Blaberjaskyrterta–Blueberry Skyre Torte

Skyre looks like yogurt but apparently is actually cheese–high in protein and served as a flavored drink as well as eaten in numerous ways. I had dessert in the quiet dining room of the nearby hotel mid-afternoon. The recipe is below. It looked a bit like key lime pie, with a blueberry skyre base, then a thick clear jam on top, plus blueberries. Probably enough carbs for the rest of the trip–but worth it!


250g plain skyr
250g vanilla skyr 
500ml whipping cream
½ packet LU Bastogne biscuits – or Digestive biscuits 
50g butter 
½ jar blueberry jam
1 box blueberries (approx 250g)
•    Crunch the biscuits, melt the butter and mix together
•    Put into a round 24cm cake tin
•    Whip the cream
•    Mix the skyr carefully together with the cream
•    Put cream and skyr mix onto the biscuit mix in the tin
•    Smooth the jam onto the cream and skyr mix and add the berries on top
•    Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving
From: Vilborg Þórðardóttir
Home: Reykjavík
Work: FX Specialist – Glitnir Bank

June 30: Mt. Heckla and Iceland’s Golden Circle of Tourist Attractions

The clouds cleared, and Mt. Heckla was visible across the lake for the first time. An enormous volcano, it is due to go off. Small black ducks in the lake and brilliant purple peas blossoming.
Met a herd of sheep on the track. I told them they were lovely sheep and they turned tail and furry butts and ran away on their little legs.
Today had an afternoon field trip. We drove to see  the waterfall at Gullfloss. We’re basically right in the “Golden Circle” of tourist attractions. The country was high and lovely, with herds of Arctic ponies. Picked up a Dutch hitchhiker–19 year old woman who had taken a ferry into the eastern fjords. Gullfloss was spectacular—the biggest waterfall I’ve ever seen (as I’ve not been to Niagra) with at least a half dozen individual streams pouring over immensely high rocks. It is hard to describe waterfalls, in part because they are about motion, but also they seem to exude a kind of force field of atmosphere like the sea (positive ions?).
The paved road ends there, so turned around and stopped at Geysir, Iceland’s first tourists attraction, an Old Faithful style geyser.At first it didn’t look that impressive, as we’ve seen a lot of steam coming out of the ground. But the pool of the main geyser rocked and swelled in science fiction style and then a shimmering azure hemisphere broke the surface and then exploded into steam. Two haunting pools, one a milky turquoise and one a blue cavern encrusted in silica.
The crowd of tourists standing around with cameras ready made me think as always of what we look at, how we direct our attention, what we really experience.
As always, the tension between writing and sightseeing plagues me. It really isn’t possible to write without putting in the time on the laptop and in various notebooks. Also, the head time–silence, expansiveness, lack of structure, openness. On the other hand, the road atlas lies on the coffee table, next to the guidebook, and the car keys. The bathing suit is packed with a snack of almonds. Who knows if I’ll pass this way again. What would you do?

Trail Markers with Quiz

School Town

Kath followed the path north away from the lake and up towards mountain–there are funny informational signs along the trail maintained by the town. The first one is about Bjarni Bjarnason who was a headmaster here and a sports hero. Then, in true pedagogical style there is a quiz on the sign:

Bjarni was a sports hero in judo and fencing
Bjarni was a sports hero in wrestling and swimming

Well, you guessed right if you picked the second!

He is known for the remark: Boring classes should be forbidden by law.

We kept walking, lots of wild strawberries yet to fruit and some brilliant magenta cosmos. A little newish graveyard well tended with pansies.

The next sign read: “Birch forest is a peace (sic) of land were (sic) birch is the dominant species.”

No birches, though I looked, just some lovely evergreens which are not a common sight in this often treeless country. Birds we couldn’t identify. Sheen of lake below.

Kath reported that further on there was a marker about a housewives’ school. Housewives got a special week off a year in the autumn and got to convene in a school here. Although it didn’t say what they studied. Darning? But this hasn’t been true for many years.

I love informational markers and these were truly unusual.

Is Iceland like Wyoming?

Kath says–this looks like Wyoming.

It does not, I say.

I point to the lava fields, the geothermal plant billowing steam, the kilometers of red pipe. Nothing like Wyoming.

Look at the volcanic cone, she says, the shape of the mountains.

It looks nothing like Wyoming, I re-iterate.

Then I realize: I have never seen Wyoming.

