Wednesday's Korner is now being continued in a blog format so go here for updated links and information.

Wednesday's Korner
Unusual Places to Visit in Our Typical World (last updated 12-30-2010)

Phantoms and fiends need a new place to dwell in order to not be found out. If you find yourself in any of the places listed below, click on the city and check out links and information about specific ways to find trouble or stay out of the way.

Bermuda Triangle

Area 51

Death Valley, particularly the Salt Flats where you can see remnants of life meeting their death due to the high concentration of salt. There's also the Sliding Rocks phenomenon that occurs with the strong winds.

Winchester Mystery House

Necromance is a store on Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles. They have a perfectly strange collection of goods for sale for you to dote on or for you to give to the Lurch in your life. Animal & human skulls & bones. Mounted butterflies, insects. Jewelry, antique funerary and medical instruments. Antelope horns and oddities.

Curses surrounding Hollywood

Retracing James Dean's last ride

A Web Site about Haunted St. John's, a town in Newfoundland, Canada

New Orleans

Mysterious Marie Laveau Voodoo Queen and Folk Tales Along the Mississippi by Raymond J. Martinez

Cities of the Dead!


A travel article

Vesuvius, Italy -- Herculaneum and Pompeii


Wednesday13 has visited Iceland three times and photographed some key areas on the several tours given through Reykjavik Excursions. There are several photographs corresponding with the links below. Please do not copy the photos or use them without permission from Wednesday13. A lot of hard work and cash went into making these photos available for visitors to the Korner. You can find more photos from the Iceland Airwaves 2000 trip plus the June 2001 trip where she enjoyed more great music and saw more of Iceland: here.

First, all photos are of high resolution quality and range from 77k to 385k in size. Second, wherever you see water or mud, I had the wonderful pleasure of inhaling the fumes of sulfur which by the way also smells like peeled hard-boiled eggs. In fact, opening the hot water tap first thing in the morning required bracing one's olfactory senses for a brutal whiff of sulfur. The water in Iceland is extremely healthy and is very clean; drink lots of it when you're there.

To those who speak English, everyone knows how to speak English in Iceland. They view all the English dialogue movies with Icelandic subtitles. The best time to visit Reykjavik is when it is full of cultural activity during spring and summer. Go to this online guide for the latest information.

The cheapest and most central place to stay was at the Salvation Army Guesthouse. I faxed them my dates of stay a couple of months ahead (more than plenty of time) and paid about $31 a night for a private single room. They provide breakfast for a small fee, but I enjoyed exploring the various cafes in the vicinity. Salvation Army Guesthouse fax number: (354) 561 3315

Other guesthouse accommodations in Reykjavik are also listed through TravelNet.

A trip to Iceland would never be complete without record shopping. There's a great page where you can find more info on Icelandic music and a visit to the page would prepare you for what you have to buy at the record stores. I recommend 12 Tonar where you can hang out downstairs and they'll make you an espress or tea while you preview your music before purchase. There's an online catalog called Smekkleysa or Bad Taste and it carries a significant collection of Icelandic artists from all genres. Ordering through Bad Taste is highly recommended.

Here are some photos of Reykjavik which means "smoky bay" and was named by the first settler, Ingolfur Arnason, after clouds of steam he saw rising from hot springs.

From the above looking at the bay with the harbor to the left and old town Reykjavik just below. Most houses look new, having only been built during this century. This is the lake (top) facing the old town section, a place that is quaint and homey. The Catholic cathedral (bottom) can be seen from the hills of the old town. The city seemed empty since I went in May, before the peak of the tourist season.

Reykjavik around 9:30 pm, the horizon and the sun meet around 10:30 in May, but the night sky never went black. It remained a deep blue until about 4:00 am. The twilights are extraordinarily beautiful especially if you cherish the long shadows from afternoon to evening.

The National Einar Jonsson Gallery on Eiriksgata next to the towering Hallgrimskirkja was breathtaking. Einar Jonsson was a poet-mystic in his outlook upon life. His philosophy: "An artist should neither make straight the way for others nor himself walk in other's footsteps. His art is a personal thing, a talisman to bring his thoughts to light in increasing ripeness through lines and forms, which are peculiar to the artist himself. The artist should soar on strong wings heavenwards, not only in order to raise himself high above the earth-bound, ut also that he may see far over the land and enlarge his horizon. At great heights one comes nearer to oneself, to one's own nature." Pictured here are Earth (top) and The Crucible (A New Age). Icelandic folk-tales are often the basis in Jonsson's work, however here, "'A New Age' defines Jonsson's attitude to war." (R. Pape Cowl). Completed the same year WWI broke out (1914). "The New Age rises to the light, with hands raised in supplication on behalf of the new generation which is growing up in the shelter of her ideal aspirations. In execution, this composition exemplifies the way in which some feature in external nature--a rock, or wave--will resolve itself, under Jonsson's skillful hand, into living form; the lines of the sculpture follow nature's own lines." (R. Pape Cowl)

The top photo in this group you are about to see is called "The End." The others are of the Monument to the poet Hallgrimur Petursson which was, for this sculptor, one of the most important works; he spent eight years on it. Hallgrimur was a religious poet and is cherished by the Icelandic people. In this work (photo 2 and 3) Hallgrimur is lying on the sick-bed where he composed those very important hymns. The Icelandic people are there in his honor and on either side of his bed are two figures bearing a cross and a harp.

