Greetings, and Happy (post) Thanksgiving!
I don’t have any big adventures to share, but I figured an Icelandic Thanksgiving was worth a post – plus I have a bit of a tradition in chronicling our “Turkey Day” festivities. 🙂
Thanksgiving in Iceland is interesting, because there is no Thanksgiving in Iceland. That’s not to say they don’t have something of an equivalent, but insofar as Thanksgiving as we Murkans know it, on the date we know it, there is no such thing. Of course this isn’t my first time celebrating a U.S. holiday while abroad, and the nice thing about Thanksgiving is that in order to celebrate you really only need two things: the ability to give thanks and food. Neither of which are in short supply in Iceland.
Plus, if you associate Thanksgiving with chilly November air, then there’s definitely no shortage of that here. In fact things have been downright cold lately. There was a morning last week where I was walking to the gym around 6:55am that might have been the coldest I’ve felt in years. At that time of day (and for a few hours afterward) it’s still pitch black, and when combined with the wind it was pretty terrible. Yet we’ve adjusted more easily to the cold (being used to it and all) than we have the darkness – for instance with the cold you can always have a nice hot cup of tea!
Though I guess the increased darkness has also generated more aurora borealis viewing opportunities. We’ve seen some awesome light displays over the past several weeks. While we still haven’t taken the time to learn how to photograph them with our good camera, they were so strong a couple of weeks ago that even our cell phone cameras could capture them.
Due to our lackluster camera skills (and the fact my phone is horrible in low light conditions) those photos only capture about 30% of the total lights that were present, but hey, at least we actually captured something this time! The lights are more frequent and stronger during the late fall and winter period, so hopefully we’ll get better at capturing them. Speaking of which, it might not be winter yet but we’ve had snow for awhile now.
In fact the first round of snow moved into our area around October 11th (though it didn’t move into the city itself until November 9th), and we’ve had snow in some capacity since then. It makes for some pretty mornings though!
There’s always something nice about a freshly fallen snow.
The downside is that we don’t always have sunlight – in fact it’s usually cloudy. So when coupled with the fact that the sun comes up less and less, the snowy landscapes can often get very, very grey.
But the animal priends’ don’t mind.
Nor do the snowmen. Icelandic Snowmen that is.
By and large we’ve adjusted to it. Some days are definitely worse than others.
It was like this pretty much the entire day – notice the complete lack of Perlan in the distance.
But other days kind of a have a winter-wonderland type of whimsy to them.
That of course brings me to the holidays. Despite the lack of Thanksgiving, Christmas is beginning to pop up around Reykjavík – for example, Christmas Trees.
And also wreaths, lots of wreaths.
Oh and in case you were wondering, yes that is Tjörnin – frozen enough that people are using the lake as a walkway.
The holidays have also crept into other areas, such as our milk cartons.
Oh, and remember when I mentioned the holiday-themed energy drinks? Yeah, I wasn’t lying.
SB and I agreed that it tasted like those old-fashioned strawberry hard candies. You know the ones. Tristen also liked the manly Santa Claus on the can.
So, in order to prepare for the holidays we took care of a few things at the apartment. Namely cleaning some harder to clean areas. The plant buddies also got some new soil and new pots!
They’ve also since moved to the window sill in our bedroom to hopefully get a bit more of the limited sunlight we have. Another big event was bath time for the boys. Bath time is a huge ordeal. Valentino loves it, Tristen hates it, Pig just gets dirty again within 10 seconds, and Pigsten, well Pigsten is easy at least. Part of what makes it such an ordeal is that the boys take so long to try. Even with a fan it took us 10+ hours to dry them after I hand-washed them. So, lacking a fan, it took a whopping ~30 hours for them to fully dry.
Here they are shortly after getting cleaned in the sink – sitting on our bathroom stool/shelf/whatever (from the basement! 😀 ) in the early stages of drying. As you can tell Tristen was less than enthused. Here they are about 20 some hours later, much drier and enjoying a nice tea next to the radiator (with Pig doing yoga, of course).
The photo of the boys sitting next to the radiator in the bedroom reminded me – I had an interesting home improvement moment two weeks ago. It involved this:
That’s an array of networking and electrical outlets in our bedroom. The network ports don’t work, and haven’t since we moved in – so I’m not sure why they are there (the ones in the living room do work) but the electrical outlets work fine. The issue wasn’t anything to do with the ports/outlets themselves, but rather an extremely annoying noise that would occasionally come from the wall around/in the array. This noise had occurred shortly after we moved in and occurred on and off for a few days then stopped for awhile. However it started back up about two weeks ago and persisted, without fail, for nearly 48 hours (as in, it didn’t stop for a single moment).
The noise sounded like a muffled “knock” – so since the noise was coming from near a radiator I figured it might be pipes. However, after it kept me up half the night I decided the next day to investigate. I came to realize that the noise occurred exactly every 3 seconds (give or take -.002 seconds I suppose, if you want to be super accurate). I tested it 26 times using magical technology, and it was always 3 seconds. Having spent the past 3 years in a 90 year old Boston building I am used to pops, groans, and knocks – and they were never to precisely uniform on time. This knocked out the usual building-y stuff (and also our neighbors, who, while they bang around continuously, do so in an irregular manner).
Since I ‘sperg out over stuff like this and am super noise sensitive, the night of the second day I just got frustrated, grabbed the IKEA tool set and went about pulling the whole thing out of the wall. I was determined that the noise was coming from directly behind the array – and turns out I was right. After dismantling the whole shebang, I realized what was happening – and it was unlike anything I’ve experienced before.
