Samstag, 5. Oktober 2019

Iceland 2019 (Video)

And here we go... Another year, another travel video!

It took me quit a while to go through all the footage. Furthermore, I switched for the edit to Final Cut Pro, which also was very challenging at first. But after spending dozens of hours getting used to it, I do not want to work without it anymore.


Enjoy the video!

- Dominic

Montag, 2. September 2019

An open letter to my Feiyues

Dear old friend,
Unluckily it is raining today, which means my socks will be soaked because of the many holes in your shoe sole. Even though you do not your job in protecting my feet from the rain, I still love you the same.


You, my precious Feiyue, have been around for many good years and you have seen wonderful events turn into memories. You have seen Parkour Festivals and training sessions, lost places and islands, creeks and the ocean, hiking routes across the world, the top of roofs and even the bottom of a sewer system.

You were there for me when I needed a companion to learn how to walk on railings or to protect my skin from big arm jumps or the like. Do you remember that one tumble I took and you flew off my foot because I hit the ground so hard? Yeah, that one hurt.

You have seen some of the best memories, like the time when we walked along with some new friends this volcano crater and just having the best time of our life. Later on we were trapped together in the middle of a thousand spider webs. ...Okay, that wasn't funny at all but ...

              

... Isn't it nice that I just need to look down at my feet and think back to all of the times where you were there, absorbing all of these memories or experiences through your warn out rubber soles?

Shoes can be just as much a part of a certain memory as someone's Instagram profile. Maybe, Feiyue, everyone should appreciate their shoes more. Looking down at their shoes instead of spending time on their phones.

You, my Feiyue, have helped me trek through the miles, which have shaped me to be the person I am today.


Thank you for being there through it all, Feiyue! - Dominic

Mittwoch, 3. Juli 2019

Hi, I'm Dominic and I'm 30 years old

Today I turned 30 years old and the 30th birthday is one of these things that everyone has an opinion about.

For some people, turning 30 coincides with individual questions like the meaning, purpose or the value of life. For others, it's the entrance door to an exciting and new decade.

For me, it is just another Wednesday.

In my childhood I loved birthdays so much. I remember always looking forward to the gifts and celebrations of my birthdays, but someday I started to rethink about everything and my birthdays become less important in my life.

At some point in my early 20s, I started focusing on where I was in life and where I was going, and I no longer saw the value of using a random day of the year as a marker of progress.

Regardless of being 21, 30, 63 1/2 or even 100 years old. – I am who I am and I'm confident enough to just not care about my age.

I wish everyone who is reading this a wonderful Wednesday. :)

- Dominic

Dienstag, 11. Juni 2019

Iceland 2019

As it should have been for the day of arrival, it was very arduous. It all started when Rino and I went to Frankfurt together to meet Sebastian. Thus, the travel trio was already complete for this trip.

At 13:15 o'clock on 31 January 2019, our plane left for Iceland.



After a three and a half hour flight, we reached Keflavík International Airport.

We waited for our shuttle service "Green Motion", where we had rented the car for our trip, for more than an hour. Just nobody came. At some point, we decided to call Green Motion. A stressed out employee asked me to call him back in a few minutes. Therefore, we waited another 10 minutes until I called again. This time the employee told me that he had already sent a shuttle service and that he should arrive at the airport at any moment. Finally, there was our shuttle service.

A short drive to the rental service, a few coffees and some bureaucratic formalities later our car was there. A black Jeep Renegade.



The sun had already set when Sebastian finally started the engine to drive us to our first Airbnb, where we stayed the first two nights.

Our host Einar was completely nuts. However, in a charming way. The first thing he did was to show us a part of his big music collection. He played for us mainly German pieces of music. From Helene Fischer to Rammstein to non-sense YouTube songs. It was all there.

After a short breakfast on the next morning, consisting of wraps with peanut butter and jam, Rino, Bastie and I started the day with a discovery tour through Reykjavik.

We visited the typical tourist destinations, the harbor, some beautiful churches and the Hard Rock Cafe.

In the afternoon, we bought most of the supplies for the upcoming two weeks. And who would have thought that, differently than one reads in the Internet, it was inexpensive in supermarkets like Bónus or Krónan. Almost comparable to the prices in Germany.

The next morning we set off early, because we had a very long drive ahead of us. The plan was, first to drive down the Snæfellsnes peninsula by car and then continue to the north where our next Airbnb was waiting for us. Easier said than done.

After the first two hours by car, the sun was just about to rise; we wanted to pull over to the right to shoot some video scenes of the breathtaking endless snow landscape.



