A Travellerspoint blog

Ah, Iceland


View May and June 2013 on pscotterly's travel map.

I've spent the longest daylight hours of 2013 in Iceland. I think even the birds get confused. At 1 AM on June 22, they were tweeting as if it were 5 AM. I don't think they got any rest - just like the locals, who party all night and at 9 AM are no where to be found.
1 AM June 22, 2013

1 AM June 22, 2013

Iceland is wonderful and charming. Iceland Air has a direct route from Denver and then on to many other cities in Europe. I can imagine this as a layover spot for other journeys.
Houses Across the pond

Houses Across the pond

I had a suburban apartment - at first I was a little dismayed at the location, but I was provided with a bike and a bus that ran every 30 minutes. I had no trouble getting anywhere I wanted to go and managed to see all the scenery while I rode. It was also quite easy to load the bike on the bus to go even further and see more sights. I recommend getting a day pass for the city bus system and skipping the Hop On/Off bus.
Riding into Reyjkavik

Riding into Reyjkavik


Bike Path into the Heart of Reykjavik

Bike Path into the Heart of Reykjavik


Only in Iceland - Fish Stew

Only in Iceland - Fish Stew


I took a ferry ride across the bay to Videy Island. In the 1700s, the seat of the Danish Treasurer and around the turn of the 20th century a thriving village for producing salt fish. All went bottom up in 1941 and nothing remains except the restored Treasurer's home, the last school, and a few foundations. Also- this is the spot for Yoko Ono's Imagine Peace Tower.
My Bike on Ferry to Vidney

My Bike on Ferry to Vidney


Feather and Foundation

Feather and Foundation

Flag Over Vidney Island

Flag Over Vidney Island

Reyjkavik Through the Window

Reyjkavik Through the Window


Vidney Island Lunch

Vidney Island Lunch


While riding my bike, I stumbled on three people around my age. This man had been one of the final residents to leave the island with his family in 1941 when he was 11 years old. They were preparing for a reunion of residents to be held on June 22. He said not many people show up for the reunions any more. I can imagine that few former residents are still alive - my grandson has not been to the place where I was born, so I can understand that few grandchildren would be coming here for a reunion.
Former Vidney Resident

Former Vidney Resident

There are several museums and galleries in Reykjavik. The food is good. The people are friendly. Everything is very expensive.
New and Old

New and Old


Sculputre Museum on the Sea

Sculputre Museum on the Sea

Scene along the Path

Scene along the Path


Amid the Wildflowers

Amid the Wildflowers

Dancing

Dancing


I took a horse ride. I had hoped for the midnight ride in daylight, but it was fully booked. Instead, I took the morning ride. It was pleasant, but the psuedo craters we rode to were rather a disappointment. The land had been greatly excavated for many years to produce road surface material. Only recently, they realized they were damaging rare materials - supposedly, this is found only in Iceland and on Mars! Therefore, you ride through devastated terrain and a million strange flies.
Also, these rather small horses are an Iceland breed that have a special gait not found in other horse breeds. They were pleasant to ride and my first experience on English style.
Ready to Ride

Ready to Ride

My Little Pony

My Little Pony

back rest

back rest

EVERYONE goes to the Blue Lagoon. There is a very efficient bus system that can pick you up and deliver you to/from the airport for long layovers or when you are leaving Reykjavik.
Me in the Blue Lagoon

Me in the Blue Lagoon


Blue Lagoon through the Window

Blue Lagoon through the Window

Blue Lagoon Buffet

Blue Lagoon Buffet


Blue Lagoon 3

Blue Lagoon 3

This is a shot from my window on Iceland Air flight as we passed between Greenland and Canada.
Ice in the Ocean

Ice in the Ocean

Posted by pscotterly 06.23.2013 15:48 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

What Time Is It?

rain
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I arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland yesterday afternoon around 3 PM from Helsinki, Finland. It was very cold and raining.
I think there is a three hour time difference between these two locations. I think the flight took 35 hours
There is no clock in my apartment. I have no phone.
The clocks on my computer, camera, Sony Reader, and MP3 are each set at different time zones between Denver to Azerbaijan, Russia, Helsinki.
I walked to the a store and bought some supplies for dinner.
I am still in the land of the midnight sun. Here is the view of my apartment when I was cooking dinner.

Apt in Iceland

Apt in Iceland


I went to bed and slept for a long time. I feel quite rested.
Here is a view of the sky now that I am awake.
Looks about the same as before I went to sleep.

Iceland Sky 24 7

Iceland Sky 24 7

I asked Google what time it is right now in Reykjavik and learned it is 3:37. As everything seems quiet around me, I am assuming it is AM and not PM. I am also assuming I slept my usual six hours and not 20.

