I arrived mid-afternoon yesterday (Saturday), and by the time I reached my hotel I already had two new travel buddies- Helen and Melonie. Helen is Canadian, and I met her at Charles de Gaulle, where we discovered that we had the exact same itinerary. Exact. As in, flying both in and out of Iceland on the same flights. Helen then met Melonie on the bus from the airport into Reykjavik. Melonie is a med student in Munich, here on holiday.
|The craziness that I lugged all around Paris and Reykjavic. Heavy and awkward, but impressively small, considering that I lived out of the contents for 5 months.|
First things first, we met up for dinner at a famous Hamburger Factory. This is where Gorbachev and Reagan ate after negotiating the end of the Cold War, apparently:
|The hamburger place keeps a running tally of how many Icelanders there are. It was only 319,321 when we got there. How exciting! Though it does raise the awkward question of what they do when an Icelander dies....|
|You can see the picture of Reagan and co.|
I tried a cheesecake made out of an Icelandic specialty, skyr, a sort of yogurt-cheese thing. It was actually quite good! While at dinner, we made plans to take a Golden Circle tour the next day (today). It would take us around to geysers and various other geothermal and geological treats.
It required getting up far too early this morning (compounded by the fact that I forgot to adjust my alarm to the new time zone, so it went off at 5:30 Islandic time instead of 7:30), but we were off!
|Geothermal electricity generators, capturing the steam that rises from under the surface|
|Lava field! Now covered in some sort of moss/peat/lichen type vegetation.|
Our first stop was in a little town famed for its greenhouses about 30 minutes out of Reykjavik. It's over an area with a particularly significant amount of underground heating, I gather, and so residents started to put up greenhouses to see what they could grow, and it just sort of expanded and now the University of Horticulture is there, and it's a whole big thing.
|Large puffin in the tourist greenhouse|
The next major stop was the Gullfoss Waterfall. Gorgeous....
We then made our way over to the Geyser area. As it turns out, "geysir" is actually the Icelandic name for one particular steaming/erupting hot spring, which became so popular and well known that now almost every single other language uses the name to describe the phenomenon. Geyser no longer erupts without urging (apparently you can coax an eruption from a geyser by pouring soap in it. Not recommended for home experimentation!) unless an earthquake has happened quite recently, but it's neighbor Strokkur goes off every 6-8 minutes, with a really intriguing sort of dome thing in the first few seconds.
|Continuing on our way...|
|Completely random statue at the Geyser place|
|It had to be done|
|I didn't quite get the dome in a picture, but here is Strokkur starting...|
|...going for it...|
|....drifting away in a cloud of steam....|
|...and water rushing back in to fill the crater.|
|Fissure that is part of the Mid-Atlantic Rift and the drifting apart of the tectonic plates.|
|Lake that is in large part a result of the sinking of the land over the Mid-Atlantic Rift|
|If you accept the extremely simplified version of the geology, I am standing in the Mid-Atlantic Rift here, between the Eurasian and American plates.|
Sadly, Melonie is leaving in the morning, but Helen and I booked our tickets for the famous Blue Lagoon for tomorrow afternoon, and will spend the rest of the day journeying about Reykjavik. I've heard great things about both!
Talk to you soon!