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Travel theme: Paths

Walking is something most of us do, and we take it for granted. Our feet take us along paths of life, paths of careers, family and nature.

Come walking with me along my the paths of my travels in this fascinating planet:

Vejen, Denmark
Kicking the leaves in country Denmark

Paths can take you to new discoveries, and invite you to experience a sensory adventure. They instill a feeling of anticipation, or mystery, of what lies beyond.

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Boardwalk in Australia

A path might lead to a place where each of us will imagine something different, based on on own microcosmic experiences.

Sunshine Coast
Pandanas Palms shelter the stairs to the Beaches of the Sunshine Coast
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A stairway to where?

As a child, I was completely fascinated with spiral staircases. Not often seen in Australia, they are subject to strict building regulations but regulations have no impact on a child’s imagination.

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Path to the Magical Blue Lagoon in Iceland

This was a path I will never forget – a special memory for me and my daughter. A wintry swim in the geothermal waters.

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You never know how you might meet on the path in Austria
Site of the ancient fortress
A path to Else’s house and Viking history in Norway

Do you have a favourite walking path? Is it near of far from home?

Others share their path at Where’s My Backpack.

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Proverbial Thursday – Global Words to Live By

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Each Thursday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a Quote that I find thought-provoking. 

I hope you will too.

Many thanks to TidiousTed who has supplied us with an excellent proverb to mull over and discuss this week.

 “Everyone walks the furthest in their own company” – Icelandic proverb

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and from Mark Twain, a gem:

“Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed”

– Mark Twain

I invite you to leave a comment and tell me what you think of the Icelandic proverb and Mark Twain’s quote.

The journey always seems shorter when accompanied by a friend. Particularly so, if one was walking the long lonely roads through the Icelandic mountain passes. Would you agree?

Samuel Langhorne Clemens is better known by his pen name, Mark Twain and was born on November 30, 1835…  [More: here]   Mark Twain traveled many roads during his life and patented a variety of inventions. Despite experiencing poverty during his younger years he became a household name, received a honarary doctorate and advised politicians on copyright law. Perhaps this had a bearing on his quote, that I have selected to showcase, this week. What do you think?

Surely something to ponder about.

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Travel theme: Snowy

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A few days ago, I saw this meme referring to those who love snow. Yeh, that’s me, for sure! My hand’s up, waving frantically in enthusiasm for snow and the colder elements. People in the northern hemisphere must think I am stark raving mad, and I can see where they are coming from, when cold surrounds them for the majority of the year. However, not only do I love the snow and cold, I crave it! I am even married to a man whose nickname was Snowy!!! My holiday destinations usually encompass snow in some form as you will see here.

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There is plenty of Snowy scenes in Iceland in winter

A friend who knows me very well saw the meme and said, “This is SO you, Amanda!”

She knows! I thought.She knows me so well. She knows for instance that I have a preference for low light, that I hate the blazing sun and glare and suffer from the effects of it; and she knows that I feel energized when it is cold and finally she knows that being in a snowy place fills my heart with contentment!

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Skellefteå – Swedish Lapland

You think I am crazy too? Then I challenge you to find me a person that feels energized on a 37 degrees plus day (97 for Fahrenheit readers), and I will be genuinely surprised. Even the Spanish/Mexicans etc need a siesta at high noon!

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Iceland

There are many that claim they crave warmth and heat. Chionophile deniers, I accuse them, under my breath! These are the people who can’t wait to travel to tropical island destinations for holidays or go out in the heat and glare of the midday sun, without hats and sun protection. And yet, it is these same self-confessed sun ‘worshipers,’ who are spotted at these tropical destinations – exactly WHERE, I ask?

Mostly you will find them languishing on a hammock/bar stool/ beach towel/ or a day bed dotted with cushions in trendy colours. Yes, languishing in the SHADE of course! Why? Because it is SO HOT, they state wafting their limp hand back and forth in front of their face in a vain attempt to create some a cooling air flow.  

They seek out a beach umbrella, covered verandah, or simply the protective branches of a shady tree, out of the sun they so dearly love, and they sit, often accompanied by cool drinks, lathered with swathes of ice, sipped in an effort to do what….. to COOL down! A little hypocritical, don’t you think? Perhaps the sun-worshipers are closet chionophiles at heart?

