Kuku Cooking On The Go - Iceland

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Kuku Cooking On The Go - Iceland

 
 
 

All travellers know this. Exploring Iceland in the cold and misty season is not to be taken lightly. You need to make sure you have everything you need to not die. That includes, of course, having a heated mode of transport that you won't freeze in. If you don't know that before landing in Iceland, hopefully a couple of locals will explain the importance of it to you before you get on the road (...thank goodness for the conversation with Ásgeir and Hjalti).

 The trusted heated steed of these ukulele adventures in Iceland. And a guy waving a ukulele.

The trusted heated steed of these ukulele adventures in Iceland. And a guy waving a ukulele.

 

A very important part of keeping warm, is eating warm food. And another part of it is the nice warm fuzzy feeling you get when the food is delicious. If you're lucky and/or super smart, you'll be touring the land of easily upset giants with a mobile house that has everything you need to do both! And as I was pretty lucky, I did just that.

 The kitchen, living room, bedroom and music room all parked next to the Borgarnes Church

The kitchen, living room, bedroom and music room all parked next to the Borgarnes Church

 

So, to demonstrate survival with a taste for tasty food, a first in these Ukulele adventures, a cooking show straight from the Icelandic roads:

 
 

As you can see, the trick is to adjust the dosage of the butter.

Not only is it a useful and probably necessary way to survive, cooking can also be a welcome distraction from the vast stretches of fog.

 "Fog!"

"Fog!"

 

If ever it feels like you're driving on the moon, and the landscape is more repetitive than a charts song, except with lots of fog, just pull over, and make soup.

 
 

The trick is to use an instant soup, and then add small bits of random vegetables. It counts. It's cooking. And the bread was fried in butter, so, definitely, cooking.

Not vital, but also very important: cleaning up after the warmth of the food has settled into your body.

 Keeping the workstation orderly: number two priority

Keeping the workstation orderly: number two priority

 

These Ukulele Road Trips are cooking, driving, and all round adventure-ing with Kuku Campers, the life saving exploring-enabling very nice people from Reykjavik., and playing and singing with CloudMusic ukes, perfect for misty mornings. And afternoons.

Support the adventure by donating or on Patreon !

 
 another picture of the fog, in case you mist it

another picture of the fog, in case you mist it

 

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Bárður's Lament - Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge, Iceland

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Bárður's Lament - Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge, Iceland

 
 
 

Lost in the bewildering Snæfellsnes peninsula, West of Iceland, a natural landmark speaks volumes of a grief still bare. In an eery ravine carved in the wayside mountain, the walls echo the pain of loss, the water trickles with restless doubts, and birds above swirl like unwanted memories of wrath-filled deeds.

 Down by the entrance of 'the ravine of Rauðfeldur'

Down by the entrance of 'the ravine of Rauðfeldur'

 

It is in the Rauðfeldsgjá gorge, in the IXth Century, that the revered and powerful half-giant Bárður, blind with fury, committed the murderous irreparable:

Two of his young nephews had been playing with Bárður's beautiful daughters. The eldest daughter, after a tussle, landed on an iceberg by accident and drifted away to the North. The half-giant, fuming with anger, took his nephews high up into the mountains. One of the them, Sölvt, was pushed off a nearby cliff, and the other one, Rauðfeldur was thrown to his death in this very ravine, which now bears his name (Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge means the Gorge of Rauðfeldur in Half-Giant).

 The bare landscape of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, where the Giant Bárður's still roams

The bare landscape of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, where the Giant Bárður's still roams

 

It is believed that Bárður to this day, comes by this open tomb still. And as you sit by it, and wings flutter above the gorge, you may hear wandering thoughts, the pain of the one who did wrong, and unbearable answers, though never question asked.

 
 

After breaking the skull of one boy from a cliff and throwing the other in the ravine, Bárður was confronted by their devastated father, his half-brother Þorkell. They fought and Bárður broke his borther's leg, leaving him to crawl home.

