Two Bloggers, One Surname

A couple weekends ago I spent a portion today meeting two fellow bloggers–one from the other side of the world, and one from…er…Brooklyn–one Mr. Jamie Boud, who had kindly been putting up one Mr. Daniel Boud, who was visiting from Australia.

I’ve been following Daniel’s work on his blog and on the Flickr for quite some time, so it was great to finally meet him in person. Unbeknownst to me, we were actually at the same random loft-party gig where Apache Beat and Cut Off Your Hands (yes, a real band name, and yes, they wear oh-so-emo stripped shirts) the night before I met him for brunch.

Daniel blew the Backseat Blogger and my mind when he showed us some Australian money. Did you know that Australian money is A. MADE OF PLASTIC and B. Has Queen Elizabeth on some of the bills? Crazy. I’ve never seen plastic money in my life, but it’s the greatest thing EVER! You can dunk it in water and it comes out crisp and unharmed. You can crumple it up into a little ball and it just snaps back into shape. Why isn’t all money plastic?

Photo by MV

Iceland Airwaves 2006: Thursday Night–Mates of State, AEla, The Whitest Boy Alive, and More…

It sure did take long enough, but welcome to Part 2 of my Reykjavik series. Read Part 1.

OCTOBER 19, 2006

After seeing Hot Club de Paris at 12 Tonar, Rachel and I headed back to the hotel to get refreshed and some brief shut-eye.

We headed out to the venues around 8pm. Rachel wanted to go to Gaukurinn because she wanted to see a band called Skakkamanage at 8:45, but when we got there they weren’t letting anyone into the venue. We had no idea how hard it would be to get in and out of venues, but since there was no line outside the Reykjavik Art Museum, just across the street, we decided to head in to try to catch some of Mates of State, who went on at 7:45.

We walked right up to the doors, flashed our festival bracelets, and we were inside. We headed straight into the performance area, which was about half full. I went up to snap a few pictures:

click to see larger image
Mates of State

After a few songs we headed back to Gaukurinn to see a band called The Foghorns that had gotten a good write-up in the official Iceland Airwaves listing: “A collective that’s supposed to feature Dylan-like vocals and intelligent lyrics…” I guess I should pay attention to when reviewers include the words “supposed to” within their band descriptions, because I ended up only staying for a song or two before we decided to head over to NASA to see Lay Low.

After walking around the same few blocks what seemed to be a few hundred times, we finally found the totally-not-hard-to-find-if-you-know-where-it-is-and-it-isn’t-dark-out venue, situated in Austurvollur square. Described as being “Iceland’s Cat Power“, Lay Low does in fact follow the tradition of sad-sounding, soulful, slightly arty solo female artists. Just like Cat Power, Lay Low is the stage moniker of one woman, a Miss Lovisa (no last name I can find), who has a very still, yet interesting on-stage presence like…er…a much bluesier, low-fi Norah Jones.

click to see larger image
Lovisa croons for the swoony crowd.

From what I can tell, Lay Low is a bit ubiquitous in Reykjavik right now. I’ve seen her video for “Please Don’t Hate Me” about a billion and one times on Sirkus, a tv channel in Iceland that played lots of great music videos. (Now you too can watch the vid. Ah YouTube, so global:)

Next up at NASA was a band called AEla, which I was really interested in seeing after reading that they were “the best of the 80s as digested in the Detroit of Iceland.” Seeing as how my love of Detroit rock is very well documented, it should come as no surprise that I was bound by law and duty to see them.

Boy was I glad I did. AEla were absolutely phenomenal, with a powerful raw stage energy that worked the crowd up into a tizzy. Despite the fact that I had absolutely NO idea what they were singing about since they sang in Icelandic, I was really taken by their songs filled with catchy guitar and bass riffs with off-kilter melodies. Lead singer Halli Valli was an absolute spurt of haphazard energy, launching himself onto a cheap plastic folding chair with one foot, with no apparent concern for the eminent force of gravity upon his wiry gigantor frame.

click to see larger image
Halli Valli has one foot on the…er…chair.

I feel compelled to mention here, once again, that Icelandic people are ridiculously tall. Standing in an Icelandic crowd is like standing amidst a blond haired, blue eyed People Forest.

