Iceland

I wanted to go somewhere different this year and decided on Iceland. I had planned to go in the summer (I went during the end of April, beginning of May), but work intervened - have to pay for these trips some way! I didn't have to use my winter coat until I was stopped by a snowstorm from heading up north (it was a white-out situation - most of the time I could only see a few feet in front of my car, sometimes nothing at all!) The proprietor of the cottages where I had planned to stay (www.heimsnet.is/cottages) was kind enough to keep me alerted to the weather and unfortunately I never made it to the north this trip! I was surprised by how windy Iceland was in some areas. I brought my video camera, which I'm not very good at using anyway, and some scenes are very shaky and my narration can't be heard over the wind. The weather was great in the south, I even sat out on a black sand beach for a while enjoying the crashing of the waves against the rocks.

Skaftafell National Park is in the southeast of Iceland. The visitors Center will provide you with a map to follow the many trails, along with the time that each is expected to take. There are campsites within the park and it is beautiful - even in early spring. This is one of the waterfalls - Svartifoss - with its interesting natural basalt columns. You can also walk a level walkway to the glacier Vatnajökull.


This is farmland in the southern part of Iceland. Most of the crops appeared to be hay. The animals are usually sheep or the strong, compact horses for which Iceland is known, though I did see some cows. I liked this view because of the way the mountains make the houses look like toys! It's difficult to capture the hugeness of the mountains on film.


This is the area I traveled to after being thwarted in my attempts to go north. The southern coast was mostly sunny and warm. This is the town of Vik, where I stayed while exploring the southern coast. I'm standing at the hillside cemetery - I was surprised to find it up there. I climbed up to the top of the mountain in this picture, you can drive up a rough gravel road if you have an SUV (which I didn't.) To the right of this picture is a somewhat less steep grassy slope. Climbing up wasn't so bad, but climbing down with my bad knees was horrible. So I actually sat and slid down about half of the way on the thick grass! It may have looked silly - but it felt better and was fun. The cliffs are favorite resting spots for birds, and tower above the black sand beach. The black rocks at the bottom of the cliff are the Reynisdrangur.


This is Skógafoss - it is between Vik and Reykjavik near the town of Skógar. There's a legend that says a man named Ţrasi - an early settler - hid a treasure chest behind it. It's never been found. If you want to get close to the waterfall, be prepared to get wet - it ends in a big cloud of mist at the bottom!


Statue of Iceland's first settler - Ingólfur Arnarson. Ingólfur came to Iceland from Norway with his family, cattle, and slaves. He called the place he settled Reykjavik, which means Smoky Bay. The "smoke" he saw rising was most likely steam from the geothermal springs which today heat the homes in Reykjavik - making it almost pollution free. The statue was done by Einar Jónsson. There are several more of Einar's fantastic statuary outside the museum devoted to him in Reykjavik.


The guidebook I was using thought this stylized Viking ship sculpture looked like a big bug. I thought it looked pretty cool. The sculpture is named SunCraft and is by Jón Gunnar Árnason. Reykavik has many interesting sculptures around the city.


This is a very common scene around Iceland. It's old lava flows covered by moss. In some places it goes on as far as the eye can see. I walked a little on it - it's a weird feeling - kind of spongy.


This is a geothermal area on the Reykjanes Peninsula. You can walk up and over naturally boiling water and boiling mud. The pictures I took closer to the spring showed mostly just steam. It smells strongly of sulfur here. In one part of the boardwalk, there is boiling water on one side, and cold water coming from the mountain on the other side.


At the end of Reykjanesviti road, there is the oldest lighthouse in Iceland - dating from 1878. The lighthouse overlooks this impressive rocky shoreline and its crashing waves. The shore is starkly beautiful. There is a nearby cliff that can be climbed but with the high winds, I didn't want to risk falling!


If you've looked at my other pages, you'll know I love mountains. Iceland has many - many that aren't really in ranges but stand alone. They are snow-capped, bare, mossy, glacier-covered, or volcanic.


In Ţingvellir National Park can be seen the rift where the European and North American tectonic plates are pulling apart. The park is filled with natural attractions. The Spöngin area is a very pretty area to walk around in and appreciate the beauty of the Park.


 

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