"When I do wander, aimlessly far,

When the whirlwind brings thoughts from a distance,

And in the walls of my dungeon, the ceaseless blame of the water

Cousins do lay in the canyon, echoes of a grief I did father"

 Rauðfeldsgjá gorge, themystical crime scene, home to sea gulls and echoing grief

Rauðfeldsgjá gorge, themystical crime scene, home to sea gulls and echoing grief

 

After this event Bárður became unstable and recluse, the tormenting grief getting the better of him.

"And I've had many a sleepless night, beneath this roof, and beneath these stars

Where I lay my weary head, and doubt builds a stronghold,

For to see the guilty let free and roam,

or to bear the pain of the one who did wrong, I hear their distant call, piercing from beyond"

DSC_0433.JPG
 

Bárður is an essential charachter of Iceland's history and this tragic event changed him forever. Son of a titan and of Mjöll, a beautiful human woman, he led the very first expedition to establish a settlement in Iceland when refusing to pay tax to the Norwegian King. He brought many men as well as his 9 daughters with him.

Waging war, fighting, killing Titans and traitors were no strangers to Bárður's life. But after the events at the gorge, he left his farm Laugarbrekka  with all his belongings and retired secretly to caves inside the mountain. After this disappearance, the repentant warrior came to be known as Bárður Snæfellsás, ever watching over the Snæfellsnes peninsula.

 Bárður would later be revered as a God and called upon for blessings and the safety of the Snæfellsnes peninsula

Bárður would later be revered as a God and called upon for blessings and the safety of the Snæfellsnes peninsula

 

If you like happy endings of sorts, or irony, you'll be glad to know that Bárður's daughter Helga was actually fine. She drifted for a few days, landing in Greenland. She stayed there for a while with one of her dad's friends who happened to have settled there a year before. She then made her way back to Iceland a couple of years later via Norway.

But the peninsula will have been marked forever by these dramatic events.

 A view from onto now peaceful (probably because it's Winter) peaks of Snæfellsnes

A view from onto now peaceful (probably because it's Winter) peaks of Snæfellsnes

 

Thanks for reading,

The adventure #GoingNorth is made possible by the good people on the Patreon, of which you can become one here,

and by KukuCampers as well as the ukes I'm travelling and singing with on this frosty adventure, CloudMusic Ukuleles.

 
  Checking the itinerary at the wheel of the Kuku Camper Van, you don't want to get lost on the peninsula and bother   Bárður

Checking the itinerary at the wheel of the Kuku Camper Van, you don't want to get lost on the peninsula and bother Bárður

 

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A Landscape 'from Ymir's Flesh' in Djúpalónssandur, Iceland

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A Landscape 'from Ymir's Flesh' in Djúpalónssandur, Iceland

 
 
 

"From Ymir's flesh

was the earth created,

from the bloody sweat, the sea,

cliffs from bones,

trees from hair,

and from the head, the heavens"

from "The Lay of Grimmir" quoted in "The deluding of Gylfi"

Many men and women, through centuries and civilisations, desire to know how the Universe was born, how it all came to be. A small number of those only, refuse to have their thirst for knowledge unquenched.

Gylfy, a King, was one such man, defying ignorance.

He tricked his way into the company of the great trinity of Gods, High, Just-as-High and Third. And then he asked them:

'Who is the highest or the oldest of all the Gods? Where is he, what is he capable of?'
High replied: "The wisest most powerful God, the All-Father, lives through all Ages and governs all things in his realm." Then Just-as-High said: "He made heaven, earth and the skies and everything in them." Then Third said "Most important, he created man and gave him a living spirit that will never die, even if the body rots to dust or burn to ashes."
'What was the beginning or how did things start? What was there before?'
 High said: "Early of ages when nothing was. There was neither sand nor sea, nor cold waves. The earth was not found nor the sky above."

High said: "Early of ages when nothing was. There was neither sand nor sea, nor cold waves. The earth was not found nor the sky above."

 

Gangleri's quest for knowledge is rewarded with stories of Seeresses, Wizards, Sorcerers and Giants. "The old frost giant, him we call Ymir". As the icy rime melted it revealed a cow, which then nourished the 'evil' Ymir. And as the cow fed herself, licking salty blocks of ice, Buri, the first man, beautiful and strong, appeared from them. He had a son called Bor.

