Wednesday, November 04, 1998 1:08 PM
part 10

We went to an ABBA show. Apparently, ABBA is very popular here, judging by the number of people who sang along to all of the words of every song. It's the first time that I've heard so many ABBA songs in more than 15 years. Still, it was fun.

Autumn has arrived, and with it the rich colours of the leaves of deciduous trees. It had rained all night, but as the dawn approached, the clouds receeded, so I went for a walk. There is a park nearby where I go often. The rain drops on the leaves looked like beads of mercury, until I touched one (I couldn't resist), and they slid down the surface of the leaves in the way that water does. I didn't want to disturb the scene any further, so I contented myself with just admiring the way that it looked. The undergrowth is full of tunnels, made probably by children, allowing access to their secret places in the bushes. I assume that's so, because it would be unseemly for me to actually crawl in to have a look. Besides, it was wet, I was dry, and I prefer to remain in that state. Then the rain returned, so I went home.

We went to the theatre, to see a play called "The Woman in Black". It's a ghost story, and the actors were good enough that I was able to follow the plot without understanding the entire dialogue. However, I was able to understand some of it, which is a vast improvement on the last theatre trip.

Winter is approaching. The small lake (I used to call it a pond, except that the word "pond" is very similar to the Icelandic word for "puddle") freezes overnight consistently now. It's funny to watch ducks walking on frozen water, because webbed feet don't grip ice very well.

We had our first snowfall yesterday. After a sunny week, the snow fell on Saturday morning, and remained there throughout the day. I went for a walk in the evening, and it appears that winter has arrived - the leaves have disappeared from small bushes, leaving only feeble sticks to fend against the wind. Tall trees with bare branches can appear threatening in the dark, but small bushes lack presence.

I went to the Virus Bulletin conference this year, in Münich. It was my first trip to Münich, but I didn't get to see very much, having to stay in the hotel while I was there. On the first night, there was a "tour" of Münich via tram, except that, being dark, there wasn't much to see. I suppose the focus of the tour was the German beer and pretzel bread being served on the tram. Neither of these appealed to me, so I spent the time squinting through the window anyway. It happened to be an informative tour, after all.

The view from my hotel room was pleasant, though limited to the top of some trees, however the view from the top floor is amazing. The mountains are visible in the distance, and when the sun is behind them, the effect is truly moving. Some of the older buildings have a similar appearance to what I have seen in Iceland. Perhaps some German architects came for a visit.

I was leaving on Saturday, and had two hours until I had to check out. I considered going for a walk in the large park that is next to the hotel, but thought better of it, imagining what would happen if I got lost... Then I thought about it some more, deciding that I was probably worrying for no reason - getting lost? That would never happen - and throwing away an opportunity that I might not get again for some time, so I went for a walk in the large park that is next to the hotel. And got lost. For two hours, less five minutes. It really is a very large park, but it was a pleasure to see. It has a lake in the centre, with streams from several directions, filling and emptying it. After a while of admiring the overall appearance, all of those streams look very similar. I headed in one direction, and eventually found the tram tracks that I recognised from the tour, so I followed them back to the hotel. I went to my room and no sooner had I closed the door, than someone was knocking on it to see if I had left yet!

I visited the botanical gardens that are near here. They are like an oasis in the middle of the city. Reykjavík has many parks and open spaces, but the botanical gardens are something else again - there is no traffic noise, and one is surrounded by trees and bushes, many of which I had never seen before. Birds are rare, but I saw several of them, and I learned some new, though probably useless, words, such as the words for "dog lily" and "forest".

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