OUTSIDE TOWN / THE INTERIOR : Iceland, June 22nd - June 24th, 2004
Back of the whale watching boat.. which journeyed just outside Reykjavik. Overall, a bit of a dud. Just two whale sightings and an island of puffins you really couldn't see.
Things greatly improved when I started the full Interior tour the morning of June 23rd. Here's a typical site into the Icelandic flatlands
This site is known as Þingvellir, the initial site of Icelandic parliament. Now just a historic site. It's also the site of lake Þingvallavatn. It's also where the North American and European tectonic plates drift apart. Obviously a very geologically active site. The water pics at the bottom show off how clear it is, via the bright green abd blue algea and huge floor of coins tossed into it. Very bottom pic is an actual lava tube that has since cooled down. The one above shows off more recently cooled lava, now obviousy rock
Icelandic horses. (Note: the Interior is filled with tons and tons of gnats. Thankfully, none of them actually bite, or else I'd be extremely miserable.)
Probably the most touristy thing that's part of any Golden Circle tour: Geysir -- the well known geyser and surrounding ones in Iceland. Geysir itself is rather dormant and only lets loose twice a day. Its little brother, Strokkur, on the other hand, let's loose every five minutes. There's an on and off shot below.. as well as some other hot spring pics. (And yup, that subtle sulfuric aroma is pretty strong if you don't get out of Strokkur's wrath.). None of this is engineered. This is all happening naturally.
The Second most touristy thing is the mighty falls of Gullfoss.
A great pic of some horses walking in the distance with the mighty glacier we were about to visit whiting out the background behind the virga of the clouds.
Approaching the glacier
Here it is. Langjökull -- the second largest glacier in the world. (The largest glacier in the world is on the eastern side of the country -- Vatnajökull -- and it is eight times bigger). But just to gauge the size of this glacier compared to most other glaciers in the world that reside in the cracks of mountains... it would have taken this heavy four wheel jeep 6 hours to maybe get halfway across the glacier. It's a desert glacier, and the source of possibly the cleanest water in the world. The timing was perfect, because, despite the rough looking skylines near the mountains behind, there were no winds and it was just above freezing -- yet, it felt warmer than that. When people talk about the theoretical relative level of achieving a silent atmosphere, this was it. 0 dB. Aside from myself, the guide, and the other two fellow tourists shuffling around the ice and talking, it was purely silent. It wasn't haunting. It felt like.. well... heaven. Storybook heaven. Perhaps real heaven, if one exists.
Most of the panorama was dominated by white fields of ice with white clouds in the background. There was one notable big block of black ice where we parked. (This is not a rock.. this was black ice.) Around it was a very small gentle stream of glacier water. It was mineral free and the purest you could get. There's one pic that shows a weird zig-zag of ice cracks with a little hint of the stream below flowing on the black ice below it. Also there's a shot of the smaller bits of black ice behind the bigger block. And there's one of myself, the jeep, and the other folks on the glacier.
In brief, I can now say with a clear conscience, "we've landed [beep] *roger*"
The weather just started to get really pissy around this time, so we scurried off to Kerið, a crater lake, which was apparently the site of a Bjork concert, where she drifted upon a raft and performed to people situated above and all around. (Note: this was proudly pointed out by the tour guide.)
It was pretty much the end of the tour at that point, but the Langjökull glacier was worth it alone.
The next day -- hours before I was to leave to NYC -- I got to wade in the artificial but still damn great Blue Lagoon, located just 15 minutes away from the airport (and much further away from Reykjavik.) The weather has to be bad for you to appreciate it.. and it was. Pissy, just above freezing, rain. Usually it's your head that feels warm and your body that feels cold when you enter a swimming pool. This was the opposite, and the initial dip messed with my mind initially. These photos were taken well after my soaking in the "lagoon" for 90 minutes. There is one shot behind the Blue Lagoon that showcases the horizon of lichen & moss filled black rocks -- just to show how isolated this place is.
That's it for photos for the trip. Hope you enjoyed them.