During the course of AEla’s set, Halli Valli leap on top of the speakers, jumped into the photo pit, stood on building structures, ran through the audience to the back of the venue, perch on the sound booth, only to jump down and run through the crowd back up to the front of the stage. Wowee vowee!

click to see larger image
Halli Valli gets to know the crowd better.

Next up was a band caled Skatar, a pretty weird group who’s music was a bizarre mix of disjointed mix of mangled guitar sounds and jumpy, robotic, David Byrne-esque vocals (that is if David Byrne sang in Icelandic). The group looked like Clinic’s slightly disturbed hazmat obsessed brothers, outfitted in all-white Level B bunny suits.

click to see larger image
Rock ‘n’ roll toxic waste cleanup superheroes.

Although I wasn’t so keen on their music, they have impressed the folks over at Smekkleysa (Bad Taste) Records, one of Iceland’s most important record labels run by members of The Sugarcubes.

Reykjavik! was the last band I planned to see at NASA. How could I possibly go to Iceland and not see a band named after the capital city? Over the course of their rambunctious set, I actually was a little frightened for my safety. Singer Boas ran around the stage like a Ritalin-deprived ADD kid, at one point completing somersaults in front of the drumkit.

click to see larger image
Boas lets it out…let’s it ALL out.

They played loud loud LOUD thrash-rock–the type of music that makes you want to grow long hair and wear leather pants. For one of their last songs they brought out…DANCING GIRLS. Yup, an enthusiastic trio of blonde dancing beauties dubbed “The Movettes” wearing white tshirts and black short shorts, rolling out an impressive set of synchronized moves. Even though I wasn’t into most of the band’s music, I have to say, anything that involves dancing girls is kinda awesome.

click to see larger image
Bring in the dancing girls…

click to see larger image
Oh my!

After that aural and visual extravanaza, Rachel and I headed east to the National Theatre Basement where a band called Seabear was playing since I thought one of the dudes in the band looked kinda cute. Hahaha. But since we hadn’t eaten all day long, we made a pit stop at a fish and chips place called Kebabhusid on Laekjargata (which is open until a RIDICULOUS 7am on Fridays and Saturdays). By the time we were done and headed over to the Theatre, Seabear had already come and gone. 🙁

We then ran back to Gaukurinn to catch Erlend Oye‘s band, The Whitest Boy Alive. The crowd was PACKED to the gills, hardly an inch to navigate through the crowd, and so hot and steamy it was hard to breathe, but the audience hardly seemed to care about their own discomfort. As soon as the band took the stage, the venue turned into an all-out dance party, with Erlend Oye as the skinny flame-haired master of ceremonies, orchestrating all the blips and beeps of the bands electronic dance pop.

click to see larger image
Erlend wants to rock ‘n’ roll all night, and party every day

The music didn’t seem to end…and in fact it didn’t–that was until the Reykjavik police had a car outside and prompted everyone to head out–but not before the band had one last jam session, which included a cover version of “Show Me Love” by Robin S. Awww yeah! Play that funky music, white boys.

See how much fun the crowd was having in this video I made:

All in all, it was a good night. I got to learn about a new band I love (AEla) and rock the night away with a great crowd. So far the festival is starting off great!

My Favorite Thing to Do Is Go Shopping at the Mall

This weekend I was in Washington DC/ Maryland for early Thanksgiving festivities with some very special people and riding around, looking at all the monuments and tourists stuff in the car was fun, BUT the most fascinating thing I did all weekend was go to a regular ol’ suburban mall in Maryland.

Since I live in the city, I’m always really excited to have a car and to go to big huge malls. When we went to the Target, I almost had a nervous breakdown because they had almost the ENTIRE Behnaz line with every size available. I’d never SEEN so many specialty items in one spot. They even had the amazing black trenchcoat–and the only size available was an XS!! When does that EVER happen in the city?

Then I found this other store in the mall called Up Against the Wall, which totally BLEW MY MIND because not only did they have Beyonce’s House of Dereon line, but they also had the low-end Gwen Stefani line, Harajuku Lovers, and the low-end Heatherette line, which I think I knew existed somewhere in the back of my head. It was just funny to see them all in one place–I guess I never go to any stores where they carry that stuff, but I was fascinated by the fact that somewhere a Maryland teenager is walking around wearing Heatherette clothing.

