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.

Day #15. 1.st day of travel back

Meant to sleep in but of course that didn’t happen, travelling back home was starting to look like way more difficult than there – besides flying against high altitude winds so the longest flight leg would be 15 hours instead of 14 and the next one 8 instead of 7, there was this tiny matter of maybe getting stuck because of the volcanic ash. Wrote on facebook that I didn’t quite like the prognosis, London Heathrow was supposed to be closed from Monday till Tuesday and then our own Keflavík Airport to close on the Tuesday. On the exact days we were supposed to be landing there. Dislike status set.

Anyway, the last hotel breakfast, actually we wouldn’t have had any breakfast tickets but for the fact that our fellow Icelander (who left the week before) didn’t use all his tickets. Can’t imagine why they didn’t give us any tickets for the last day. Toast with jam, I think this is the first time for more than 20 years I have toast with jam (but no cheese). Australians don’t like eating cheese and definitely not cold cuts for breakfast, seem to think it ridiculous to eat ham and other meat so early in the morning. Seems weird to me, but to each his own. (I also think French breakfast is weird – coffee and pain au chocolate isn’t really what I fancy first thing in the morning, at least).

Packing, tried to stuff our checked-in bags as much as we could, for such a long trip it would be hell to have too much inside the planes. Plus one always buys something in the airports anyway, so better leave some space in the carry-on bags. Used up the half an hour or so we still had on the net and then checked out. One local phonecall extra, we could afford that.

Decided to take a cab to the airport, hailed one outside the hotel. Got a really nice cabbie (well, didn’t expect anything else as a matter of fact – almost everyone we met had been nice). Asked if we were in a hurry, which we definitely weren’t, so he took us through the city instead of the highway, a bit cheaper that way. We were in good time in the airport, it doesn’t have any automatic check-in machines yet but the queues weren’t long so that was quite all right.

The rich and famous (well the ones on first and business class) had red and golden carpets and much nicer dividing poles and lines than the rabble like us in Economy class, of course.

I had to say Eyjafjallajökull for the girl checking our passports – maybe she wouldn’t have let me out of the country if I’d not done so…

Fortunately not many people in the airport, we found a restaurant in the middle of the area with exceptionally comfortable chairs so we planted ourselves there and bought something to eat and drink – then ate and drank veeeryyy veeeryyy slooowlyyyy so we could keep sitting there until we had to go out to the gate. A really nice white wine but not quite as good chicken strips, pretty dry.

Jón Lárus
ég

Huge plane, I had hoped we could find an empty row to lay down and try to sleep, like on the way to Sydney. But no, hardly an empty seat. The sound in the entertainment system was out in both of our seats which was totally irritating, fortunately I had some TV shows on my computer I hadn’t watched yet.

flugvélin

Flight route: Sydney-Alice Springs-Singaraja-Jakarta-Kuala Lumpur-Bengaluru-Abu Dhabi. We both fell fast asleep in spite of some totally irritating guys beside and behind us, that kept yelling and throwing their pillows back and forth even when the lights were out and everybody was trying to sleep. Total bores.

Day #14. Last whole day

Wakey-wakeys at half past six, Freyja had sent an sms, totally happy about the kangaroo photo, had shown it to all her friends. Well worth having visited the garden if only for this Awwwww! response. Was really looking forwards to seeing the kids again.

Must say that by this time we had started to worry just a bit about getting all the way home the next days. Had been seeing all sorts of “cancelled” messages on flights in Keflavík Airport, old Eyjafjallajökull didn’t show any signs of stopping. Really, really didn’t want to get stuck in Abu Dhabi, really far away from home, no visum so we didn’t know if we could go into the country at all for a hotel or if we’d have to wait for god-knows-how-long in the airport. London Heathrow did seem to be open so hopefully we’d get there.

Jón took his daily jogging, I really wish I enjoyed jogging but I hate it, and so never do any of it… After breakfast, went to the market and bought the last souvenirs to bring the kids and took a few photos. When we came out again I saw that it was actually forbidden to take photos in there, whoops! But nobody had noticed and my camera wasn’t confiscated or anything. Can’t imagine why it would be forbidden anyhow, didn’t see any secrets around.


