To continue my recount of Iceland sights. We went to the Krafla, the site of sulfur and brimstone among frozen craters, literally.
The steam is perpetual, yet just a few feet away snow covers the land and the ropes that you see on the picture are frozen solid.
You can actually feel the heat and although the camera could not take a more detailed picture, the mud just beneath is boiling at such high temperature that a brick-sized ice piece will dissolve in less then a minute when thrown in.
As you can see on the below image, the bright yellow spot on the snow is not a by-product of some animal's metabolism, but pure sulfur. This area used to be mined for brimstone in the Middle ages, although it is abandoned now and serves as a tourist attraction.
As you can imagine, due to the sulfur the air is not the most pleasant and unfortunately the steam, despite being very impressive is not that good for the camera so I do not have a lot of images of this particular spot.
Next, we stopped off at the hotel so I could check in, the rest of the group only flew in for a day tour and were due back to Reykjavik later that evening.
This is my room.
All the furniture is handmade out of mahogany and the view from outside my window - judge for yourself:
The frozen expanse between the two craters is Lake Myvatn, on the shore of which the hotel stands. During winter the lake is frozen solid and we took a spin on the frozen surface in our minivan. This is more or less where we started with the spin and ended up a few km later after we started spinning. It was FUN!
We drove around a bit more - now that I remember, we went to the lava park after I checked in, but when I was dropped off at the hotel we took a spin at the lake again. And it was still fun although we were tired enough to feel a little dizzy, except for the Australian firefighter of course.
My hotel, a haven to a weary traveller after a long 4x4 ride!
My vacation package included dinner, which introduced me to the local rye bread. The bread is baked by burying the containers which contain the dough (usually the containers are in a large drum from the washing machine) and left in hot earth for 24 hours. The bread did not taste too badly, but I did find it a bit too sweet for eating with a main dish.
Another nice thing about the hotel - I could see the Northern Lights from my window, unfortunately, my camera just does not take anything worth posting at night. They were rather pretty.
This is the view from my hotel room in the morning - a person could get used to this kind of life:)
After breakfast, where I had kiwi fruit and traditional Icelandic herring, I booked a trip to go and try out this cool thing involving snowmobiles.
More pictures in the next post.
To pick up where my last post about Iceland ended. After stopping to feed the horses we were driven to a lava park. This is a clear example of Icelandic volcanic past. Of course, we were treated to both geological explanation - which I cannot remember well enough to recount here- and the more folksy version. In Icelandic folklore, trolls once were numerous in Iceland. And about a thousand years ago, almost all of them went to visit a troll that lived so far away, that he was very lonely for fellow troll company. Upon arrival, they had an incredible party that lasted all night, but they had so much fun during the party (and alcohol) that they forgot to retreat underground when the sun came up. As per legend, they turned to stone, forever immobolized in their last moments of revelry. That is a far more livelier explanation for the lava park then the actual scientific one:)
The park is enormous, and about 25 years ago, a French gentelamn has gotten lost for more then 20 hours, but if we keep in contact with the guide, the chances of getting lost are almost non-existent.
Personally, the park has not really impressed me that much. Saw some impressive scenery later though.
Then, we were off to the place where the two plates, American and Eurasian meet, with a short excursion towards the cave where the hot baths used to be.
This is not the best picture one can take, but essentially, the caves house hot springs and it was a popular bathing spot for the local populace. Unfortunately, after the volcanic eruption over 20 yers ago in the area, the water is too hot to bathe in.
Here is the split, that divides the plates. Considering the fact that my hotel stands on the American plate, one could say I've been to the continent without going through the pesky customs officials.
Let's just say you do not want to fall down there:)
On the way to see the mud pits, we saw the evidence of how truly hot Iceland is underground. Since most people use geo-thermal water, holes are drilled and generators are placed to make use of the steam power. The perfect example of hot steam rising.
This hole was drilled about 2 years ago, unfortunately, they cannot utilize it. The power of the steam is too much for the current equipment, that is on hand, to use. They are waiting for more powerful equipment, the goverment has to give aproval to buy. Beaurocracy is everywhere:) This is the hole really up close.
Since we were so close, it is amazing how powerful nature really is.
So, more views from the top.