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A Sunny snowy day – but no heat, thank goodness, in Norway.
Snowball Zermatt
Switzerland  delivers on the Winter Wonderland
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This is one of my favourite Snowy photos. The blue light exudes calmness.
Lunch with Edmund Hilary at 760 metres at MT Cook /Aoraki
Probably not the best place to put my hand for the photo!!
Lunch with Edmund Hilary at 760 metres at MT Cook /Aoraki
Magnificent awe-inspiring Mt Cook – what is not to like?
Lunch with Edmund Hilary at 760 metres at MT Cook /Aoraki
Snow is so much fun! And the reflection is not bad, either.
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I love the contrast between the stone and the snow here

Of course, my comments are only in fun. (These days in social media platforms, words can be misconstrued so easily!), so I want to make it clear that I am only having a friendly jibe at these sun ‘worshipers.’ For whilst I love the cold and it gives me energy to get about and do three times as much as I would have accomplished on a hot and sultry day, I too crave a bit of a balance. I can be out in the snow all day but do enjoy coming home to a wood fire and a warming cup of cocoa or wine!

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Feeling blue? Not me!!!

I hope you enjoy some of my travel photos from my contented or snowy places! They make me feel cool just looking at them.

Linking to Ailsa’s Travel theme- Snowy

Snowy places are Something I always Ponder About

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Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Travel

I have followed Sally’s blog for some time and her regular weekly feature with changing themes gives photography buffs a good array of choice and inspires creativity. I am thrilled to have a chance to blog some of my favourite travel photographs in her Challenger’s choice week.

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A perfect day on the river!

Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge

20160623_204028-k A Great spot for lunch!

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A world like no other!

Joyously or not the photograph becomes the source of reality, but it can also become a dreamlike force for interpretation. So if photography is memory, then the image is the moment–a moment of sanctuary in a lifetime of them. [Source: Sally D]

Even when I am so old I can no longer travel, I will have my photos and memories to ponder about.

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Proverbial Thursday – World Sayings

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned.

Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something and this week it comes from Iceland a place of immense beauty and natural forces.

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Iceland

 

 You do not really know your friends from your enemies until the ice breaks – Icelandic Proverb

and a really wonderful inclusive quote from Confucius………

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
Confucius

 

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Proverbial Thursday – Something to Ponder About

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Enjoy Scandinavia without the long flight!

A while ago, I was invited to write a post about Scandinavian books and have reproduced some sections and updated others here:

Have you ever dreamt of visiting Scandinavia: the lands that gave us Ikea, Santa Claus, and Hans Christian Andersen? Perhaps you have thought of getting close and personal with a Viking in the fjords of Norway, or the unique landscape of Iceland, but have found neither the time nor the funds?

You can still experience the arctic world without leaving the comfort of your own home through the literary works of Scandinavians. Gaining popularity here not just because they write good crime mysteries, but also because they focus more on story and descriptive plot, giving the reader an impression of, “being there.”

So select your destination and read on:

Denmark

Visit the fairy tale land of Denmark through the eyes of writer Elsebeth Egholm, an excellent crime fiction writer, (Title: Next of Kin), set in the author’s hometown of Århus. Or you could get a feeling for Greenland and snow with Peter Høeg’s thriller “Smilla’s Feeling for Snow”, or even watch the 1997 movie version of the same name, starring Julia Ormond. But if historical fiction is more your thing, Per Olov Enquist will transport you to the Danish royal court of King Christian VII of Denmark and the 1700’s – the time of ‘enlightenment,’ with a tale of romance, lust, treachery and intrigue.

Sweden

A short train ride from Copenhagen, takes one to Sweden, across the Bridge over the Oresund, which is a central theme on the TV series, “The Bridge” (available on DVD). The first season was so popular a second one is set to come. Most people are familiar with Henning Mankell’s ‘Wallander’ books and film, but there are many other Swedish authors whose writings bring Sweden into your own home. Camilla Lackberg is an author who writes about Fjallbacka, a small town on the Swedish Bohuslan coast, with journalist turned home-maker Erica Falck, helping out her policeman husband solve puzzling murder mysteries such as The Ice Princess, which is first in the series.

No one can dispute Stieg Larson’s, ‘Millenium Trilogy’ has brought Swedish crime fiction to Hollywood, and the world, but not everyone likes crime fiction, even if it is Scandinavian. ‘Hanna’s daughters,’ (a story of three generations of woman and their journeys through life’s stages), together with  ‘Inge and Mira’, and ‘Simon and the Oaks’, are three fiction novels of human drama, peppered with a little history, and a central theme of  “friendship,” which the author believes, is more important than family.

Karin Altvegen’s describes marginal life in Sweden’s suburban fringes, in the psychological thriller, ‘Shame” whilst John Ajvide Lindqvist’s “Let the right one in”- is a horror fiction story about vampires, but don’t let that put you off. I would never read a story on vampires, yet this one is a more intimate account of childhood bullying than vampires themselves and, furthermore, was made into a successful movie, then remade by Hollywood. Very atmospheric and highly recommended!