Reykjavik to Laugarvatn

Left Reykjavik this morning. I ended up feeling I could live there (Kath was less taken by that thought) but that I’d need a punk rock band or an underground magazine or something. Passed a Viking ship sculpture on the harbor–airy and spikey and like all Viking ships, capable of going in either direction without turning around.
We got slightly lost, in part because place names are still confusing. Arrived in Laugarvatn (which means bathing waters or hot springs) and asked around and soon found the apartments which belong to Gullkistan residency for creative people ( and on Facebook.) Gullkistan is the name of a volcanic formation on the mountain behind town–which means treasure chest. The town of about 200 people is a “school town” which serves the area–the buildings become hotels in the summer as there is a gorgeous lake spreading out at the base of town with black lava sand and steam rising at the edge.
We are in what is considered the Viking heartland–it is lusher than the coast, with a feeling of uplands, and lots of very furry sheep and shaggy Arctic ponies.
We were greeted warmly–and also shown the old farmhouse that is part of Gullkistan. We have an apartment with balcony and lake view. Did some arranging and unpacked groceries (shopping was fun and not too daunting, although heavy on those affordable root veggies). Our neighbor is an Icelandic playwright.
Best of all, around 9 pm we walked two minutes to the big local swimming pool which is warm and clear and also has three hot tubs at different temperatures–for $3.50. People were out–it rained a bit but is still quite light. It just gets crepuscular for a few hours in the dead of night. In this case case the dead of night is a white night–and the darkest hour is not before dawn.

Snappy Icelandic Answers to My Dumb Questions

Me: Is this the 11:15 bus to Reykjavik?
Driver: Yes, but now it is 11:16.

Me; Are you serving dinner?
Chef: And why wouldn’t I be?

Me: They never gave us directions on how to get here.
Icelander: How Icelandic!

And the nice kid at the car rental agency drew us a little map on how to get on the highway. And included that specific landmark–a fijord.

From Reykjavik Grapevine–a poet and statues

This appeared in the free English language giveaway…

Kristín Svava Tómasdóttir studies history at the University of Iceland and works at the Þjóðarbókhlaðan, the University Library. But, first and foremost, she is a young poet who is leading the way into a bright future for contemporary Icelandic poetry. She has been a member of the local poetry scene and Reykjavík’s publishing circle Nýhil for years, and has participated in in Nýhil’s annual International Poetry Festival since the beginning. Kristín had her breakthrough when a publisher approached her after a reading at the festival. This is how she finally came to publish her first collection of lyrical works in 2007, Blóðgælur, a self-acclaimed “Best-of” collection. “For me the book was not that huge a step. I have been doing this for many years, and I never really had the urge to publish a book myself. But perhaps that is also a flaw of mine, sometimes I am not very ambitious.”

1 Þotuhreiður

This one is just beautiful, like a bird coming from an egg. And it is on this very appropriate place at Keflavík airport, where it represents the wish of every islander to get away. I can really feel it, when I look at þotuhreiður.

2 Stúlka

This one is the very small statue of a girl, sitting on her knees in a flowerbed in front of my school in Reykjavík. I like it, because it is an interactive statue due to its height. When we were around she was always holding cigarettes, flowers, or Coke-bottles or beer.

3 The giant phone in Hafnarfjörður

When I was a kid and on a trip to Hafnarfjörður, I saw a giant phone, which I found hilarious. I do not know what its called, who had made it or even whether it is still there, but I still keep a photo of me sitting on it.

4 Óþekkti embættismaðurinn

“The Unknown Official“ is a great statue! It is humorous and sarcastic. It represents the unknown warrior, respectively as an official, because there are no warriors any more. There must be many officials walking by it every morning because it is so close to the parliament.

5 Berlínarbjörninn

The “Berlin Bear” is in front of the German embassy, which is also close to my old school. It has the distance to Berlin in kilometers written on it. I like the thought of walking around in Reykjavík and thinking of Berlin.



Beautiful fat housecats with tags walking about in public parks and city streets, chasing birds, purring for a pat–calico and tortoise shell and lovely brown or all black.
A modern design store selling stylized lamps shaped like Viking horned helmets–pink and white.
A melancholy feeling when we first arrive Sunday around noon (easy not too expensive bus from Blue Lagoon practically to the door of Hotel Fron). Trash and cigarette butts, peeling facades, lace curtains below street level, a purple flowerpot nailed to a wall, little half tended yards of wildflowers.

Zeroxed palmprints in a window, a poster with an obscene drawing a La R. Crumb labeled “caterpillar,” ordinary graffiti tags everywhere and then someone spray painting in broad daylight in a public park–something large and vivid and obviously allowed. A little flea market with fancy shoes and anarchist magazines and countrystyle, nicely bundled stems of rhubarb. On a chic street a yellow tin shed with a pale green roof in total decay.Hallgrímskirkja (Hallgrim’s Church) in Reykjavik is the tallest  church in Iceland–soaring upward a bit like the Witch’s castle in “Wizard of Oz” or like a giant stone ship turned with its prow facing heavenward. It is called a cathedral but is Lutheran. A statue of Leif Erikson stands in front, art deco style striding Viking who “discovered” America.Somehow reminding me of San Francsisco, Haight Street in the early 80’s, and then realizing it is because there is water on two sides with competing light.

Fountain statue of a girl embracing a fish.

An artificial blue rose in a shop window.
What typifies the place for me–a quiche made of root vegetables. And an excellent cup of coffee.