Posted by pscotterly 06.18.2013 21:39 Archived in Iceland Comments (1)

Couch Surfing Is the Way to Travel


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My journeys in Moscow and Azerbaijan this year and Albania, Croatia, and Slovenia last year were with an organization called Friendship Force.

Friendship Force was originated by Jimmy Carter while he was President to allow ordinary citizens from around the world to meet one another and become friends. The force of friendship would bring greater understanding and reduce conflict moreso than armed forces. Since then, Friendship Force has grown to thousands of local groups throughout the world. It is overseen through a national office in Atlanta housed in Carter's non-profit offices.

When you travel with Friendship Force, you are hosted by the Friendship Force club in the city to where you have traveled. You stay in members' homes and have the opportunity to become friends and actually experience how everyday normal people live.
Without Friendship Force, I would have never had the experiences I had in Azerbaijan and last year in Albania. Without Friendship Force, I would have been too nervous to travel to Moscow by myself. It would have never entered my mind to even go to Albania and Azerbaijan!
BUT it is still group travel. Even when the group is small, you must travel as the group with all the accompanying frustrations and enforced schedule. Only the homestay is independent, and FF rules do not allow them to let you roam independently.

In Moscow, this was the first FF experience for my host. Unfortunately, she found it quite burdensome which made me feel quite uncomfortable. Sometimes she became so petulant that I did not always display my best manners. In Baku, very little English was spoken so I spent hours hearing more of everyday life in Baku than I could understand. Believe me, Aseri and Russian are not quietly spoken languages - especially when you cannot understand a word.

Although I enjoyed both my FF trips and excursions, I think this will be my last one. The wonderful experiences are overshadowed by the negative. Most FF members from the USA that I have met are interested in inexpensive group travel and sometimes display ugly American behaviors.

Instead, I think I will stick to Couch Surfing and perhaps and the Affordable Travel Club. I will also try Servas. Some travelers find that home rentals through Air BnB are also conducive to meeting locals and having everyday instead of tourist experiences.

In St Petersburg, I had a CS host who met me at the train station. She showed me how to use the metro immediately. On the first night, we looked at the map and she showed me which metro stops to take. Then, I was on my own and could do what I wanted and when.

We also organized another event on the CS website to meet up with other CS members. With opportunities like these, a traveler is just as likely to have everyday experiences with everyday people as you do with Friendship Force without the group burdens. And if it doesn't work out or becomes even better than originally planned, you can always change your plan.
Couchsurfers from St P Russia

Couchsurfers from St P Russia


Roller Derby Practice

Roller Derby Practice

Roller Derby at the Hermitage

Roller Derby at the Hermitage

Tea and Cake

Tea and Cake

Katerina and Janet

Katerina and Janet

Bazil Tye Meets a Russian Lady

Bazil Tye Meets a Russian Lady

Posted by pscotterly 06.18.2013 00:45 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

48 Hours in Helsinki

rain
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When you only have 48 hours in a very wonderful city, it can be perfect if you have two opportunities:
A modern Western-style bathroom
At Last a Western Bathroom

At Last a Western Bathroom

Head Up a Pipe

Head Up a Pipe


Eira, a Couch Surfing friend from the past who takes you on a bike ride to some historical sites.

Elias Lonnrotin

Elias Lonnrotin


My Bicycle at Sibellius Monument

My Bicycle at Sibellius Monument


Green in Helsinki

Green in Helsinki


Scene Through the Window

Scene Through the Window


The Only Finish Yarn in Finland

The Only Finish Yarn in Finland


Walk Over the Bridge

Walk Over the Bridge


Rock Church in Helsinki

Rock Church in Helsinki

Posted by pscotterly 06.17.2013 20:39 Archived in Finland Comments (0)

St Petersburg Scenes


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In 1997, I drove to Lincoln, Nebraska. For some reason, Lincoln was the only city other than St Petersburg, Florida with a Treasures of the Tsars display from The Hermitage in the renamed St Petersburg from the formerly named Leningrad.

I began to dream of having the opportunity to visit this city.
St Petersburg in only a 3.5 hour express train ride from Moscow. There was no way I was going to miss this city once I was this close.

I was definitely ready to leave the group and travel on my own. I also felt that after a week in Moscow I should be able to decipher enough of the Russian alphabet to find my way around.

If I were to plan this trip again, I would have tried to rent an apartment for at least two weeks and leisurely enjoyed all this city has to offer.
As it was, I decided to see what I could and just enjoy it. Although I always say there are too many places to see in the world that I will never go to the same place more than once, St. Petersburg is one that I might consider returning to.