Finally, Lars Kepler is selling out in bookstores as his atypical but brilliant Finnish detective solves even the most brutal and complicated crimes in a most unusual way. I would suggest The Hynoptist and The Fire Witness.

Hungry? Time for a coffee break? Enhance the full Scandinavian experience with an authentic Norwegian Waffle with Swedish Cloudberry Jam and cream?   Recipe found here

Norway

Waffles are delicious while reading works by Norwegian writers: Jo Nesbø with the infamous Harry Hole, Karin Fossum, whose character exist on the fringes of society, or Anne Holt, former Norwegian Justice Minister turned crime writer, with her detective Hanne Wilhelmsen series.Recently, I read “Finse 1222”, set at one of the highest points along the Oslo-Bergen train line, wherein Holt’s descriptions of a winter snowstorm are so real, that when you read it, you will be shovelling snow in your dreams. Again, if you prefer something that does not have dead bodies, I recommend Per Pettersen, (To Siberia, Out Stealing Horses) or Jostein Gaarder (Sophie’s World – a Fiction story that introduces you to philosophy in a fascinating way).

Iceland

Finally, your Scandinavian tour is complete when you get a taste for Icelandic landscapes and culture in Arnaldur Indridason’s police procedurals: Jar City, Arctic Chill, and Hypothermia. (my favourite detective stories), or a depiction of Icelandic rural life, is found in Halldor Laxness’, “Iceland’s Bell.”

Travel fiction of note:

Andrew Stevensen – Non- Fiction; “Summer light”; A Walk across Norway. Not a Scandinavian writer, but nevertheless a great travel account.

True North – Gavin Francis: Travels in the Arctic, following the travels of ancient Nordic explorers.

I recommend checking out Euro crime for seeking details of other Scandinavian authors and further listings of individual Scandinavian titles to ponder about. Bon Voyage!!

 

Something Scandinavian to Ponder About

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Strange Shores – Arnaldur Indridason Book Review

 

Iceland

Arnaldur Indridason is one of my favourite crime authors, and when I read novels that form part of a series, I  become quite attached to the characters,  as I did, with Detective Erlendur, in Strange Shores. This is the final book in the Detective Erlendur series, although there is the possibility of Erlender prequels being mooted, across the net, at the moment.

Erlendur,  himself, is a bit of a loner; a somewhat sad character who nevertheless has a keen intellect for solving crime. He hails from a family that has encountered hardship, loss and mental instability, which has been the undercurrent permeating story lines in the series, including Jar City, Hypothermia and Silence of the Grave.

Erlendur has, since he was young, been deeply affected by the disappearance of his only brother, who was lost in a Snowstorm, never to be found. It seems guilt is a driving factor in his inability to emotionally move on from this traumatic event.

Strange Shores wraps up this background story in a surprising way as Erlendur, ostensibly on leave in the East Fjords, becomes interested in the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of a young wife back in WWII, in circumstances similar to that of his young brother, Beggi. The subsequent rumours were, that after Matthildur’s disappearance, she returned to haunt her husband, who then later drowned in a storm. During his leave in the area, of his childhood, Erlendur chats to locals, and discovers that there just might be more to the ghost story than meets the eye.

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Iceland – where nature can so quickly turn ugly

This novel is not what one would call, fast-paced, but it does illuminate life in Iceland in the post war period and the public and private difficulties associated with living in a harsh environment, of that era. I found the splashes of history interesting and especially useful in anchoring the story to make it more believable.

Then there is the way the old Icelandic culture contrasts with the modern innovations of industry in contemporary Iceland and this pivots well with the connections between the old and new story lines.  Indridason’s character portraits are well-developed and the ‘old timers’ literally jump out from the pages with their craggy beards and pointed fingers.

One of the few remaining Icelandic sheep farms

In attempting to investigate and perhaps solve the mysterious disappearance of Matthildur, Erlendur comes face to face with his own demons and, in the process, the reader learns a lot about what drives the detective, as a person. This adds an element of psychological depth to the story that I found highly readable, however, this may not be so much the case for first – time readers, of an Indridason novel, as they would not have formed such a strong bond with Erlendur, as a character, as yet.

There are tragic themes in this novel as well, and it does delve into some of these. Society’s loners, recluses, and those suffering with mental illness feature in this novel, with the added issue of  how that may affect the family as a whole. The resilience of the Icelandic folk is self – evident throughout.

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Hekla – Volcano Iceland

Traveling through Iceland in the winter of 2008, I remember encountering the occasional abandoned farmstead, some, such as the one below, that Icelandic folk vehemently claimed, is haunted by ghosts. In the barren and unrelenting winter landscape that is Iceland, where nature reigns supreme and man is simply an afterthought, I don’t for one second doubt that the locals find imaginative ways to explain adverse happening such as the ghost in this story. So, it was with this memory and images in my head that I read Strange Shores, a story so Icelandic, with subterranean spiritual and psychological undertones. A fitting end to the Erlendur series.