'The sons of Bor killed the giant Ymir.'
'They took Ymir and made from him the world. From his blood they made the sea and the lakes. The earth was fashioned from the flesh, and mountains from the bones. They made stones and gravel from the teeth, the molars, and those bones that were broken'.
 Blood, sweat, flesh and bones of an ex-frost Giant on the black beach of Djúpalónssandur

Blood, sweat, flesh and bones of an ex-frost Giant on the black beach of Djúpalónssandur

 

Gangleri is well impressed:

'It seems to me that they accomplised great things when the earth and the sky were made, the sun and the moon set in their places and the days divided.'
 Surrounded by a living landscape...

Surrounded by a living landscape...

 

"And from his eyelashes

the gentle gods made

Midgard for the sons of men;

and from his brains

all the oppressive

clouds were formed"

 The remains of a tooth, on Djúpalónssandur beach. I think it's a molar?

The remains of a tooth, on Djúpalónssandur beach. I think it's a molar?

 

As recounted in Snorri Sturluson's The Prose Edda 

Thanks for viewing/reading. This #GoingNorth Adventure is strumming away on CloudMusic Ukuleles and travelling in the coolest vans of Kuku Campers !

If you're as brave and gracious as a son of Bor, you can (if you fancy) donate to the adventure or support me on the Patreon !

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Onto the (sometimes gravelled) Icelandic Roads

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Onto the (sometimes gravelled) Icelandic Roads

 
 
 

And so these Ukulele Road Trips are off, once again! This time for a sing and a drive all around the famous Ring Road. It's a route, also called "route 1" for the sentimental, which goes all around the icy mystical island of Iceland.

This road, more than probably any other in the know driving universe, presents itself with many almost-irresistible-wayside-musical-inspiration-breaks opportunities. For example:

 
 

The Ring Road is 1332 km long (or 828 miles, if you're a miles kind of person). However it takes a bit longer than you might think to drive the whole way around. Firstly because you'll want to be stopping a lot. A real lot, as we mentioned. That's why you need your camera (or your ukulele, or both, depending on what kind of road-tripper you are) at the ready !

 Icelandic-motif-ed ukulele at the ready !

Icelandic-motif-ed ukulele at the ready !

 

And secondly, because there are so many inviting smaller roads that go from "route 1" to breathtaking views and exciting natural landmarks! A lot of them are what is called "gravel" roads, meaning that they are not paved and smooth asphalt surfaces. Rather they are, well, gravel-y. You might want to avoid those by the way if you're driving a big van instead of a powerful 4x4. But hey, sometimes, you gotta go see what you gotta go see.

 Odin has an eight-legged horse, Ukulele Road Trips has a Kuku Camper Van ! Here, driving (super carefully!) on lots of gravel.

Odin has an eight-legged horse, Ukulele Road Trips has a Kuku Camper Van ! Here, driving (super carefully!) on lots of gravel.

 

And lastly, you want to drive while you can see the landscape. Not much point otherwise. And if you're smart enough to travel during the harsh winter months, you get between 10 minutes and a few hours of day time, depending on the weather. As you can see from the picture above, mysterious Iceland can swiftly cloak herself in mist and fog.

Just make sure that when heading back into your ride, in the dim light of the 2 p.m. dusk, that you don't leave anything important behind.

 
 Oups !

Oups !

 

Kuku Campers accompanies crazy road-tripping people around Iceland all year round and that includes this Ukulele Winter #GoingNorth advenutre !

"Two ravens and this trusted horse" (remember ?) The two ravens in this story are my ukes, a soprano and a not-so-soprano CloudMusic ukulele !

To support this mad adventure, donate here or hop onto Ukulele Road Trips' Patreon page!

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A Viking talk and Odin's song

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A Viking talk and Odin's song

 
 
 

There really is no better introduction to a road trip around the magical land that is Iceland, than a friendly chat with two locals around a Christmas beer.

Luckily for these Road Trips, that is exactly what Icelanders Ásgeir and Hjalti offered graciously to these ukuleles and their carrier. That, and a Christmas beer!

