Tag Archives: Adventure

The Snæfellsnes and journey to the centre of the earth #SIMResidency

Yesterday was an amazing day as I set off with some of the artists from the SIM Residency on a road trip to the Snæfellsnes peninsula, north-west of Reykjavik.

Our first stop was the historic town of Borgarnes, where we went to the Settlement Center. We had a lot of fun in the exhibit, where there are some 3d fibreglass interactive maps, a bow of a ship that moves and some great information about the early days of the Icelandic Sagas and the creation of the parliament in Iceland in 930AD (located in Þingvellir). Lots of buttons were pressed and plenty of laughs were had on the recreation of the viking boat. We also took a few pictures of the fjord behind the museum.

From there we headed to Stykkishólmur, where we enjoyed some great fish and chips on the wharf before heading to the Library of Water and checking out the incredible church.

We took our time heading west, taking lots of photographs along the way before stopping at Ólafsvík and checking out the triangle church.

Everywhere we went there were lava fields – I was amazed at how soft they felt – I always imagined them to be really hard. I think they would be dangerous to walk on as you could fall through the sections that are sparsely covered, or covered in moss.

The next stop was at the Saxhóll Crater, where you walk 300 metres up a flight of stairs to arrive at the top of the crater. There are fantastic views of the surrounding landscape, especially the Snæfellsjökull volcano.

The Snæfellsjökull volcano, glacier and surrounding landscape was the inspiration for Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, which incidentally was one of my favourite books as a child. Although we were keen to go to the glacier, we were informed that it takes about five hours, you need shoes with metal spikes, an all-wheel-drive vehicle – none of which we had. We also learnt that much care was needed as there were cracks in the glacier as it is summer. We decided that it might be better to go with a guide another time.

On the way back to Reykjavik,we were so lucky to see some Gray Seals at Ytri Tunga. When we arrived we were told by some other tourists that there was only one on a rock, but we thought it was worth walking along the beach anyway. When we got close to the rocks we saw the big one basking on a rock and then over the next 20 minutes around half a dozen appeared. Also the sun was just gorgeous, sparkling and golden as it was reflected on the water. Here is a short video of the seals – it is bit wonky as I only had my phone with me.

After leaving at 10am, I finally arrived home by around 1.30am – a huge day and biggest thanks to the awesome driver Ella <3. It was an amazing day and a taste of what an incredible place Iceland truly is.

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Finding bearings in Reykjavik #SIMResidency

Tracey’s first blog post from Iceland 🙂

Tracey M Benson

The past few days have been much of a blur since finishing the residency with The Clipperton Project.

I arrived in Reykjavik to enjoy a few days as a tourist before starting my residency with The Association of Icelandic Visual Artists (SÍM) at Korpúlfsstaðir.

The residency is located in what used to be Icelands largest dairy farm, on the outskirts of Reykjavík with gorgeous view of Mt. Esja. Korpúlfsstaðir has 40 SÍM artist studios, a textile workshop, a ceramic workshop, an artist run gallery as well a golf club with a golf course outside. I have also heard you can get a good coffee from the golf course.

When I first arrived in Reykjavik, I stayed in a lovely AirBnB on Laugavegur, one of the main tourist streets. It was very handy to walk to lots of places including the Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral and museums and galleries downtown.

Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral Hallgrímskirkja…

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Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

The past couple of days we have been slowly orienting ourselves to the Faroe Islands and our next month as part of the Clipperton Project (TCP). At the moment we are based in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroes.

Tórshavn is a really gorgeous place – lots of interesting things to photograph!

To give a little bit of a cultural context – the Faroe Islands have been a self governing region of the Kingdom of Denmark since 1948. It has its own parliament and its own flag. The Visit Faroe Islands website has some great information about the history of the Faroes:

According to stories passed down for generations the Irish abbot St. Brendan in AD 565 went in search of The Promised Land of the Saints. One of the stories told of a visit to “The Islands of the Sheep and the Paradise of Birds” situated several days’ sailing distance from Scotland. Based on this story and archaeology excavations there is good reason to believe that Irish monks were the first settlers in the Faroe Islands.
In the 9th century Norse settlers came to the Faroe Islands. These were mainy farmers who fleed from Norway and ended up in the Faroe Islands in search of new land. The special constitutional status of the islands was originally founded on the ancient viking tradition from the 9th century AD (all free men convened at the Althing, later called Løgting, in the capital Tórshavn). From the latter half of the 12th century on – when attached to the medieval Norwegian Kingdom – they further developed their own culture, language and other social institutions, while at the same time adapting constitutionally to the surrounding political contexts of coming and going empires reaching out from the Scandinavian heartlands.
Little is known about Faroese history up until the 14th century. The main historical source for this period is the 13th century work Færeyinga Saga (Saga of the Faroese).