Sunday on the River

Sunday on the River

St P Street Scene

St P Street Scene

Palace Roofline

Palace Roofline

Museum of the Siege

Museum of the Siege

Good Morning Neva

Good Morning Neva

Church of Spilled Blood

Church of Spilled Blood

Broom and Dustpan

Broom and Dustpan

Peter and Paul Fortress Artist

Peter and Paul Fortress Artist

Graduation Day Fireworks

Graduation Day Fireworks

Russian Museum

Russian Museum

Old Symbol

Old Symbol

Boys Climbing on Lenin

Boys Climbing on Lenin

American Consultate St P Russia

American Consultate St P Russia

Stairway in Hermitage WC

Stairway in Hermitage WC

Hermitage Door Handle

Hermitage Door Handle

Posted by pscotterly 06.16.2013 00:10 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

White Night Bike Tour

semi-overcast
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In this part of the world and at this time of the year, the light is long and the dark is short.
A tour company offers a bike ride from 10:30 PM until 2 AM to celebrate the event.
Fortunately, my Couch Surfing host and a Friendship Force traveler wanted to go to the event.
She's Got a Ticket to Ride

She's Got a Ticket to Ride


Bike Riders

Bike Riders


Bike Tour

Bike Tour


Sculpture Stop

Sculpture Stop


White Nights Bike Tour

White Nights Bike Tour


Olga on White Night Bike Tour

Olga on White Night Bike Tour

Modern Sphinx

Modern Sphinx

History Stop

History Stop

1 AM on the Bike Tour

1 AM on the Bike Tour


Aura at Night

Aura at Night


Every night the bridges around the main city are raised to allow the entry of the cargo ships for unloading. One of the events of the bike tour was to watch one of the bridges shut down and raised.
Bridges Up

Bridges Up


Although this was an interesting event, Olga lived in the suburbs. The bridges follow a timed cycle to be raised. We watched this bridge around 1:30. We then had to ride back to the tour agency, drop off our bikes, jump in our taxi, and get to our bridge before 2:20. Around 1:50, our taxi was calling us and asking when we would be at the tour company. Fortunately, our tour arrived at exactly 2 AM and we crossed our bridge in the taxi at 2:10 AM. The bridges do not go down until around 5 AM and the metros stop running between 1 and 5 AM.

Posted by pscotterly 06.15.2013 18:39 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

I Love a Parade

rain
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Ready to leave Moscow.
I must admit I was ready to get out of town. I had been a burden to my host and her petulance was getting to my good humor.
Fortunately, she arranged for a friend to take me to the train station which was under renovation. It would have taken me hours to figure out how to locate the lockers for left luggage and which track to take.
Had a couple of hours to spare before the train left for St Petersburg.
I wanted the challenge of figuring out the Moscow metro. I had been drug and led for the past 5 days. Only yesterday had Nadya, a friend of my host, taken a few minutes to explain the symbols and organization of the stations.

I took a chance and got off on a likely looking stop.
Surprise! I surfaced to be at the exact start of a Parade.
June 12 is Russia Day, when the nation celebrates its history and ethnicity.
The parade had marching groups dressed in period costume - starting with medieval clans all the way to the rockin' Sputnik days.
What fun!

Russia Day Parade

Russia Day Parade


Russia Day Parade 4

Russia Day Parade 4


Russia Day Parade 7-001

Russia Day Parade 7-001


Russia Day Parade 8-001

Russia Day Parade 8-001


Russia Day Parade 10

Russia Day Parade 10


Russia Day Parade 10-001

Russia Day Parade 10-001

Posted by pscotterly 06.13.2013 23:30 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Moscow Scenes


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In the 1950s, I wondered about the strange place called Moscow, Russia.
Life magazine showed picture of empty store windows, frumpy people dressed in cheap brown coats, and long military parades.

I was certainly surprised!
GUM department store looks like Beverly Hills or Venice.
At GUM

At GUM

I was told by people close to my age that Russia was "one long queue." But the younger people have no recollection of any lack of goods. They might not be able to afford half of what they see, but they have no concept of national shortages.

I assumed everyone drank vodka. I only met a handful of people who were even social drinkers. I could have thought I was still in a Muslim country - except that all the Orthodox churches are being renovated or rebuilt.
Monastery Colors

Monastery Colors


Lunch Break

Lunch Break


Church Dome and Clouds

Church Dome and Clouds


First View of St Basil Cathedral

First View of St Basil Cathedral

Relicary with Dustcloth

Relicary with Dustcloth

Cleaning Day in the Cathedral

Cleaning Day in the Cathedral


Point to ponder:
Are there more Orthodox churches in Russia or Catholic churches in Italy?
No need to wonder about this - which country has more people actually attend services: Italy, Russia, or the USA?