 Podcast guests Ásgeir (left) and Hjalti (right) enjoying a seasonal Icelandic ('err... Danish actually!') brew

Podcast guests Ásgeir (left) and Hjalti (right) enjoying a seasonal Icelandic ('err... Danish actually!') brew

 

As well as diving into their history and the mythology of the vikings, we discuss, in the Reykjavik Podcast, some practical and very useful information for the upcoming travels: don't die. And also, don't freeze to near death in your car. Noted.

Listen to the Reykjavik, Iceland Ukulele Road Trips Podcast

For more traveller insights and stunning Icelandic sights you can also view Ásgeir's stunning YouTube channel: Do More Ásgeir !

 Possibly said that evening: Ásgeir (on the left):"we're about here, in the capital!". Hjalti :"Here I was born, up in the West Fjords! We have great fish there"

Possibly said that evening: Ásgeir (on the left):"we're about here, in the capital!". Hjalti :"Here I was born, up in the West Fjords! We have great fish there"

 

As a side note, it must be said that this podcast was recorded before I knew I was going around the island with a big robust Kuku Campers van, which is equipped with a big hot heater. And that, luckily, seriously bumps up the survival chances. Or at least, prevents freezing to almost-death. Something we can all agree, is a good thing.

 I've got a ride !! And hence, will (probably) not die.

I've got a ride !! And hence, will (probably) not die.

 

The podcast was recorded in the Slippbarinn bar, in one of the separate meeting rooms. As you can see from the map above the article, it's part of the Icelandair Hotel by the Reykjavik Marina. Handily, this great place also has a big map of Iceland in the corridor, very practical to point at stuff. And there's a goat there too.

 Spot the goat, and win a free lesson about Norse Mythology

Spot the goat, and win a free lesson about Norse Mythology

 

ODIN'S SONG

In the podcast, there is a song. And in this song there is information. And in this information, knowledge. All the knowledge you'll ever need about Odin, the 'All-Father' of Norse Gods. (The song by the way is a take on the melody of the "Gay Dean" song in Community, season 6 episode 4, itself a take on the song Jolene, by Dolly Parton. It's my favourite show. Just thought I should write this somewhere, at some point)

Odin, Odin, Odin, Odin, greatest God the North had ever seen, Odin, Odin, oh where've you been ? 
 Odin's portrait, carved in the back of my tenor Ukulele while at the  Reykjavik arts school

Odin's portrait, carved in the back of my tenor Ukulele while at the Reykjavik arts school

 
Inspiration to all Viking men, on the battle fields back when, Northerners spilled enemy blood

Odin, the mightiest of the Æsir Gods, is a war-God. Often depicted wearing armour, he inspires soldiers of the North preparing for battle.

On the land that your Dad did shape, you would freely roam and escape, for adventures with your eight-legged stud

Bor, son of Buri (who himself was licked out of salty blocs of ice by Audhumla, the primeval cow) has three sons: Odin, Vili, and Ve. The sons of Bor killed the giant Ymir, and from his blood and flesh created the universe. Bor shapes the world indirectly, through the actions of his offspring. In this world, Odin would go on many adventures, far from his kin, sometimes riding Sleipnir, his eight-legged horse.

 Odin and Sleipnir, from a XVIIIth century Icelandic manuscript

Odin and Sleipnir, from a XVIIIth century Icelandic manuscript

 
Yes, two ravens and this trusted horse, for the invincible God of Norse, oh the good old times

On Odin's shoulders sit two ravens. They periodically leave him to go fly around the world and then tell all that they have seen and heard to the All-Father. These birds are Huginn and Muninn (thought, and memory)

 Odin and the gang, from a vendel helmet (pre-viking, approx VIIIth c.)

Odin and the gang, from a vendel helmet (pre-viking, approx VIIIth c.)

 
When your one-eyed face searched the source of all wisdom and of course, of the Prose, of Edda and the Rhymes

Odin is not only out and about looking for adventures, he is seeking many noble treasures, none quite as much as wisdom itself. No sacrifice is too great to quench that thirst, and he took one of his own eyes out for the right to drink from the well of destiny (well of Urd). Thus giving Odin cosmic knowledge of the universe. And an important side note here, those waters hold the roots of the ash tree Yggdrasil, which is the whole cosmos. And also, one of Odin's eyes.