Anyway, we have only just started our journey with TCP – will share more soon!

Old farts couch surfing the world

This year has been monumental in so many ways, a lot of projects developing all over the place which is very exciting.

Tracey has been to NZ, USA, Australia’s Central Desert and Top End, as well as a few trips to Shepparton to work with Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation. The year is not over yet with another journey to work on a book project in NZ next month – ADA Booksprint.

Anyway, we have been a bit slack with keeping up with the blog and promise we will do better!

We have come up with an awesome (perhaps insane) idea that would enable us to travel the world, meet fellow travellers and learn more about this wonderful world we live in. We are tentatively calling this idea Old farts couch surfing the world.

So I have a question for you dear Reader. Would you be prepared to offer us a place to stay on our travels? It could be spare room, a couch or even a tent depending on the climate.

How it would work?
Think of it a bit like Humans of New York, where the story has a connection to place and people. The goal is to document the journey online with a mind to bring out a book when we complete the adventure. As people offer us places to stay we will add them into a map of our journey. People can also add in stories as we develop the project.

The idea builds on the concept of our Cultural Strangers project, where we try to reveal layers of place through documentation, conversation and investigation.We love the concept of the world cafe as it seeks to use collaboration to build knowledge and share experiences for the betterment of us all.

If you think that this idea if fun and would like to get involved please contact us.

365 Places: Fort Cochin

Day 182, Fort Cochin, Kerala, India

Fort Cochin is such a fabulous place, I don’t know where to begin to describe how wonderful this place really is.

There are many layers of history and culture in Fort Cochin, making it a fascinating visual feast in an architectural sense. Elegant 15th Century Portuguese Mansions sit side by side with English Colonial Style buildings and colourful shacks painted many different colours. There are some beautiful churches, mosques and Hindu temples, again, sitting peacefully side by side.

The thing that is most wonderful is the people. Their warmth and good nature melts religious differences, making this community one of diversity and harmony. Many other countries could learn from Kochi people.

Here are a couple of maps that track some journeys around Fort Cochin, with links to my EveryTrail maps.

Cruising Fort Cochin
Cruising Fort Cochin

This is a combination of an autorickshaw ride and walking around Fort Cochin.
Cruising Fort Cochin at EveryTrail
http://www.everytrail.com/iframe2.php?trip_id=3047286&width=400&height=300EveryTrail – Find hiking trails in California and beyond.

Jewtown
Jewtown

This was an autorickshaw ride to the shopping centre of Jewtown.
Journey to Jew Town at EveryTrail
http://www.everytrail.com/iframe2.php?trip_id=3048045&width=400&height=300EveryTrail – Find hiking trails in California and beyond.

Over the next 9 days we will be exploring this fascinating place in some detail, so hope to share lots with you!

365 Places: Wayanad Forest

Day 181: Wayanad Forest and Dare Nature, Wayanad, South India En route to Kochi, we met our friends along the way and they took us to this magical place high up in the mountains – Dare Nature.

Wayanad © Di Ball 2014
Wayanad © Di Ball 2014

Dare Nature is a place for both adventure activities and for relaxation and meditation. We had a magical time enjoying the beautiful surroundings, fantastic food and good company. Here are some of the pictures from our stay.

There was also some challenging activities at night – fire walking and walking on broken glass. These activities were part of a motivational workshop for MBA students and we we also invited to participate. After getting my toes chewed by fishes earlier in the day, I graciously declined. Here are some great pictures of the fire walking and glass walking challenges:

If you are in South India and looking for something very different, we can definitely recommend spending some time at Dare Nature. Thanks Sajee for being such a wonderful host. We had a great time!