Iceland Airwaves 2006: Wednesday and Thursday; Sightseeing and Hot Club de Paris

NOTE: This is the first part in my much delayed “who knows how long this is going to take” series on my concert-going experience at the Iceland Airwaves festival this year in Reykjavik (yes, I finally learned how to spell it without looking it up), Iceland. Enjoy!

OCTOBER 19, 2006

Yesterday I go into town somewhere between 6 and 7am. I’m not even quite sure. I rode on the plane from JFK literally surrounded by We Are Scientists. The cute one was 2 rows in front of me, I think the other cute one was two rows in back, the funny one was back and to the right, and their tech guy (who’s butt crack I saw about 16 times over the course of the 5 hour flight…seriously) was diagonal from me. I ended up behind them when they made us go through customs upon ARRIVAL at the airport. (It’s really so much fun trying to see if you have any sort of balance to take your shoes off one at a time after a red-eye transcontinental flight.) Ended up losing there somewhere along the line.

I’m a bit sad I didn’t get to see them last night (Wednesday) because Rachel and I decided to book a tour to see the Northern Lights rather than hit the shows last night–the first “official” night of the festival. I say official in quotes because yes, it’s officially the start of the Iceland Airwaves festival, but really the main days are tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday. It’s when the biggest bands play and when most people are finally in town.

It looked a lot less cooler than this in person. I had to leave my shutter open a really long time.

Even though my cell phone seems to be in working order (I’m on some OgVodofone network), it has refused to change time to match my new time zone, so now I have to keep adding 4 hours to the time when I look at my phone. Then in the afternoons I have to add 12 because they use a 24-hour clock here. Believe you me, it gets totally confusing when I try to set my alarm at 5pm to go off at 19:45pm Iceland time to wake up from my nap. “Add 12 to 5pm, then add 2:45, minus 12, minus 4, er…” (This is usually when I start crying.)

Yesterday I basically got all the Reykjavik touristy stuff out of the way–yup, in ONE DAY. This city is so tiny, and there ain’t much to do here but drink, eat, and try to stay warm. I got to see the ridiculously scary-looking church, Hallgrimskirkja (which I will continue to simply call “The Church” as there’s no way in hell I will ever be able to remember its proper 14-letter name).

The imposing Hallgrimskirkja church.

We went up the bell tower and got a great view of the city.

On top of the world, and freezing my butt off. I was also really upset that I forgot to bring my polarizing filter with me to Iceland.

Saw the Sun-Craft sculpture on the north shore, which is a modern-day representation of Iceland’s viking past, and we scared some ducks and swans by Tjorn lake as well as spotted the most bizarre looking clouds.

Up close and personal with the ducks and swans of Tjorn lake.

I swear, this is how these clouds really looked. I’m NOT making this stuff up.

This afternoon we did some more touristy stuff, walking around Austurvollur square on our way to meet Jasper at Hresso. There we saw the Althingi houses of Icelandic parliament and the country’s man cathedrial, Domkirkja. At Hresso I bought two official Iceland Airwaves Naked Ape tshirts, one of the band Reykjavik! for me and one of Jeff Who? for someone totally awesome.

Around 4:30pm we headed to the record store 12 Tonar, because Rachel wanted to check out this band she’d heard of called Hot Club de Paris, from Liverpool, England. We got there maybe 10-15 minutes before the band was supposed to go on. It wasn’t crowded at all so we headed down this steep circular staircase to check out the pop rock cds and vinyl. It was there that we realized that CDs cost around 30 USD. Rachel wanted to buy a Franz Ferdinand painting but I commented that it probably was just for display and not actually for purchase.

As 4:30 creeped closer, the tiny record shop started filling up. By the time the English trio took their places, there was nary room for another body–in fact the crowd started spilling out past the steps leading up to the door, with people staring through the front window to which the bands’ backs were facing. Someone from the record shop started pouring out little plastic cups filled with red wine.