That was the moment when it happened. Our car was suddenly across. We were stuck in the snow and there was no other car in sight.


After some unsuccessful attempts, we were able to free ourselves somehow from the deep snow.

Our first real stop was then in the small municipality Stykkishólmur, which with just over 1000 inhabitants already belonged to the bigger villages of Iceland.





After our exploration tour through the sleepy city, in a small bakery, we thought whether we should drive further in the direction of Snæfellsjökull National Park or go in the direction of Skagaströnd. Since it had already become late, we decided for the latter.

On the way to Skagaströnd we stopped again at the hot spring Deildartunguhver, which supplies the towns and farms nearby with hot water and energy.







It got dark and we still had about three hours’ drive in front of us to Skagaströnd. We made no more stopovers and arrived late in the evening very tired at the Airbnb. Árni, our host, had already prepared our room.

As hardly anyone outside of Reykjavik usually closes his or her front door, we did not have to pay much attention to check-in times.

At dinner, we listened to some Jan Tenner radio plays and went to sleep afterwards.

On the fourth day of our journey, we met a herd of Icelandic horses. We took the opportunity and fed the animals with the remains of our stock of carrots. The horses did not mind the -16°C and the ice-cold wind. Amazing animals!






Now we went to Hvítserkur, an impressive rock formation about 15 meters high. According to an Icelandic saga, the rock is said to be a troll petrified by the sun when it threw stones at the monastery of Þingeyrar.



After Bastie and I had made a little hike on the beach, we drove on towards Akureyri. Bergrun, our new host for the next two nights, welcomed us on site and showed us our new accommodation.

In the evening, we went on a photo tour through the beautiful city.






Akureyri is a true winter wonder city, where you could expect to run into Santa Claus at every corner.

Early in the morning, we started again the next day. Our first destination was the Goðafoss waterfall; very famous in Iceland.





The drone had to struggle very hard with the weather. When I let it land again after a flight of about ten minutes, it was already externally frozen by the extreme cold and the high humidity.



Right afterwards we drove to the Mývatn Nature Bath. A geothermal bathing lake of the extra class. There were hardly any visitors when we arrived at noon at the lake. Thus, the view was even more beautiful. Thick fog covered the 36 - 40°C hot, mineral-rich water.

We spent the whole day in the pool. We used the sauna and lay down in the freshly fallen snow to cool down.







On the sixth day of our stay in Iceland, we had to drive a long way to our next accommodation in Egilsstaðir. On the way there, the plan was to visit the icy Detifoss waterfall. Unfortunately, we had forgotten to check the warning website for roadblocks, so we had to drive all the way back to Akureyri to get to another road.

Disappointed that we could not see Detifoss, we made our way to another volcano called Hverfjall. Sebastian and I did not miss the opportunity to climb the snow-covered volcano, which turned out to be more difficult than first assumed. The snow went partly up to the thigh. Wet shoes were inevitable.



However, we finally managed to climb the 420-meter high mountain. The view was incredibly beautiful. Apart from Sebastian and me, there was no creature to be seen for miles.



However, since the wind was strong and it was extremely cold, we quickly descended again on the same path after the ascent.

After this little adventure, we went straight along the ring road to the east. After about 400 kilometers by car, we finally arrived at the next Airbnb. A small farm, about 20 kilometers away from the town of Egilsstaðir.

Our new hosts, Elsa and Magnus, their 2 cats and their dog greeted us warmly and showed us our quarters for the next two nights.

After a quiet night, we drove on to Seyðisfjörður, a fishing town in the middle of an incredible fjord. Seyðisfjörður is surrounded by a mountain range. The only ways that lead into the city are by sea or by a road that stretches over the mountain range.

The small town, which only had 650 inhabitants, was characterized by beautiful colorful houses. A sky blue wooden church marked the center of the town.







On the eighth day of travel, we had to get out very early again. We had breakfast and said goodbye to Elsa and the animals. Afterwards: Driving Again! Roughly 400 kilometers this time.





About half way, we stopped at the beautiful Höfn to stretch our legs and to buy something for the next days.





After we had explored Höfn as far as possible, we went on towards Kirkjubæjarklaustur. However, before we reached the South of Iceland, I wanted to film some wild reindeer. I had read that the chance to see reindeer is best at the east coast.

I had almost given up hope. Then we found some animals near the road.



Happily, I returned to the car. When Rino wanted to start the jeep again to drive on, we got only error messages. The engine did not start anymore. We were stuck again in the middle of nowhere.

I love those moments. When all your plans collapse, the real adventure begins.

