cab for us. Not a problem, got a call to the room 10 minutes later when the cab arrived. No walking between Terminals 5 and 1, the buildings aren’t connected and surroundings definitely not pedestrian friendly. Took 10 minutes to drive, I wouldn’t even have wanted to try to drive, really confusing to find the way, endless spaghetti junctions. Taxi left us in front of check-in on Terminal 1.

In we went and had to stand in a seemingly endless queue, we’ve gotten used to the luxury of self-check in or early check-in and baggage drop in Keflavík Airport, those queues are a thing of the past here. But no self-check in machines and no baggage-drop desk for Icelandair in Heathrow and only 2 desks to service a full plane, this took ages. Then of course another long queue for passport checks and the third one for security. I was really glad not to be tired to start with.

When we finally got within it was almost time to go to the gate, just had time to buy a bottle of Macallan (can’t get it in the duty-free in Keflavík any more) and a box of our favourite Thornton’s chocolates.

Found a McLaren car, of course I took a photo of my McLaren fan with the car. Would have liked to be able to sit in the car, but totally understand why they don’t let people do that, of course.

Walked all the way out to Gate 52 (a looong way, it seemed), a short wait and then everybody was hoarded on a bus and driven out to the plane. Jón Lárus and me thought a flight of 2 hours and 40 minutes really short, after all the long flights from Australia the days before.

Finally in the air, really really looking forward to getting home. Bought a glass of red wine each (hey, it was about 5 PM in our body time, even though it was morning for most everybody else) and ate the chicken we had left from our uneaten dinner the day before.

Reading and watching a movie in the short flight, a soft landing in Keflavík, eldest and sweetest daughter picked us up at the airport and then home at last. Lovely!

Day #17. Nope, not home yet

Can’t say I slept properly on the Abu Dhabi-London flight, mostly 10-15 minutes at a time. But the flight went well, and not a mention of ash in the in-flight messages until right at the end when we had to fly an extra round about Heathrow Airport since it was newly opened and there was a queue of planes to land.

hringsól

Never seen before how Iceland’s name looks in arabic:

Land we did, even especially soft landing. Out of the plane as usual. Then our troubles started.

Of course our flight was cancelled as I had been afraid of. Not even moved from Keflavík to Akureyri as they had done a few times. We had quite some problems finding out what we were supposed to do, first we went to a desk marked Information, that turned out to be a check-in table, the girl sitting under the Icelandair banner didn’t know anything, girl besides her on an Aer Lingus desk seemed really helpful and told us to go to Gate 14 for more information. The problem with that was only that Heathrow’s Terminal 1 doesn’t have a Gate 14 – only gates 1-12 and then 16-60. Went back to her – “oh, really? well they must have changed it then” Not very likely, really, the signs didn’t seem to be new or anything. Told us to go to the security gates, there finally we found someone that knew something about where to go – through the passport control and to the baggage reclaim area, apparently our baggage was supposed to come there (which we doubted, as it was checked all the way to Iceland). Of course it wasn’t there but we found a really really helpful guy in the Lost baggage dept. He told us to wait for 15 minutes to see if our baggage would show up, which it didn’t, he came back to us and got our baggage reclaim tickets and called Etihad Airways. They of course had withheld our bags since they knew our flight was cancelled and didn’t want to send the bags just somewhere – of course they didn’t know where we were or what flight we’d take back to Iceland. They then sent the bags pronto to where we were, the helpful guy went out to meet the car from Etihad and brought us our bags. Then told us to go to the check-in area, find a small stall marked Icelandair and the people there would tell us what to do next and hopefully book us on another flight soon.

There we met another nice man who booked us on the first flight the morning after (07:00 – hoping for the ash to clear) and told us to go talk to the hotel booking desk on the next floor up. Take a receipt for the hotel, Icelandair would then pay it back (yeah right – that sure didn’t work out well though – maybe more on that later).