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The Good: Visual imagery of the characters and landscapes and how life in Iceland is really living at the very edge of possible human habitation

The Bad: Jacob’s treatment of Ezra and the strange dreams Erlendur experiences

The Ugly: Erlendur’s actions in the graveyard

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Something to Ponder About

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Proverbial Thursday – Global Proverbs and Quotes

Proverbial smlI find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something. Each Thursday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a Quote that I find thought-provoking.  I hope you will too.

Another quirky proverb, this week from Iceland:
The fox lurks in his hole gnawing the whitened bone -Icelandic proverb

and a quote from the Author of ‘Out of Africa’:

The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea”

Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)

 

Something to Ponder About Today

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Friday Fiction Review : Hypothermia – by Arnaldur Indridason

 Hypothermia  – by Arnaldur Indridason

Book - The cop killer
Nordic crime fiction books

A Reykjavik Murder Mystery

It is a cold Autumn night, the ice has already formed in chunks on Lake Thingvellirvatn… In a holiday cottage a Doctor’s wife is found hanging. She has a history of depression and her Mother recently died of a terminal illness. But is it suicide… Erlender the gloomy and withdrawn Rejkjavik detective must decide. This case is unofficial, it won’t change the outcome of the case and everything is clear cut. Yet Erlender pursues it like a murder case with a drive to find out why the woman’s life ended in such an abrupt manner. As he begins to collects information, he again faces his own personal demons and confronts cold missing persons cases that have laid dormant for years with some suprising results….

The Good:  A wonderfully written Scandinavian crime mystery; a delight for continuing readers of Indridason as the character continue their own personal story; atmosphere plus in descriptions of Glacial lakes, blizzards and cold desolate landscapes..

The Bad:  Hard to find fault… but I am partial to this genre…

The Ugly: Predictable in parts, but not boring…. No happy ending…. but this is not ugly either…

Verdict: RECOMMENDED

Other titles by Indridason: ( these have been translated to English)

Jar city ( aka Tainted Blood)
Silence of the Grave (to be read soon I hope)
Arctic Chill
Voices
The Draining Lake

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Daily Prompt: Fright Night – Haunted House

 

What could be more frightening than a night spent in a haunted house?

This abandoned house in Iceland somewhere between Bogarnes and Akureyri looked truly scary, even from a distance. Examining the photograph in the comforts of home some time later, one could see the many orbs, indicating ? spirits. The stories told by my Icelandic host when she had to seek shelter there one night with her friend when their car broke down in the snow, filled me with goosebumps, on the inside and the outside. She said the spirit of the house made it clear that it did not want her there, as she walked out the door for a smoke break, her shoes were flung at her from the empty room behind. She was certain it was signalling she was NOT welcome to stay. What could be more frightening than flying shoes flung at you from an empty room in Iceland’s most haunted house?

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for more frightening pics and stories check dailypost.wordpress.com/

Something I won’t ponder about for long tonight.

 

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Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me

Daily Prompt

Share a story about the furthest you’ve ever traveled from home.

65.6833° N, 18.1000° W

Dimmiborgir, Iceland

This is the further I have travelled away from home. A heavy metal band shares the same name. I travelled thirty hours in an aircraft and then another six hours in a car to get there. An other-worldly place that means “The Black Castle” or ” Dark Fortress”, reputed to be where the infamous Jule Lads ( mischevious Icelandic Santa elves) live. Covered, as it was this day, in snow and ethereal light, the place looks magical and menacing at the same time. Was that because I was told black magic rituals are sometimes carried out in the lava caves and formations?

Not far from the Arctic circle, and at a more northerly latitude than the southern areas of Greenland, visiting Akureyri and Dimmiborgir was a rare privilege for someone from “Down Under”.  A snowstorm threatened to prevent our travel to this place and for a while, I was terrified out of my wits that I would end up frozen by the side of the road in a stalled car. I had already seen at least one car upturned at the side of the road, and the snowploughs were working overtime just to keep the road for disappearing in a “white out”. I have nothing but awe for the Icelanders who drive in these conditions. But made it, we did, and the skies lifted to let us in.

Iceland is a place where the people appear to survive on the very extremes of possible human habitation. Amongst the gobsmackingly special arctic scenery, the stillness and quiet of small, often isolated communities, is the obvious resilience of the population, despite incredible natural and physical adversity that spans many generations.

KirkjanKirkjan – Place of black magic

This post is dedicated to my good friend, Guðriður. Someone and something I will always ponder about. A unique experience so so far from home.