There were already a few entries about the problem on the Internet. The battery was probably undercooled by the wind and needed a jump-start.

Fortunately, a car came by every few minutes and the first car stopped right away when I waved at it on the open road.

Unfortunately, the passengers of the vehicle, a friendly Asian couple, did not have a jumper cable in the boot, which should be part of the basic equipment of every car in Iceland, in my opinion.

In addition, the second car I stopped had no cable either. The third car stopped all by itself. Finally! The Icelandic woman who drove the car dug around in her trunk and pulled out a jumper cable. Unfortunately, she said that she had other connections to her car and it would not work with her car.

Then the Asian couple with their car came into play again.

Now all we had to do was to figure out how to connect the cables properly. After a long time of trying, the fourth car stopped at the roadside. Two more Icelanders got out of the huge off-road vehicle. They immediately knew how to connect the cables.

Our car finally started again! We thanked everyone once again and finally drove two hours late to our Airbnb.

Arrived late in the evening in Kirkjubæjarklaustur Benedikt welcomed us. Our host for the next 7 days.


Happy that we finally had a few days downtime and no longer had to drive from one accommodation to the next, we immediately moved into our small log cabin. We unpacked our things, cooked a snack for dinner and went to sleep in our bunk beds.

The beds in which we slept during the travels were always extremely soft, with which we were not very satisfied. However, our new beds were a real blessing. Somewhat harder. Benedikt had even provided us with bed linen for our stay, although this was not included in the price.


We all slept very well and after our breakfast, we drove to Vík í Mýrdal. A small remote village by the sea. It is located in the shade of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which covers the Katla volcano. We parked our car on the western outskirts of the city and hiked up the adjacent mountain.

The mountaintop was characterized by an incredibly beautiful landscape.







Time flew by and in the late afternoon, we made our way home again.

Now it was time to do laundry. Since we unfortunately had no access to a washing machine, we had to use the sink.

To dry the laundry, I hung it out on the clothesline that Rino had brought with him. With the sub-zero temperatures and the ice-cold wind, the laundry was frozen and hard within a few minutes.

I left everything on a leash overnight. Maybe it would dry anyway… hopefully.

The next day, the first thing I did, was looking after the laundry. The wind had become extreme during the night, which was the reason why my clothes had separated from the clothesline and had spread in all directions.

After a long search, in which Bastie helped me, we were able to recover most of my laundry. Well, I could not find a T-shirt anymore but at least the laundry had dried!

Around noon, we went again in the direction of the town of Vík. This time to the famous black beach Reynisfjara, which we had already localized the day before on our hike from the mountain.



The beach was crowded with tourists. We went climbing first. The rocks invited us with their great shapes.


At some point, we decided to take off our shoes and walk through the beautiful black sand.


It is always fascinating how the body reacts to strong cold. When I put my shoes on again my feet were already very warm and well supplied with blood.

I also tried to get the drone up again. Not a good idea. The strong wind brought the drone out of balance and the battery ran out quickly. After a short flight, I had to make an emergency landing in the sand.


Rino, Bastie and I then walked the whole beach further west, which eventually ended in a dead end. A river blocked the way to our destination, the peninsula of Dyrhólaey.





It became quite late now, which is why we quickly went to our car. Before nightfall, we wanted to check out another sight. The plane wreck Solheimasandur. Unfortunately one could park with the car only very far outside. The plane was only reached via a two-kilometer long gravel road, which we walked on foot.



The plane wreck was not really very spectacular. Because of the many people there who made selfies and photographed, I decided against letting the drone go or filming something for my video project.





I climbed around with Sebastian on the wreck and then we made our way home again sometime.

On the eleventh day of our trip, we decided to start the Golden Circle. This is the most visited tourist route in the country. I had already prepared myself mentally that we would meet many tourists, but I had not expected that there would be so many.

After about two and a half hours by car, we finally reached the Golden Circle Route.

Our first stop was at Kerið Crater Lake. After everyone had to pay 400 crowns entrance fee, we could circle once around the crater. There was another way down into the frozen crater, which was, however, very smooth. While trying to climb down the icy stairs, I slipped and broke Rino's camera tripod while falling.



Next, we went to the geysers. They were definitely more impressive than Kerið and we did not have to pay an entrance fee.



The last stop for this day was the beautiful Þingvellir National Park. In addition, here did not have to pay anything, because we arrived outside the opening hours.

The national park has the peculiarity that it lies at the border between two tectonic plates. This makes it something very special for Icelandic culture. A few scenes of Game of Thrones were also shot here.







We explored Þingvellir and wandered until the sun set. Then we drove back in the direction of Airbnb.

