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I have a super random background in Scandinavian Studies from a cultural concentration I completed in college. I also happen to be Danish. :)

After taking a course focused only on Tolkien, one on Nordic Colonialism and another exclusively on The Vikings, I can tell you some pretty interesting facts about old wooden ships and perhaps share a saga or two.

I’ve been in a love affair with Iceland for too long. Here is yet another stunning visual of dreamland.

Mattius Klum/National Geographic

I love this article via the BBC.com – Iceland’s literary history is rarely brought to light in a travel piece.

“Iceland has a higher percentage of writers in its population than any other country in the world. Since the 10th Century, the country has been the birthplace of several significant literary works and authors – from the Viking’s famed Iceland sagas to novelist, poet and playwright Halldór Laxness, winner of a 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature. But its dramatic landscape, unique culture and unpredictable weather conditions have also helped cultivate an influential body of literature by authors from around the world.

The tales Vikings told about elves inspired JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit; Sveitarfélagið, southern Iceland’s biggest municipality, and Skagafjörður, a town located in a submerged glacial valley, provided the main settings for Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale; and the Vatnajökull glacier, Europe’s largest ice cap, was a prime location for George RR Martin’s imagined world in Game of Thrones.In 2011, Iceland’s capital Reykjavik became a Unesco City of Literature, continuing the country’s literary traditions with a growth of events, tours and sites that celebrate the nation’s love of storytelling.”

'Planet Earth' Yowah Nut Opal

‘Earth’ Yowah Nut Opal

One of the most unique gemstones in the world is the Yowah Nut Opal. 

These unusual opals are mined in the small town of Yowah, located in outback western Queensland, Australia. Yowah is known for its opal mining and they produce some of the most beautiful opals in the world.

Distinctive to the region, Yowah Nut opals are referred to as  ‘picture stones’ because of the gorgeous patterns they naturally create due to their formation in an ironstone (hematite) matrix.

Iceland has been on my top five trip list for way too long. Travel photographer Jerome Berbigier took this gorgeous shot – his work is amazing.

Meet Brúarfoss, a natural wonder more commonly known as the ‘Turquoise River’. Brúarfoss translates to ‘Bridge Waterfall’ and its name is derived from a natural stone arch that crossed over the Brúará river many moons ago. The river turns into a small waterfall, full of cascading bright blue glacial waters. Wow.

And yes. The dark side of the moon really is turquoise.

Brúarfoss, Iceland

When I traveled through Norway by boat I stopped in Nordkapp (North Cape), the northernmost point of Norway (71° N). 

The Sami are indigenous people found throughout Scandinavia (they are also called Lapps or Laplanders). They speak their own language – called Sami – and have inhabited parts of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula in northwest Russia for at least 5,000 years. Why are they always in the north, do you ask? Because reindeer are arctic animals that can only survive in the north, and reindeer herding is the livelihood of the Sami people.

Traditional Sami homes are called Gamme or Goahti, meaning ‘turf home’. A gamme is built on top of wooden arch beams and covered in layers of bark and turf, which is incredibly insulating. We passed by this gamme while in Nordkapp, and I thought it was fascinating.

I love that something so basic and culturally specific can influence modern architecture. I think it’s clear to see the correlation (or evolution?) between the no frills Sami gamme and this hidden-on-a-hill beauty from Interior Design Magazine.

The past is always present.