Iceland Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
May 17th, 2003 – by: rosemary_mcandrew
Our first sight of Iceland from the plane looked like we were landing on the moon. Much of the land is covered in gnarled volcanic rock, covered with moss and lichen. There are no trees in much of the country.
We stayed in a guesthouse in the capital, Reykjavik for 4 nights. Despite the inhospitable and wild countryside, Iceland is remarkably civilised and has a high standard of living. A lot of people are Nordic in origin, so there are a lot of blonde, gorgeous Scandavian types. The people are also very hip and stylish, dancing the nights away in all the 'in' nightspots.
Car hire is relatively expensive in Iceland - around twice the cost of hire in Britain. However there were a lot of sights that we wanted to see, which meant that we would have had to go on 2 or 3 separate tours. Seeing how much I love bus tours, and also, seeing how much they were charging for these tours, hiring a care seemed to make the most sense.
Our first stop was the 'Blue Lagoon'. This is a set of thermal lakes right in the middle of the above mentioned 'moonscape'. The water is a bright aquamarine blue due to the high mineral content. The temperature is about 39 degrees with steam rising off the water.
I have heard conflicting reports on the actual source of the water. The Lonely Planet guide says that is the effluent of the nearby power plant (but then again they also say that the water is 20 degrees which makes you wonder whether they actually went there!) I've also heard that it is just a natural thermal pool, and the power plant harnesses its energy and minerals.
It was quite a surreal experience to be in the water in such a barren landscape, with the smoke from the power plant rising in the air.
After we had finished at the Blue Lagoon, we made our way to Geyser, which is an area of ..... geysers. All other geysers in the world are apparently named after the ones here. It was quite interesting with lots of boiling water all around. They blow their tops every so often. Ther is one there though, which spurts approximately every 8 minutes, so all around people are watching this bubbling water, cameras a-ready.
About 10km from Geyser there is a huge waterfall called Gullfoss. It was very spectacular and I was amazed at just how powerful it was. If anyone fell into that water, they would be history without a doubt. Because all of the water in the air, there appears to be a continuous rainbow over the falls.
The next day we were going to go to either a huge glacier in the south of the country or up north to the volcano Snaelfus which is well known as being the volcano in Jules Verne's 'journey to the centre of the earth'. Either sounded good so we flipped a coin. Fish one (tails), so we went to the glacier. On the way we stopped at a small fishing village by the sea. We went for a walk along the beach which had black sand. There was nobody else around - only about 400 seagulls. It was very wild, cold, and windy and we really did feel like we were at the end of the earth.
AFter that we went in search of the glacier. We had to take our little car down a rough dirt road. I was nervous about the windscreen and our hefty insurance excess. We hiked though a valley along the river that was coming from the glacier. We really needed to cross the river, and although ir wasn't overly wide or wild, there weren't enough rocks to cross it. It was a situation where we felt we shouldn't mess with the forces of nature, as the river was moving extremely quickly and we could have easily been washed away (it would have been fun in a raft though). It started to rain quite heavily, but luckily, this time, we were prepared.
We ended up driving a bit further down the road and got to another part of the glacier which was more accessible. It was quite amazing standing in front of a massive block of ice, 1000m thick in some areas, and stretching over an area of several hundred square metres.
We saw a couple of people walking on top of it, which you can do if you have the right shoes, and also know what you are doing. If you step on a thin layer of ice, you could fall into a crevice which could be very deep. The sames goes for hiking in some parts of Iceland. Because of the island's volcanic activity, there are many large fissures - some very deep - and some disguised by a thin covering of moss. There are many marked trails but going off them is done at your own risk.
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