I know I am writing somewhat out of sync here. Where are my posts on Atlanta, Warsaw and Croatia? How can I just skip ahead to Iceland, do the others not matter as much? Of course they do, and they deserve to be written up fully (though I’d like to find a way that isn’t so much of a “trip report” type post.)
Iceland seems a good time to post because I am also looking ahead to SCAA in Minneapolis. I am part of a team of bloggers (I have never been called that before, I don’t know how I feel about it) covering all aspects of the SCAA conference at the SCAA Blog. I am very excited! If people have specific requests of what they would like to see, or read about, then let me know. I am also thinking of cross posting stuff on here but I am not sure it is necessary. (thoughts?)
Anyway – Iceland!
Expectations were high, mostly because all the Icelandic coffee people I know are awesome. Anette and I arrived and had a quick snoop around town before heading over to Adi’s birthday at the newest Kaffitar (which is beautiful and unlike any coffee shop in London) and then over to the venue to have a quick look.
The morning callibration was at the Tea & Coffee training room, and as Brent Fortune was also judging with us it was a nice chance to discuss rules, regs, judges training and all (though I don’t envy the work Brent and others are doing in the run up to the USBC).
Most competitions are pretty hectic to judge, and a little frustrating because it is hotel, exhibition centre (which all look the same) then restaurant, then back to hotel to try and sleep. With less competitors we got to enjoy things a bit more.
After the first day’s competitors we all piled into a couple of cars and headed East into Iceland. Instead of being all touristy and going to the Blue Lagoon, Asa took us to a little place in the middle of nowhere. I really mean nowhere, I have no idea how you remember how to get there. But there, in the middle of a barren landscape was a hole filled with flowing hot water. Very hot water – I quickly got too hot sat in it, which is impressive considering how cool the air was.
It was also a chance to drive through more of the countryside. Lots of people say Iceland looks like the moon (me included) but it really is strikingly unlike anywhere else I have been. Beautiful though.
After the hot springs we headed over to Gullfoss, a big – but very,very cold, waterfall. We would have stayed and looked longer but the spray from the falls chilled us all very quickly and despite being still very light it was getting on for 9pm so we headed back to Reykjavik. Instead of a restaurant it was a pleasant change to be entertained at Unnsteinn’s apartment. It felt lovely and very sociable, and it is nice to be able to relax.
Now – back the competition. What I really liked is that each day started with a “guinea pig” to help callibrate the judges. Sonja Grant kicked things off with a Christmas theme, and on successive days we had a gay theme and an 80s theme. Competition is still fun in Iceland!
After the latte art competition (congrats to Jonina!) the 12 semifinalists were whittled down to 6 for the finals. Congrats to Palmar on winning the championship, he really stepped it up between semis and finals, and also congrats to Harpa who had given a great performance in the semis and picked up the best espresso, best capp and best signature drink. I had a lot of fun judging, as did Anette, and it was great to see lots of people again. If we hadn’t been traveling and working so much then perhaps we would have had the stamina to keep up with the locals on the last night but Anette and I gave in a few good hours before the rest.
I hope to go back, I really liked Iceland and thanks again to everyone who hosted us and made us feel very welcome.
But tomorrow it is back on a plane and off to SCAA. The next posts will all be here.