Long overdue snail mail

So do you know this feeling when you just have no motivation for anything, whether its reading, writing letters, watching movies or writing a blog post… Well this is what happened to me in the last couple of weeks. Even though I did have technically quite a few things to do, they just didn’t happen. It’s not because I was working so much that I didn’t have the time, actually the opposite I was working a lot less than I liked to and had plenty of free time. I’m still not completely  through this phase but I think I am getting there. So I decided to finally write this post about recent snail mail activities happening around here.

I actually received four letters in the last two weeks but am pretty proud of myself that I did manage to reply to two letters as well. These letters came from all over but the most surprising is probably that the letter from my german penpal actually took a whole month to get here. I’m still wondering how that happened and whether it took a bit of wrong turn at some point…  Both times these letters actually arrived on the same day which I thought was very interesting. The first two letters came from USA and Ireland. The other two from Indonesia and Germany.

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Now as I said I did manage to get around to writing some replies. Both of these went out to the USA and I actually manage to match the stamps to the envelopes again. The letter with the seal (or is it a sea lion??? I’m actually not quite sure) envelope will actually look very different when it arrives because at the post office I was told that it is indeed a bit over 50 grams so we had to add 4 or 5 stamps for additional postage 😀 Really liked how that looked though I only just managed to keep the seal from being covered by stamps. The woman at the post office was great though and she even gave me stamps that matched the envelope 🙂

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Blue whale in Eyjafjördur

Yes you read that right, we actually saw a blue whale in the fjord last night. How crazy is that, I can still not believe that that actually happened! So just for anyone who doesn’t know it, blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) are actually the biggest animals on Earth. They can grow to be up to 30 m long (males: 29 and females:33m). I can’t say how big exactly the individual was we saw yesterday but it was sooo big. The Humpback whales look almost small compared to them 😀

The blows of the blue whales can be up to 12m high and let me tell you, you can see the difference. Just seeing the blow was mind-blowing!!! When we got close enough to actually see the body as well it was crazy. The back just wouldn’t end until you could finally see the dorsal fin and then there is still so much underneath the surface that you don’t even get to see. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m still really excited about the fact that I saw one. I woke up this morning feeling like I still couldn’t believe I actually saw a blue whale. Dream come true ❤

Before I leave you with some of my fotos (I couldn’t decide which ones to upload so there are quite a few), here are just a few more facts about blue whales. You usually see them just by themselves but it is possible to see them in pairs as well. The season for blue whales here in Iceland is during the month of June. It is thought that most blue whales migrate between tropical and polar waters.During the winter they go to the warm, tropical waters for breeding and the summer they spend in the colder waters where the feeding grounds are thought to be. Usually they travel quite slowly but if they need to they can swim at over 30km/h.

Happy Mail Day

Even though I’ve been back in Iceland for over a month now I only just yesterday actually send some postcards again. I know, it’s crazy and totally unnormal behaviour for me. But there are some good reasons, one mostly everyone I know and count as family/friends/penpals god a postcard from Iceland last year so I don’t feel in a rush to send them again. Reason number two is money (always that bad m-word), though postcards are fairly cheap (about 99 ISK =0,70 €), stamps are not. For anyone that is interested, it is about 1,30 for a card/letter within Europe and 1,70 for a card/letter outside of Europe. Now if you know me or have been reading my snailmail posts for a while you also know I can not say no to pretty stamps, which is the reason I caved and went to the post office to buy some if the Europa 2016 stamps that are already released in Iceland. I love the motto of this year (think green), but I don’t like that every country basically uses the same design. For the two cards I send off, I used the new Europa stamp (for within Europe as they are both going to Germany). Luckily they have a bit of a different design for cards/letters going outside of Europe, still the same motto but Ocean themed. I will show that to you in another post when I actually have a letter to send again.

But on to even more happy news, I got mail yesterday 🙂 It was a good mail day as I got two postcards from my mum as well as a letter from my penpal in Florida. My parents went to Bavaria and visited my sisters, but they also went to fly with a Zeppelin. On the way back they drove along the ‘Sissi-Street’. Now I’m a big fan of Sissi (also known as the Empress of Austria for most of the 19th century) and I was really happy to see that card. They visited a winter residence of Sissi and got to see an exhbition featuring lots of her dresses, including the one she is wearing on the postcard. I’m just a little bit jealous 🙂

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Arctic Lupines

Spring is coming to Iceland!!! Wait you are saying it is almost time for Summer, well I don’t care, here it is finally getting warmer and all the flowers are starting to bloom. One of my absolute favourites are the Arctic Lupines. Lupines are beautiful flowers in general and I just love the blue/purple coloration of the Arctic ones. Though they aren’t native to Iceland and sadly are taking over large parts of the vegetation here (Icelanders don’t like them), I can’t help but smile whenever I walk past one of the blankets of purple at the side of the road 🙂

Grimsey Island

I can’t believe how time passes so quickly at the moment, it feels like so much is happening and nothing really at all. I feel bad that I’m not posting as regularly as before but a big part of it was that I’ve been trying to figure out how to watermark my photos (well at least some of them) and I’ve just been working a lot the last two weeks as our work schedule was very chaotic (kind of from non-existent and from day to day). Hopefully I’ll be able to post on a more regular basis again now that everything is a bit more sorted. And I also know that a lot of the letters I wrote arrived so soon I should be able to post a bit more about snail-mail stuff as well.

But on to my latest adventures. The company I work for is not only doing Whale Watching tours this year but also offering tours to Grimsey Island crossing the Arctic Circle. Grimsey a small Island in the north of Iceland and is home to about 65 people. It is the only place in Iceland that crosses the Arctic Circle.  The island has been inhabited since the Vikings settled in Iceland and a legend ties the name back to a settler named ‘Grimur’.

Large numbers of sea birds are found nesting on Grimsey during the summer months. They nest on the high cliffs around the island, and the west coast houses one of the largest puffin colonies in Iceland. The only wild mammals that visit the island on rare occasions are polar bears, otherwise no other mammals can be found. In the past the cliffs of the island were a major source of food supply and each farmer owned specific parts of the cliffs for egg collection and bird hunting. On the east side the cliffs are between 60 and 100m high and collecting the eggs was very dangerous. The collector would be lowered down with a strong rope while 6-7 strong men were standing on top looking after the rope. The danger lay in falling rocks or the rope breaking along the rocky outcrops.

I am still super excited that I’m going to go there several times while working this season as I didn’t get around to visiting the island last year. The only ways to get there is taking a ferry (which I’ve been told is quite old and not the most comfortable way to get there), a plane or on the tours we are now doing.

Of course one of the main reasons for almost everyone to go there are the Puffins. If you don’t know what Puffins are, they are small birds with black and white plumage that often reminds people of penguins and big red/orange beak. Puffins spend the winters out at sea (seas of Newfoundland and Greenland) and come back to land for breeding over the summer. In Iceland they are generally found between April and September. About 60% of the world’s Atlantic Puffins have their breeding grounds in Iceland. Puffins are excellent swimmers and can dive to depth of 60 metres. They are a long lived species and are estimated to reach 20-25 years of age. They are very social birds and generally pair for life. The eggs are laid in nesting burrows which can be up to half a metre in length. Young Puffins leave the nests about 45 days after hatching to fly out to sea.