Walden World

The wacky and wonderful tales of Beth's and Catherine's global adventures. And all things Walden too.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Hidden People

We spent a great deal of money, to visit a small town just south of Reykjavik which is home to many, many Icelandic 'hidden people' : that refers to elves, dwarves, elementals and the ever terrifying trolls.

Apparently they live 'hidden' in the lava formations and can only be seen by those with second sight.

On our tour we visited an old dwarvé´s home (a very large rock formation) in addition to a few other elve or dwarve lodgings.

Here below is Catherine by the dwarf's house. As you can see, she appears to be bowled over by it and having a very good time:

There was also a troll woman, who, while chasing someone to have them for breakfast, was caught out in the sunlight and immediately turned to stone. See the troll woman below. Actually this rock is pretty impressive:

Whiile Irish faerie mythology is oddly complex and frankly bizarre (lots of drinking and turning people into random animals with magical sticks) the Icelandic versions, at least as told in the tour, are a bit on the dull side.

A woman sees a little cup and pours some extra milk in it each day.  After two weeks it disappears and then she has a dream that an elf woman, of limited means, says that she needed it for her sickly husband, and though they are poor, they will reward her. After a year of waiting she finds that someone has left her a really nice embroydiered skirt on the bed, just before they are supposed to move.

Apparently good skirts are a common gift from grateful elves, either that or a table cloth.

Catherine wanted to know what would happen if you were crappy to an elf or hidden person. The story goes that a bad boy got three warnings from a beautiful elf lady to stop smacking a tree with his stick.

He ignored it to his peril and ended up unable to use his right hand.

Thus, the story teller cautioned, that can happen to you if you fail to heed the warnings!

If however he had been instead helpful, I assume he would have ended up with a really nice skirt.

Or maybe a tablecloth...

And the common response to: 'do hidden people live here'

'I don´t know. I haven´t seen one. But you never know. Perhaps we will see one today'

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Vikings - Eric the Red - Leif the Lucky and the Breast Lady

Yesterday we went to the Saga Museum where incredibly life like mannequins representing Viking history are featured.

As a plus I  got to wear a real Viking helmet and play with a sword.

The mannequins are based on real people. In fact the creators applied latex to human models and then produce the faces, hands and skin based on the molds. They then painstakingly sew eyelashes, hair and beards onto the creations and paint and adorn them with astonishingly accurate skin colour, sweat and dirt.

The appearance is uncannily real.

In fact, they even put a motor in one model to make him appear to breathe heavily which completely freaked Catherine out as she was convinced it was an actor who was able to avoid blinking. She refused to believe me when I said that he was not alive, meaning I had to walk up to him, and like a terrified ape in "2001: A Space Odyssey"  touching the monolith, poke at his hands and face to prove he was rubber, jumping back in case he suddenly yelled "boo".

The other unsettling thing about the museum was the one young red headed tourist, with glasses and goatee, who sat watching the movie on the making of the mannequins gape mouthed and stock still wearing an Ipod. Catherine kept walking crouched down so as to not block his view when she left the film and came back in. Turned out he wasnt real either...

A rather bloody history of Iceland with numerous feuds, battles and ambushes.

My favourite story, realistically portrayed by mannequins, was that of a heroine of the Vikings, who when they were in North America, got into a tiff with some Aboriginal inhabitants who chased the Icelanders into the woods in during a pitched battle. She attempted to rally her Viking brethren to no use and as a last resort, picked up a sword from a slain comrade and pulled open her tunic and threatened the oncoming Native warriors, with the slicing off her own breast. That freaked them out so much they stopped in their tracks and fled saving the Viking men. I guess the lesson is: if your enemies women are that bats, discretion is the better part of valour. 

Suffice to say, after a few such incidents the Vikings decided Vinland wasnt all it was cracked up to be, despite featuring things like warmth, trees, grass and grapes and hot footed it back to snowy, dark, Greenland. 

Icelanders really are something else. I already mentioned the entire lack of light in the winter, but here it is summer and today barely reached 10 degrees celsius and featured a a fierce gale like wind which blasted the treeless city. Yet people still sit outside at cafe tables, drinking cokes, coffees and beer as if it was a hot day in May, albeit in winterish gear.

The one thing I am not able to understand after some review of Viking history, is where the image of the horned helmet came from.

I suspect Wagner but so far the answer eludes me.

Next up a tour featuring the homes of Icelandś hidden people: the elves which reside around town in large boulders scattered throughout the city.

As a postscript Dr. Don MacIntosh of Sault Ste. Marie informs us that the man we were told who composed the score for "Out of Africa" is indeed a fraud.

Therefore there is an older gay man who both resembles and talks like Russell Oliver, that weird gold selling guy from Toronto TV commercial fame, running around Iceland masquerading as the late John Barry. 

Another post script, the films on offer in the Hilton resemble the fare that Iceland Air was featuring. They are featuring "You ve Got Mail" and  a mid-franchise instalment of "Mission Impossible".

So this leaves a further tourist question, on what day is it most auspicious to visit Icelandŝ famed penis museum: The Phalleological Institute of Iceland. 

Now thats going to be a great coffee mug conversation piece...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Iceland Air and Hilton Stand Ups...

As I write I will note that the 'hilton' in Reykjavik believes in dissuading the riff raff who don´t bring their own computer to the hotel, from using the free computers for any length of time, by putting the terminals on a high shelf, one that I, as a very short person can barely reach, and then refusing to provide a chair so that one can sit while typing. I even went to the front desk and asked. 'We don´t provide chairs´was the curt reply. We are not ´hilton´ types, but in a city where the average price for a shared bathroom hotel room is $120-$140 per night if you get a hilton room for less than that, take it. This morning completely jet lagged we were subject to the political musings of an American who had apparently won the Oscar for ´best film score´ back, oh in 1984, for 'Out of Africa'... Now if that´s not resting on old laurel leaves, I don´t know what is. Now onto Air Iceland, a very weird airline. First off, they just didn´t bother with the 'important safety instructions' tutorial one always gets, but ignores. I felt kind of cheated. Yes, I know that should the plane go down in the North Atlantic the life preserver and whistle won´t do me a wit of good, but somehow I at least wanted them to make the effort: maintain the fiction if you will. Next up, another Canadian on our plane noted the selection of films available on a highly rated airline. For example, she watched 'Speed'. She asked Catherine, remember 'Speed'...Catherine puzzled and suddenly said 'You mean the bus film with Keanu Reeves'. 'Yes' the Canadian replied 'that film from like 20 years ago'. Given the movie choices on Air Iceland, we all came to the conclusion that staff had gone to an old Rogers video store in Oshawa and bought out the bargain bin of movies to feature as their 'on flight entertainment system' on a August 2012 flight. You also have to pay for any food, but somehow all the alcohol is free. But the airline made up for its faults with what I have to say were really outstanding pill box hats and quite Christmassy 'jabots' that resemble a ribbon on a communion present. Brilliant! What about Reykjavik. I would use a question mark but there isn´t one on the keyboard. So far very chilly in terms of temperature but a very artistic community. These are a tough people the Icelanders, they endure no end of sunlight during the mid-summer followed by a winter where the sun rises at 11 am and starts setting at 1:30 pm. Plus there is no vegetation and lava fields abound. Catherine calls the landscape eerie. And in the cafe we finally decided to have coffee in, they were playing Bjork...and not for the tourists. To the Viking Museum tomorrow where I just might go beserk.