But before they started their set, the Moshi Moshi recording artists asked the crowd if they had any extra water to drink–they didn’t have any because everything is so expensive in Iceland. Someone handed over their bottle of Evian, which Hot Club declared they were not going to give back since guitarist Matthew Smith had a cold–yet for some illogical reason Matthew decided to drink from the bottle first, therfore spreading his germs throughout the entire group as his bandmates swigged from the same bottle.

Hot Club de Paris sing their little hearts out.

Dressed up in sweaters and collared shirts with mussed up hair and day-old stubble (and with bassist Paul Rafferty wearing the dirtiest pair of sneakers known to man), Hot Club looked like a bunch of knacked uni students–which complimented their cheeky brand of harmonized Northern pop perfectly.

Dirty trainers = dirty boy? Hmmm…

Like The Futureheads before them, Hot Club’s strength lies in pretty melodies juxtaposed with diddling guitar lines and make-you-think-twice lyrics. The crowd bopped along as the boys played out songs with giggle-worthy titles like “Your Face Looks All Wrong” and “Sometimesitsbetternottostickbitsofeachotherineachother….” and I found every minute of it to be thoroughly enjoyable. They just dropped an album on October 9th, so I suggest checking them out. They have yet to play the US, but watch out when they do!

Check out the video I made of them performing “Bonded By Blood (A Song For Two Brothers)”:


The Air Up There: A Visitor’s Guide to the Iceland Airwaves Festival

Every year at the end of October, hundreds of journalists (around 600 this year) and thousands of international music lovers break out their heavy winter jackets, hats, and gloves and flood the city of Reykjavik, Iceland for the Iceland Airwaves music festival. Although Reykjavik is the capital city, the population hovers just under 200,000 people–which is actually 60% of the entire population of the country. (Compare that to the population of the island of Manhattan, over 1 million people.)

A view of the crowd at Reykjavik Art Museum, the main venue of the festival. (Click for larger image.)

Whereas some towns mildly loathe their annual music festival, filling their neighborhoods with unwanted congestion and unbearable lines to venues (Austin, TX for SXSW; NYC for CMJ), Reykjavik welcomes the annual event with open arms. Because the city is so small, the influx of extra bodies seems to nicely plump up, not overstuff, the venues and streets. Bands perform in every available space–coffee shops, cafes, and small shops; even the city’s art museum serves as a venue. Posters (this year designed by Sveinbjörn and monkeymama) touting the biggest bands playing the festival are plastered all along walls and bus stops and it seems as though every wrist I looked at was accessorized with the red wristband that served as the pass to all Airwaves events. Unlike CMJ, the Iceland Airwaves festival is not just an industry event–it’s actually attended by locals, who can purchase wristbands at a reasonable price, so the crowds are largely made up of fans with a sprinkling of professionals.

The main meeting place for those attending the festival is cafe Hressingarskalinn, or “Hresso” for short, the Airwaves Information Center. It’s a hop skip and a jump from where all the venues are so it’s very centrally located. This is the place where everyone checks in and picks up their passes, bands do interviews with journos, and where you can buy CDs, books, and t-shirts associated with the fest. There’s free wifi for all the customers to use, so it’s a highly recommended place to plunk down and get some emails written while you chow down on any of their great-tasting dishes.

By New York standards, the price of food is a bit steep, with a hamburger with fries running you 990 ISK, or just under 15 USD, but by Icelandic standards, that’s normal. In fact, anyone who visits Iceland will quickly realize that EVERYTHING is expensive there. After a while I didn’t even bother calculating how much money I was spending, out of fear that I might have thrown myself on top of a geysir when I realized how much dough I was blowing. The good news is that tipping is not necessary, service is included in the prices. Another place fashionable locals can be seen eating is Prikio, which has tasty sandwiches. But be warned, service is far from speedy at this location, so if you are in a rush to a gig, it might not be the best option.

During Airwaves live music can be found all around. In the early evenings bands schlep their gear through the streets, often suffering from jet lag and/or rough hangovers, to do off-venue in-stores at places like record store 12 Tonar (think Reykjavik’s answer to Other Music) or hip bars like Sirkus and Kaffibarinn all around the downtown area. Realizing the importance of mass exposure to the international cross section of tastemakers and concert-goers at the festival, some bands, like the British pop rockers Hot Club de Paris (below), seem to work overtime, doing no less than 2 in-stores the same night they play their main Airwaves gig.