Surprisingly for a warrior, Odin is also a very inspired God. He only expresses himself in poems. Hence the rhymes and prose. The famous Edda is the XIIIth century compilation that is giving us most our Odin-knowledge. It is written in prose, integrating here and there extracts of old Norse poetry. And is fun to read while on an Icelandic road trip!

Odin, Odin, greatest God the North had ever seen. Odin, Odin, oh where've you been?
 Muninn just told a funny joke about sparrows, Huginn and Odin laugh (also XVIIIth c. Iceland)

Muninn just told a funny joke about sparrows, Huginn and Odin laugh (also XVIIIth c. Iceland)

 
We miss your knowledge of the runes, your daring deeds set to tunes, never to be bested under the moons

Odin's accomplishments are so great, attempts at glory would pale in comparison throughout the millions of days and nights following his reign. His adventures, often set to music, include also his mastery of the runes: the viking writings are not only precious knowledge, they are drawn straight from the mysterious source of all things to exist, the waters of Urd, below the tree of Yggdrasil. But as you know, Odin drank some of that, so he knows his way around inspired discourse.

 If you were a Danish artist in the 1800s, maybe this is how you'd draw Yggrasil

If you were a Danish artist in the 1800s, maybe this is how you'd draw Yggrasil

 
You managed to steal the poetic mead, and were quite the charmer for from your seed, are born Baldr, Valli and Thor

The Poetic mead. Bare with me here. To make peace, lots of Gods spat in a bowl, from which Kvasir, the wisest (ever!) human was formed. He was then killed by some dwarves and turned into some sort of honey beer (mead!), magical and imparting infinite wisdom. The dwarves killed a couple of giants, got killed by the giants' son, who hid the mead under a mountain. However, Odin loves wisdom as you know. So, he went to the place, made 9 servants kill each other, worked as a giant's servant for months, made him drill a whole, turned into a snake to get through it, slept three nights with a lady-giant guard (ouh là là), and then drank ALL of the mead, and flew back as an eagle to pour it back out in Asgard, the land of the Gods of Æsir. Some drops fell over the top, and graced the world under theirs, the land of men. So we can have a few poetic inspirations too thanks to messy regurgitating.

 detail of the VIIIth c. Stora Hammars runestone. Odin as the bearded eagle on the left, probably his lady-giant girlfriend with the cup in the middle, and on the right, another giant. I guess.

detail of the VIIIth c. Stora Hammars runestone. Odin as the bearded eagle on the left, probably his lady-giant girlfriend with the cup in the middle, and on the right, another giant. I guess.

 

Odin charmed not only lady-giants, but also had a few children including Baldr, Vali and Thor, each son, with different women. Goddess or mortal, depends.

Though this last one is still around, where can you Odin be found, come forward as you came forth before !

Though Thor as thunder and lightning can still be seen in today's Iceland, where is the mighty All-Father Odin? Will he roam again through the land of man and grace them with his knowledge and divine inspirations? 

Odin, Odin, Odin, Odin, greatest God the North had ever seen, Odin, Odin, where've you been?
 
 A scene of the Tjängvide runic stone, dedicated to the brother of the Viking who raised it more than a thousand years ago. Sleipnir (and his 8 legs) can be clearly seen on the right. The rest is up for debate, or at the very least, a caption competition

A scene of the Tjängvide runic stone, dedicated to the brother of the Viking who raised it more than a thousand years ago. Sleipnir (and his 8 legs) can be clearly seen on the right. The rest is up for debate, or at the very least, a caption competition

 

This musical cultural adventure that is Ukulele Road Trips is #GOINGNORTH with the handy contributions of Kuku Campers, and singing about all things Norse with the CloudMusic ukes, which you can check out here, after which you will also be able to carve Nordic Gods into their woody flesh.

Hopefully, two things will happen during this trip: you'll enjoy it (and even support it), and also, this:

 
 Odin, bringing back the poetic mead for the Gods, spilling some onto backpacking bards in Iceland in the process

Odin, bringing back the poetic mead for the Gods, spilling some onto backpacking bards in Iceland in the process

 

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