Monday, December 17, 2012

Trip to Iceland - 2

Hi, This will be the final post on our trip to Iceland.  We stopped for lunch at a restaurant which had an attached cow barn.  Here is the view through a window from our table.

We had an opportunity to walk around the barn before lunch.  Naturally, we needed to be careful where we put our feet.

After lunch our first stop was Dimmuborgir.  This area has very interesting rock formation created by lava flows.

There were many families here when we visited.

They were drawn to visit the Yule Lads.  In Icelandic folk lore the Yule Lads are the offspring of two trolls.  Originally they were considered to be very mischievous and steal from mortals.  There are 13 of them and their names indicate how they steal and the pranks they play.  In more recent times they have become Iceland's Santa Clauses.  They arrive one at a time beginning 13 days before Christmas and depart in the same order, again one at a time, beginning on Christmas Day.

Three were present the day we visited and the local children really seemed to enjoy visiting with them.

Of the photos I took there this is definitely my favorite.

Iceland has a special breed of horses which came from the Shetland Islands, probably with the  original Viking settlers.  Although they are small, frequently the size of ponies, they have the proportions of a horse.

Next we stopped at Hverir, an areal of bubbling sulfurous mud pits and steaming vents.  Iceland is geothermally active and most of the heat and hot water, as well as a good deal of the electricity consumed in the country comes from geothermal sources.

The Myvatn Nature baths was our final stop.  From the entrance to the baths can be seen evidence of the continental rift between the North American and Eurasion plates.  The rift caused the cleft in the mountain shown below.

People bathe in the geothermal pools year round.  One couple from our group took a dip.  I don't like cold and was not about to go from the bath house to the pool in freezing weather with just a swim suit on.

We had a second opportunity to view the Northern Lights as we had not seen them on our first attempt.  This time we did see them.  However, they were a very pale green.  When we were on the ground they looked like clouds lit up by city lights.  However, on the bus returning to our hotel we saw them again and this time they pulsed and rapidly changed shape.  They were never bright enough to get photos with out a better camera and tripod.

On our return to Reykavik we took another walk around downtown.  The Salvation Army maintains a hostel here where many younger people visiting the city stay.

Our hotel in Reykavik had these very interesting sculptures in the lobby and

a spiral staircase.

We very much enjoyed our visit to Iceland.  We found the sites we visited interesting and the people very friendly.  Almost everybody speaks some English and most speak it very well.  Thanks for looking.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Trip to Iceland - 1

Hi, My wife and I returned from Iceland on Tuesday 12/11 after spending four nights and five days there.  We began our trip on 12/6 with a flight from Washington Dulles International Airport to Keflavik Airport about 45 minutes from Iceland's main city and capital, Reykavik.

Upon our arrival we checked into our hotel, had breakfast and took a nap.  On waking up about 12:30 PM we got our act together and headed downtown.  The hotel provided free tickets for the local transit buses.

One of the first things we spotted was this chopper practicing rescues over the harbor.
We then continued along the main shopping street.  Off the street was a play area for children.  The walls of the surrounding buildings were covered with graffiti.

Street decoration provided a nice frame for a modern church on a hill.

This statue was outside a jewelry store.

Another jewelry store had some interesting displays in its window, including this reindeer.

The next day we flew up north, to the town of Akuryeri, landing about 9:40 AM.  Our aircraft is shown below.  Dawn begins about 10:30 AM in these latitudes and dusk is about 3:30 PM.  When the sun does shine, it is low in the southern sky.  However, it was cloudy during most of our stay in Iceland.

After checking into our hotel we set out for a walk around town.  Our hotel was up a hill from the main part of town and this church was photographed on the way down,

as was this large fishing trawler.  It did not move during the 2 days we spent in town.

My wife, Ruthe, was very interested in seeing and photographing some of the older homes so we headed in that direction.

The streets and sidewalks were mostly snow covered with ice underneath.  Some walks were treated with cinders.  Fortunately, neither of us fell.

When originally constructed the porch here was part of the pavement along the waterfront as the the water in the fjord on which Akuryeri is located came up to where the sign is in the picture.

On our return to the main part of town we heard singing and quickly spotted these three Santas singing Christmas Carols in Icelandic on a balcony.

That evening we went out looking for the Northern Lights.  While we did not see them, I was able to photograph this very picturesque church.

We spent the entire next day on a tour of the local area.  Our first stop was Godafoss Falls.  The ground here was particularly treacherous as under a very thin layer of snow was ice.

Looking down river on the left is a local restaurant and souvenir shop we went to next.

From the falls we journied to Lake Myvatn and circled the lake.  Because there were only six of us in the van we were able to stop wherever we desired for photos.

I'll cover the remainder of the trip in the next post.  Thanks for looking.