Hot Club de Paris play inches away from spectators at 12 Tonar record shop. (Click for larger image.)

People pile into the often cramped spaces, standing inches away from the performers as the musicians do their best to impress the crowd. Those unable to get inside stand outdoors, listening to the music through open doors or peering through windows to get a better look at the action going on indoors. Short 25-minute-ish sets give everyone a sampling as to what the bands could do, and the groups hope that these informal gigs will lead to good word-of-mouth and draw out larger crowds to their big show.

The main shows start going around 8pm with up-and-coming bands, and the biggest draws going on around 10-12. Early on in the evening it is very easy to bounce to and from venues–lines are not long, or non-existent at that point. But come 11pm long lines form, sometimes stretching far down the block to get into even the largest of venues. But amazingly, it seemed as though everyone gets in. Usually by the time the band is on, everyone who wants to get in has been stuffed into the venue, fire marshal be damned.

Line outside Gaukurinn during Vice magazine’s party.

I was flabbergasted by all of the venue’s ability to run show schedules with punctual zeal. When the schedule says a band is supposed to go on at 10pm, they are going on at 10pm. The latest I saw a show go off schedule was by 10 minutes. I saw bands actually unplug their equipment at the very last second of the song and SPRINT off stage with their gear in order to keep to their allotted time.

Crowds in Reykjavik are attentive and very polite–perhaps even to a fault. During Kaiser Chiefs‘ set on Saturday night–arguably the biggest show of the entire festival, not a crowd surfer or mosh pit was to be found. In fact lead singer Ricky Wilson had to take it upon himself to get the crowd into a tizzy during “I Predict a Riot” by stage diving into the audience…twice. Yet I did see a couple crowd surfers during Go! Team–which was pretty dangerous considering there weren’t any security guards to catch them in the photo pit–so it’s beyond me to figure out what would get Icelandic kids excited.

The Icelandic crowds are pretty happy to pogo in their own little personal space, as well as do the most organized clapping rallies I’ve ever been a part of. Someone will start a clapping rally and quickly everyone will join in, maintaining a steady 4/4 time without getting faster or slower until the performers come back for an encore.

The lights have come up, and the cops are in van outside, but the crowd at Gaukurinn claps for an encore from The Whitest Boy Alive.

If you want to muscle your way up from the back of the crowd to the very front, it’s entirely possible–there’s usually a good deal of room in the front, especially in the largest venues–but you’ll have to put some elbow into it because once planted, the locals do not like to budge from their spot. There were times when I was leaving from the front of the stage to get out of the venue and people were hesitant to let me pass them. You just gotta push on by and not fret it.

For those of you who have gotten used to the smoking ban in NYC, you will understand immediately that they have no such law in Iceland, puffing on death sticks inside of the venue is permitted. So be forewarned, anything you wear will end up smelling like a dirty tube sock. On the bright side, look out for free coat check areas–available at places like the Reykjavik Art Museum, behind the men and women’s bathroom. There’s a wall full of hangers for you to use to hang up your coat at your own risk.

If you’re a studious little traveler like myself, you would have already read the “Insider Tips” to the festival on the official Iceland Airwaves site before leaving. But I have some clarifications to make to this list based on my experience this year. The first item in the list is to “always go up the stairs.” I stepped inside 4 of the venues participating in the festival, and to my knowledge, only one (the Reykjavik Art Museum) actually had an upstairs. The Art Museum has a limited seating area that directly faces the stage on the opposite side of the building (see the first photo of this post–it’s a view from the front of the stage, you can see the seated area way in the back). So basically anyone on stage will appear teeny teeny to you. The rest of the balcony, which runs along the sides of the building on either side of the stage is quarantined for press and guests of the artists only.

Another item says that you should save room in your bag to bring home loads of CDs. Well yes, you should save some extra room in your bag to bring back the wares you purchase in Iceland, but I do want to point out that the CDs are quite expensive there, running you somewhere in the ballpark of 25-30 dollars per disc. So unless you’ve got loads of cash to spend on music, I would suggest picking your very favorite bands in the festival and purchasing their CDs. Or, if you haven’t noticed, it’s the digital age, so you very well might be able to find free MP3s of the bands you like on their official web sites.

