iceland part I

I'm back! Unfortunately I'm still waking at 2.00 a.m. for no reason, then not being able too get back to sleep again. In January I started thinking of places in Europe I'd like to visit once the conference in Glasgow had ended

I thought about visiting Italy as I'd not been in 10 years and Iceland because I'd heard so much about it in recent years. Initially I thought I might be able to visit both places but finances and logistics got in the way.

I looked at prices in Iceland and realised I couldn't afford to hire a car and go solo for 10 days so I found a tour that matched my travel dates and booked it. 

After that I thought no more about my holiday until about 10 days before I flew out. Even then all I did was buy a rain jacket and a fleece to cope with Iceland's changeable weather. 

I don't think I've ever done less prep or research before undertaking a trip, ever.

I flew into Reykjavik Friday afternnon and we left on the tour the next day. Our accommodation was 2 minutes walk from the Hallgrimskirkja so I went up early to take some photos before the bus left.

The church has a very spare interior so I focused on it's exterior, modelled on basalt columns we visited later in the trip. We began the day with a short walking tour of Reykjavik before loading the bus and heading on our way.

Before we left Reykjavik we visited 'The Pearl' for views over Reykjavik.

I thought 'The Pearl' was more interesting than the view so I photographed the building instead.

Our first day was spent visiting the Golden Circle, which everyone and I mean every-one who visits Iceland comes to see. It's a UNESCO heritage site and is the location of the Silfra fissure, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates slowly pull apart.

Then it was back on the bus en route to Geysir, the geothermal area, to watch Strokkur do her thing. Well let me tell you that geysers are unpredictable creatures who erupt the moment you lower your camera. I didn't get one decent shot.

In the end I gave up trying and climbed the hill for a better view and yes all those people had come a very long way just to watch steam and hot water.

We drove to Gullfoss for lunch (delicious mushroom soup that I'd love to recreate) followed by a walk to see the waterfall.

I loathe crowds and Gullfoss was the most crowded location of the day. Rather than fighting the crowds I decided to photograph the plant life. There are very few trees in Iceland and not many plants manage to survive the wind and the lava.

We thought we were done for the day but we managed to sneak in another waterfall and a visit to the Skalholt Church. Skalholt was the ancient seat of the Icelandic bishops, and was the centre of ecclesiastic and worldly power, culture, and education for centuries. The original church(s) have been replaced by a fairly uninspiring white building.

We couldn't enter the church as a concert was taking place so we visited a traditional Icelandic grass hut in the grounds.

By this stage it was getting late and the crowds had gone. I love how quiet and peaceful this scene is.

The following day we were up bright and early because we had a big day with many waterfalls to see. The first waterfall we visited was Gluggafoss. There must have been some kind of miracle happening that day because we were the only people there.

It was a lovely and green and I found some more pretty flowers and this lovely bridge.

The second waterfall of the day was the Seljalandsfoss. I was more impressed with the climbing abilities of those sheep than the waterfall.

I did take a few photos of the waterfall before we were back on the bus to visit the third waterfall of the day, Skógafoss.

As you can tell by the second day I'd already reached my waterfall threshold and they were all starting to look the same to me.

This waterfall was really popular and if you climbed up to the next level you might see a rainbow in the falls.

Now these guys were determined to 'get the shot' not realising that by standing in the river they were preventing the rest of us from getting our shots. I can't tell you how often this happened.

Next stop was the nearby Skogar folk museum, which was fascinating. We were given an insight into the hardships endured by those Icelanders with no access to wood, because there were no trees in Iceland, no nails or metal utensils because they had no ore and the list goes on and on. They were incredibly resourceful and relied on wood and metal from shipwrecks and created items from antlers, bones, animal skins etc, etc.

A number of houses built in the local style had been recreated in the grounds of the museum or moved from nearby villages, which were longer populated. People no longer want to live the hard life of their forbears and have moved to the city.

The houses were tiny and often built over the barn for warmth and the grass roofs provided insulation.

These pretty lupins were growing every-where.

We had a huge day with a punishing schedule, so it was back on the bus to travel to Vik for a lunch stop and to see the black beaches. The wind was blowing a gale and the sun was in the wrong direction to take photos, so I didn't bother. All was well because just around the corner was Reynisfjara.

As well as black beaches this was the location of the basalt columns which inspired the design of the Hallsgrimskirkja.

See what I mean.

It was blowing a gale that day when we spied this poor model/bride having a photo shoot in a skimpy red silk dress and without shoes. Note every-one else in the crew is wearing a jacket or long sleeves. Oh the price of beauty!

There was just one last stop of the day, Dyrhólaey.

The black beach was spectacular and so was the Dyrhólaey Arch, which we braved despite the wind.

We all agreed that the second day of our trip had been a very good day.

When I have a chance to sort through some more of my photos, I'll be back with Iceland Part II and my favourite part, glaciers

So until then,


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