A frozen crater, covered in ice on top, but boiling in the bottom under the ground. The expression of "Hell freezes over" has come to mind more then once:)
And more scenery featuring mud pits, they may look cold, but they are boiling.
Next stop - Krapla and sulphurous boiling mud. It looks better on camera, I swear!
Yes, I am a dreadful, lazy person, but I have an excuse, sort of - work has been busy.
So without further ado, my recount of a short trip to Iceland.
NB: All pictures are behind the cut except the first one, which is a link. Almost all of them are 1024x768. I had taken a few with the slightly higher resolution of 1600x1200, but most should be 1024x768. That is why I did not specify the image size in the info box.
There is only one flight from Copenhagen to Reykjavik on Saturday. The trip is only 3 hours long, but as a side note, I'd like to gush about Air Iceland a bit. I have been traveling fairly extensively recently and unfortunately, work does not allow me to take higher then economy class for European flights. However, everyone knows economy flights, no leg room, no side room and a privledge to sit VERY closely to a total stranger for several hours. To my surprise, there was actually quite a bit more leg room then in any other airline I have flown before and I have flown quite a few now. Perhaps. not enough for a very tall person, but certainly more comfortable.
Anyhow, The airport, Keflavik is about an hour away from the city. The bus ride introduced me to the beautiful frozen landscapes of Iceland. Unfortunately, it was slowly getting dark and one thing my camera does not do well is taking pictures in the dark, even with the night-mode enabled.
view from the hotel
The hotel is near the central street, however opposite the hotel, is an old-style bookshop. You know the ones, full of books crowding the small space, remeniscent of the 70's spy novel for agent-to-agent meetup. It is run by an elderly gentelman, who barely spoke English.
Down the road from the hotel, the view is breathtaking and my camera simply cannot do it justice.
Still down the road, the view of the harbour.
The next day, I flew down to Akureyri, the most northern town in Iceland. Whilst on the plane, I managed to snatch a few pics of the ground below.
I did a few more snapshots until we landed here, in the tiny airport on this runway.
We were met by the tour guide, who after announcing his long name (Icelanders still keep to the old tradition of naming and thus do not have surnames, but rather use patronymics), but pronounced that we can call him Rabie. During the short trip around town (with a population of only 18 000 people it is not very big) he amused us with the stories about the police department - 5 guys needed during the shift, 4 to play cards and 1 to make coffee - and of the fire department - 3 guys needed, call the spare guy from the police shift to have 4 hands to play cards - he finally took us towards the nature of the Northern part of Iceland. I thought Iceland was a very pretty place - I was wrong, it is magnificent!
The first photo stop of the day was the Waterfall of the Gods. Legend has it, that when Iceland has accepted Christianity in the 10th century, one of the elders who was instrumental in the parliament decisions, came home and threw the pagan idol statuettes into this waterfall.
So to this day it is known as Waterfall of the Gods, and due to cold and hot springs underneath, does not fully freeze.
Our next stop, was at a forest, which had a lake with volcanic structures peaking out. It is a popular spot during summer.
The forest is really pretty in wintertime and we have been assured that in summer it's breathtaking.
Can you imagine this place in summer, in full bloom?
On the way to another photo stop, I got to see some more mountains. I really like the mountains, I can snap pictures of them all day.
On the way to the lava park, we stopped off to feed a few Icelandic horses. They are a very popular breed, a very hardy animal that due to isolation of Iceland, remained bred true as opposed to other European breeds. It is docile and has 5 gaits instead of the usual 4. These were very friendly horses, greedy for the bread we gave them.
I think this is the end for this post due to the heavy pic spam I just bestowed. Next post about Iceland - Lava park trolls!
Couple of things I have discovered about this trip:
- Losing weight is still a priority
- Horseriding is not something that I can fully admit that I love - maybe I´m too old to get hooked
- I love snowmobiles and racing across a frozen mountain range at 100km/h and falling off one (still doing 100km/h) does not hurt, well, maybe the ego.
P.S. Whale skeletons are really, realy big!
Reykjavik is lovely, Iceland so far is beautiful. I´ll be trying to take as many pictures as I can.
Now, if only the travel agent will send me the documents they so kindly forgot to the hotel, this tiome tomorrow I+ll be viewing Aurora Borealis!