Iceland!

Hi everyone,

We’re here in Iceland, and it’s Â₩€$0M€! The ocean is super blue, and there’s really cool caves, mountains, glaciers, and geomorphic designs made by water and lava. There is lots of sheep, but tons of them get out of they’re pastures and roam freely.

In this picture, you can see my grandpa on the rocks

We flew from Seattle to Reykjavik, and met my grandparents. From Reykjavik we all drove to this tiny town by the sea called Hellnar. We are all sharing a cozy little cabin that has a great view of the ocean.

While we were driving from Hellnar to Reykjavik, there were some strange and irritating things. There was an underwater tunnel that was 6 kilometers long and took 4 minuets and 53 seconds to drive through! And there is also a round-a-bout every 450 meters when you’re near cities. It’s quite annoying. On the way, we tried to listen to Icelandic radio. I found a hilarious station that has kids songs. Here’s a sample:

Song from radio.

After Hellnar, we drove back to Reykjavik, where we stayed in a large comfortable house that had a very secret room. The entrance to the room was a wardrobe. And inside the wardrobe was the room. There was writing on the ceiling. And guess what it said!

Velkomin á Narnia

~Aidan

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Paris Metro and homework

We wandered around the Metro system yesterday and made a visit to the Eiffel Tower.  Figuring out that long distance walking is going to be a challenge with the kids.  After a couple of meals at streetside cafes, we changed things up and had a nice Thai dinner.  Mornings so far are spent with dad running out for fresh croissants, pain au chocolat and les ouefs, and mom starting the homework.  Math facts seem to be unpopular first thing in the morning, but we’re plowing through.  Also using Khan Academy for some history lessons on the French Revolution – which is more than a refresher for me too.

This image says it all.

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This morning

This morning I woke up ran down the stairs and sat in the rocking chair waiting for my dad to come down as he hustled down I stood up and searched for the keys witch were on the table I tossed them up they landed in my hand as i walked over to get my coat and shoes to go to the cafe and market we sprinted to the other side of the street and found that the market was closed so we just went to the cafe and bought two chocolate croissant and one apple something then we slowly walked home early

 

The End?

 

Paris!

Nous sommes maintenant à Paris! We recently flew from Reykjavik to Paris. I haven’t been feeling very good for lots of the time here. On our first day, we started our math. We got our new math books, and my dad got a program called ALEKS and they teach online math. Every morning so far we got pain au chocolat from a nearby pastry shop, and they are delicious! One day, when I was feeling better, we went out to see a small number of the many amazing things in Paris. We went in the Louvre (which was very crowded) and we saw the Mona Lisa and lots of other famous pieces of art. We also went to the Notre Dame, but we didn’t go inside. One of my favorite things was the Eiffel Tower, and part of my homework was to learn some facts about it.

Eiffel Tower Facts:

  • The Eiffel Tower is 1,063 feet tall. For some comparison, the Space Needle is 605 feet tall
  • It is named after the maker, Gustave Eiffel. Gustave also designed the inner structure of the Statue of Liberty
  • It was finished in 1889 for the 1889 World’s Fair
  • The Eiffel Tower weighs 10,000 tons
  • The Eiffel Tower made the USA jealous when they were making it, so America had the honor of making the elevators
  • It is painted with 60 tons of paint every seven years, and they can only use paintbrushes
  • It has 3 floors. 1st floor: Restaurant: Altitude 95; 2nd floor: Restaurant: Jules Verne; Third floor: observation deck
  • It has both lifts and stairs. There is many different ways to get to each floor. To get to the first floor, you can take the lift, or climb 300 steps. To get to the second floor, you can take the lift all of the way, or climb 300 steps to the first floor, then take the lift, or take the lift to the first floor then climb 300 stairs to the second floor, or climb 600 steps. To get to the third floor, you could take the lift all of the way, or climb 600 steps to the second floor, then take the lift, or climb 300 steps to the first floor then take the lift the rest of the way.

