Sunday, 20 February 2011

'Escapist' Nightwish Gathering London 15'2'11

It was a really good night and brilliant to meet everyone. Hopefully there will be a follow up in the Summer. Everyone got on really well and hopefully enjoyed the Jagermeister as much as I did ....
Special thanks to Carol for organising!

'Keeping in with the Organiser'

Sarah 'Oceanborn' from Saarfend

'The Whistler'

With Oceane & Remy who were over from Nice in France

'Evilyn' I think she has forgiven me for thinking her dad was her husband ???

'The Evil Wench' who even brought her whips with her!

Great to meet up with Carol who is the creator of the fan site and has put in so much hard work to get it up and running and then to get official sign-off from the Nightwish Management. She had spent time with Tuomas and recorded an interview for the site. Unfortunately Tuomas was tied up with recording work at the studios so wasn't able to join us. But we did all receive a lovely signed momento to mark the occasion. He also signed the photo that I had given to Carol previously and dedicated it to 'My fellow Peter Pan'............

Carol- Sporting her newly acquired Nightwish tattoo.

Covent Garden is always a great place to visit as so much going on with the street entertainers and stalls. I always end up buying something I shall never use... This time it was a pack of trick playing cards which you can do 80 card tricks with.
Just had time for a wander up Charing Cross Road to mooch around the book shops and CD stores to pick up a few bargains.
Good to catch up with my Boss as well at 'The Crobar' Bourbon and metal bar.

'The Lamb & Flag'

Before the 'meet up' I did a quick tour of some of my favourite haunts in the Capital. I always like to wander around Chinatown, which was still decorated following the Chinese New Year celebrations. From there a wander up into Soho and Berwick St Market.
No trip to London would be complete without a trip to the 'Lamb & Flag' pub near Covent Garden and Theatre district. Always a good atmosphere in there and some great Ales on offer.

It was lovely to get down to London for the first ever meet up of the 'Tuomas Holopainen' fan site. It was held at 'The Pipeline Bar' just off of Bishopsgate.

Iceland Trip Day 2

The only dissapointment from the weekend was that we never did see the Northern Lights. But not from lack of trying !On the final night we were out for 6 hours until 2 AM in the most remote spots and suffering bitter cold temperatures.
It was always going to be out of our control and it was never guaranteed. So the holy grail must continue ..umm maybe Norway next time !

It was a brilliant trip and our guide was excellent making sure we saw all the best sights and giving a detailled commentary. It was great that we could also wander off and do our own thing as well.

Our final stop was Pingvellir National Park. A large lava field situated right on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the European and North American plates are moving apart. An extremely eerie and extraordinary place with yet more stunning scenery.

The stunning backdrop to the steaming springs.

Smaller springs bubble away constantly.

Water at a depth of 23 metres is around 120°C, but cannot boil because of the weight of the water pushing down on it from above. When this water is forced up to around 16 metres, some of the water may be above boiling point, and this sets off the chain reaction.The pressure decrease allows more water to boil and flash boil into steam, which drives the unboiled water further up the 'pipeline'. As this happens closer and closer to the surface, with increasing velocity, the water and steam is forced out, and it is this mixture of water & steam that forms the eruption. Sorry about the physics lesson!

The English word geyser (a spouting hot spring) derives from Geysir. The name Geysir itself is derived from the Icelandic verb geysa, "to gush", the verb from Old Norse. So now you know - whatever these erupting hot springs are something else. The plumes are said to reach up to 80 metres on some of the less active ones !
Strokkur is one of Iceland's most famous geysirs, erupting regularly every 4-8 minutes generally.

'Gullfloss' Spectacular and powerful.

By now the land has become extremely barren and volcanic. Our next stop is Gulfloss “Golden Falls.”Iceland's most stunning waterfall. The falls are amazing and there is a raw sense of power. I followed the trail down a rickety icy staircase and along a narrow ledge leading to the main drop.This is a truly spectacular two-tiered waterfall (with each tier dropping at right angles to each other) drops a total of 32m while spanning the entire width of the Hvítá River.'White River'.