Upstairs, turned out to be quite hard to find a hotel, the guy at the help desk tried really hard to find a room for us that we could check in right away (this was about 10:30 in the morning, not normal check-in time at hotels). Finally found one, a horribly expensive room at a hotel on Terminal 5. We couldn’t really go to a hotel in the city, since we had to show up at 5 the next morning and the tube and the airport buses don’t start running that early.

I think I’ve once in my life had such a nice hotel room. Huge, 2 lazy boy chairs, a big bathroom with both shower and bath and warm bathrobes and everything. Didn’t use the big TV in the bathroom but I did take a bath. Fairly cold but sure was the most heavenly cold bath I’ve ever taken.

Free wifi – nooo, that they didn’t have, though. Typical.

This here was a lovely sight:

stóra rúmið
I could get used to this bed, yes I could…

A quick trip downtown (well, quick, tube took an hour each way), had lunch at a typical pub, no free internet there either but some nice food. I wasn’t sure if to leave tips, sent a text msg to my brother-in-law to ask, yes it would be appropriate to leave a tip since we were eating.
Next place was a Starbucks, which advertised free internet – but of course one had to have a Starbuckscard, user and password for the net. Great!!! We were way too tired to fix that so we drank our huge cup of tea (I) and tiny espresso (Jón). Was even too tired to dig into my backpack for the camera to take a photo of Big and Small Cup (could have used my phone but did I think of that? nope). Stopped at a Marks & Sparks and bought some antipasti and chocolate pudding to have something to eat at the hotel that night and back to Heathrow. Glad Terminal 5 was the last station – otherwise we might have missed our stop, kept falling asleep on the tube.

Hotel room was pure heaven to come back to. Bought an hour’s internet, used about 1/2 an hour and kept the rest for the next morning, (we thought, anyway), if only to be able to see the ash prognosis before going to our terminal. Then bed, even though it was only 7 PM – our body clock said 5 AM the next morning of course. Fell promptly asleep, didn’t even eat the Marks & Sparks “dinner” out like a pair of lights.

Day #16. Uncertainty

Woke up some time in the morning, 2 hours until landing in Abu Dhabi. Those 2 hours seemed incredibly short, when you’re in such a long flight 2 hours are nothing at all. Got some weird small really thick pancakes for breakfast, I was sorry not to have asked for the cheese omelet also on the menu. The yogurt with honey and fresh fruit was excellent, though.

Landed in Abu Dhabi, I wish we could have at least left the airport for 5 minutes to be able to say we had been in Asia, the airport is of course international area. Could have gone to a lounge but decided it wasn’t worth it for such a short stop (hopefully), save it for if the flight would be delayed. Instead we went and had a Burger King meal (I always think it’s best to eat fast-food chain food in airports, fairly cheap and you know what you’re getting), then went to the gate, hoping for the flight to be on time.

Really didn’t like that the board said that a flight to Dublin was 24 hours delayed!

Free wi-fi at the gates, now why don’t more airports have this? I’m pretty certain that a western airport having free net would get way higher popularity ratings. Managed to write a facebook status my brother misunderstood and thought we would be delayed in Abu Dhabi.

But we were hoarded inside the gate on time and boarding passes ripped in two, which made us quite a bit more optimistic. Saw on yr.no that Keflavík would be closed next morning though. The optimism rose to new heights when we got to go out to the plane too. In front of us, walking on the ramp, was a really drunk guy, to the point of actually falling on top of the poor people walking in front of him. Fortunately he didn’t sit very close to us, but I did warn the flight attendants, who thanked me for that. The plane was totally stuffed, not an empty seat in sight, no chance of finding an empty row to lay down. Amazing that after the 15 hour flight we’d already been on, we thought the 8 hour from Abu Dhabi to London didn’t seem long at all. Yep, the flight went off on time.

Fell asleep soon after, hmm, breakfast? No, dinner – or something.



Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.