Arriving at home, we were just all done and done. 500 kilometers by car and 12 hours on the road had left their mark on the day.

The next day we slept in and after a good breakfast, we drove to Skógafoss, a huge waterfall.



The whole area around Skógafoss was very smooth. Nevertheless, we did not let ourselves get away from approaching the waterfall as close as possible.



Seconds later Rino, Sebastian and I were already completely soaked.

After I had unpacked the drone to get some aerial photos of the waterfall, we went up a staircase that was located to the side of the waterfall and explored the hinterland.

We walked along an almost endless path, towards the river, which led into the waterfall. The landscape was breathtakingly beautiful, but at some point, we went back the same way.







Halfway I slipped on an icy puddle and almost cut off a whole fingertip on a sharp rock.

Apart from the fact that my clothes were now completely covered with mud, the wound was bleeding very badly, so we had to go back to the car quickly.

Before we headed on, however, I picked up a plaster in a nearby restaurant and quickly cleaned the wound.

Then we drove on in the direction of Seljavallalaug. A secret geothermal pool was waiting for us there.



Together with Bastie I jumped into the pool and Rino took some pictures in the meantime. The water in the pool was not the very clean so I had to be careful not to submerge my wounded finger.

The temperature of the water was also just lukewarm. Estimated around 20 - 24°C.

Bastie and I still had a challenge pending. We had planned to go for a swim in ice water in Iceland once and now was the perfect time for that. A small river course, a little away from the pool, offered itself to us. The water temperature was estimated to be at freezing.

We took all our courage, warmed up for a moment and then went into the creek. We only lasted a few seconds the first time.



The second time our goal was to stay in the water for at least one minute.

I tried to move as little as possible during the time in the water and not to think of anything. It was not too bad on the outside, but on the inside it felt like my intestines were contracting, which was very unpleasant.

Shortly before the minute was up, I kept my head under water for a moment. After that, my head felt like I ate too much ice cream and after the minute was over, our bodies were bright red.

Of course, we went back to the pool afterwards. This time the lukewarm water felt a lot warmer.


Then we drove back home again. During the drive, my body felt extremely relaxed and the night after, I slept like in heaven.

The following day Bastie, Rino and I went to the famous Diamond Beach. A black volcanic sandy beach, where small and large icebergs lie on the sandy beach, creating a magical place with their blaze of color. The icebergs drive directly from Vatnajökull.








After we had filmed a bit and taken some photos, we went towards Jökulsárlón, a huge lake, close to the ocean. Jökulsárlón had the peculiarity that hundreds of ice floes floated on it. Some were more than ten meters high. Through the scenery, we felt like we were going hiking in Antarctica.






The fourteenth day of our journey had now begun and we had decided to leave the car at home and to start the day quietly.

After we slept out and had breakfast comfortably in our small log cabin, everyone did what he wanted. Rino went back to bed, Bastie did his laundry and I changed my bandage on my finger and sat down a bit on the laptop.



At some point, Bastie and I started playing Super Mario on the Internet. After many failures, we managed to save the princess at some point. Quite a successful day!



After lunch, Sebastian and I went on wanderings in the near vicinity.

I decided to go barefoot. Unlike in Germany, I almost did not have to pay attention to glass splinters or the like, which made it much more pleasant. Only the fact that it was very cold and I always had to keep moving so that my feet did not freeze made things a little difficult.

We were looking for a way to climb the mountain next to our camp. After 15 minutes on foot, we found a very icy path leading up the mountain.

I hesitated a little because I was barefoot. In the end, I took on the challenge of conquering the mountain just as I had conquered Bowser a few hours before.

It was very slippery and even Bastie with his hiking boots made very slow progress. The slow movements made my toes colder, but somehow we managed to get up the mountain together.

At the top, I had to do a small cardio workout for my toes to warm them up.

Sebastian decided to go on hiking. I decided against it and made my way back again.



The way down was even harder than the way there and cost me almost an hour.

My toes were completely frozen but after a short run along the road, the blood started to circulate again and they also started to warm up again naturally. Then I went home again.

It was getting late and dark and Bastie still was not back. Since he did not have his phone with him either, I decided to go and find him. Just as I was about to leave, I sighted him.

We had a nice dinner and went to bed early. In the night, I left the GoPro outside on the tripod, connected with the power-bank and tried to get a nice northern lights nightlapse.



After I had brought the tripod with the GoPro back into the house early in the morning, I went back to sleep until the alarm clock rang early in the morning at 6:00 o'clock.

