Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New articles in Pressan

I´ve written four articles since I moved back home,

Fjölmiðlar á Íslandi=fávitar
Fulltrúi Íslands erlendis
Líf án peninga
Vínarkaflinn á enda

Be sure to check it out, like and share (man i love the facebook options).
Feel free to comment here, it´s always nice to hear your opinions....


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Life in Iceland

Wow.... i can´t believe it´s been two months since I moved to Iceland. A lot has happened.

I came home to a brand new life, back at my parents house in my old neighbourhood, where my sister, her fiance and 1 year old twins were visiting from Denmark so I could hug and play with them a bit before they left again. It´s amazing how much they´ve grown up. You can really see a difference in their personalities. Viktoria is really friendly, smiling and crawling all over the place while Helene is more to herself, it´s not easy to entertain her. She just gives you this look like "really....this is suppose to entertain me" its so funny. My brother also lives there so it´s wonderful to be back with my family. Not that i see them much since we all work different hours but it´s good to have people around.

It was also 5 years since I graduated from Commercial College of Iceland so I headed to the reunion. The day before i posted on facebook that i had broken up with Lumi, mostly because it happened to be on what would have been our 6 year anniversary but also because i knew that i was going to a reunion and i thought that if i would post it people wouldn´t ask me about it....boy was i wrong. I was asked about it all night and even got a "but you were so great together" (from people that barely know me, only saw my photos on facebook). Why is that? I get that my friends would place such comment and ask questions but strangers? It´s none of their business. The pre-party with my class was great and the reunion was ok, except it felt like a speed date, 2-5 min talking about yourself and what you have done. Not really fun.

Since I had been away for 5 years I couldn´t get unemployment benefits but thankfully my mom became the executive director of a spa/gym NordicaSpa and offered me a job there in the reception. I was so grateful. It´s been really fun, it´s an interesting, busy and diverse job with fun people. To top it off, I´ve been teaching Zumba fitness classes, a mixture of salsa, merengue, chacha, samba and more latin american dances as well as aerobic. We had a Zumba marathon where we got a teacher from Denmark to come to Iceland. I got the honor to pick her up, show her a good time so we went to The Blue Lagoon and then had dinner at the hotel (where the spa/gym is located). We danced Zumba for 3 hours or so, crazy but soooo much fun. Now I teach Zumba classes from Mon-Thursday, alongside work, two classes on Tuesday and Thursday. It´s been a blast and this is only the beginning.

After a crazy, busy month it was time for the staff party, and it was so great to hang out with all the people outside work and get to know them a little better. Two of them were the alcohol masters, mixed great strawberry margarita and mojito. We talked, danced and had a great time although some were more sick then the others (mostly due to Edwards russian vodka :P ). It was exactly what we needed to bring the staff together, after such a stressful first month. I also partied with the girls from the reception but it ended like a typical night in town, a bit of drama. But it brought us closer together so something good came out of it. And that means it will only get better.

I´ve been working like crazy but I also spent a lot of time with friends, karaoke and dinner at Saffran (delicious healthy restaurant) with my girls Jóhanna and Harpa, met Árnný and Klara before they left  to Canada and Italy, met Hulda (a fellow Vienna expat) for milk and pancakes, walked down memory lane with my childhood friend Ragnhildur, me and Þórunn went to the movies (saw The Sorceres Apprentice, quite good family film and Remember me, amazing), me and Frikki went and saw Going the Distance ( it was so good and real, as a person who´s been in a long distance relationship it describes it so well), met my girls Dagný, Matthildur and Guðrún and had a dinner party at Guðrún/Jón and Frikki/Davíð. I got this moment where i thought, "wow, a month ago i was wishing that i could have dinner parties with friends and here i am." So amazing.

My friends have taken such good care of me. I´ve been spending most of the time with my best friend Frikki, since he was on a summer holiday from his school in Milan so he had a lot of free time. Also because he´s my best friend, we have fun no matter what we do.

We went to the national museum. It´s so funny, they had telephones where you could talk to the people from earlier times and ask questions. You could also dress up in costumes, which of course we couldnt resist. My favourite part was though the stuff from this century and stuff from 40´s onwards. I remember my sister being shocked that the stuff she used to play with was in a museum. She was petrified asking "Am i that old"..

We went to our friend Óli goodbye party, dressed as stepford couple (aka 50´s look) and brought muffins in a basket (ala Bree, Desperate Housewives style). It was a hit. We stayed there a while and then went partying at Barbara (a gay club). I´m sorry but it has the best music and enough space on the dancefloor and everybody is free to dance as they please so i love it. The other clubs in Iceland are so tiny you can barely move. So you can expect to find me there.

 We also had a latino dinner party, where we cooked Fahitas, served nachos and punch and played latino music. Everybody got along great and we had a blast, i laughed so much I cried. I taught them a Zumba routine to Shakira´s song Waka Waka that we ended up not only dancing at home but also at the clubs later that night. We had a blast. We will definitely keep on the tradition.

We went to a concert of a guy who was with me in school and his band named after him, Jon Jonsson, they play sort of Jack Johnson, John Mayer, Gavin Degraw music and it´s great. I was so proud of him. It´s amazing to see people follow their dreams. I also met another guy from school who had been around the world and did a video blog about it, it´s amazing, you have to check it out: http://baldurkristjans.tumblr.com/ . After the concert we met up with a friend of ours Júlli where he had been photographing a bar (which used to be a strip joint, cleans up nice) . It was a  Thursday so the bars closed early and we headed to his place and talked for hours about everything from politics, news to people. It was great. I love when you meet people that you can talk to for hours.

