Tag Archives: travel

The Wrong Place in Iceland and You

Dyrholáey is a wonderful bird sanctuary, and you can drive up the cliff on something approximating a road and look out over the sea from the lighthouse stoop. Wondrous. But when it’s your first visit to Iceland, and you don’t know any better, you can also stop in the wrong place, with Italians and Germans dodging around you in their rented Yaris’s, and take an image of the lighthouse from the edge of the bird fields (there really is nowhere to stop, and walking on the grass and disturbing the birds is strictly forbidden), and see the Island (that is an island no more) plowing out to sea.

Being in the wrong place is best. You can find the unexpected end of the trail.

Or be plodding cold through the dawn fields, blowing on your fingers, dreaming of coffee, when suddenly it’s 20,000 years ago and you know, you just know, you can read the Earth like a book.

You can take a picture of a shop window that strikes you as incongruous, and years later realize that it’s not. It’s Iceland at heart. This is what comes of 1100 years of Irish women freezing in the cold.

Interchangeable, insulated tattoos. You just never know. That’s the thing. You walk down the street, and there it is: the Tower of Mordor!!!! With the nuclear clock at two minutes to midnight!!!

You can go to Kjarvalstaðir, the Art Gallery, to see Kjarval’s works…

… and realize that everyone else comes for the lunch! You can find a trail on the internet, then try to follow it through the, well, bog, but you get to know the mountain.

You just never know. Do it all wrong, I say, to do it right.


April Light on the Lagarfljót

Ice contains wisdom, of the year behind and the opening wisdom of the year to come. You can see it in the perennial sunrise and sunset colours of winter, but. April brings brighter tones, while snow storms still take the rest of the world away. It’s breathtaking. Bring your camera. Go East in April.

Leave the crowded south and its tourbusses. The great secret of Iceland is that it’s everywhere on the whole island. You don’t have to go to the crowded places. You will find there a sense of honouring and ritual. Out in the simple places, where no one else goes, you will find your self.

When you live on the beach, well, that’s nice.

But if you have a church on the beach, you build a wall. That’s nice, too.

A bit dark, though.  So it is. But not half so dark as the church!

Kind of a repetition of the motif of the cliff, really, but, heck, in this place, even the sea is a cliff wall.


The land has its way with us.

Hofstadakirkja in the Springtime

So, you’re in the North of Iceland and you get that old feeling …p1280986

… this is sacred space!


Well, it’s time to go to church. Here.






But, wait. It’s not that simple. Look at those drifts! You’ll throw a hoof. And then what? Drifts for you all March long, or forever. Brrr.


Best be careful. Scout things out.


OK, even the fences are drifts. Makes sense, right? They’re driftwood. Those Russians, eh! Well even the road is a drift.


But it looks easier than the ditch!


Take the road.


You have time for the welcoming committee, right?


The pregnant welcoming committee.


You do feel welcome, right?


Very welcome?p1280685

Good. Don’t forget to say hi to your fellow worshippers. We don’t just worship in space here, but also in time.

p1280743 Really, they’re the same thing.p1280769

Plus drifts.p1280765

And old turf house ruins.p1280801

You do, um, feel welcome, right?


Ah, the basement and community hall are drifted in. Best go upstairs.


Don’t worry, you can get in through the graveyard. This is Iceland. The dead aren’t dead, and you’ll join them soon enough. Might as well get on a first name basis now.


They have flowers, so that’s nice.


Hey, it was cold, so I wasn’t feeling all that vertical myself! Well, it sure looks nice in there. Let’s go in!


Watch your step! Ah, here we go.p1280889

And we are in!p1280862 Lovely altar.


The plastic is to keep off intruders from the dark place. The horses send them as a joke.


Ha ha ha.


Pulpit’s very nice, too.


Also Mary Queen of Heaven and her Son.


Not your typical Lutheran pair? Well, this is Iceland.p1280818

The house rules you already know, right?


And the reason the mountains sent you here? Even a bit of foundation shifting to get the nice new basement underneath for the whole community to gather hasn’t shaken him off the wall.


A bit of nationalism to sit on, ha ha ha.

p1280822 Or a bit of glory from the continent.p1280824 Art. Painted on a bit of driftwood by the looks of it.


Old friends.


It’s all about the feasting.p1280811

Well, and prayer.



And hope. This is Iceland. Be practical, and have a backup plan.p1280859

God is always listening.

p1280850And there is always music from Heaven.


Up we go to the choir loft!p1280834



Things have a different perspective from these dizzy heights.


Somehow, you are less alone.p1280870

More intimate.p1280867 More reverent.p1280865

More beautiful.p1280864

More at home.



I mean



Back you go!


To the world.


Remember to come back next time you’re in the North.p1280781

It lifts a soul up.p1280786

It does.


So remember…


…life isn’t a full stop. And it isn’t the road to Akureyri.


It’s who you meet.p1280550

And where you’re going.