Iceland

My dad and i traveled to Reykjavik Iceland during a short break off of school. Unfortunately this meant    we only had 4 days in Iceland itself but for such a short time we managed to do quite a lot and a lot of what we did was completely new to me. On the first day we came there we settled into our hotel and went out to get dinner. Following my dads travel guide, we ended up in a small building right by the water which sold primarily seafood. It was a very small quaint fishing place littered with old fishing supplies and the obligatory Coca cola fridge filled with modern soft drinks. We sat on small cushioned benches and wooden tables. It was all very tight but that just added to the feel of the place which can only be described by the dutch word “gezellig”.  Atmospheric would be the closest relative in this situation. We ended up eating a soup of sorts it was either a lobster, shrimp, crab soup. Which one i frankly cannot remember but it was not my thing in the first place. What i was curious to try however was the minke whale, which was served on a stick much like you would eat sate.  The taste was interesting though not entirely unusual, it was almost like salty beef. Something i would not mind having again, though nothing i would kill to have again.

Minke Whale

Day 1

The next day it was time to explore the rest of Iceland, or at least a small part of it outside of its capital city. We took a tour group of sorts in a vehicle that can only be described as a monster truck. It was one of those trucks made especially for traveling over snow, the tires if I’m not mistaken could deflate at the push of a button allowing for better traction. This of course did not prevent us from slipping and sliding all over the place though overall we managed to do quite well for what was quite difficult terrain. The conditions of course were not much better. I wont go as far as to say it was a snow storm but we had strong winds and something like sleet that made us uncomfortably wet and very cold. We did not stay very long at the first place, which is a shame considering it was a volcano. (pictured below)

The next stop on the day trip was going to geysers, not the original one where all the other ones were named after (that is also in Iceland) but a few others, one of which erupted about every 10 minutes.

I apologize for failing to provide the appropriate names and places to all the locations i visited but to be fair i was not even sure at the time where it was we were going.  The next stop was a gigantic waterfall, or rather a mini waterfall and then a very big one.  It is a beautiful place, I’ve seen a few really good photographs taken of the exact same falls in better conditions, its certainly worth a visit.

The last of the places we had visited on this trip, or the first day in Iceland was the North Atlantic Ridge. This as we were informed is the only fault line in the world that is visible to the naked eye. Of course a few puzzled looks came up as people thought of the San Andrea’s fault i do not remember asking into that though. I decided for myself that the picture below looked enough like the ridge, though in all honesty i think it was a few kilometers across which would explain why i had difficulty seeing it. (I was looking for something akin to the grand canyon or something of the sort

My self proclaimed North Atlantic Ridge fault

Day 2

The next day was no better weather wise however this did not stop us from going to an outdoor hot spring. Better known perhaps as the Blue Lagoon. I believe it was due to a substance in the clay that the water was turned blue. What surprised me somewhat actually was the temperature. For starters the temperatures varied quite a bit in different locations, whilst never cold it was not quite warm in some places and exceptionally hot in others (though never enough to need to shout in pain). I expected it to be more like a sauna. Instead it was allot like bathing in rather large bathtub with your swimsuit on.

The rest of the day i believe we spent going to museums and taking it easy. Though we did eat at one of the best restaurants I’ve had in a long time. We had deep fried fish of sorts which was not only surprisingly good but surprisingly not greasy at all. It all felt very healthy which whilst it was not a priority for me felt good none the less.

Day 3

I would say that the last day in Iceland was probably my favorite. We did numerous things that i have never done, or seen before. The first of which was walking on glaciers. They gave us a bunch of gear to put on but by far my favorite was the crampons. This is an add on you attach to your boots. It is essentially many spikes protruding from a steel body. Most of them are directed to the ground but there are two in the front pointed slightly forward. You could deliver quite a nasty kick to person ahead of you if you needed to. Next in our inventory were ice picks. Whilst we did not use them for the walking on the glaciers it helped to think that we looked like we knew what we were doing. Nothing feels better than walking past a group of tourists with their little cameras pointed at the glaciers and to see them look in curiosity as a group of people walk past fully equipped with helmets, ice picks, and crampons. You feel like you know what you are doing. Even if that is very far from the truth.  The walk itself was not terribly long and of no particular difficulty.  So long as you remember to stamp your foot down a little harder than you usually do you would be fine. Despite the brievety of the trip we did make it relatively high up making those tourists we past earlier seem quite small. We also made a short stop in a small ice cave in the glacier. Which as we were informed as rather dangerous. We also had to stick to the pieces of ice on the glacier. The glacier had some patches covered in snow. Some of these patches of snow may not have had solid ice laying beneath them which meant the possibility of a rather long and painful fall. A fall in which it would have been rather difficult to have gotten you out of. This sounds a lot like some kids on the beach who dig a rather big hole, cover it with newspaper and proceed to cover that with sand. The major difference is that the ones in glaciers have a rather high possibility of killing you. Holes in the sand much less so.

Our next activity was ice climbing. We were finally able to put those pick axes into use. As per usual of course the instructors make the whole ordeal look incredibly simple – in fact one of them had only had the theory and this was his first time climbing (he still kicked our butts) – simple however it most certainly was not. Just getting up a vertical (or almost vertical) cliff of a few meters was incredibly exhausting and your ice pick does not stick into the ice as easily as one might imagine causing for quite a few swings to get each ax into place and of course you do that a few times and you get tired quick.  Portrayed below is my dad Ice climbing.

On the way back they decided to bring us via a pretty nice water fall and by this time the weather was actually clearly up nicely leading to a little bit of sun and slightly better photography conditions. This clearing up of the sky was also perfect for seeing The Aurora, or Northern lights something we of course were particularly keen on seeing. So keen in fact that we even booked a aurora sight seeing tour. This put us on a several busloads with dozens of other people but they would be much better at finding the suitable locations.

In the end we did see the aurora however it was quite a bit fainter than what can be seen in the picture at the top of the page. What shows up as green on the pictures looked very light green or in real life. It did however dance around a little and was fascinating to watch even though i am convinced that you can catch far more impressive displays than what we saw.

What i found interesting about Iceland is the lack of trees. In fact at a certain point in time in Iceland history every single tree was cut down in i believe all of Iceland. It is also possible that it is just the area surrounding Reykjavik.  The trees that exist now have all been replanted. Apart from that however Iceland is a beautiful country and i only wish i had more time to explore the sights we did see and spend extra time exploring the rest of the Iceland.

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