My grandpa celebrated his 80th birthday....he´s amazing, so strong and such a good role model, in fact both my grandparents are. The whole family celebrated it at our home. The funny thing is that my uncle mentioned one of my articles, about the icelandic media, http://www.pressan.is/pressupennar/AnnaClaessen .... i just thought it was so cool that my family was reading it and even better responding to it. I love hearing discussions after reading my articles. That means it was effective.

What else... got sick, then well, have been actually working out (with Frikki, believe it or now, especially since we are known couch potatoes) and eating a bit healthier (but i still eat my icelandic candy that i love) and working at the gym/spa and hanging out with friends. I also try to update my site www.brighten-your-day.com with new video and quote every day. I love it, especially researching for my site, my e-mail is filled with positive and inspiring e-mails. I have a room at the house and we bought couches, small table and a closet but i still live in boxes. I´m waiting for the shelves, TV and then i can clean, put everything in it´s place and decorate it as i see fit. Can´t wait.

This time has been really challenging but thanks to my parent´s and mostly my friend´s support I´ve been able to go through it with a smile on my face. Of course there comes some down points, you feel empty, miss being loved and it seems the only songs on the radio are love songs but I´m keeping busy, focusing on the positive and enjoying my new life in Iceland.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

A trip around Iceland

I was not in Vienna, not in Kosovo, not in Reykjavik, but Akureyri (north of Iceland). I had this bizarre moment after watching Inception. I felt I should have an object to spin to realize in which world I was.

I had never traveled around my country so when my best friend was going there, I couldn´t resist.

It was before a holiday weekend (Verslunarmannahelgin or what i call lovingly "the drunken weekend") in the end of July/beginning of August, that my best friend Frikki, his boyfriend Davíð and his brother Valdi picked me up. What stood before me was a nightmare. A tiny car full of stuff. Yes, me and his brother were in the back and it was so full of stuff i couldn´t see him. I couldn´t help but laugh. To top it off the car would only play cassettes so we listened to Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Queen cassettes. It reminded me of old times.

We drove the south part of the country first and stopped at Skógarfoss (beautiful waterfall), where i dared Davíð to come out of the waterfall with the soundtrack from Baywatch. He laughed but didn´t do it. I gave him the nickname Davíð Hasselhoff anyway. Next stop: Jökulsárlón, where the Bond movie "Die Another Day" and "Tomb Raider" were filmed. No wonder. It´s such a beautiful area.

Finally we put up a tent at Haukafell, near Höfn á Hornafirði. We were the only people in the camping area so the first thing we did was run around and dance. After all theres a reason there is a saying "dance like no one´s watching. It was so much fun. Davíð og Valdi put up the tent while me and Frikki try to stay out of the way. We drank, listened to music but the best part was when me and Frikki were talking and Valdi put on his poncho and insisted on dancing the poncho dance around the tent. All of the sudden we heard a big THUMP! We asked "Did you fall?" Valdi: "Yes"....We almost fell out of our chairs laughing. Needless to say Valdi´s nickname became Valdi Poncho.

We stayed another night at Haukafell and spent the day in Höfn, swam, ate and stopped at Frikki´s friend Birna´s ranch, where we chased a pig. It was hilarious. Birna then joined us at the camping spot and showed us the area better. We had a dinner party, where Davið earned the nickname Grillmeister. The food was delicious. Birna´s friend came over and we drank, talked and listened to music. Great company. The night was horrible. I woke up in the night shivering, so cold that i couldn´t think straight. To top it off i had a stomach ache from hell as well which left me terrified. Me and Valdi slept on one side of the tent while Davíð and Frikki on the other so i went over to the other said and told Davíð my problem. He was worried so he let me stay with them and i got his sleeping bag. It helped.

We woke up, packed the tent and headed to Neskaupsstaður, where Frikki and Davíð´s friends, Andrés og Gulli, manage a hotel (Edda hotel). We got the most delicious Icelandic buffay I ever tasted. Then Andrés showed us around town. It was so tiny, calm but beautiful. They had a festival there so each neighbourhood had a different color and was decorated according to it. Brilliant idea. We spent two nights there where we were treated like stars. Loved it. Thank you Andrés and Gulli

We kept going..... Egilsstaðir, Krafla, Mývatn and also what looked like Ódáðahraun (desert of rocks)....where Valdi found 3 golfballs. I couldn´t stop laughing and sang "Útilegumenn í Ódáðahraun, eru kannski að golfast smá á laun" (a rearrange of icelandic song, you have to be icelandic to get that) .

Finally we were in the north of Iceland and second largest city Akureyri where we camped in the backyard of Davíð´s friend. We barbequed, went swimming, partied (where Valdi was drunk for the first time....adorable) and most importantly, did Stuðmannadansinn (a dance from the Icelandic movie Með allt á hreinu) down the whole stairs as shown below.

Now you can enjoy the two videos below. One showing us singing "Íslenskir karlmenn" by Stuðmenn and dancing the Stuðmannadansinn and the second shows the dance Valdi Poncho came up with dancing around the tent. Needless to say, seeing this will brighten your day :) 

We stayed two nights in Akureyri and then drove south, with one stop. Otherwise we were pretty tired after having traveled in that car. Traveling takes a lot of energy. I was though so happy with the trip, it is something every Icelander must do, travel and see it´s own country...it´s so beautiful. I´m so grateful for Frikki, Davíð and Valdi. Thank you so much for inviting me on this trip. I will never forget it.