CDs for sale at 12 Tonar record shop.

Like everything else in Iceland, alcohol is very expensive in clubs and venues–costing around 9-12USD for a beer. Most locals get drunk at home before going out, so by the time 11pm rolls around you are surrounded by fully inebriated Icelanders. In Reykjavik the nights run long, with bars closing around 6am on weekends. As you walk down the main streets from 2-5 the mood is of jovial drunkenness. You will hear the sounds of a beer bottle being smashed to the ground ever so often and see crowds of drunk hipsters huddled around hot dog trucks parked by the harbour hoovering the oblong pieces of meat into their mouths (a Reykjavik rite of passage).

Although drinking on the street is officially illegal, the law is not enforced as long as you are not bothering anyone, so it’s a typical site to see folks swigging from bottles as they amble down the main stretch of Bankastraeti/ Laugavegur (nick-named “Pull Street” by the Brits).

Locals are happily drunk on Lagavegur street on Saturday night.

If you are too wasted to walk home, you can always hail a taxi along the main roads. They lurch by in the hopes of people giving up on the night and heading back to their hotel. Of course, taxis are expensive as well–in New York terms, a ride from the East Village to Chinatown would probably run around 20USD. Tipping is not required.

Although the festival runs from Wed-Sunday, the main nights are Thursday-Saturday–the same nights covered extensively by the English-language Icelandic free newspaper, Grapevine. It’s a snarky, alternative paper with young, opinionated writers in the vein of NYC’s Village Voice, and they do a daily publish reviewing the previous night’s concerts, as well as interesting commentary about the Reykjavik music scene and how it pertains to the festival. Copies are delivered to hotels and cafes in the area around 10am Friday-Sunday.

All of the parties happen Thurs-Sat as well. The scene at the airport is pure chaos on Sunday afternoon, so if you can stay an extra day, you’ll have a much more relaxing journey home if you leave on Monday afternoon instead, although you probably will not have as many musician sightings. Sunday usually has some low-key showcases and even movie screenings running in the evening, so it’s a nice way to pace down from the go-go-go atmosphere of the preceding days.

The Iceland Airwaves festival started out as a labor of love in 1999 and has garnered a reputation of being one of the premire concert series in the world just eight years later. According to those who have attended in the past, every passing year the festival gets bigger and better organized, continuing to draw big-name acts and providing a platform to some of the best homegrown talent. Right now the festival is somewhat of an unknown in America, so when you’re at Airwaves seeing bands, it really feels like you are discovering something new and exciting on your own, as opposed to watching a bunch of bands you’ve already heard the hype about with about 40 other people from NYC standing behind you. I’m sure as the concert series continues to grow in size and reputation, that might change, but in the meantime Iceland Airwaves is one of the most interesting and unique festivals around. Enjoy the magic.

For those of you in the US who are interested in attending the Iceland Airwaves Festival in the future, you can book all-inclusive packages (airfare, festival ticket, and hotel) via Icelandair. But if you want to save a little money and don’t mind doing some footwork of your own, you can book a flight on Icelandair (around 500 USD with taxes) and find a hotel on your own (travel services like Expedia or Yahoo! Travel contain listings in Reykjavik). Perhaps not as well known is the fact that you can buy a festival ticket a la carte via Icelandair for around 120 USD by calling up the airline, so if you will not be coming directly from Iceland, or you just don’t feel like giving Icelandair an extra few hundred dollars, that’s a viable option. Those flying in from the UK have the option of purchasing ONLY airfare + festival pass, or an all-inclusive package.

I would recommend a hotel that’s located in the 101 area code. The closer to Austurvollur square the better. Think Hotel Borg, Radisson Sas 1919 Hotel, or Hotel Reykjavik Centrum. That said, accommodations are far from cheap in the city, but you will be thankful when you are rolling out of a bar at 5am and your hotel is only a block or two away. If you cannot afford one of the pricey hotels in the center of it all, a hotel in the 105 or 107 area code would be close enough to walk (about 15-25 minutes). And although it’s a beautiful boutique hotel (complete with a Pizza Hut restaurant), the Icelandair Nordica Hotel is way too far out to be walking to late at night.