Eiffel Tower Pictures (I didn’t take them):

http://wondrouspics.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/eiffel-tower.jpg

 

http://www.earthinpictures.com/world/france/paris/eiffel_tower.jpg

Also while we were in Paris, we took a train to Versailles. I did a separate post on that.

salutations!

Nous sommes ici à Paris! I appreciate night hours with darkness but still wake up in the middle of the night and feel like I lay awake for hours. It will be nice to be here for more than a week. Here’s a video of our current home away from home.
We had a great visit with my parents in Iceland. Good to have time with them.  Good for my dad to see Iceland again after 60 years.  It worked out really well meeting them at the airport. We all arrived at the baggage claim at the same time after breezing through customs. Almost seemed too easy. Finding a place open for breakfast in Reykjavik proved more challenging. Navigating unfamiliar winding streets with long difficult to pronounce names was sort of comical –a scene sure to be repeated many times on this journey. Fortunatley for us, most Icelanders also speak English. The Icelandic language (Íslenska) humbles me. Although spoken by a very small percentage of the world population, (the population of Iceland is only ~ 320,000 and apparently sheep out number people) the Icelandic language is a defining aspect of the culture.   And such lingustic purists!  My mom read somewhere that the Icelanders spent more time discussing how to refer to HIV than how to prevent it.

If interested in learning about Icelandia, I highly recommend reading The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley. Fun, informative fiction.  Great passage about the hundreds of ways a noun can decline: “A horse is a hestur.  Unless you’re riding it or hitting it or even just looking it at it, in which case it’s no longer hestur but simply hest.  Take something from a horse and suddenly it spells itself hesti. Walk over to it, presto change-o you’re looking at hests…..Horses in plural are hestur, unless you’re talking about them, in which case they’re hesta.  Sit near them and you’ve got to start calling them hestum.  Bring some hay to them, they turn back to hesta.  And that’s just if they’re horses in general.  The horse in particular is hesturinn.  (You attach the the to the back of the horse like a tail.)  But try to pet the horse, it’s hestinn.  Take something from the horse, it’s hestinum.  Bring water to the horse, it’s hestsins.  Once there’s more than one particular horse, you’ve got hestarnir.  But watch out: touch them, brush them, look at them, say anything about them, even one word, they turn into hestana.  Stand opposite the horses and you’ve yourself hestunum.  Bring them water….”

The first three nights we stayed on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula at the base of the magnificent Snaefellsjokull Glacier in the small ‘town’ of Hellnar.  We were lucky to have beautiful sunny weather while there.  Near our cabin was a little cafe (with yummy waffles) overlooking the Badstofa cave which has an opening and is filled with birds.  The rock formations along the coast in this area are amazing.  We went to Songhellir, a good cave for singing.  My favorite place was the beach at Djúpalónssandur/Dritvik where scraps of a fishing trawler wrecked in 1948 still remain.

 

We had a lovely lunch at the Budir Hotel one day.  I tried a few bites of lamb at dinner one night at Hotel Hellnar.  Never had lamb before, pretty good for red meat.  The sheep roam and graze freely and supposedly their moss diet makes them especially tasty.  Went out for a run one morning and saw three sheep huddled at the front door of the church, desperate to get it in, I suppose!

For the remainder of our time in Iceland, we stayed in a house in Reykjavik.  Close enough to walk to town but far enough out to hear only one drunk group of late night singers.  The house was filled with light which was nice during the day.  The sun never set but only hovered at the horizon for about four hours each night.  The boys slept well in ‘Narnia’, a dark cozy enclave accessible through, of course, a wardrobe in one of the bedrooms.

We ventured to the sites of the Golden Circle one day and relaxed at the Blue Lagoon another.  My hair still hasn’t recovered from the ‘healing’ waters though.

More about Paris soon….

photo credits: really cool pics of iceland are probably from nordica photography, house photos from owners’ sites