So I got back on Monday after a flight delay that left us in Hong Kong and Shanghai for a forgettable day. Apparently Iceland received record snowfalls this Winter, so we didn’t get to see the best of an Icelandic Winter, oh well I was expecting snow any way, and we did get a couple of clear days to see around Reykjavik at least. I wouldn’t exactly call Reykjavik a city, it’s more like a town considering that you can walk from the suburbs to downtown in 25 minutes, but it has all the amenities, didn’t see the night life at all, but that’s not a big deal considering I’m currently sober :D. What I found a little amazing was that even in Patreksfjordur, population about 1000, they have proper 3g coverage and broadband internet, it’s about as remote as you can get in Europe I would think, and yet they pretty much have all the amenities. I did have a pretty scary ferry ride from the Westfjords to Snaefell before driving along some dark and dusty roads back to Reykjavik. I am thinking that I’ll go back in the future, probably in late Spring/early Summer time, although I would like to go again perhaps in the late Autumn/early Winter to give myself another chance to see the northern lights, in a better location with a clearer sky, that would still be ideal.
As for Paris, in the little time I spent there and without actually getting around the downtown area too much and especially not seeing the night life, I could tell that it was a place that I would definitely really like. It’s such a busy place and the people (especially the girls) are very good looking :D, they must be so vain, or just really lucky. There’s no shortage of anything it seems, although the Vietnamese food is certainly not as good as Melbourne from what I tried. The metro system is great, just like the one in Mexico City, and they have use-once tickets as well as the re-usable card, they know what they’re doing. Winter there was not as cold as I expected, there were a couple of cold days right around 1-2 degrees, but then the two days before we left were about 10 degrees and positively balmy! Any way, I bet it’s an especially magnificent city in the warmer weather.
And now the rant, bloody Air France, and bloody QANTAS, I can tell you, I will not be flying Air France again if I can help it, and I won’t be flying QANTAS unless they have super special deals that are so cheap as to be insane not to buy, also I have frequent flyer points that I will need to use rather than waste. Air France got all the passengers on to the plane on time, and then sat there waiting (for half an hour with no information), then drove out to the runway and waited again for half an hour before finally notifying passengers of a maintenance check that needed to be done, then finally after two hours we finally took off. Initially they were telling us on the plane that we would arrive only thirty minutes later than the initial arrival time, so passengers with connecting flights need not worry. After a bit of sleep, and checking the flight route and destination details, it became apparent that we were not going to arrive in time for our flight, and in fact we were arrived exactly two hours late, ten minutes after our particular connecting flight was due to leave, so they made up no time at all. On the plane, the cabin crew told us to go talk to the ground staff for further information, so a bunch of Aussies with connecting flights to Melbourne and Sydney were possibly expecting that we’d walk through and be lead to our boarding gates by someone only to find that our QANTAS flights had already left. So Air France, who were operating a flight for QANTAS from Paris to Hong Kong did not do anything to help those passengers that had connecting flights with QANTAS to get on their flights on time. Instead they provided us with $90HKD worth of food vouchers for the airport and half a night’s stay in the airport hotel. Air France obviously working with their partner airlines only, provided us with airfares to get back to Melbourne, but not until over 24 hours after we were meant to.
So we were stuck boarding a second rate plane with China Eastern Airlines to Shanghai bright and early in the morning and spending the whole day there until a flight in the evening back to Melbourne. OK, China Eastern Airlines didn’t actually seem so bad up until then, apart from the service being a little abrupt. They were running on time and everything, and with a whole day in town we decided to head out to see what Shanghai was about, I didn’t see anything that I would say will warrant a return visit. Any way, our flight was meant to leave Shanghai at 8.15pm, but it was eventually delayed by over and hour and we eventually took off, they also never gave us any indication of how long it would take or what time we would arrive in Melbourne. So QANTAS having bailed on us,is now pretty much on my boycott list, and Air France, I should have known, I guess we’re fortunate to be back in Melbourne in one piece.
But the rant is not over! For some reason, the airport in France (Terminal 2 at least) seem to think that it’s a good idea to only have one person working the departure desks (and arrival desks when we arrived) which makes for a lot of waiting before you can enter or leave the country by plane, get to the airport early! Maybe it has to do with the financial crisis and they are cutting costs. Now rant over, and we can look at some pretty pictures! I will hopefully start posting pictures on flickr this weekend.
So, another year over, another one just begun, I spent the past four days up in the Westfjords, which were very scenic although I didn’t get to see much of them because of the weather, also I was kind of working. So I was stuck inside most of the time, and didn’t get to go up the mountain roads and get some good views during the day, another time perhaps, the views I’m sure are spectacular. I was staying in Patreksfjordur with a lovely family working on a book about French sailors in Iceland to be published. Anyway, we’ve got three more days here in Reykjavik before heading back to Paris for a day, and then back home, the weather hasn’t been the greatest recently, but it’s Winter so there’s not much you can do. I’m not going to babble on here, just post some pictures of the craziness of Iceland.
Merry Xmas to everyone out there, hopefully you’ve had or are having a very peaceful time. I’ve had xmas’ away from home before, but this is the first one ever in the northern hemisphere, and I’m pretty far north. It really is Winter here, and a white Xmas as well, a little too white for my liking, it is freezing. It’s snowing, and windy, and very dark as I type this. The snow is deep and it is very cold, but it’s soft at least. The weather is a bit unpredictable and so makes it quite difficult to go out and take some photos after dark, I can’t be sure that it won’t be violently cold and windy. I hope it’s not like that when I go up to the western fjords just after the new year, if it’s just cold that’s one thing, but if it’s snowing and windy that makes it very difficult to get outside to take some photos. Perhaps I may have to settle for taking photos from inside behind windows, that would be a little disappointing, let’s cross that bridge when it comes.
I tried some putrid shark a couple days ago, this is not a delicacy here, it’s a traditional meal from western Iceland that has made its way around the rest of the country. Basically it is smelly, yucky, and burns your mouth, but you may as well try it if you’re here, really, really, awful, the worst thing I have ever eaten in my adult life (and as far as I can remember).
Anyway, here are some fresh pictures for your perusal in snowy Icy Land.
It seems my beloved DA21 has failed me once again, after getting it repaired to fix an issue with focusing close to and at infinity, only a couple hundred snaps later and it seems the issue has reared it’s ugly head again. This time unfortunately, I don’t have the recourse to take it to the shop for repair, as I am away in a faraway land and would not have time to get it done during this holiday period. I also have not forgotten that the lens repair is still under warranty so I will be taking it straight back to the shop to get it sorted out (hopefully properly this time). This is a terrible stroke of luck as it is my main landscape lens and while travelling to faraway places, landscape photography is what I really look forward to. Here in Icy Land, I’m hoping for some northern lights action and any other wild Winter volcanic landscapes that exist on this crazy island. That means that my widest lens is the FA43, the 43 denoting 43mm, which means that the lens is not that wide at all, it is a beautiful lens, but really is only useful for massive landscapes and massive panoramas, it doesn’t give me the width to take in a regular landscape or even a bit of architecture. I guess I’m just going to have to be super-creative (which is a struggle for me) and hope for the best, maybe this is a good thing, maybe I will be able to find my inner-Picasso and snap some really creative/artsy shots. Oh poor DA21, my most used travel lens, needs to be fixed properly. It’s so freaking cold here, it’s going to take all of my will power just to get out and take photos, especially now that my wide lens is done and dusted anyway.