01 September 2007

Fire and Ice

We´ve done it! Trekked on slippery cliffs overlooking the sea in Snæfellsnes, forded rivers on the F586 shortcut in our trusty Jeep (whom Peggy nicknamed Þór), peered into smoking fissures around Grjotagja in the Lake Myvatn area, almost touched Europe´s biggest waterfall (Dettifoss), and boated among glaciers in Jokulsarlon. Along the way Ryan, Mark´s brother, has chased after multiple sheep in an attempt to get a picture with them, Peggy has become obsessed with Skyr, a curdled milk concoction that tastes like creamy yogurt, and Mark has become an expert in off-road driving. Our Icelandic has improved marginally (Takk fyrir!), we´ve discovered that staying in a friend of a friend of a friend´s apartment/guesthouse found through word of mouth is the best way to go, and we´ve cheered on the impressive reforestation efforts of the country. In four days, we circled the entire island, covering 1700 km.

Iceland sits on the mid-Atlantic ridge, with the national park Þingvellir perched on the rift between the North American and European plates. It´s a country of contradictions, with massive glaciers down south (witness Vatnajokull, which covers 8400 sq km) and boiling mud pits up north near Krafla. It´s a geologically active country, with frequent natural disasters caused by the past eruptions of volcanoes Hekla, Laki, Katla. Perhaps because of this, the Icelandic people seem to be so unflappable. They are able to zoom through gravel roads with 17% inclines in the fog and rain without blinking an eye, and view the sudden transition from sunny day to chilling gray downpours with a matter-of-fact attitude. There seems to be a sense of connectedness with the land that we haven´t seen before.

We´ve been lucky enough to meet some very nice Icelanders, including a guesthouse owner in Egilsstaðir who invited us in for a cup of tea. We were bedraggled and hungry, having been turned away from 3 hotels already, and so he spent an hour calling hotels in the vicinity. Everything was full because a ferry for Denmark was departing the next day, so he offered to let us weary and heavy-laden tourists sleep in the little church he had set up in an upper room of his guesthouse. The next day, on his recommendation, we stopped in Kirkjubæjarklaustur (located, honestly, about midway between Höfn and Hella) for the best pizza in Iceland.

Click on the pictures to get to the album. We haven´t spent much time in Reykjavík yet, so pictures of the capital (a marginally depressing town, really), we´ll add later.

1 comment:

Maria Shrime said...

OMG these pics are INCREDIBLE!!!
Wow i am so jealous!
you guys look like u are having the time of your lives :)
keep the pics coming