Archive for July, 2010

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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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

far down

Öxarárfoss að ofan, originally uploaded by hildigunnur.

Went to hubby’s sister and brother-in-law’s summer house on Þingvallavatn the other day. That’s of course close to Þingvellir where the first parliament in the western world was held, hundreds of years ago. I’ve always meant to walk to the top of the famous waterfall Öxarárfoss, and since we had the time we stopped the car and walked a short way.

Quite amazing but I must say I was just the tiniest bit scared up there. No fences or anything…

Here’s a photo from down the other end:

Day #8. Final day of festival

Woke up early, breakfast and then met up with some new and older friends for a trip to the beach. Eight of us, took two cabs to the famous Bondi Beach.

I don’t think I’ve been to such a fabulous beach before, apparently it’s supposed to be one of the 10 best beaches in the world. Not that I know how they figure that sort of thing out. About a kilometre long, 100-150 m. wide and squeaky clean, no trash floating around. The sea was also incredibly clean, especially since the beach is pretty central in a big city. They have loads of beaches in Sydney, it’s one of the things I really like about the city.

The sand was just a bit cold, air temperature was only about 17°C this early in the morning (and fairly late autumn too) but I sure prefer cold to too hot, can’t stand burning my feet on hot and dry sand.

The water was great, not very warm, maybe about the same temp as an Italian swimming pool (Icelandic swimming pools are way warmer), just a bit cold to dive in but one got used to it at once.

Anna, a local woman who had something to do with the festival (don’t quite know what) came and helped us, loaned us a couple of surfboards and taught us to ride the waves a bit. Some of us managed better than others… I didn’t get to try the big board because about an hour into our beach trip Anna had an accident – actually she was really lucky that two of our friends noticed in time that she had gotten mixed up in the ropes on the board and helped her. Who knows how it might have gone – she got a small concussion on her head and was pretty disoriented in the water. Whew! Fortunately she felt much better after a short while, but didn’t feel like going into the water again that morning. Anyway, I still haven’t tried a proper board. Later, hopefully.

a few from the group heading into the waves.

The beach got a tiny minus point for ice cream that didn’t really taste of anything, but after that we went back to the hotel in another taxi with most of the group. The others were heading back to other parts of the world but we were going to a concert. Said farewell to our friends, didn’t envy my Icelandic friend of flying home, we didn’t even know if his flights to and from London would go, our not so beloved volcano was acting up. You don’t really want to be stuck in Abu Dhabi, no you don’t! (well, I’d actually very much like to visit that part of the world but apparently it’s really expensive). Anyway, Eyjafjallajökull (Aya-fyad-la-yo-kudl) had a week to quiet down before we were supposed to fly home so we decided not to worry too much about that.

The concert bus, an old rattletrap we had been riding in all week, took off from the hotel at 13:00 in lovely weather. The temperature was by then about 23°C (74°F), quite nice and sunny. Took about an hour to drive to the Blue Mountains, there we came closest to seeing kangaroos until then (some street signs warning about kangaroo passing). No live ones though.

This was the concert I had looked forward to the most, (well, except for my own one of course), Sydney Chamber Choir, singing a very exciting programme.

Loved the organ.

I wasn’t disappointed either, a brilliant concert. Decided to try to get the music and a recording of one of the pieces, by Australian Ross Edwards. Sure I could find it in Australia’s Music Information Centre.

In the intermission we started talking to some people we hadn’t met before. They turned out to be extremely nice (as almost all the Australians we had met, actually), when we talked about wanting to visit the mountains properly they invited us to come later in the week for a tourist day up high. We’d just have to take the train there. Of course we said yes please! and got their telephone number and email address to be in touch when we got back to Sydney.

Back to the hotel, both fell asleep on the bus. They say it takes a day per hour to get rid of the jet lag. According to that, most of the festival guests didn’t manage to turn the day around at all, we not until on the Thursday in our latter week.

Out for dinner, decided to not go very far from the hotel. About 50 metres away from the hotel entrance we found a Korean restaurant with the dish Dolson Bibimbap on the menu. I just HAD to try that – had only seen that dish on the Facebook game Restaurant City and it sounded really exciting. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to photograph the dish until after it was stirred together, when it comes to the table it’s really colourful, all the meat and vegetables separate in the bowl with an egg yolk in the centre but then it’s stirred with a tablespoon or two of a red spicy sauce and looks less fancy. Excellent meal.