Today was a very special day as we had booked an Ice Cave Tour on Vatnajökull, one of the largest glacier in Europe.

Now it was time to say goodbye to our little hut, which had given us so much peace and warmth over the last week. In the evening, we wanted to be back in Reykjavik.

So after we packed our things and were about to leave... crap! The car did not start. After a few failed ignition attempts, I went to Benedict's office to see if he was already there but could not find anybody.

I decided to call him and he answered the phone immediately. He sounded like he just fell out of bed. I apologized very much. After I described our situation to him and told him that we were in a hurry, he immediately sent a member of staff by to help us get started.

Just half an hour passed before Benedict's employee arrived. He gave us the jump-start we needed.

When the car ran again, we drove after a short farewell also immediately off.

We had a lot of time to catch up, so for once we did not stick to the prescribed speed limit of 90 km/h on the roads. A risk we had to take in order not to arrive too late at our tour guide for our excursion.

We could catch up a lot of time and in the end, we made it to the agreed meeting point on time.

Arrived in Jökulsárlón, we had to ask the people on the parking lot for our tour guide "Extreme Iceland" until finally a friendly woman could help us. Now we had hope again to see the glacier after all.

And that is how it happened. After Bastie, Rino and I were equipped with spikes, harnesses and helmets, we were taken to the glacier by a 4x4 bus.

The drive there was incredibly bumpy and we immediately realized that even we could never have made it on our own with our rented Jeep Renegade.

After half an hour drive, we reached the Vatnajökull glacier.

I had never seen anything like it before in my life. To climb the glacier ourselves, we had to exchange our spikes for glacier spikes. Then we marched off.

The first steps with the thick spikes were very unusual, but I quickly got used to them.

Even though the ice was almost 1000 meters thick in some places, I always had the feeling that I could break in at any moment.



After about half an hour, we arrived at our first destination. A huge ice cave in the middle of nowhere.





When we had explored the caves extensively, we continued towards the ocean where a huge cliff of blue ice shaped the landscape.




In the late afternoon, we drove back again. A hard piece of work was waiting for us, because we still had a 400-kilometer drive ahead of us.

Late in the evening around 22:00 o'clock we arrived then tired in Reykjavik in our Airbnb. Our accommodation was a huge house, built on a small hill.

Our new host Helga had late shift and wrote a message that we should check ourselves in, which we did.

Exhausted Rino, Sebastian and I fell into our comfy beds and fell asleep immediately.

The next morning we could realize what a great view over Iceland we had from our room.

It was the last full day we had and we wanted to do something special again. I had booked us a stay in the Blue Lagoon for that day. Iceland's most famous geothermal outdoor swimming pool.

We left around noon. Already from the distance, one could see that the Blue Lagoon was not a normal bath, but a huge complex surrounded by steaming lakes and lava fields. Near the Blue Lagoon the Svartsengi power plant could also be seen, which generated energy for Reykjavik via the geothermal fields.

After Bastie, Rino and I had checked in, each of us got a towel and a bracelet with a chip.

Unlike the Mývatn Nature Bath, there was always a lot going on here at any time of the day, which made it harder to switch off.



Nevertheless, we could enjoy the time in the hot baths and the saunas. It was also nice that one was allowed to get a free drink and there was silica mud to make masks with.





After our recovery, we went to dinner in the evening in the A. Hansen Restaurant in Hafnarfjörður.

On our departure day, we already had to leave at 4:30 to catch our plane in time, which should leave at 7:30. We had to return the car before and then drive from the rental service in Keflavík to the airport, which took extra time.

The additional insurance against sandstorms and ash rain that we had chosen paid for itself in full. We had some thick cracks in the windshield of the car.

Then Green Motion took us with their shuttle bus to the airport to fly on time to Frankfurt.

It was once again very nice to see Reykjavik from the air for the last time and when we were above the clouds, I fell asleep immediately. I tried to sleep through the rest of the flight until we arrived in Frankfurt around 12:00 o'clock.

We said goodbye to Sebastian, who had to take another train and went straight back to Braunschweig.

Rino and I still had some waiting time until our train arrived.

In the late afternoon we were finally back home in Hanover.
____

My conclusion of the journey: Through the days I was allowed to spend in Iceland, I could learn a lot about the country and its people. The time in Iceland seemed to pass more slowly than in Germany and somehow you just had more time for everything. What was very fascinating for me was the fact that one was still dependent on each other so that one could also feel this connection as an external person. This was reflected above all in the Icelandic mentality and helpfulness. I would like to travel the country again at a warmer time if the opportunity presented itself. Until then, I remember Iceland as the land of fire and ice.