We have been in Reykjavík now for a day and life is good. After a very long layover in Newark and then a five-and-a-half hour flight to Iceland, I thought some of us might have fallen asleep standing up, but here we are after around 35 hours without sleep, still going strong. Though we have been hit with some rather cold winds and a spattering of rain, the unworldly experience of being submersed into this foreign culture has kept morale extremely high.
The first thing we did after settling into our hotels was meet up at Harpa designed by the Renowned artist Olafur Eliasson, a beautiful gigantic building where many of the shows we are going to cover will take place. It has stain-glass-like windows on all sides of the building and actually changes color depending on the time of day and the way the light reflects off of it.
After leaving Harpa we milled our way through the streets of Reykjavík and found our way to one of Iceland’s famous hot dog stands. Living in Chicago I couldn’t have imagined that anyone could top our world famous dogs, but these came close. There may even have been a dead tie between them. The sausages are quality to begin with, but are then smothered with special Icelandic mustard, aioli and deep fried crispy onion bits. It was so good I had a flock of birds surrounding me, waiting for any piece, no matter how small, to fall to the wet Icelandic asphalt.
We also had a very nice, but very brief, tour of the Reykjavík 871+2 museum where the remains of an ancient viking house built cerca 900 AD was discovered a few years ago. All that was left when excavators unearthed the dwelling was the one foot stone foundation around the perimeter of the house, due to the decay of the sod, which viking settlers used for walls since lumber was not available. The employees , however, stated that they felt blessed to discover even that. The museum employees demonstrated the Icelandic hospitality that we have heard so much about, by allowing us to view the exhibit free of charge because we are students. It was very interesting and full of interactive media.
Jónas Sen has worked as the keyboardist for Björk and prior to the performance it seemed that he might play something piano related. The surprise was very welcome however as he play several of his compositions from his laptop and combined them with majestic visual media including images of an indigenous tribes drum ceremony and other art. The disjunct feeling of the art combined with the drone-like theme of the music would carry listeners away to the point where they might forget they were in a concert hall. No two songs Jónas Sen played sounded anything alike and that kept the performance moving at a very nice pace.
All in all day one in Iceland was a great success. I can see why people love this place so much and after only one day I could certainly see myself returning in the near future.