Basically, within the array there are two holes on the network side that lead into the interior of the wall. These are used to run the Ethernet cables. However, cables are only ran on one side (and again they don’t work) so the other side is just an open little hard plastic tube/hole into the wall. This is where the noise was coming from. See, our apartment is very air tight (concrete + good window seals). If the windows are closed and you open the door, your ears pop (seriously). Similarly, if you open the windows in odd orders the pressure will sometimes close another window. And, best of all, if it’s really windy outside, sometimes it’s insanely difficult to open a window or door if it opens outwards (so all but out front door). I’m not kidding, one night I put my full 175lbs into our balcony door and it wouldn’t open (we also had severe winds, but the pressure also created suction). So, my theory as to what was happening is that this little hole in the networking side was acting as a pressure valve between the pressure in our apartment, and the pressure in the interior of the interior wall (which is drywall and studs, unlike the exterior walls, which are concrete).
This only occurred under certain atmospheric conditions (thus why it didn’t happen constantly) and the “knock” was in fact a little air/pressure bubble “bursting” in that tube as the pressure equalized and then was imbalanced again, over and over and over – thus the nearly perfect 3 second loop. How did I fix it? I shoved some puddy up in the whole and then slapped a piece of tape over it. 😀
No more noise, and it’s been silent ever since – and I need all the silence I can get in this place of parties and screaming until 4am.
ANYWAYS, got a bit off topic there. Back to Thanksgiving. Our Thanksgiving was actually the day after Thanksgiving, because that is what worked better for our schedule, plus when there is no formal holiday you can pick your own days. 😛
As if its needs saying, Thanksgiving = beer.
Props to SB and Tristen for carting this mother-load home!
Yes, after entirely running out of beer (even near-beer) we have since replenished the supply in the Taco household (complete with a bottle of wine too – from Argentina, we are cultured folks). Thanksgiving also = turkey, but we don’t have access to turkey, so we went with chicken, but we don’t need a big chicken, nor do we have space to even store one, so we went with a little chicken!
Yep, an official Icelandic chicken! For seasoning I had some of the usual stuff, garlic, pepper, onion, carrots, etc. But I also tried stuffing it with cheese and using a new (to us) sauce from the U.K. – HP Sauce. To me it kind of tasted like A1 sauced mixed with Worcestershire sauce, it was good.
We also had some MASSIVE Icelandic sweet taters.
The bird and the tatoes were coupled with snow peas (couldn’t find green beans), and rolls (which ended up having cheese inside – yay language surprises!) paired with some rhubarb jam!
Here’s a nice “before” photo of our Kjúklingur.
And then an “after” shot, complete with copious amounts of anxious Tristen.
In case you were wondering how snow peas worked out, they were really yummy.
Those are diced hotdogs (which are really good here), plus the usual seasonings. I was really pleased with how they came out. As for the massive sweet potatoes, we mashed those up and combined them with some Icelandic butter (amazing), Skyr (Icelandic yogurt – also amazing), and a small bit of honey. They were delicious – though I am biased as sweet potatoes are probably my favorite part of Thanksgiving these days.
Here’s a completed meal, shown with our rolls containing a magical cheese surprise.
Pigsten was a big fan of the warm gooey rolls.
Naturally no Thanksgiving is complete without desert! We don’t have a pie pan – and in fact pies don’t really seem to be a thing here (we seriously haven’t seen a single pie) so we opted for something a bit more unique, a chocolate-crunch layer cake!
It contained chocolate, almond cake, toffee, cream, and caramel. Tasty.
Then, after we’d all had some time to digest we busted out our wine.
All in all it was a wonderful little ole’ Thanksgiving in Iceland. Sure we have no chairs so we sat on budget kitchen chair cushions on the floor while eating off a coffee table we found in the basement, but the important thing is that we had good company, and the food was pretty dang good too. 🙂
What’s kind of funny is that the entire price of the meal – which we ate on for three days – was still less than it would be to eat out a single time here in Reykjavík, craziness! Heck, our bird was only ~664 ISK (~$6.46). We were smart shoppers and deal hunted, as usual!
But yes, despite the fact that our neighbors proceeded to keep me awake until 3:30 am that night with their stupidity, I am thankful for many things. Yes, though I do indeed complain nearly constantly on this blog, I am generally quite thankful (and tend to complain less in person, though not much ; ) ).
Here’s a few things I am thankful for:
SB, the boys, our plants, that I’ve probably secured a supervisor for my thesis, my health, beer, being brave enough to take chances, my persistence (read: stubbornness), my computer still working, my pillow, coffee, polar bears, squirrels, my human family, a few planned adventures (more on those later!), that my income-based repayment application got approved so I won’t literally go bankrupt within 5 months, Steam sales, my 2 human friends (that might sound kinda sad, but I have impossibly high friend standards), Chuck and Chica, Iceland’s housing stipend, Meem letting me do work for her, Oatly oat milk, puffins, getting to watch airplanes take off, Charles XII of Sweden, Carmex, ear plugs, my ability to do Crow (yoga), indoor plumbing, my 7 year old backpack from Wal-Mart that has held up better than most designer backpacks would, my 7 year old Wal-mart folders which are rugged but still kicking, my passion for history, the person online who taught me how to open a beer using a quarter without bending the bottle cap, my S5 phone still working, my laptop still working, echinacea goldenseal, squeegees, sunglasses, Bónus, guerrilla tape, Iceland’s awesome tap water, Thomas IV, that my headset still works, my 11 year old slippers, soft-close cabinet hinges, my $3 mixing bowl, people who throw away things that I can take, and lastly, SB and I’s mutual desire to explore the world.
And those are just the things from the top of my head. 🙂
I hope you all had an enjoyable Thanksgiving, whether it was an “official holiday” or a “l337 underground T-Givn’ holiday” abroad.
Until next time,