Light and Shade, Fate and Thor Wrestling With Age

Birth of Psyche, Grief (1926-27), and Memorial to Lost Airliner Glitfaxi (1952). Look closely at The Birth of Psyche. According to Pape, "this bas relief had its origin in a speculation of the sculptor in regard to the Aryan sign 'Swastika,' which is found in wide use as a symbol of the sun. Jonsson conjectured that this sign, known in Iceland as Thor's Cross or Thor's Hammer, may have originated as a simplified representation of the rotation in a spiral nebula, and that the latter may have been regarded by ancient sages as the earliest manifestation of life... In the foreground Earth creates the Soul in its own substance and form, while the latter turns in adoration to the purifying flames of Love and Altruism. We have here an illustration of the genesis of a work of art and, in particular, of the Icelandic sculptor's methods of work."

The Wave of the Ages(1894-1905) is typical of the period. "The wave reveals with in its crest a finely modelled female figure, and exhibits curves and flowing surfaces of exceeding loveliness." (Pape)

If you want to read a hilarious travelogue, read Tim Moore's Frost on My Mustache which covers his bike trek through the lava-rich countryside of Iceland, plus sea adventures on cargo container ships, and military transport to Norway. I also recommend reading Iceland's sagas which have been translated into English and other languages. Egills Saga, Laxdaela Saga and Njalls Saga.

Per capita, Iceland has the most books published than anywhere else in the world.

Paganism was very much a part of Iceland before Christianity arrived in Iceland. Björk stars in The Juniper Tree as a young woman in the throes of wicca mysticism. You see the waterfalls, including the waterfall you can walk under, as well as the magnificent countryside in black and white.

Flying Icelandair from the States or Europe is very hassle-free. Nonstop flights are available from Minneapolis, New York, Baltimore, Boston and Orlando. I saw the Northern Lights on my flight from Minneapolis. You can purchase your trip with Reykjavik Excursions through Icelandair which costs less if you purchase it ahead of time from the States or Europe. The exchange rates are usually 70 Ikr. to one US dollar. I advise using credit cards for major purchases and use your ATM card at a cash machine when you arrive the airport.

Basic information about Iceland's geological history:

It was about 20 million years ago that lava erupted through the earth's crust, solidifying the foundation of what we would soon call Iceland. It was only 10,000 years ago that the rocky land emerged from its glacial covering. The glaciers and ice caps that exist today are believed to have been formed around 500 B.C. From 1920-1965 the glaciers receded; today there's much regeneration. The island is 103,000 sq. km (40,000 sq. miles) in dimension with 11% ice covering.

Selling points for choosing the country to visit, aside from its lush, dynamic scenery:

The population of the entire island amounts to 300,000 people. Unemployment is at the lowest in Europe with 7.3%, as of 12/2010, therefore very little criminal activity occurs, although that is changing with the introduction of illegal drugs into society.

Go to Beginner's Guide to Iceland overview for travel information.

We stopped to investigate this thundering cold, gigantic, waterfall called Skogarfoss. Look at the way the rocks look next to the waterfall. It was a peaceful and serene place where we all were taken back by this beautifully untouched-by-humans land surrounding us. The mist was sharp and cold.

 On the way back we stopped to look at the other waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, where we can actually walk behind the waterfall. I sampled a little of the smaller droplets; very metallic tasting.

 Perhaps seeing some villages will give you a good idea of how remote one can feel. Here's what you see looking from the shore and here's what the 400 villagers of Vik i Myrdal see; top photo. The bottom photo is taken from the other side of the cliff in Vik. The cliffs and caves are "sculpted" by the waves hitting the rocks. Lava cooled by the icey Atlantic formed the cliffs at Dyrholaey, a protected natural habitat for Puffins and other sea birds. Saga hero Njall's son-in-law, Kari, kept his farm here. These are what some of the rocky hillsides look like along the drive. This one has a cave which looks like a great hiding place. Along the way we also saw farm animals and turf houses.

 You haven't seen Iceland if you haven't seen a glacier. As we got closer to Solheimajokull it got bigger and bigger. It looked so phenonmenal. It just keeps regenerating itself from new snow. The air was chilly but very calm. Here's where we breathed in the sulfur smells the most from the river Fulilakur which means "foul river." It's very close by to the active volcano Katla which lies beneath Myrdalsjokull glacier. If Katla erupts, its hot lava melts the ice and can cause sudden floods of up to 200,000 cubic metres (7 million cubic feet) of water a second. Check out the the Nordic Volcanological Institute.

I recommend seeing all movies by Fridrik Thor Fridriksson and begin with Cold Fever for further insight into what Iceland is like during the winter months and how it was a place for one man's spiritual journey.

There is also Devil's Island which takes place in Iceland and tells the story of a 1950's community of outcasts living in barracks left behind by American forces after World War I.

Read this movie review of Angels in the Universe another powerfully emotional film made in Iceland under Fridriksson's direction. It was a book written by Einar Már Guđmundsson who also adapted this true story of his brother into the screenplay. It is not distributed in the US, but hopefully it will be someday.

Your trip to Iceland awaits. I'd be eager to hear your stories and see your photos.


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