Nice fishmarket


Better take care with those crabs, even though they’re tied.

Took the monorail round centrum, out at the stop closest to the Maritime Museum. Jón had seen a wine tasting advertised in a pretty nice wine shop close to Darling Harbour so there we went. The tasting wasn’t very exciting though, only 2-3 reds and whites but lots of sake which isn’t really up our alley. Tried the white and red and walked back to town.

Did see a humongous bottle of Chateau d’Yquem – that one probably would be enough for a party of 100 people as a dessert wine.

Still hadn’t tried any Vietnamese food so that’s where we headed. In a small area close to the hotel we found 5 Vietnamese restaurants, didn’t fancy 3 of them, one was too crowded but the last one had an empty table so there we went. This was easily the best food we had all the trip (maybe except for the kangaroo and crocodile the day before). Thit kho to – caramelized pork, believe it or not. Amazing. We’ve of course found a recipe and tried but couldn’t quite duplicate it. Might have to try a few more times.

Back to the hotel for a few minutes, we’d almost checked everything on our list to do in the trip so now we just went to Hyde Park (which is very much smaller than it’s namesake in London), laid in the grass with our books and read. Got about a half an hour or so in the garden until the sun went down and it got too cold. (this would be like the middle of November in our hemisphere, I really don’t think you could lay down in the park in Iceland in November, even for half an hour).

“November” or not, tons of beautiful flowering plants:

Walked around for a while, bought some bread and muffins to take to the hotel for dinner. Later in the evening we went outside to try to finish the checklist, out in the garden by the train station to try to see the Southern Cross.

Well, we did, even though the garden was too well lit to see stars very well. Would have been best to try this in the mountains, but that evening was cloudy so no go.

Hotel, dinner in the room and a bit of internet and Formula 1 (Jón) and reading (me). Sleep.

Day #13. Finally kangaroos!

Day #12 I’ve already covered here but here’s the 13th:

Slept in AGAIN, didn’t wake until half past seven, nice (well we did go to sleep pretty early the day before). Husband took a slow morning run (hahahah, he wouldn’t be able to run slowly even though he really tried) while I took a shower. French toast for breakfast, different from usually.

Anyhow, this day we really meant to see some kangaroos. It just didn’t seem right to come all the way to Australia and not see a single ‘roo. National flower we saw the previous day. We’d given up hope of seeing any wild ones so we had to go to a park. Didn’t fancy the zoo, but we had seen a flyer from a small animal park in the Sydney suburbs. Took the metro to Pennant Hills and bus from there. Actually it wasn’t easy, the train was delayed for more than half an hour, according to the station announcements first because of an accident on a previous station, then it changed into a sudden death and finally police action. Not nice. We had a similar incident in Copenhagen once, rather eerie.

Well, finally a train arrived and the trip didn’t go too badly after that. Went over Harbour Bridge, unfortunately I wasn’t quite quick enough to pull the video cam up from my bag, would have liked to have a short vid from the bridge. One photo I did get.

The metro trip took about an hour. Went the wrong way out of the station in Pennant Hills and couldn’t find the bus stop but fortunately it didn’t matter, caught the bus when we figured out where we were supposed to be. Can’t really say the signs in and around the metro are clear at all, no maps or list over the stations inside the wagons, nowhere you could see where it was going, maps and markings in the stations weren’t very clear or easy to understand at all, either. Some colour coding but that also could be put to better use. Nowhere as clear and easy as Paris or London to name only 2. Maybe the designers of the system use Metro equally much as the planners of Reykjavík Buses use the bus (that is not at all).

The little park seemed to not have very much money, a bit lacking in the surroundings but the animals seemed to be OK, not too crowded, enough water and shadow for them. You could pet both kangaroo and koala bears, the koala fur wasn’t as soft as I had thought.

Took quite a few photos, some on the phone to send to the younger daughter – the only thing she’d asked us to do was that if we saw a ‘roo we’d take a phone photo and send to her. So of course I did just that.


That was Freyja’s photo.