Press credentials must be requested about a month and a half in advance (AT THE LATEST) of the festival through the Mr. Destiny team. If you have been selected to cover the festival, they’ll send you a confirmation email toward the end of September and you will be given a press pass at check-in in Reykjavik. The pass allows you go to to all of the shows, access to the photo pit, and invitations to special parties, as well as a free trip to the Hangover Party on Saturday at the famous (and absolute Iceland must-see) Blue Lagoon geothermal pool near Keflavik Airport.

If you don’t mind missing some of the parties and in-stores during the day, I would highly suggest either going on a tour (Reykjavik Excursions is the main tour operator in the area) or renting a car and taking a day trip out to see some of the sights. The main thing that most people see while in Reykjavik is the Golden Circle, which is composed of seeing Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir, a hot spring that spouts out water up to 30m every 7-10 minutes, and the Thingvellir National Park where you will see the birthplace of the world’s first democratic parliament, Althing. You can book in advance through their web sites or have your hotel book it when you arrive. If you book a tour, remember to have your hotel re-confirm the pickup while you are in Reykjavik.

You basically only need one day or two half-days to see the entire city and all the tourist sites, so I would definitely recommend getting out of the city one day and looking at all the beautiful and otherworldly nature the country has to offer.

When you’re going to a country called “Iceland”, you figure it’s going to be pretty cold, right? The truth is that the weather in late October is almost identical to that of a typical day in New York during winter time. Bring a warm coat (I brought a North Face down jacket), a hat and gloves and you will be fine. You may choose to layer up, wearing thin layers of clothes (like a long-sleeved tee under your shirt, or leggings under your jeans) in order to keep extra warm when the wind starts to blow. Although the guidebook I bought (Best of Reykjavik by Lonely Planet) listed October as being one of the rainiest months of the year, I experienced nothing but blue skys and sunny weather. You’ll want to bring at least one pair of insulated hiking boots for any excursions you do that involves visiting glaciers or walking up hills/through rocky areas. Grassy areas near waterfalls can also get pretty muddy due to the exposure to moisture, so make sure to wear gear that is waterproof.

Return of the Blogger

Ok I’m still alive, but so so tired. I saw a freaking geysir today! I also saw this awesome band last night at NASA called Æla, and you should check them out. They sing in Icelandic, but they rock. I am falling asleep but I just wanted to say I’m still alive and kicking it. Oh and I met James Looker in the photo pit right before Go! Team tonight at the Rej Art Museum.

PS I think the receptionist is watching Buffy on TV now.

Greetings from Reykjavik

Hola amigos! I’m in Reykjavik right now and it’s SO COLD and the keyboards are different here. Everyone has been so nice and friendly and I just came back from seeing the Northern Lights which was amazing. I missed We Are Scientists (who were on my flight over) tonight as a result, but hey–you probably would have made the same choice…which is more important, local band or seeing a natural wonder?

Let’s see, what else? I’m here with my friend Rachel and we keep seeing David Fricke everywhere. We see him walking around with a short leather jacket and carying vinyl records with him. How appropriate. Tomorrow hoping to see a band called Reykjavik! who all the Icelandic people keep talking about. Hopefully also catching the Whitest Boy Alive. Might be missing the Klaxons because they are on the same time. Anway, looking forward to Kaiser Chiefs this week and some band full of 19 year old boys I read about on the plane ride over.

Besides it being bitterly cold at night the weather is GORGEOUS and I can’t believe I can see mountains when I walk outside my hotel. Bed is calling me–I have only slept about 3 hours in the last two days. Need to store up my energy for the next three days of non-stop rock ‘n’ rolling.

Ciao for now mes amis.


Travel Tips and Prince Harry

If you’re in love with writing about traveling or anything involved about traveling, check out World Hum. Loads of links and interesting finds like an article about a woman visiting memories via visiting London, a Mr. Potatohead‘s travel adventures, and some guy that wants you to let him stay at your house.

Prince Harry was profiled as one of People‘s 25 Most Intriguing People. I need to read Henry IV Part I… and so much more for Shakespeare final. Oy. (Train of thought: Harry is a nickname for Henry… they said “King Harry” in the profile..)