As we drove it was possible to see many Icelandic horses roaming the countryside. Icelandic horses are long-lived and hardy. They have few diseases; Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported into the country and exported animals are not allowed to return.

There had been an early morning snowstorm so everywhere was totally white which added to the beauty of the winter landscape.
We stopped at Skálholt Church, the ancient seat of the Icelandic Bishops making it a cultural and political centre. It was here that I discovered an old school friend of mine was on the same trip! Someone I hadn't seen for 25 years, you just can't go anywhere without seing someone you know it seems.

Today we were doing the guided 'Golden Circle Tour'. Which is an introduction to the best known historical sites and natural phenomenas Iceland has to offer.
First of all a few facts and figures about Iceland.
It has a population of about 320,000 and a total area of 103,000 km2 (39,769 sq miles) Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The southwestern region is where two thirds of the people live. The landscape is dotted with mountains and glaciers, while many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate so the name 'Iceland' is not really appropriate. From North to South is approximately 300 miles, East to West is approximately 500 miles.

Iceland Trip Day 1

Unfortunately because the weather had turned so bad the evening trip to see the Northern Lights was cancelled. The good news being that we were to get a second chance the following night.

There is little decoration, in line with Lutheran tradition. The most famous feature of the interior is the huge organ built in Germany in 1992, boasting a 50-foot-tall case and 5,275 pipes.

The weather by now had turned really bleak with driving sleet and rain.
We sought sanctuary in Hallgrímskirkja (Hallgrim's Church) the tallest and most striking church in Iceland.
A Lutheran parish church, Hallgrimskirkja is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614-74).Rising 74.5 m (244 ft), Hallgrimskirkja is the tallest building in Iceland. It is situated in the city center and has become one of Reykjavík's best known symbols.
The interior is more traditional, but its modern-meets-Gothic lines are still reminiscent of ice formations
The church took 38 years to build (1945-86), the tower being completed long before the church's actual completion.

I couldn't resist trying on an authentic Viking Helmet , it was at this point Marina deserted me!

The figurines were incredibly lifelike with an incredible amount of detail going into them. They have hair on their arms, sweat on their brows and one figure even "breathes."

Guðmundur góði Benefactor of the People

We were heading for the Saga Museum, a sort of Madam Tussauds of Icelandic history.

The Saga Museum is situated in Perlan, a stunning building high on the hilltop giving some spectacular views across the city as we walked.

Ingólfu Arnarson - The First Icelander

It really was cold with the wind coming off the sea making it worse so it was a relief to get in the centre.
Reykjavik the capital and largest city of Iceland. Its latitude at 64°08' N makes it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói Bay. With a population of around 120,000. It is believed to be the location of the first permanent settlement in Iceland, which Ingólfur Arnarson is said to have established around 870.
The story goes that Ingólfur Arnarson decided the location of his settlement using a traditional Viking method; by dumping his high seat pillars in the ocean when he saw the coastline and then settled where the pillars came to shore.
Steam from hot springs in the region is supposed to have inspired Reykjavík's name, as Reykjavík loosely translates to "Bay of Smokes".

The City centre was only a short walk away so we took the scenic route via the waters edge. We soon came across the striking Sólfar or Sun Voyager Viking ship statue. Made of metal, this is amodernised version of the ships Vikings used to conquer a big part of the northern hemisphere. It is made by artist Jon Gunnar Arnason and looks dramatic with the Icelandic mountain background.

Architecturally poor,not a magnificent city,the weather can be rather grey,drab apartment blocks and a haphazard transport system. Not my words but the opening lines from Thomas Cooks pocket guide to Reykjavik. Hardly inspiring stuff until I remind myself what we are here for 'The Northern Lights'. The holy grail of things I want to see along with the giant stone heads on Easter Island of course.