Finished the walkthrough and then had to wait a few minutes for the bus back to the station. Saw a shrub I really want for my garden (my family laughed when they saw the photo – I really like this colour)

Back the same way, stopped 2 stations earlier since we meant to go out to eat in Circular Quay (which I think I already mentioned is nowhere near to circular). My brother and sister-in-law had strongly recommended a Chinese restaurant with the view of the Opera House on Circular.

What they’d failed to mention was a specific menu they’d been really impressed by in that restaurant, so as we’d been eating a lot of oriental we decided to go to another one, and have a really nice Australian meal. Jón had some Barramundi, always wanted to try, and I went for kangaroo and crocodile on a mashed potato bed with a really nice bearnaise.

Amazingly good and of course lovely to sit in an outdoor café with a view of the most famous and probably the most amazing opera house in the world.

So I saw and ate kangaroo on the same day. The croc tasted like chicken…

After dinner we walked to the Opera, meant to take a walk through the house but when we saw how much it cost we decided not to. Wouldn’t have minded paying quite a bit for a couple of tickets to a show, but we were off-season and no shows or concerts we fancied. The price for just walking through the house with a guide was rather too steep.
No thanks – but this does give us a reason to go back to Australia and see and hear a proper opera show…

Went to the Australian Wine Centre, not far from Circular, bought a couple of bottles of this wine we’d been drinking. The prices of wine were really steep too, but we’d asked the store attendant to point us towards a nice, not too expensive wine. He then told us to try a wine in a sales rack, for 18 AUD. We were totally amazed by the wine but failed to find any reference to it on the net. So this time we asked about it. Turned out to be a wine from a top producer which didn’t think his grapes measured up that year. So instead of lowering his standard, he made this wine, with a non-recognizable label, a white one with the words Secret Label, Barossa Valley. The attendant told us his wines normally cost about 85 AUD. We tried to press him for who it was, since we actually would have liked to be able to buy his wines – even for 85 dollars, but no go.

Took a Sydney Ferry from Circular to Darling Harbour, 3 stops on the way, getting dark, nice. Here you can see the entrance to Sydney’s Luna Park, the main theme park.

Quite lovely to sail in the evening, I think the harbour and well, sea is what amazes me about Sydney. Endless coves and inlets, islands and beaches and somehow all so clean. In big cities you normally wouldn’t fancy taking a swim in the harbour – I wouldn’t have minded it there at all.

Hotel, net, book and a lovely red wine in a water glass. Only one whole day left.

Day #11. Fire alarm

Managed to sleep in, didn’t wake up until half past seven (yes, AM) first time all trip we both slept through the night. About time, we were looking at departure in a few days… (pretty funny actually, translating, to sleep in in Icelandic is “að sofa út” which literally means to sleep out).

Might even have slept longer, hadn’t the fire alarm sounded at the aforementioned time. We, of course, like very atypical Icelanders jumped into some clothes, grabbed our pocketbook/purse and were ready to run out of the room when the alarm bell stopped ringing so instead of going all the way outside we went to breakfast. Debated if we dared take the elevator, there’s no open stairway in the hotel, only the emergency one. Decided on risking the elevator. Saw a couple of fire trucks with blue blinking lights outside from the breakfast hall window, the alarm went off for a short while during breakfast but neither staff nor guests took any notice of it so we didn’t either. Seems like Australians are equally careless about this sort of thing as are we Icelanders.

The Blue Mountains trip was delayed one day, so instead we decided to make this a museum and park day. Went to the Australian Museum and saw an exhibition on Australia’s flora and fauna plus a magnificent show on dinosaurs. A really impressive interactive table with the most dangerous animals – they seemed to jump out at you.

Japanese lunch, an all-you-can eat buffet with sushi and other Japanese food. I really liked their concept – if you take more than you can eat you have to pay extra. Never seen that sort of warning or rule before.

Then for another round in the Botanical Gardens. I’m sure I could put on an half an hour show with all the photos I took there. Amazing to see all those exotic plants – one didn’t really recognize any of them, except for some popular houseplants at home – hardly any of the same. Even the grass looks different. Saw a rosemary bush, about the same size as our house pride plant we have in our front room.