The Strokes Are Buying Coney Island High?

I just got a craving for fried chicken. I’m listening to The Avalanches and craving chicken. Turkey will have to do.

I think you will all be happy to know my room is SO clean. It’s so lovely and neat and clean.

Whoah. Wait a minute. Was Stephen Daldry suppose to be gay? Now he’s not gay, but I didn’t know he was suppose to be gay… or did I? I have to go searching for those clips about his “surprise” friendship with dear Jamie Bell.

Oh, and by the way, someone needs to get me “Your Favorite London Sounds.” According to the LMC website, you need to send 12 GBP (for us overseas folk) to LMC Ltd, 3.6 Lafone House, 11-13 Leathermarket Street, London SE1 3HN. Perhaps I’ll just have to go pick it up myself when I go back to London… it’s sold at Rough Trade, Covent Garden; Smallfish, Hoxton; 323, Highgate; British Library, Euston; and Tate Modern, Bankside.

If you’re by Rough Trade in Convent Garden, go ahead- be trendy and check out Duffer, which is also on Shorts Garden.

Check out this interview with Albert… he talks about his problems with diarrhea, Halloween, and the Guru.

From Buddyhead: The Strokes are buying the old Coney Island High club and turning it into a private rehearsal space. All it takes is a phone call to daddy for some people.

You’ve Lived In London Too Long When…

In case you didn’t realize, it is officially “Laura Wishes She Was in Europe” week. Ben went off with the band to do an abbreviated European tour, the White Stripes just played the Astoria last night, dear Jen was talking about how she’d like to see Travis in London or Glasgow in March and both Jen and Amanda were on about how their getting out of this god forsaken country and going overseas next semester to study abroad in London. It’s not fair. I want to go.

I really need to get myself home. I miss everyone.

Look what I nicked off of Rob in London (can you tell this London fixation is getting bad?):

– You say “the City” and expect everyone to know which one.
– You have never been to The Tower or Madame Tussauds but love Brighton.
– You can get into a four-hour argument about how to get from Shepherds Bush to Elephant & Castle at 3:30 on the Friday before a long weekend, but can’t find Dorset on a map.
– Hookers and the homeless are invisible.
– You step over people who collapse on the Tube (or in our the case, you DO collapse on the tube)
– You believe that being able to swear at people in their own language makes you multilingual.
– You’ve considered stabbing someone.
– Your door has more than three locks.
– You consider eye contact an act of overt aggression.
– You call an 8′ x 10′ plot of patchy grass a garden.
– You consider Essex the “countryside”. You think Hyde Park is “nature”.
– You’re paying 1,200 a month for a studio the size of a walk-in wardrobe and you think it’s a “bargain”.
– Shopping in suburban supermarkets and shopping malls gives you a severe attack of agoraphobia.
– You pay more each month to park your car than most people in the UK pay in rent.
– You haven’t seen more than twelve stars in the night sky since you went camping as a kid.
– You haven’t heard the sound of true absolute silence since you left home, and when you did, it terrified you.
– You pay 3 pounds without blinking for a beer that cost the bar 28p.
– You actually take fashion seriously.
– Being truly alone makes you nervous.
– You have 27 different menus next to your telephone.
– The UK west of Heathrow is still theoretical to you.
– You’re suspicious of strangers who are actually nice to you.
– You haven’t cooked a meal since helping mum the last Christmas you were at home with the turkey.
– Your idea of personal space is no one actually standing on your toes.
– 50 pounds worth of groceries fit in one plastic bag.
– You have a minimum of five “worst cab ride ever” stories.
– You don’t hear sirens anymore.
– You’ve mentally blocked out all thoughts of the city’s air quality and what it’s doing to your lungs.
– You live in a building with a larger population than most towns.
– Your cleaner is Russian, your grocer is Somali, your deli man is Israeli, your landlord is Italian, your laundry guy is Philippino, your bartender is Australian, your favourite diner owner is Greek, the watch seller on your corner is Senegalese, your last cabbie was Pakistani, your newsagent is Indian and your favourite falafel guy is Egyptian.
– You wouldn’t want to live anywhere else until you get married.