16 March 2010

Nordic Travels

No, I haven´t already lapsed on my promise to return to frequent posting. Since last Tuesday I´ve been traveling to one of the last corners of Europe that I´ve yet to see: the Far North.

On Tuesday evening I boarded an overnight train to Copenhagen, Denmark. I stayed in the Danish capital for three days, enjoying the several cultural institutions of that city. I visited an impressive national history museum with excellent exhibits on Danish culture, from prehistoric times through the Viking era to the year 2000. The Little Mermaid statue on the harbor, which pays tribute to Danish author Hans Christensen Andersen, looked small and lonely. A gourmet Danish smorrebod sandwich left my mouth watering for more. Two grand castles north of Copenhagen brought me back to Medieval times. One of them, the castle of Elsinore, was the setting in Shakespeare´s play "Hamlet." Indeed, the only bad experience I had in Copenhagen was in the so-called, "independent" community of Christinia, where a couple of anarchist punks were displeased with me taking pictures. That is one story which I will tell in detail once I´m back home and have the time to properly do so.

By the Far North though I of course did not just mean Denmark. On Saturday a plane took me from Copenhagen to the northern-most capital in the world: Reykjavik. Iceland is a beautiful country, and the prospect of paying it a visit excited more that many other destinations have recently. The land of fire and ice has not dissapointed me.

I spent most of Sunday at the famous Blue Lagoon spa and thermal springs. Imagine eerily blue and steaming pools of water surrounded by an otherwordly landscape of hardened lava fields, this is the Blue Lagoon. To soak in its warm waters is a soothing experience. Expect coloful photographs to come.

Yesterday I toured some of the inland parts of this country. Sights included a geothermal power plant, a dormant volcano´s caldera, bubbling field of hot springs and geysers, massive waterfalls, and the fault line where Europe and North America geologically meet.

Today I tried some of Icelandic food specialities, and this country does offer some unique ones. Some examples are dried fish with butter spread over it and lamb smoked over fires that use sheep dung as fuel. Believe it or not, the smoked lamb was delicious. And then there was the truly unique dish. Called harkal in Icelandic, it is shark meat that has been left to rot for about nine months under the ground. This putrified fish starts out fine in your mouth, then a taste of bleach starts develop and fills your palate until your mouth starts to burn. Definitely not for those with weak stomaches. The waitress assured me that there were no harmful bacteria, though sometimes people complain of diziness.

Photographs and more stories will be posted in near future.


Natalie said...

You'll eat ANYTHING!

mom said...

I wonder what the health benefits are of the 9 month old fish? Interesting! And lamb dung! blah..

Nick O. said...

Natalie: Yes, I guess so.

Mom: I don't know if there are any health benefits. There's at least some protein though.