I’m sure it doesn’t sound like we did a thing that day but it was already about 3 PM when we were done with the park. Back to hotel, 3 shops on the way, bought a big jigsaw puzzle with a world map, Australia in the middle, for our youngest, and a couple of books – since we hardly had any with us (see this post)

Divided the remaining net hour between us – the hotel room was actually freezing. Maybe Australians are like the British, don’t turn on the heating until a certain day, instead of when they feel cold like we would do.
Wasn’t freezing out or anything, about 11°-19°C, but a bit down from the previous days’ 26°C or so. Put my warm computer under my bed covers to keep them warm while we went out to eat.

Went to a Thai place, living in the middle of Sydney’s China Town we used the opportunity to taste all sorts of Asian cookery. Done Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, South Korean, now Thai, which left Vietnamese and possibly Taiwanese too. Really nice. Hadn’t seen any Australian places really, some Italian, Spanish, German, even British and Portuguese but none advertising Surf’n’Turf or kangaroo or crocodile. Weird.

In this obviously popular Thai place (totally stuffed on this Wednesday evening) we just had to try the Pad Thai noodles, which we always get at our favourite Thai place here (Krúa Thai) and, well Krúa’s are actually more tasty. The ice cream and coffee were amazing, though.

Back to the hotel, donned our pajamas and straight under the duvet, computer wasn’t quite cold yet. Really thought about taking a hot tub bath every day for the rest of the trip to get even with the hotel…

happy Gay Pride day

today in Reykjavík we have Gay Pride, which here is a huge family festival, almost everyone goes downtown, young and old, to be happy for and with gays and lesbians. Today our (heterosexual) mayor was in drag on one of the wagons – yay him!

Day #10 Sailing and more

Husband woke up at 6 AM, weird how the jet-lag hits us differently. Went jogging at 7 and then woke me up when he got back about an hour later. He’d run some water in the bathtub to see if the water circled anticlockwise in the southern hemisphere. That it did:

Breakfast, shower, and out we went.

Started by checking when to catch the train to Leura in the Blue Mountains. A perfect one at 9 o clock, meant to go there the next day. Takes about 2 hours.

Walked to Darling Harbour, way shorter from the hotel than Circular Quay. On the way there we stopped at the Chinese Friendship Garden, there the battery in the video recorder gave up, I must try and find an extra battery for it. Totally irritating not being able to switch when it runs dry. Fortunately the camera in my phone is excellent so the day didn’t go by unphotographed.

The Friendship Garden is lovely, glad we decided to pay the entry. Not touristy at all. Might go there again, depends on how much time we’d have. Loved the lizard in the tea house.

Jón Lárus had read in our travel book about a restaurant in Darling Harbour where one could get Hokkien noodles. We once bought a jar of Hokkien sauce and I’ve never tried a better canned sauce in my life. Of course you can’t get it any more though :( The noodles in the restaurant didn’t even taste nearly as good – apparently Hokkien isn’t a uniform anything. The duck that the noodles accompanied was delicious, though.

Down to the harbour, didn’t want to spend $35 each for Sydney Aquarium, maybe later. Took a water taxi to Circular Quay, only the two of us on the boat so we chatted with the taxi captain (must be his title, right?) all the way. Asked about the volcano, of course…

leigubátur

Arrived at Circular, walked to The Rocks, went back to the Australian Music Information Centre (I’m chairman of the board in the Icelandic sister centre actually), I bought a CD with one of the pieces we heard at the concert. Decided to skip buying the printed music, it’s published by Ricordi in London so it shouldn’t be hard to get a copy if we wanted to sing it sometime. Let my conductor hear the piece first.

Meant to buy another piece, an Australian string quartet but the composer hadn’t yet put the piece in the centre. Got the composer’s email address, might be in touch later if my daughter and friends would like to play the piece. Might try to see if he’s on Facebook, though.

After the visit to the centre we found a microbrewery stationed in Sydney’s oldest hotel, all the way on top of The Rocks. Not bad. Then Sydney Observatorium, a pretty interesting stargazing museum, there we also heard some Aboriginal folklore about how the world came to be. Amazing.