Red Square was closed off from visitors. They were setting up stages for Russia Day on June 12. All we could get was a glimpse from afar of Lenin's tomb. I think it was off limits to keep any demonstrations from happening. I was going to visit on June 12 to see what happened, but did not have time before my train left.
On the Edge of Red Square

On the Edge of Red Square

Executioner and Announcement on Red Square

Executioner and Announcement on Red Square

The Kremlin contains historical buildings within the original walls: the Armory Museum (fantastic displays) four churches, and former palaces used as current government buildings that are off limits to visitors.
Kremlin Wall

Kremlin Wall


Kremlin Tower

Kremlin Tower

Kremlin Contrast

Kremlin Contrast

Kremlin Cathedral

Kremlin Cathedral

In Line at the Kremlin

In Line at the Kremlin

As usual, one of my favorite places to visit was the cemetery.
Moscow Cemetary Typical View

Moscow Cemetary Typical View

Grave of Yeltsin

Grave of Yeltsin

Grave of Kruschev

Grave of Kruschev

In Moscow Cemetary

In Moscow Cemetary

You can see almost anything in Moscow - except a bunch of Communists skulking around looking dour.
Dostoevsky in the Rain

Dostoevsky in the Rain

MORE Weddings

MORE Weddings

Attention

Attention

Eternal Flame in the Rain

Eternal Flame in the Rain

Moscow's Boulder Mall

Moscow's Boulder Mall

Park Scene 2

Park Scene 2

Skateboarders

Skateboarders

Ski Jump on Campus

Ski Jump on Campus

Where Am I

Where Am I

Time to Go Please

Time to Go Please

Posted by pscotterly 06.13.2013 23:14 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Faces and Food in Moscow


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With Moscow Host Natalia

With Moscow Host Natalia

Making a Bootliner on the Metro

Making a Bootliner on the Metro


Stasha is Wanted by CIA

Stasha is Wanted by CIA

First Morning on Moscow Metro

First Morning on Moscow Metro


My My Moo Moo

My My Moo Moo


Bazil Tye Says Goodbye to Nadjia at Moscow Metro

Bazil Tye Says Goodbye to Nadjia at Moscow Metro

Only One African in Moscow

Only One African in Moscow

Bellringers

Bellringers


Russian Friend

Russian Friend

Reading Beggar

Reading Beggar

Pilgrims

Pilgrims

Orthodox Priest

Orthodox Priest


My friends in Azerbaijan told me to eat well while I was there because I wouldn't find any good food in Russia.
I can always find food, but the Azerbaijanis were speaking pretty close to the truth. But then - it's hard to beat the food in Azerbaijan (even in France!)
My First Dinner in Moscow

My First Dinner in Moscow

Time for Dessert

Time for Dessert

Potato Pankakes with Red Caviar and Rabbit

Potato Pankakes with Red Caviar and Rabbit

Ukraine Restaurant in Moscow-001

Ukraine Restaurant in Moscow-001

Breakfast on the Square

Breakfast on the Square

Posted by pscotterly 06.13.2013 22:45 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Faces in Azerbaijan


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The people in Azerbaijan are very friendly and have a sense of humor that is compatible with mine!
Although our lifestyles have some differences (even those who live in the city), the good humor and smiles create an immediate bond.

Spontaneous Wedding Celebration

Spontaneous Wedding Celebration

Groom and Father

Groom and Father

Father and Son in the Plaza

Father and Son in the Plaza

Woman Walking

Woman Walking

Our Azerbaijani Friends

Our Azerbaijani Friends

In the Tea Plantation

In the Tea Plantation

Our Caspian Cutie

Our Caspian Cutie

Boys on the Beach

Boys on the Beach

The face you see along every road, in every museum, and in most stores is Haydar Aliyev. He was the president after the collapse of the USSR and is quite revered by most Azerbaijanis. His son Nadar is now president. Sometimes you see him in the photos, but he has some pretty big shoes to fill.
He's Everywhere

He's Everywhere

Especially fun were all the students from elementary school through university that wanted to talk to us and get their picture taken.
My Azerbaijani School Pals 2

My Azerbaijani School Pals 2

Farewell School Pals

Farewell School Pals

Graduation Day Excursion

Graduation Day Excursion

Please Take My Photo

Please Take My Photo

Posted by pscotterly 06.12.2013 19:45 Archived in Azerbaijan Comments (0)

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