Us mob at Wayanad © Mahin Manu 2014
Us mob at Wayanad © Mahin Manu 2014

Details How to get there From Kozhikode: Kozhikode- Thamarassery – Old Vythiri, from here your take a right turn-travel up- almost 7 kms of which approximately 2 kms – off road. From Bangalore: Bangalore – Mysore – S Bathery – Kalpatta- Old Vythiri, from here your take a right turn-travel up- almost 7 kms of which approximately 2 kms – off road. Contact Dare 5000 Nature Campz & Resorts Vythiri, Wayanad Kerala, South India Pin: 673576 Tel: +91 8606500033 +91 8606500032 +91 9447951192

365 Places: Bangalore Palace

Day 179: Bangalore Palace, India

Today we started our fabulous South Indian Mystery tour, curated by our dear friend and artist Di Ball. Our first destination was Bangalore Palace and we were very lucky that there was a wedding on when we visiting. Mr Wikipedia has this potted history:

Bengaluru Palace, a palace located in Bengaluru, India, was built by Rev. Garrett, who was the first Principal of the Central High School in Bangalore, now known as Central College.

The construction of the palace was started in 1862 and completed in 1944. In 1884, it was bought by the then Maharaja of Mysore HH Chamarajendra Wadiyar X. Now owned by the Mysore royal family, the palace has recently undergone a renovation.

The palace is full of very interesting (albeit questionable) objects and well as having beautiful architectural features. It is not a cheap place to visit by Indian standards – 440 Rupees for foreigners and you have to pay extra to take a camera or smart phone for pictures. It was worth it though to have a glimpse into Royal life in Bangalore.

Here are some of my photos.

365 Places: Merimbula

Day 178: Merimbula, New South Wales

Merimbula is just one of the many beautiful little towns that dot the south coast of New South Wales. The town is situated on the Merimbula lake and named after the Aboriginal word for ‘two lakes’. Merimbula is primarily a tourist town, renowned for its fresh rock oysters and annual Jazz Festival, which is held on the June Queens’ Birthday Long weekend. We stayed there one weekend a few years ago and it is a place I would love to visit again because of its beautiful beaches.

Image credit: http://www.penguinmews.com.au/
Image credit: http://www.penguinmews.com.au/

Merimbula is close to Bournda National Park, South East Forest National Park and the northern end of Ben Boyd National Parks. For walkers, check out the coastal walk which runs through Bournda National Park from Tathra to Tura Beach just north of Merimbula taking in coastal scenery. Southern Right Whales (less frequent) and Humpback Whales are big feature in the areas.

Images Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merimbula
Images Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merimbula

There are lots of fun things you can do in Merimbula including horse riding and roller coaster rides. I would love to check out Magic Mountain, Merimbula’s own theme park as it has a roller coaster and one of the best toboggan slopes in New South Wales.

365 Places: Mollymook

Day 176: Mollymook, New South Wales, Australia

Image credit: http://www.breakersmollymook.com.au/?/attractions-and-activities/mollymook-beach
Image credit: http://www.breakersmollymook.com.au/?/attractions-and-activities/mollymook-beach

Today’s place is a little gem on the south coast of NSW with a great name – Mollymook. I first remember visiting Mollymook, when I was about 20. Not long after moving to Sydney, I travelled there for a long weekend. I remember it was a wonderful journey: a girlfriend had borrowed her boyfriend’s old VW Combie and we cruised our way down the coast on the old Princes Highway, singing along to Fleetwood Mac on the way.

The Australian Traveller website gives Mollymook a great writeup and also has some clues about how the place got its name:

It’s thought that the name Mollymook is a variation on “mollymawk”, the slang name sailors use for a type of albatross (from the Dutch mallemugge, meaning “foolish gull”.

Image credit: http://www.breakersmollymook.com.au/?/attractions-and-activities/surfing
Image credit: http://www.breakersmollymook.com.au/?/attractions-and-activities/surfing

We stayed overnight with some friends in Ulladulla and then spent the next day at Mollymook beach. I remember thinking at the time, that this beach was very beautiful and great for swimming and bodysurfing. Here is a blurb from the Visit NSW website:

Mollymook Beach is one of the South Coast’s most popular beaches. This golden stretch of sand has ideal conditions for experienced surfers, body surfers and anyone keen to learn how to surf.

