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IceWeb on Ice

IceWeb 2006 wrapped up today (that is, Friday), and I’m deeply honored to have been a part of it.  The attendees were just wonderful, there were great speakers all around, and I was as impressed as everyone else by Joe Clark‘s Icelandic benediction at the beginning of his talk.

In general, it’s been an amazing trip.  In some ways, though, the highlight came before I even set foot on Icelandic soil.  On the way over, the Aurora Borealis was visible out my plane window.  With a touch of desperate improvisation, I managed to coax some half-decent shots of the lights (and the wing of our plane) from my battered PowerShot S45.  You can see them up on Flickr, along with a few of the better shots from our Wednesday trip through the Icelandic countryside (in the general photostream).  The actual aurorae were nowhere near as green to the eye as what’s seen in the photos, but more of a silver-blue phosphorescence with maybe a little tiny hint of green.  It was hard to judge, looking through a plastic airplane window while trying to block out cabin light enough to see them.

That’s not to minimize the beauty of this country, however.  There is a bleak and wild character that’s hard for me to resist, even as I know I’d never survive the dark of deepest winter here.  Much as I love landscapes, and Iceland has those in spades, the people are the best part: friendly and accepting in a way that’s still proud and reserved.  It’s hard to explain.  Moreover, they do know how to party.

My deepest thanks to all our hosts for letting me be a part of IceWeb, and I hope I get to return some time in the future.  Takk!

Six Responses»

    • #1
    • Comment
    • Sat 29 Apr 2006
    • 0101
    David Nitzsche-Bell wrote in to say...

    Eric,

    On a whim, I took a 10 day vacation in Iceland about 10 years ago. I had no idea. I just went because Icelandic Air had cheap fares. But, it was the most memorable and most exciting vacation I’ve had. In fact, as I’m wont to say, “Iceland is the coolest place to go!”

    During my time there, I saw underwater ice rivers, geysers (we stole the word from ancient Icelandic!), several volcanoes (one of the premier volcanic researchers is Icelandic. He followed his father’s footsteps.), Northern Lights, fjords (as beautiful if not more so than those in Norway), puffins, and more.

    I also went to Blue Lagoon, which is the water run-off resevoir of a geo-thermal power plant. You see, Iceland gets all of its hot water from natural resources – it just bubbles out of the ground. It’s so hot, they have to cool it down. The run-off collects in an outdoor pond. It’s open 365 days a year. You can go there, put on your bathing suit, take a shower and then GO OUTSIDE into the outdoor pool. Which is a balmy 37-40 degrees Celsius, depending on where you stand. It’s the best experience.

    And did you know that Iceland, even the capital Reykjavik, is where the tectonic plates from the USA and Europe meet? The line apparently goes right through town. So, when Reagan met Gorbachev there way back when, it was literally where East meets West.

    Third largest glacier in the world, skiing, snowmobiling, a island was born (yes, born!) off the southern coast about 30 years ago, no trees (they’re above the tree line, you see), friendly, literate people, 180,000 population and they ALL speaking excellent english. They even publish two english language daily newspapers!! Weekend pub crawls. Björk. I could go on.

    You can tell how excited I am. If you haven’t been to Iceland, I can’t encourage you enough. It used to be that Icelandic Air had cheap rates to Europe and allowed a stopover of any length. In fact, when I was there, invariably people asked me what my final destination was. They were incredulous when I told them I had just come just to see Iceland.

    I guess that was more than $0.02.

    Glad you liked it, Eric.

    • #2
    • Comment
    • Sat 29 Apr 2006
    • 0846
    Jonathan Stanley wrote in to say...

    I wanted to go up to IceWeb 2006 just as an excuse to head up to Iceland again, having last visted it pretty much exactly 10 months ago. To me, the place certainly has a “Am I on the right planet?” character to it.

    Certainly agree on the fact they know how to party… just a pity about the cost of living! Indeed the answer from one of the guides I had, apparently the real answer to “How do Icelanders afford to live here?”, is “We don’t… why do you thing we have huge bank overdrafts!”.

    Oh, and kudos on managing to snap some Aurora Borealis… I was there in the summer during a period of perpetual daylight, which meant it impossible to see this particular wonder of nature. :)

    • #3
    • Comment
    • Sat 29 Apr 2006
    • 0934
    ralph wrote in to say...

    You’re a lucky man to have seen the aurora. I pay close attention to solar conditions (in addition to causing auroras, they affect shortwave radio signals, and shortwave is one of my hobbies), and I’ve only ever seen one from my location here in New Jersey. I read somewhere that only 5% of humanity has seen one.

    • #4
    • Comment
    • Sun 30 Apr 2006
    • 1904
    Finnur wrote in to say...

    It was a great conference yes, to bad I didn’t get the chance to grab some beers with you as well.
    Of course there is allways next year :)

    • #5
    • Comment
    • Sun 30 Apr 2006
    • 2026
    Haukur H. Thorsson wrote in to say...

    Just wanted to thank you for an excellent presentation !

    Look forward to the next IceWeb conference, maybe you’ll be there?

    Who knows :)

    • #6
    • Comment
    • Tue 2 May 2006
    • 1440
    Catherine wrote in to say...

    I visited Iceland for the first time last year, and it’s held a strange soft spot in my heart ever since – not a place where I think I could live, but so distinct and visually strange and memorable nonetheless. It’s been fantastic reading everyone’s writeups of IceWeb – I wish I could have attended. Can’t believe I’m nostalgic for just one week of travel! I will never forget the big sweeping clouds overhead, the lovely hostel, and all the unexpected street art in Reykjavik.

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