Thursday, August 7, 2008

Summer kayaking in Europe

Summer 2008 for us began in May. After the Vogalonga event in Venice we stayed on for another week to run classes and for the first Italian Sea Kayak symposium run by Bibionekayak a short distance from Venice; a perfect combination for a paddling and sightseeing visit to the Venice region.

Then we flew north to Stockholm Sweden, and PampasKajak, to teach classes in the city... below, water is flowing at the Strommen...

and to Bergen Norway to drop in on the Njord Sea Kayak Symposium....

(Barry (holding the Njord t-shirt) circumnavigated New Zealand this year with Justine Curvingen (image above right/front)
Here there is always a fun crowd, who paddle all day, eat, watch the presentations then dance to a live band until 3 in the morning.... (it's still light... see below...) before getting up to do it all over again!

Early next morning... we caught the ferry to the Faeroe Islands.

Some say the Faeroes were in Egypt... but they actually lie mid-way between Scotland and Iceland and despite having very little tidal range, they offer spectacular tidal rapids between the islands and have towering basalt sea cliffs with millions of nesting sea birds. While the ferry rested in its home port of Torshavn we spent the day roaming the tiny capital, and the surrounding area. I enjoy seeing the turf roofs on the old houses, and on the new hotels. What a great way to hold the roofs against winter storms, to soundproof and insulate in one living layer that can be grazed through the summer by sheep....

Iceland was our next stop...

Having circled Iceland by kayak with Geoff Hunter in 1977 I was invited back last year to give a 30th anniversary presentation and classes at the Eric the Red symposium. Sadly I was already booked for that time but readily agreed to come this year. Stenni (who has for years run kayaking and adventure courses in Iceland) and Ari (one of the first Icelandic paddlers) and the other enthusiasts on the east coast organized a really fun event, with classes for all ages. There were rolling classes in the open air swimming pool overlooking the fjord, skills classes and short trips in the fjord.....

and a helicopter rescue practice offering the opportunity to paddle in strong winds... Kristin was hoisted from a raft of kayaks into the helicopter...

Ari, one of the first Icelandic kayakers, designed from his own ideas then built the skin-on-frame kayak shown above as a teenager.

I met his father (below) in the 1980's when I returned to kayak the east coast with a group from UK.

(Freja Hoffmeister kayak rolling in the fjord.)

We joined an evening paddle to overnight at a haunted house near an eider nesting area,

...and flew next day to Rekjavik. Here is a city where the shops used to close if the weather was sunny... we had sunny and calm weather for our class and presentation at Sportbudin
the place to go if you want to try kayaking in the Reykjavik area.

I love Iceland, and this was my first opportunity to teach skills and to tell the story of out 1977 trip to Icelanders in Iceland. It made me happy to be back and to show Kristin a place I love.

Back in Seattle; the "sunny NW" we squeezed in trips to Cape Flattery, and to the Oregon coast, Deception Pass and Portland, partied for Kristin's birthday, collected the first DoubleShots to arrive in USA and then... away again to Sweden.