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From the south to the east of Iceland

Posted by on Jun 18, 2016 in Travel | 2 comments

It’s really hard to know what to write about what we’ve seen during the last couple of days because it has been absolutely breathtakingly stunning and my mind has been blown on many occasions. What an awesome Creator we have who made all of this! Rather than writing lots, I’ll let the photos do the talking. What follows is a very small fraction of the images I’ve taken over the last couple of days (there have been several hundred images just in the last 3 days). They are fairly quickly edited as I’ve decided that as opposed to previous trips, I’m going to take my time editing (and blogging) images so that I can do proper justice to the beauty captured within them. I hope you enjoy.

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Keriđ – a collapsed volcano crater

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Seljalandsfoss

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Just your average roadside scenery 

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Living in the shadow of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano (up in the clouds)

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Skogafoss

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More roadside beauty – fields of lupins with a glacier in the background

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Reynisfjara basalt cliffs

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Iceland wins the award for the country with the cutest churches

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Reynisdrangur – sea stacks off Vik

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Virkurkikja above Vik

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Fjaðrárgljúfur

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Jökulsárlón (glacial lagoon)

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All of the images above at Jökulsárlón were taken at around 4pm. As you can see, the sky was rather dark, resulting in quite moody images. We decided to return just before sunset, which around here is midnight. The clouds had cleared and there was a hint of colour in the sky. I should add, with Iceland being so close to the Arctic Circle, it doesn’t get any darker than shown in these photos all night.

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Heinabergsjökull (another glacial lagoon, this time off the beaten track)

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In this part of Iceland, it seems that every valley is home to a glacier.

That’s it for the moment. Plenty more to come soon!

 

The Golden Circle

Posted by on Jun 15, 2016 in Travel | 2 comments

This morning we awoke to another beautiful sunny day as we prepared to depart Reykjavik and head for The Golden Circle. The Golden Circuit is a popular tourist route as it takes in three big tourist attractions which are all within 100km of Reykjavik (and so can be seen on a day trip). It didn’t take us long to make our way out of Reykjavik as we headed to our first stop, Þingvellir. Þingvellir is the site of the ancient Icelandic parliament but, more interestingly for me, it is also where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is slowly splitting Iceland apart. It is here that the Eurasian and American tectonic plates meet, the result being deep fissures running throughout the area. Apparently the plates are moving apart at a rate of 1-18mm per year. One of the (many) reasons I wanted to visit Iceland was because of it’s amazing geology. Iceland probably first got my attention (for the wrong reason) in 2010 during the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano which bought European airspace to a standstill. I happened to be in Europe at that time and ended up taking the scenic (and much longer) route from Rome to Amsterdam by train (I blogged about that experience here). Perhaps a little known fact about me is that I studied a number of of geology subjects at University and for a while considered doing some post-grad study in palaeontology. It is still a subject I find fascinating and so visiting such a geologically active country is quite exciting for me (even if I did have several volcano nightmares in the lead-up to this trip). Anyway, here are some photos of Þingvellir.

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The photograph below is of the Öxarárfoss (waterfall) that runs over the edge of the main fissure.

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Here’s the view down to Lake Þingvellir.

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As you can see, it was a beautiful view.

From Þingvellir, we headed toward Geysir, but stopped along the way to enjoy the amazing scenery.

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As you might guess from the name, Geysir is the site of an active geyser. There were plenty of crowds here but it was worth the visit.

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From Geysir, we headed to our final attraction of the day which was the Gullfoss waterfall. The sunny weather resulted in a rainbow above the falls which was quite beautiful.

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The drive from Gullfoss back to our accommodation for the night at Laugarvatn was particularly scenic, with views like this…

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I’m not sure what that the purple flowers are but we’ve seen them a few times and they looked spectacular next to the river.

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Finally, in case we hadn’t ticked enough Icelandic icons off our must-see list for the day, we photographed some Icelandic horses.

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Tomorrow we head south via Selfoss and then east, making our way to Vik and it’s black sand beaches.

 

 

 

Reykjavik

Posted by on Jun 14, 2016 in Travel | 6 comments

Halló from Reykjavik, the northernmost capital in the world! After 36 hours of travel, we finally arrived in Iceland late yesterday (Sunday) afternoon. The three flights we took to get here were good but after travelling for such a long time, I was very ready for a shower and bed. After arriving in Keflavik (where the International Airport is), we picked up our hire car and drove the 50 or so kilometres into Reykjavik. Our first evening in Reykjavik consisted of checking into our apartment followed by dinner and sleep. 

Today we have done quite a lot of exploring of Reykjavik by foot. We’ve done over 14km of walking so far and the day isn’t over. With a population of just over 119000, Reykjavik isn’t all that big for a capital city, so seeing most of the sights by foot is quite achievable. After breakfast we headed to Hallgrímskirkja, the large modernist Lutheran Cathedral that dominates the Reykjavik skyline. It’s quite an impressive building…

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Inside the cathedral:

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For the grand total of 900 Icelandic Krona (around AUD$10), you can take a lift to the top of the Cathedral’s bell tower for some impressive views of Reykjavik.

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And here’s a more artistic photo of the Cathedral, minus all the tourists out the front taking exactly the same photo (just like the first photo in this post)…

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One of the first things I noticed about Reykjavik were the houses. They are pretty cute and many are painted in bright colours.

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After our visit to Hallgrímskirkja, we headed down to the foreshore and had a look at the Sun Voyager sculpture.

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The ocean has played a significant part in Icelandic history and today is still an important source of revenue for the country, with 40% of the exports from Iceland coming from fish and seafood. We spent a bit of time wandering around the marina.

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Old versus new:

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The building below is called the Harpa and is Reykjavik’s concert hall. It is a pretty impressive building with all the glass panels.

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More views of Reykjavik:

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This afternoon the sun came out and made everything even more beautiful. It was almost warm enough to be wearing only single layer of clothing! Despite it being summer, the temperature hasn’t risen above 12 degrees during our 24 hours here. Fortunately, the Icelandic do heating well.

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Around Reykjavik, many of the buildings have murals painted on them. In the photo below, I quite liked the bikes that were out on the balcony. Speaking of bikes, there are lots here in Reykjavik. I guess with it being such a small city, cycling is a convenient way to get around.

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This is Alþingi, the rather diminutive parliament building.

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I think the view from the back is much nicer.

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More cute houses, this time in Old Reykjavik.

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I’ve really enjoyed our time exploring Reykjavik. Fortunately everyone we’ve spoken with so far speaks English well because I can’t pronounce 99% of the Icelandic words I’ve seen. There are quite a few tourists around, many of whom are American. We’ve found food to be rather expensive. Last night’s dinner cost us 7270 ISK (which equates to AUD$80) and consisted of soup, salad, a hamburger and drinks between the two of us. It was a tourist hot-spot as we were too tired to find somewhere else so hopefully things will be a bit cheaper outside Reykjavik.

Tomorrow we will be heading to Geysir (about an hour and a half from Reykjavik) to check out the geyser and also Gullfoss, which is one of many well known waterfalls here in Iceland.