Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Iceland Part 1

A  couple of weeks ago Lucia and I went to Iceland for a quick visit. I'd been there many times for work but never did more than work and saw almost nothing in terms of touristy stuff. I'd always wanted to come back and give the camera a workout so when the opportunity presented itself , off we went.

I would be hard pressed to pick another place more unlike Brazil and Lucia was suitably impressed.
The capital Reykjavik is the county's biggest city with a population of 120,000(there are circa 300,000 on the Island). Its a nice compact place.
Small but perfectly formed and VERY expensive.
Its got a reputation of being a party town but the price of beer (roughly $12 a pint) makes me pretty sceptical. As we were there in late June, the sun stays up well past midnight and that's a bit odd when you're trying to bed down for the night. 

Icelandic is a Germanic language descendant from old Norse as is most Scandinavian languages.
The difference is it has preserved much of its old Norse roots with very few words borrowed from other languages.
Which means.its as close to what the Vikings spoke as you can get.
Viking Island. Nice ring to it.
Whale is on the menu  in Iceland.
The landscape in Iceland is dramatic and changes depending how close you are to the numerous volcanoes..
 Lava fields surrounding the volcanoes are like a  moonscape, barren and otherworldly.
An hour later you find yourself in green farmlands and a whole different climate.
We drove around for three days and on one side trip we came across this unlikely sight in the middle of nowhere.
There must be a story behind an Ethiopian restaurant in the middle of rural Iceland.
Reality is often stranger than fiction.
Icelandic horses bred for toughness are a feature at the side of the road all over the island .
The two Mid-Atlantic plates run through Iceland and their constant grinding collision has created dramatic evidence of natures violence.

This little guy above and below decided I was far to close to his nest which was somewhere on the ground in the vicinity. He was soon joined by 5 or 6 more and they dove and screeched at me until I beat a retreat. I've never been attacked by birds before and though I was outwardly laughing, inside I was rattled by how close each subsequent swoop was. 
Don't mess with Viking birds is the lesson.  
We rented a car and did the "Golden Circle Tour" which most tourists do on board a bus. I recommend the car on your own as you can spend as little or as long as you want at each place, but more importantly get off the beaten track and experience the wild countryside. " Getting lost" is as much fun as anything else as there's always something to see.
Throughout the Island there are bubbling reminders that this is one of the most active geological places on earth. More on this in a later post.

A good portion of the Island is a moonscape of lava fields, some of which is covered by an ash coloured lichen. Its soft  leaving an impression when you pass. Given our footprints were the only ones we saw, its safe to say we wandered in places rarely trodden. That's a tad dramatic but  is in keeping with the wild isolated vibe much of Iceland gives off.
I haven't  shown any of the classic tourist sites today but will does so in rapid succession in the coming three posts. Geysers, waterfalls and the Blue Lagoon are all in the queue and coming soon. I've been in Canada this past week ( via NYC) and have a few bits and pieces which I'll put up after I'm finished with Iceland.
I also turned 50 this last week......(Yikes!)
Stay well everyone.

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