Mollymook has more recently become famous as celebrity chef Rick Stein has a restaurant there – Bannisters. This restaurant is famous for fabulous seafood with an incredible ocean view. I haven’t been there yet, but it would be wonderful to experience this place.

365 Places: Tallinn

Day 175: Tallinn, Estonia

It is now more than 10 years since I visited the lovely city of Tallinn and it remains in my mind as one of the most beautiful examples of a medieval walled city. In 2004, I was very fortunate to go there to present a paper at the ISEA2004 Symposium, which was an amazing event in itself – see this summary by Brisbane media artist Keith Armstrong. I also wrote a review of an artwork presented by Trish Adams Wave Writer: Vital Forces (PDF), which was published in Eyeline magazine.

Toompea loss 2014CC BY-SA 3.0 Abrget47j - Own work
Toompea loss 2014CC BY-SA 3.0 Abrget47j – Own work

For a long time it was under Danish rule also being the birthplace of the Danish flag:

On the slopes of Toompea hill between the city wall and Lower Town is an open, garden-like area that happens to be the legendary birthplace of the Danish flag.

This relaxing spot is called the Danish King’s Garden because it was supposedly here that King Valdemar II of Denmark and his troops camped before conquering Toompea in 1219.

13th-14th-century Tallinn was part of the Danish Kingdom, marking the beginning of seven centuries of foreign rule in Estonia. The majority of the town’s population was formed of ethnic Germans who called the town Reval – a name which Tallinn was known for many centuries to come.

Mr Wikipedia says:

In 1285 the city, then known as Reval, became the northernmost member of the Hanseatic League – a mercantile and military alliance of German-dominated cities in Northern Europe. The Danes sold Reval along with their other land possessions in northern Estonia to the Teutonic Knights in 1346.

Danish King's Garden, Image Credit: http://www.tourism.tallinn.ee/eng/fpage/explore/attractions/old_town#!p_174827
Danish King’s Garden, Image Credit: http://www.tourism.tallinn.ee/eng/fpage/explore/attractions/old_town#!p_174827

It is a definitely place with some very rich history. I love that the town has undergone many name changes over the years:

In 1154 a town called Qlwn or Qalaven (possible derivations of Kalevan or Kolyvan) was put on the world map of the Almoravid by the Muslim cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi, who described it as a small town like a large castle among the towns of Astlanda. It has been suggested that the Quwri in Astlanda may have denoted the predecessor town of today’s Tallinn

The origin of the name “Tallinn(a)” is certain to be Estonian, although the original meaning of the name is debated. It is usually thought to be derived from “Taani-linn(a)” (meaning “Danish-castle/town”; Latin: Castrum Danorum). However, it could also have come from “tali-linna” (“winter-castle/town”), or “talu-linna” (“house/farmstead-castle/town”). The element -linna, like German -burg and Slavic -grad originally meant “castle” but is used as a suffix in the formation of town names…The German and Swedish name Reval (Latin: Revalia, earlier Swedish language: Raffle) originated from the 13th century Estonian name of the adjacent Estonian county of Ravala. Other known ancient historical names of Tallinn include variations of Estonian Lindanise (see Battle of Lyndanisse), such as Lyndanisse in Danish, Lindanas in Swedish, and Ledenets in Old East Slavic. Kesoniemi in Finnish and Kolyvan (Колывань) in Old East Slavic are also other historical names.

One of the things I also remember was the great antique and secondhand shops and I found a lot of Soviet memorabilia, which tells a story about another layer of Tallinn’s past. There was also a great market, where I some beautiful souvenirs. Here is a photograph of the Christmas market, which looks just magical. I was there in September, so didn’t see any snow.

Tallinn Christmas Market, Uploaded by Nathan lund
Tallinn Christmas Market, Uploaded by Nathan lund

You can also access an online 3d app that shows you Tallinn Old Town:

Tallinn Old Town is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The aim of the 3d.tallinn.ee is to allow anyone interested in this Medieval pearl to access the Old Town by using 3D computing technology.

Read more about the app and download the app from here.

References

World and Its Peoples, Volume 8 of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. Marshall Cavendish. 2010. p. 1069. ISBN 9780761478966.

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tallinn

Tallinn History http://tallinn24.info/tallinn_history.html

Fasman, Jon (2006). The Geographer’s Library. Penguin. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-14-303662-3.