Dolsot bibimbap.

Jón ordered a dish called Sewoo Bokkumbap but that was much less fancy, fried rice with veggies and shrimp. Tasted very good too. We had also gotten some appetizers in small bowls but the service was so fast that we weren’t even close to be able to finish those before the main courses were on the table.

Back to hotel, relaxing after a long day. Jón went out to see if he could find a sports bar that showed Formula 1 but no go. Found a big bar with 2 gigascreens but one of them was showing bike racing and the other Australian rugby. Bought one day of hotel net instead so he could follow the race live on a site that shows statistics and Twitter-like comments on the race – and so that I could get on the net a bit, afterwards too.

Formula 1 fan in action.

I suppose most of us know the feeling to be tired but not sleepy. The other way round – sleepy but not tired feels weird, though. Rather nice actually, at least when you can allow yourself to fall asleep. Not so at some of the concerts in the week before, I really didn’t want to fall asleep but there was totally nothing I could do about it. Just like somebody pushes a button and bang – you’re asleep.

Day #7. Out of town

That Saturday we left Sydney behind, concerts and meetings in Campbelltown, about 40 kilometres south and west of the city. Took a bus along with the delegates and a few other guests at 11:00, a beautiful day, sunny and 23° Celsius.

Campbelltown isn’t a very exciting town, actually we had a fairly bad experience there, well let’s not go ahead of myself here, though.

Didn’t matter much, the day was fairly packed with festival activities. Arrived at Campbell Arts Centre, a nice lunch and concert at 13:00, excellent string quartet music, 4 for Australia, new and older Australian string quartets. Loved the concert (no falling asleep, nope).

Loved this cello, on the wall in the Arts Centre:

After the concert, the General Assembly of ISCM in the town’s Civic Centre. I and Jón Lárus didn’t want to hang around for the whole meeting (not being delegates), so we went downtown for some basking in the nice weather and to see if we could find a pub. On the way downtown Jón actually got attacked, we were walking over a junction, 3 young guys were walking over the street in the opposite direction. I was a couple of steps ahead of him and all of a sudden I hear this commotion behind me. One of the guys had then used an Australian football technique, bumping his shoulder really hard into Jón Lárus, so he fell on his back in the street. Fortunately he didn’t hurt himself but was of course a bit put out. The guys thought this hilarious and walked away laughing. Grrr! He stood up and we walked on, a bit shaken, about 40-50 metres on we met some other guys, those looked a bit shady, one hulking and tattooed, another extremely thin, almost like a walking skeleton, don’t remember the third one too well. Must say we were a tiny bit frightened, maybe this was a dreadfully bad part of town, we didn’t know, but decided not to try to run away or pass to the other side of the road. Those guys turned out to be really nice, they had seen what had happened and said the same happened to the horribly thin one. Can’t judge people on the outside, I guess…

Well, we found a pub and got a beer each, I must say I’ve been in nicer pubs, but it was OK and we found a balcony with a nice view and fairly quiet. Afterwards we sat down in a public garden with our books for a while, until Kjartan (Icelandic delegate) sent us a text message about some more exciting things starting to happen in the meeting. Elections and a mutiny and everything – well I won’t want to go to deeply into the politics here.

Also saw some introductions to the next festivals, next year in Zagreb, Croatia, Belgium 2012, Austria/Slovakia together 2013, Poland 2014 and more.

We were thinking whether or not to show interest in having the festival in Iceland in the next 8-10 years but with the volcano spewing we didn’t think it would be enthusiastically received. Better wait a bit.

Loved those flowers:

Back in the bus after the meeting – probably half an hour later than planned. Back to the Arts Centre, finger food for dinner, lots of it and very good too, just as well since we were all pretty hungry after a long meeting.

A guest with by far the longest hair I’ve ever seen:

I might have been tired but I thought the latter concert wasn’t as good as the first one. A really nice group from Belgium but I kept falling asleep over the pieces. Was very glad when it was over and we got to go back into the bus and I could close my eyes without being ashamed of it. Well, actually I didn’t sleep, Jón Lárus did though.

Back at the hotel, we went straight to bed over the objections of our Faroese friends who wanted to have some drinks. Well, we were planning to hit the beach early next morning so going out for drinks really wouldn’t have been a good idea. Took a short look at the net and then to bed.

July 2010