Saw these signs on the way back:

Back to the hotel, both really tired even though it was only 5 PM. Took an hour to walk back, stopped a few times, bought the handbag I fell for a few days earlier, also went into the best-arranged used book shop I’ve ever been in, the used-book shops here tend to be mostly not arranged, at least not like this – by type of book and then alphabetical. Not all just jumbled together. Didn’t find the Garth Nix books I was looking for, though. Saw a Culinaria book, really cheap, decided to maybe buy it if it would still be on sale later on in the week.

At the hotel, Jón made dinner, cut down the rests of yesterday’s steak, a few chips along and then cheese and muffins for dessert. Net and sleep.

Agnus Dei

Just wanted to share one of my pieces, from when I went to Norway in March this year. Christians Consort and Agder Orkesterforening play the Agnus Dei, the last movement from Mass of Guðbrandur. Martin Pearson conducting.

Will keep on with my Australian travel diary soon, promise :)

Day #9 First day of touristing

What a nice feeling to wake up and not have to be anywhere special, just to be able to do whatever we liked. We were both pretty stiff and aching after the surfboards the day before, though.

Saw quite a few festival guests at the breakfast buffet, most of them were on their way back home that day so a few farewells were in order. Most spoke of flight plans and volcanos…

After breakfast and a short peek at the internet we were off, Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and the Botanical Gardens were to be the order of the day. Walked for about an hour to get to the bridge, stopped a few times on the way though, f.ex. in Queen Victoria Building, an amazing shopping mall of sorts. There I saw these shoes I really, really wanted (well, I’d have had to buy a complete dressing outfit to go with them actually) but since they cost 600 AUD (the Australian dollar is a bit less than the American one – not a lot less though), well I sort of didn’t buy them.

Loved the building, stained glass windows (see on my Flickr page) and an amazing clock in the middle, showing day, month and year (and time, of course), with a ship sailing all the world’s seas around the clock (literally). Brill.

klukka

The Harbour Bridge was awe-inspiring too, 500 metres between the piers but we walked quite a bit longer than that kilometre, you can’t get up on the bridge by the piers. Apparently you can walk up on the bridge arc, I think I’d probably have died of fright if I tried that, though.

Took about a thousand photos of the Opera House from the bridge, a brilliant view. Also photographed a house I wouldn’t mind having as a summer house – maybe next time we have a few billion dollars we don’t know how to use!

húdið

Down again, had lunch on the roof of a restaurant in The Rocks, view over the harbour and opera house again. 10 dollar steaks turned out to be huge with rucola salad w/balsamico, fries and a really good champignon sauce. The “light lunch” promptly changed to the main meal of the day, wasn’t even any way we could finish. The restaurant didn’t have doggie bags (some regulations) so I fished a clean small plastic bags from my backpack and stowed the rest of the steaks away. No way we’d let them throw them out, nope.

lunch

Walked round the not circular at all Circular Quay to the Opera House. Took a short video of an aboriginal playing his didgeridoo for the tourists, then threw a few coins in his bag. He then sang a Thank you, through the instrument – unfortunately I of course had stopped recording.

On to the Opera, walked round the house but decided the weather was way too nice to spend an hour or two inside in the guided tour. Save that for later in the week. Sunny and 25°C is perfect for me – outside. It was supposed to cool a bit down later that week. Took some more photos though.

óperuhúsið

The Botanical Gardens were right behind the house, went there and saw incredibly many exotic plants and a ton of bats. Not sure I’ve seen a bat before, definitely not that many. Wished I had a better camera.

leðurblaka

Back to hotel, found out we had walked at least 10 kilometres that day and a lot of them on steps so our feet were glad to get back to the room. Bought some Dim sum and various other Chinese ramekins for dinner, nice to be in the middle of Sydney’s China Town, lots of exciting take-out food all around. Dim sum is another dish I only knew from Restaurant City.

Donned pajamas and bed, got a glass of red and sat down with computer to write in my travel diary, even though the clock was only & PM. Hardly left the bed after that, some internet and reading and sleep around 11 PM.

I totally forgot earlier to post the ABC Classics theme (the classical section of Australia’s biggest radio station) used before all the ISCM Festival concerts – the station recorded all the festival concerts, some were broadcast live and some later, a great support to the festival and to new music.

Here’s the theme:
ABC ISCM theme by cyradis


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