sunnudagur, september 05, 2004

living room update

Sitting here in my living room on a Sunday night... I got here almost 4 weeks ago, and it’s hard to believe it. I have been working 3 weeks now, and really like the company. Great, smart people to work with, and the products they have are pretty good too. The most impressive part so far is that the management seems to be really on the ball w/r/t billing time, going after clients, planning work, running the show. It’s nice to see... to me, it has highlighted a lot of the weaknesses and secrecy that surrounded Galatea planning, or lack thereof.

But the best thing is the people. I have a couple of new friends there who are really turning into good ones. One of them (Asdis) just came over for dinner, and last night she and I went down to Keflavik (near the int'l airport) for a culture festival. I have been hanging out with her and Rakel from work on the weekends. These people go out at 1 am and stay out until 5 or 7... every Friday and Saturday... crazy! Reykjavik life seems to revolve around the weekends and going out with your friends all night... and people do it well into their 30s, even those with kids. It's quite common to have kids here at a young age but then continue living life more like a post-college kid than people with a family. There's much less of a line separating "family" people from "single" people - everyone is more on the same level.

The biggest culture shock here is the sticker shock. Booze is the most egregious example, cause they tax it to high heaven (a beer out at a bar for $7-$11, mixed drinks as high as $18), but gasoline runs around $6 a gallon, and even laundry detergent cost me around $30 for a large-ish box of Danish stuff. Groceries are all very expensive, too. But you get used to it, I hope. :-) Someone I met on the weekend told me she's never gotten used to it.

I love my new apartment, it’s in 101 (downtown Reykjavik's postal code), about a 10-minute walk to the heart of things. It’s in a 1920s house on a corner and I have a whole floor of the building, so windows (almost) all around. Everything I own (‘cept Heidi) came in two huge crates (1000 lbs each) and I had a trucker bring them from the dock warehouse to the sidewalk outside my door. Couple new friends helped me hoist everything up here and I spent the last few days unpacking. I’m almost there… the place is starting to come together.

Today I took the car and drove out to Thingvellir – that’s the site of the old Viking annual parliament meetings. It’s a beautiful flat plain on the north side of a calm lake. I drove all around the lake and took some great pictures... this place is indescribable. You just have to see it... it looks like nothing I've seen anywhere else, and the terrain is so varied from place to place...

I’ve been taking Icelandic lessons every morning from a teacher who claims to be the best in the country... and I believe it. She’s tough as nails, but also quite a nice lady, and I really enjoy learning from her. The coolest thing about learning the language is that you learn all kinds of obscure English word origins... cause once upon a time (800 AD or so) they were the same language... so Icelandic has a word, tunna, for barrel, and tun is a really obscure (but probably the original) English word for barrel. I only know that one from Moby-Dick. So it’s fun to see all these old words and to figure out which English words must be original and which came in from Latin, etc.

The temp today was somewhere in the 50s, with mixed rain and sun alternating all day long. That kind of weather is very common here - you can have a complete downpour and 5 minutes later nearly clear skies - and it makes for great rainbows. I saw 2 today and have been seeing some almost every day for the past week.

Twilight now lasts only until about 9 and every day it gets a little darker. The winter is coming on like a train... on 9/21 we will have 12 hours of daylight and then after that point we lose a lot more light than you so that by 12/21, we'll have only around 4 hours of daylight. Then the long march to summer begins...

I'm looking forward to Elisa arriving in October. I'm taking some of that week off of work and we're going to take a drive somewhere - probably up north to Isafjordur (Ice-fjord), a tiny settlement on the Arctic Ocean. It's beautiful there and should be a beautiful drive too. Or we might go to the south coast, which has some amazing volcanoes and waterfalls. There is a volcano that erupts every hundred years here and this is the 100th year...! So maybe we'll get to see some boomin' lava action.


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